Flower Symbolism in The Great Gatsby: The Connection to the Character Myrtle

In literature, flowers have often been used as symbols to represent emotions, feelings, and themes. Similarly, the use of flower symbolism is also present in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby.” One character that is strongly associated with flower symbolism is Myrtle Wilson. In this essay, we will explore the connection between flower symbolism and Myrtle and analyze how it further enhances her character in the novel.

The Role of Flowers in Literature

Throughout history, flowers have been used to symbolize a wide range of emotions and concepts. In literature, flowers are often used as a way to convey deeper meaning and to add depth to characters and their experiences. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby, flowers are used in this way to add layers to the story and to help readers better understand the characters and their motivations. One character, in particular, who is strongly connected to flower symbolism is Myrtle Wilson.

Who is Myrtle Wilson?

Myrtle Wilson is a character in The Great Gatsby who plays a significant role in the story. She is married to George Wilson, who owns a garage in the Valley of Ashes, and she is having an affair with Tom Buchanan, one of the main characters in the novel. Myrtle is portrayed as a woman who is unhappy with her life and who wants more than what she has. She sees Tom as a way to escape her current situation and to experience a life of luxury and excitement.

Flower symbolism is used in literature to add deeper meaning and complexity to characters and their experiences. In The Great Gatsby, Myrtle Wilson’s character is strongly connected to flower symbolism through her name and her interactions with flowers throughout the novel. The flowers in Myrtle’s life, such as the yellow dress, the apartment flowers, and the references to flowers during her death, all represent the false sense of happiness and tragic nature of her story. Ultimately, the use of flower symbolism helps to add depth to Myrtle’s character and reinforces the overall melancholy tone of the novel.

The Symbolism of Myrtle’s Name

Before diving into the connection between Myrtle and flower symbolism, it’s important to note the significance of her name. Myrtle is a type of flowering plant that is often associated with love and fertility. This connection is significant because Myrtle is a woman who is seeking love and who desires to have a child with Tom. The fact that her name is associated with these things adds another layer to her character and her motivations.

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The Flowers in Myrtle’s Life

Throughout the novel, flowers are used to symbolize various aspects of Myrtle’s life and personality. Here are a few examples:

The Yellow Dress

When Myrtle meets Tom for the first time, she is wearing a yellow dress. Yellow is a color that is often associated with happiness and joy, but it can also represent deceit and betrayal. In this case, the yellow dress symbolizes Myrtle’s desire for happiness and her willingness to betray her husband in order to achieve it.

The Apartment

When Myrtle and Tom are together in their apartment, Fitzgerald uses flower symbolism to describe the space. The apartment is described as having “a small living-room, a bedroom, and a bath” and “flowers…bought from a greenhouse.” The flowers in the apartment represent the false sense of luxury and happiness that Myrtle is trying to create for herself. The fact that the flowers are bought from a greenhouse also adds to the idea that this happiness is not genuine or natural.

The Accident

Later in the novel, Myrtle is killed in a car accident. The car that hits her is a yellow Rolls-Royce, which is significant because it connects back to the yellow dress she wore when she first met Tom. Additionally, when her body is described, there are references to flowers: “her left breast was swinging loose” and “the mouth was wide open and ripped at the corners, as though she had choked a little in giving up the tremendous vitality she had stored so long.” The reference to her breast swinging loose is connected to the idea of fertility that is associated with the myrtle plant. The description of her mouth being ripped at the corners is a reference to the “bleeding heart” flower, which is often associated with sadness and heartbreak.

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The Meaning Behind the Symbolism

So, what does all of this flower symbolism tell us about Myrtle and her character? Ultimately, it shows us that Myrtle is a woman who is searching for something more in her life. She wants love, happiness, and fulfillment, but she is willing to betray her husband and compromise her morals in order to achieve these things. The fact that her name is associated with love and fertility adds another layer to her character and her motivations. The use of flowers throughout the novel helps to add depth and complexity to the story and to the characters who inhabit it.

The Tragic Nature of Myrtle’s Story

Myrtle’s story is a tragic one, and the flower symbolism throughout the novel helps to reinforce this idea. The fact that her name is associated with love and fertility adds to the sadness of her story, as she is never able to achieve the things that she desires. The fact that flowers are used to symbolize her false sense of happiness and the tragic nature of her death adds to the overall sense of melancholy that permeates the novel.

FAQs – Flower Symbolism Connection to the Character Myrtle

What flowers are associated with the character Myrtle from “The Great Gatsby”?

Myrtle Wilson, a character from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” is often associated with the use of flowers such as carnations and lilies. In the book, Myrtle is described as wearing a “brown muslin” dress that has edging of “carnations” in a “daisy design.” This association with carnations is significant because in flower symbolism, carnations represent fascination, love, and distinction. Myrtle is a character who craves attention and wants to be noticed by the wealthy and powerful, so the use of carnations in her dress design could represent her desire to be associated with these qualities. Additionally, Myrtle is frequently associated with the lily flower as they represent purity and innocence, qualities that are contrasted against her manipulative and deceitful actions.

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How does the use of flowers in “The Great Gatsby” connect to Myrtle’s character?

The use of flowers in “The Great Gatsby,” especially in relation to Myrtle Wilson’s character, creates an atmosphere of symbolism and foreshadowing. Flowers can be seen as metaphors for the emotions and traits possessed by characters in the novel. Myrtle’s association with carnations and lilies helps to reveal her true character, as she is someone who craves attention and purity but is ultimately flawed. The use of flowers also highlights the differences between Myrtle’s world, which is filled with artificial beauty, and the natural beauty that is elusive to her. Overall, the flower symbolism in “The Great Gatsby” helps to add depth to the characters and their motivations.

What role do flowers play in “The Great Gatsby”?

Flowers in “The Great Gatsby” serve as a visual cue for the reader and a literary device to aid in conveying the emotions and traits of the characters. The use of flower symbolism in the novel helps to hint at the underlying motivations and desires of each character. For example, Daisy’s affinity for white flowers highlights the purity and innocence that she represents to Jay Gatsby. On the other hand, the flowers associated with Myrtle reveal her true nature as a conniving and manipulative individual. Flowers also serve as a way to contrast the superficiality and artificiality of the wealthy, particularly when compared to the natural beauty found in the gardens surrounding Gatsby’s estate. In this way, flower symbolism plays a critical role in setting the tone and establishing the themes present throughout the novel.

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