Leisure may come from illusion, but happiness can come only from reality. In today’s society, we often associate the colors yellow and gold with money, wealth, and happiness. Yellow is a color that represents illusion in many ways one of them being happiness and how people make themselves happy with money. Yellow is also a representation of fake money, and how people want to be golden and the best. We all know that gold is the number one color, it is first place in Olympics, it is the gold medal, it is a gold trophy, gold is always representing number one and wealth. The first text which symbols illusion is The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This story has a key symbol, which is the yellow wallpaper that hides a figure in the wall that can only be seen from the light. My second text The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald represents the colors yellow and gold and how they portray they are an illusion of money and wealth. The third text, The Yellow Brick Road by Witi Ihimaera is about a family going on a road trip on the Yellow Brick Road. As we know from the movie The Wizard Of Oz, that the Yellow Brick Road is meant to be a path that leads to good places. My last text, Wealth With Out a Value by an unknown poet and is about wealth and how it can lose its value if you don’t use it for its worth.
The first text is The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This short story is about a woman who suffers from nervous depression and is not mentally well. Majority of her time, she sits in an old room which she presumes was once a nursery. As she begins to examine the room more she notices that behind the bar like patterned wallpaper there is a figure of a woman. As her obsession begins to grow more with the woman behind the bars on the wallpaper, she begins to imagine more things like the woman trying to escape, smudging the walls, and walking around the room. In the end, she begins to tear down the wallpaper to let the figure out, only then for her to go crazier and even more mentally unstable. She describes the wallpaper as: “Trepellent, almost revolting; a smoldering unclean yellow, strangely faded by the slow-turning sunlight.” She is symbolizing that the paper is unusual and an unusually odd color. As we know, yellow is often associated with a color of illusion, therefore, she is hinting that there is something unknown about this wallpaper and as if it is hiding something. Further on through the text, she describes the wallpaper again, but this time she describes it in more detail: “This wallpaper has a kind of subpattern in a different shade… for you can only see it in certain lights, and not clearly then. But in the places where it isn’t faded and where the sun is just so -, I can see a strange, provoking, formless sort of figure” In this quote, she has started to describe the wallpaper and what she sees in thorough detail. The different shades of yellow she sees represent that the illusion is only visible sometimes and the women behind the bars can’t be seen all the time.
The second text that shows a form of yellow/gold symbolism is The Great Gatsby by F.Scott Fitzgerald. This novel is about a man called Gatsby that is revealed as a rich person who has accomplished the American Dream. He is representing this idea through his massive mansion that is full of materialistic items such as the library with ‘uncut’ books and his “big yellow car”. This quote describes the car which is a symbol of his life and the illusion of his wealth. We know he is rich because he uses phrases such as “old sport” which is often used by rich people from ‘old money’. Whereas in reality, he has failed. Gatsby has failed to reinvent his past with Daisy which was his main goal throughout the book. The dream of being with Daisy and being part of the ‘old money’ society seems so close but is actually out of reach. Gatsby’s illusion can also be seen through the uncut books in his library as told by the Owl-eyed Man. “This fella’s a regular Belasco… What realism! Knew when to stop, too—didn’t cut the pages.” In the first quote, the reference to David Belasco describes Gatsby’s staged life. David Belasco was a man that set up scenes with props. This relates to Gatsby because he has been setting up his life ( arranging the props) to make everyone believe that he is a wealthy man that comes from ‘old money’. The second part of the quote where Owl-Eyes talks about the books being uncut describes Gatsby himself and his materialistic life. His uncut books represent that a lot of what he presents to the world is a facade. He has built up this image of himself that is inconsistent with the reality and facts of his life. These unopened books represent Gatsby himself: mysterious, undeveloped, closed up and unopened. This text can be related to The Yellow Wallpaper because Gatsby in a way is also trapped behind the bars just like the woman. He is so caught up in this illusion of him being rich, wealthy and from old money that he has become the figure. Not real but an illusion to others around him just like the real woman is seeing the figure ‘life’ as an illusion.
The Yellow Brick Road By Witi Ihimaera is a short story about a family that has to move to Wellington since their Dad got a job there. The city that Wellington is described as is Emerald city which we know from the movie The Wizard of Oz. As we know from the film, the Emerald City is meant to be a place where all dreams come to life and become a reality. To get to this city they travel down a road which is referred to as the Yellow Brick Road. On the way to the city, the young boy starts to sing a rhyme which goes like: “Follow the yellow brick road, Follow follow, follow, follow…” This rhyme describes what our society would normally say, things such as follow your own path, keep trying, just keep going and so on. By singing this rhyme it would eliminate all doubt from the parent’s mind because the boy is saying just keep going, keep following the Yellow Brick Road and it will lead to good places such as ‘Emerald City’. In this story the “Road, road, yellow brick road, yellow with the headlights sweeping across it.” is represented as a path to wealth and money. Because the main character’s family is traveling down a road which they think is going to bring them a better happier life whereas, in reality, everything turns out not as great as what they thought it would be. In a way, this can be related to Nick because he is just like the family. At the beginning of the novel Gatsby, Nick moves to East Egg of New York City to pursue a better life where he can hopefully earn more money and become part of the new money society. Nick is also traveling down this yellow path to try and arrive at a better place. But in the end, he ends up having a very chaotic summer and becomes an alcoholic. He does not actually move forward in life, instead, he moves back and comes to realize that New York which is like the Emerald City is not actually as great as what it seems. It is an illusion to attract people to these big places like New York and Wellington.
The last text Wealth Without a Value by an unknown poet is a short story about a man who finds gold and treasures it by hiding it away from his house in a hole which is covered up by a rag. He checks that his golden block is still there every day by walking to the secret spot daily at the same time until someone notices him and discovers the gold.The stranger then picked up a large stone and threw it into the hole and told him: “cover up that stone. It’s worth just as much to you as the treasure you lost!” What the stranger is trying to say him, is that there is no point in cherishing the gold because it does not have any value lying in a hole. Its value becomes the same as the rock that stranger threw into the hole.The man then reveals that he is so consumed with treasuring his gold that he has “never touched the gold. I couldn’t think of spending any of it.” This means that he has wealth but with no value, like the title of the story suggests. The gold is an allusion to him thinking that he is very wealthy and rich whereas he is not because he does not spend it and is more focused on keeping the gold.This story is representing the idea of you can be wealthy and have something that has value, but by hiding it and treasuring it, it loses its value. This text can be related to the Yellow Brick Road because the family is driving down this yellow path to Wellington which is like the Emerald City, this is the same as the man walking to the hole where his gold is hidden. Both of the characters from both of the stories are excited to see their wealth and have lots of it. Whereas when they arrive, for the family the city is not as amazing as they thought it would be and it did not make them into wealthy people. The same is for the man, he got to the hole saw his gold then someone told him that his gold actually has no value, his gold would have the same value as a stone lying in the same hole. Therefore in both stories, they expected the value of gold but actually got the same. A gray stone. Gold is the representation of illusion for both stories since it seems to be valuable from a distance but when looked at from a closer view, in reality, it’s not as valuable or worth cherishing.
In conclusion, the theme of gold and wealth has taught me that we should all try and be honest, and not get caught up in faking our lives in order to become someone that we want to be but are not. If you want something you have to work hard to get it there is no easy way, and even then you may not reach your goals but that does not mean you have to live a lie. More importantly, we should all value our health and the well-being of others, we should treasure what has value to us, but not to the point where we become so obsessed with it and cant use it. I think that the text The Great Gatsby has taught me the most since it is a novel that focuses on many things such as friends, lifestyle, money society and separation. Leisure may come from illusion, but happiness can come only from reality. All four texts can be related to one another because the colors yellow and gold make each of the characters perceive a better view of themselves, their destination, and their wealth. Whereas when that yellow/ gold colored mask is uncovered, what is hidden beneath is the actual truth which they have been trying to cover up by using these two colors as an illusion. To be seen as something it really is not.