Two Opinions: Did Gatsby Love Daisy? (2023)

Margot Schneider and Peter Ryan|February 5, 2021

Yes – Peter

In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the mysterious and nouveau riche Jay Gatsby desperately attempts to rekindle his past romance with Daisy Buchanan, a beautiful and charming socialite, on Long Island at the peak of the roaring twenties. Although Daisy accepts Gatsby’s advances and temporarily reignites their relationship, she refuses to leave her upper-class husband Tom. Eventually, Fitzgerald reveals that Gatsby, who grew up as a poor farmer’s son in North Dakota, constructed his entire identity and personality around returning to Daisy after meeting her as a young man before leaving to fight in World War I. This classic American novel tells the story of a man who loses his sense of self after falling deeply in love for all the wrong reasons. Seduced by Daisy’s refined manner and extravagant lifestyle, Gatsby affixes himself to her like a virus.

The reader’s impression of both Gatsby and Daisy is formed through the eyes of the novel’s narrator, Nick Carraway. Nick, a reclusive bond trader and Daisy’s cousin, editorializes frequently and criticizes the profligate and selfish nature of the other characters. Nick does express skepticism about Gatsby’s feelings for Daisy. However, he himself admits that his account of Gatsby is highly biased: “[he] represented everything for which I have an unaffected scorn” (2). Additionally, Nick is a highly unreliable narrator: indeed, he begins the novel by declaring that he is “inclined to reserve all judgments” (1) before spewing nine chapters of conclusions about others. Nick’s predictions about Gatsby’s and Daisy’s feelings cannot be trusted; only the basic events of the story that he sees in real-time can be taken as fact.

(Video) The Great Gatsby (2013) - Invitation to Tea Scene (5/10) | Movieclips

According to the Buchanans’ friend Jordan, Gatsby and Daisy met in Louisville in 1917 when Gatsby was an enlisted soldier and Daisy was 18 years old. During this time, the two saw each other frequently — Jordan notes that although Daisy made dates with many young men, she held special affection for Gatsby, who “looked at her the way all young girls want to be looked at sometimes” (75). On one of these dates, the two shared a kiss, which Nick alleges “forever wed [Gatsby’s] unutterable visions to her perishable breath” (111). Shortly after, Gatsby was called to war, and Daisy soon married Tom. However, once Gatsby returns to the United States, he devotes his life to winning Daisy back. Through shady business dealings, he earns a small fortune, with which he purchases a massive mansion across the bay from the Buchanan estate. At night, Gatsby wanders out to the shore and stretches his arms in the direction of a green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. Eventually, through Nick, Gatsby meets Daisy again, and they begin to visit each other frequently. His actions are deranged, desperate, and possibly mercenary, but his devotion to reclaiming this past romance is unequivocally ‘love’.

After a tense and confrontational evening out in Manhattan with Tom and Jordan, Daisy and Gatsby drive back together to Long Island in Gatsby’s car. Behind the wheel, Daisy strikes and kills a woman standing in the road. Before this fact is revealed, though, Gatsby assumes responsibility for the manslaughter in order to protect Daisy. When Nick asks Gatsby if Daisy was driving, he dismissively says: “yes, but of course I’ll say I was” (143). Gatsby proceeds to fervently excuse Daisy’s recklessness. The next day, the widower of the car accident’s victim murders Gatsby. Tragically, Gatsby feels so obligated to protect Daisy that he literally takes the bullet for her. Although Gatsby may love Daisy more for what she represents than for who she is, this act of effectively sacrificing his own life to save hers can only be characterized as love.

Daisy Buchanan’s character takes direct inspiration from the 20th-century socialite Ginevra King, who dated Fitzgerald during his time at Princeton. After meeting at a sledding party, King and Fitzgerald quickly developed a passionate correspondence; in one letter, King confessed that she was “madly in love with him.” However, due to Fitzgerald’s lower social status, King’s parents forbade the relationship: her father reportedly told Fitzgerald that “poor boys shouldn’t think of marrying rich girls.” Despite intense affection, these challenges eventually dissolved the relationship. According to one friend, “Fitzgerald was so smitten by King that for years he could not think of her without tears coming to his eyes.” By all accounts, the failed romance was a classic example of forbidden love. Those who believe that Gatsby never truly loved Daisy argue that he was more obsessed with the promise of status she provided. However, Fitzgerald’s own life, which serves as the basis for the story, proves that such a love can exist.

Fitzgerald’s three most renowned works — Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned, and This Side of Paradise — are bound together by themes of materialism and yearning for ultimately unattainable dreams. In each of these novels, massive fortunes and beautiful socialites stand as representations of the American dream. For this reason, it may be impossible to argue that Gatsby did or did not love Daisy Buchanan; they aren’t real people. Rather than real humans with human emotions and free will, Gatsby and Daisy are pawns in an allegory of the greed and excess of the 1920s in the United States. After all, The Great Gatsby is just a book. Its characters do not exist beyond the 180 page description that Fitzgerald provides.
Gatsby might love Daisy for all the wrong reasons, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t love her. His manic desire to conjoin his existence with Daisy’s certainly doesn’t fit the idyllic and reciprocal conception of “true love” that exists in perfect endings, but this is part of the brilliance of The Great Gatsby: it is brutally and uniquely honest about the fact that people, their motivations, and their relationships are deeply flawed. Gatsby’s love for Daisy is deeply flawed: it drives him insane, uproots his life, and literally brings him to death. However, love is the only way in which anyone could describe the unshakeable affection and obligation to protect that Gatsby feels for Daisy.

(Video) Does Gatsby Love Daisy?

No – Margot

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald tells the story of the hardworking and driven Jay Gatsby as he claws up the ladder of social class during the summer of 1922. As it is revealed throughout the novel, the sole purpose of his efforts is to gain the affection of his past lover Daisy Buchanan, whom he deserted five years earlier to go to war. Despite Gatsby’s “romantic readiness” (2), as narrator Nick Carraway puts it, he subtly shows that his love for Daisy is never genuine. Gatsby, in fact, is never capable of loving her at all; he was born with a life and status too drastically different from hers to ever really connect with her in a true, romantic way. Rather, he loved the idea of Daisy and what she stood for.

In chapter 6 of the novel, Nick narrates the story in which Gatsby rose from being a poor teenage son of farmers in North Dakota to working for self-made millionaire Dan Cody on a yacht. Gatsby goes through an extreme identity change in this chapter, changing his name from James Gatz to Jay Gatsby and “[springing] from the Platonic conception of himself” as the “son of God” (98). In this scene, he falls into and climbs out of a lake with a new sense of self and burning passion to become rich. Although this identity transformation occurs before he has even met Daisy, it shows the moment that essentially defines the sole motive of his life, and it is clearly not finding love.

Later in this chapter, Nick tells the story of Gatsby and Daisy’s first kiss, which demonstrates Gatsby’s subtle understanding of the superficiality of their relationship. “He knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God. So he waited, listening for a moment longer to the tuning-fork that had been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her” (111). Gatsby feels that the rich and classy persona he attempts to embody should love someone like Daisy, a high-class, attractive, and intriguing young woman. But that’s just the issue – it’s solely the idea of her that he chases so fervently. He even understands that kissing her is “[wedding] his unutterable visions to her” and limiting the expansiveness of his mind and dreams. This isn’t love; it’s responsibility, following expectations, and doing what it takes to achieve a particular identity of his own. Even Gatsby, who is so caught up in his infatuation, has to take a moment before he kisses her, realizing how inevitably painful this action is.

(Video) The Great Gatsby - Daisy Buchanan Analysis

In the next chapter, Gatsby, Daisy, Nick, and a few others have a dinner party at which Gatsby notes the following: “ ‘Her voice is full of money’ ” (120). Nick then realizes: “That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money–that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it… High in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl…” (120). Despite Gatsby’s attempt to play the role of her secret, long-lost love, even he can’t help but notice how much her entire persona exudes money. Though he constantly pretends that he sees past this and chooses her for her, this passage reveals that his teenage transformation and quest for wealth never faded, and they continue to define the course of his entire life. Her classy, flashy image is exactly what a ‘man like him’ should want, so he picks her and rolls with it, struggling with the internal turmoil of understanding that he does not and will never love her authentically.

Lastly, when Nick confronts Gatsby for trying (and failing) to impossibly recreate their past relationship five years prior, Gatsby is stunned: ” ‘Can’t repeat the past?’ he cried incredulously. Why of course you can!’ He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand” (110). His obsession with “the past” is very telling of how superficial his love is — he can’t even create new memories and connections with Daisy. Instead, he grasps onto the precious time he once spent with her years ago hoping that this is enough, but inwardly knowing that it never will be. Furthermore, his oblivion and unwillingness to confront the truth show that deep down, he understands that loving her and manufacturing a relationship are just not possible for him. However, without her clutching the wealth and status he infinitely seeks, he has no goal to chase, and feels completely lost; to compensate, he just chases after something that isn’t there in fear of finding himself purposeless and insignificant.
Daisy is solely a manifestation of Gatsby’s life goal, and can be nothing more — he is incapable of really loving her because, as he decides as a teenager, class ascension and wealth obtention are the only things he truly ever seeks. Daisy presents as a convenient physical embodiment of these ideas, so Gatsby settles for a meretricious infatuation to consume his time, efforts, and thoughts, never allowing himself to even think that she isn’t the perfect woman for him.

(Video) The Great Gatsby - Fight Scene, Who Daisy Loves Clip

FAQs

Did Gatsby actually love Daisy? ›

Gatsby fell in love with Daisy and the wealth she represents, and she with him (though apparently not to the same excessive extent), but he had to leave for the war and by the time he returned to the US in 1919, Daisy has married Tom Buchanan.

Does Gatsby really love Daisy or does he just love the idea of Daisy? ›

Gatsby is only in love with Daisy because of her identity and what she represents. He is unable to forget the past where Daisy once saw him as a perfect man in her eyes and can't accept his new reality. Gatsby's want of wealth and power only proves that he only loves the idea of her and not actually her.

Why does Gatsby really love Daisy? ›

Gatsby loves Daisy because she is beautiful, cultured, and represents the kind of life he wants for himself. However, as the book reveals, he does not really know her. He does not understand her hopes or dreams. He shows no interest in learning about her fears, her insecurities, or her past experiences.

What is the Great Gatsby opinion of Daisy? ›

Despite her beauty and charm, Daisy is merely a selfish, shallow, and in fact, hurtful, woman. Gatsby loves her (or at least the idea of her) with such vitality and determination that readers would like, in many senses, to see her be worthy of his devotion.

What quotes prove Gatsby loves Daisy? ›

And Gatsby describes his love for Daisy himself in this quote: “And what's more, I love Daisy too. Once in a while I go off on a spree and make a fool of myself, but I always come back, and in my heart I love her all the time.”

Was Gatsby too obsessed with Daisy? ›

Once having kissed her and 'forever wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God'”. He has gone too far into the obsession of having Daisy; she is his world now. His mind will not develop any further, he wants to freeze this moment forever.

Did Gatsby really love Daisy reddit? ›

When you loves someone you tend to see their qualities and put them on a pedestal. He didn't love the idea of Daisy. He loved Daisy so much that he didn't see her true self.

Does Nick think that Gatsby's love for Daisy is realistic or an illusion? ›

Nick thinks that Gatsby's love for Daisy is realistic. On page 96, it says, "They has forgotten me." This shows Nick that Daisy and Gatsby are only think about each other.

Why did Gatsby sleep with Daisy? ›

He knew that since he was poor, he shouldn't really have been wooing her, but he slept with her anyway, under the false pretenses that he and she were in the same social class. Gatsby realized that he was in love with Daisy and was surprised to see that Daisy fell in love with him too.

When did Gatsby fall in love with Daisy? ›

October 1917. Gatsby is stationed at Camp Taylor in Louisville, where he meets Daisy Fay (he is 27, she is 18). They are together for a month, and he is shocked by how much in love with her he falls.

What are 2 important quotes from The Great Gatsby? ›

“All I kept thinking about, over and over, was 'You can't live forever; you can't live forever.” “No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart.” “It takes two to make an accident.” “He looked at her the way all women want to be looked at by a man.”

Did Daisy say she never loved Gatsby? ›

Daisy says she never loved Tom, but admits to having loved him once. “I never loved him,” she said, with perceptible reluctance” (Gatsby 139), and then Daisy says “Even alone I can't say I never loved Tom,” she admitted in a pitiful voice. “It wouldn't be true” (Gatsby 140).

Does Daisy flirt with Gatsby? ›

Daisy flirts with Gatsby, annoying her husband.

Did Gatsby cheat on Daisy? ›

He has an affair with a woman named Myrtle who is also married. Not only is this very unethical but, it destroys everything Tom and Daisy built together. They have a child together and this affair could potentially tear their family apart.

Who first attracted Gatsby to Daisy? ›

The first thing that attracted Gatsby was Daisy's wealth – her house in particular ('there was a ripe mystery about it'). This removes the idea that he was attracted to Daisy in herself. He was – and still is – attracted to the 'money' in her.

Why did Gatsby kiss Daisy? ›

Gatsby tells Nicks about the magical past that he wants to recreate. It was encapsulated in the moment of Gatsby and Daisy's first kiss. As soon as Gatsby kissed Daisy, all of his fantasies about himself and his future fixated solely on her.

Did Daisy know about Gatsby's death? ›

When he phones Daisy to tell her of Gatsby's death, he learns she and Tom have left on a trip, leaving no itinerary. Nick, with increasing frustration, feels he must "get somebody" for Gatsby. In his mind, Gatsby did not deserve to be alone.

Did Daisy go to Gatsby's funeral? ›

Although Nick contacts many of Gatsby's acquaintances as he organizes the funeral, almost no one shows up to pay respects. Daisy, who has run away with Tom, doesn't even bother to send flowers or a note. The only person to appear, aside from Nick and Mr.

Why is Gatsby's love for Daisy doomed to fail? ›

Why is Gatsby's love for Daisy doomed to fail? She can never live up to the idea of who Gatsby thinks she is. Who tells Nick that they don't need to be careful because "it takes two to make an accident"?

What is Gatsby's famous line? ›

"Can't repeat the past?" he cried incredulously. "Why of course you can!" He looked around him wildly, as if the past were lurking here in the shadow of his house, just out of reach of his hand. This is probably Gatsby's single most famous quote.

Does Daisy get pregnant in The Great Gatsby? ›

Soon after the wedding, Daisy became pregnant, and Tom started to have affairs with other women. Jordan tells Nick that Gatsby has asked to be invited to his house at a time when Daisy is also present.

Why does Tom cheat on Daisy? ›

Tom is involved with Myrtle because he is bored, and their affair offers him an exciting break from his normal life. He likes the idea of having a secret. As a member of the upper class, he is supposed to comport himself with decorum and restraint.

Does Gatsby truly love Daisy or is she a symbol for the American Dream? ›

Gatsby's love for Daisy led him to achieve extravagant wealth. In the sense of rising up social rank and obtaining financial success, Gatsby achieved the American Dream. Despite the wealth that Gatsby achieved, Fitzgerald conveys that materialism of the American Dream does not guarantee happiness.

Was Daisy in love with Gatsby before Tom? ›

Before marrying Tom, Daisy had a romantic relationship with Jay Gatsby. Her choice between Gatsby and Tom is one of the novel's central conflicts. Described by Fitzgerald as a "golden girl", she is the target of both Tom's callous domination and Gatsby's dehumanizing adoration.

Was Nick Carraway in love with Gatsby? ›

When he first meets Gatsby, Nick is instantly swept away, and spends the whole novel riveted by this man's triumphs and secrets. It's obvious that Gatsby romanticizes Daisy, but Nick is constantly romanticizing Gatsby. One could read The Great Gatsby as a rationalization of misplaced love.

Did Daisy achieve her American Dream? ›

Daisy did not complete or achieve the American Dream however, her American Dream caused her pain, pain that she could have avoided, but instead she kept on working toward the dream that she was never able to reach. The road to Daisy's American Dream has caused her plenty of pain where she could've been content.

What does Gatsby believe about his relationship with Daisy? ›

Answer and Explanation: Throughout the novel, Gatsby is convinced that his relationship with Daisy will be a success and will finally give him perfect fulfillment. Even though Daisy is married, Gatsby still thinks she will run away with him if given the chance. He has spent years trying to win her back.

Is Gatsby's love for Daisy an illusion? ›

Back in 1917 Daisy and Gatsby met for the first time and a young, then, James Gatz falls head over heels in love with her. When he leaves to fight in the war he is under the illusion that Daisy will wait for him, an illusion that is soon broken as she marries Tom.

Why Gatsby doesn't really love Daisy? ›

Despite Gatsby's “romantic readiness” (2), as narrator Nick Carraway puts it, he subtly shows that his love for Daisy is never genuine. Gatsby, in fact, is never capable of loving her at all; he was born with a life and status too drastically different from hers to ever really connect with her in a true, romantic way.

Who is the true love in The Great Gatsby? ›

Their love affair makes Gatsby optimistic that Daisy is his true love, but he really only sees and loves an idealized version of her that he has carried for years. In the end, Daisy chooses to stay with her husband even when knowing he had also had an affair.

Was Daisy sleeping with Gatsby? ›

The reader also learns that, when courting, Daisy and Gatsby had been intimate with each other and it was this act of intimacy that bonded him to her inexorably, feeling "married to her." Gatsby left Daisy, heading off to war.

Who was Nick Carraway dating? ›

This inner conflict is symbolized throughout the book by Nick's romantic affair with Jordan Baker. He is attracted to her vivacity and her sophistication just as he is repelled by her dishonesty and her lack of consideration for other people.

Why is Nick Carraway in a mental hospital? ›

First, Luhrmann made the curious decision to begin the story with Nick Carraway (our first-person narrator played by Tobey Maguire) writing in a patient's journal after ending up in a mental hospital due to “morbid alcoholism, fits of anger, insomnia.” According to Mike Hogan's (Executive Arts and Entertainment Editor ...

Why is Nick so obsessed with Gatsby? ›

Nick is particularly taken with Gatsby and considers him a great figure. He sees both the extraordinary quality of hope that Gatsby possesses and his idealistic dream of loving Daisy in a perfect world.

Was Daisy cheating on Gatsby? ›

Daisy, like her husband, has an affair but, she cheats on Tom with Gatsby. She slowly starts to lose faith in humanity and starts to see the world as a very bad place. She wishes for her daughter to not see the world for what it is.

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