Gatsby and Daisy Relationship in “The Great Gatsby”
As we start reading “The Great Gatsby”, we are at first are as oblivious to Gatsby and Daisy relationship as is the narrator named Nick. Together with him we gradually start to reveal the story, in a way that can look like a real investigation of a detective. At first we see Jay Gatsby, an eccentric millionaire, who throws incredible parties almost every day.
He is handsome, rich, polite and mysterious, but there seems to be a dark secret connected with him. Every night he stands in front of his luxurious mansion and looks across the bay, to the mysterious green light on the other side.
The nature of this green light is revealed only in the end – it is the lights of the Buchanans’ house, where lives the respectable and equally rich married couple – Tom and Daisy Buchanan.
But what seems to be an average love affair between riches, has a much darker history. Some years ago, Jay Gatsby, a young veteran of the World War I, a war hero without a penny in his pockets, returns home just to learn that his beloved Daisy, who he left to serve his duty, decided not to wait for him. Despite her love, Daisy valued luxury, comfort and social status much more than feelings, so, when Gatsby is gone she promptly marries the aspiring businessman Tom Buchanan and starts a seemingly perfect married life.
Yet again, before we learn about it, we meet Tom himself. His personality and his actions make us ask the question: what kind of relationship do Tom and Daisy have? Tom Buchanan is portrayed as abusive and rude man, who sees nothing wrong in using his power to offend people dependant on him.
He mocks the worker from the Valley of Ashes, knowing that he needs the car Tom promised to sell him and – what is much worse and more characterising – almost openly cheats on Daisy with the wife of said worker. Moreover, he feels entitled to do so without any worries about feelings of Daisy or the worker or even his mistress.
So, we know this traits of Tom Buchanan and we also know that Daisy (who is also a member of an incredibly rich family and can’t live without comfort and maintaining a pretty picture of a perfect wife) is totally dependant on him. The readers can easily make a conclusion that Tom and Daisy relationship is less-than-stellar.
Still, if we believe Nick who makes his own conclusions after talking to Daisy, she is quite content with the current state of affairs (no pun intended). The fact that Tom started cheating on her from their very honeymoon, Tom and Daisy relationship is still very close. It looks more like the connection between two business partners running a successful company than like love.
Tom and Daisy are both descendants of the incredibly rich family, they share the same values and they both understand that their marriage is something that shouldn’t necessarily include love. Daisy have a legitimate reason to complain and get attention from Nick, pretending to be the innocent victim, Tom Buchanan has the possibility to have multiple mistresses without any dangers to his family life and every side is okay with it. Or seems to be until Gatsby comes into play.
Such an answer to the question we asked before – what kind of relationship do Tom and Daisy have? – can portray both Tom and Daisy as awful people, but this is not quite right. In a way, they are average people of their class and social status. No one makes mess and loses status, comfort and money because of such a small inconvenience as an affair with some maids or worker-class women. These people don’t really think that some feelings that are more than temporarily lust can be involved: those who aren’t as rich as them can’t be loved for real.
Daisy’s character analysis is not very flattering for her. But still, though Daisy isn’t the best person in the world and Tom is outright immoral man, they both are mostly the products of the society and their social status. No one expects them to behave in any other way, it is natural. They are too detached from the other reality – the reality of the average people – to comprehend it. For Daisy the American dream is fulfilled: she is rich, doesn’t need anything, is a respected wife and mother of a newborn daughter.
When the story of Jay Gatsby starts to reveal itself, we understand that all his life was dedicated to his own vision of the American dream: a happy and prosperous love with the woman he loves. He starts from the very bottom: without money, without shelter, without any hope to ever return Daisy. But still, Gatsby just refuses to surrender.
He makes the strictest daily schedule possible, each his day is dedicated to perfecting himself. When we read the story about him getting from rags to riches (though there was no possible legal way to achieve it in mere years), we can understand why he is called The Great Gatsby.
Jay understands that to fulfill his dream with Daisy he should prepare to fulfill her version of American dream first. All the money and all the parties he arranges are made for her, in the futile hope that Daisy will come and see him and love him again.
We understand from the very beginning that Gatsby and Daisy relationship will be very, very troubled. Jay Gatsby may look like a positive character (especially in comparison with Tom Buchanan), but still some of his actions Nick sees while accompanying him are shadowy at the very least.
He blackmails (or has the possibility to do so) the policeman, uses his connection to achieve his goals and he asks Nick to arrange his affair with Daisy Buchanan, no less. From the naive and honest war veteran Gatsby turns into a person similar to the other riches. He even sometimes recites the works that depict his former moral values, just to remind himself that he still has them and is still faithful to himself and his dream.
When Nick finally brings them together and leaves for a while, the picture he sees after returning can say a lot about the real Gatsby and Daisy relationship. He is simply shining, it is the first time we see Jay Gatsby sincerely happy. He looks like he turned back into the young man who finally returned to his beloved, like nothing happened and Daisy is not Buchanan.
But Daisy herself… not so. She is in tears and ashamed – but she doesn’t change so much. Her memories about Gatsby, as we can see as readers, are much dimmer, while he remembers every day they spent together. He clearly loves her with all his heart, moreover, he is obsessed with Daisy and unable to imagine his life without her in it. Daisy’s real feelings remain confused and unclear.
But if we think a bit more about it, we’ll see the other side of Gatsby and Daisy relationship. He is obsessed with her, he idolizes her. Daisy is an embodiment of his dreams more than she is a real woman. But indeed she is real and she can’t choose between Jay and Tom, she loved Tom Buchanan at the beginning of their marriage and she confesses it to Gatsby.
Daisy can’t be blamed for her refusal to run away with Gatsby: she has a daughter to care and a lifestyle she is very attached to. She leaves him again, but even this time Gatsby doesn’t believe this is for real. Daisy is too connected to his American dream to believe that it is the end, an ultimate failure. Jay Gatsby still thinks that she will reconsider her decision, he should just try harder.
Gradually, he starts to understand that her refusal is real. But even after that he is too obsessed with the image of Daisy in his head. When she drives back with him and hits Myrtle Wilson, killing her on the spot, Gatsby says he is the one to blame. From this point and to his death we see him broken. The real world slowly dissolves in the monochromatic ashen realm of shadows.
Daisy is the embodiment of dream and without her the life is meaningless and futile. The thing that broke the iron will of The Great Gatsby is just the mere fact that Daisy is just a human, not the ideal being, but just a spoiled and depressed woman. She could never live up to his expectations.
As we can see from the novel, the relationship between Tom and Daisy is dysfunctional, but socially accepted, but our vision of the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy as possibly ideal, like in the classical fairy tale or soap opera, fades very quickly. No relationship can be built without seeing a real person behind one’s idealized image of them. Gatsby was unable to look through his dream and see the real Daisy. Daisy was also unable to look through her dream and see Gatsby as the courageous and very smart man who is able to gain wealth and provide her with the level of luxury she wished so desperately.