Daisy's Greed in The Great Gatsby
Length: 418 words (1.2 double-spaced pages)
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The Great Gatsby as a whole contains many themes revolving around the "death"
of the American dream and the corruption of society as a result of this. Daisy, one of the
book's central figures and an aloof and wealthy socialite, displays the bad qualities associated
with people whom Fitzgerald sees as the cause of the downfall of society. Daisy shows a
desire to gain material wealth at all costs, and she breaks any rules that stand in her way. She
takes no responsibility for her actions. Daisy even goes back to Tom, who cheated on her and
treats her like garbage, after Gatsby admits that he is "new money." She wants to keep her
social standing of being part of a long line of wealthy citizens. Fitzgerald meant for Daisy to
be the prime example of where American standards were heading.
Daisy's greed can best be seen in her choice of a husband, and in the circumstances
leading up to that choice. When she and Gatsby were stationed in Europe during the war,
she fell in love with him because he weaved an intricate lie about the massive wealth of his
family and all the good things he could give to her. It broke her heart when they had to
leave each other, not because she loved him, but because she was greedy and loved what
he had. This is the main reason why she married Tom later; she couldn't have the money
Gatsby offered her so she took the money Tom offered her. Tom is portrayed as such an
unlikable character that one finds it hard to believe that she would marry him for anything
other than his possessions. And her desire to stay in touch with her rich lifestyle even extends
to breaking the law when necessary.
When Daisy drives home with Gatsby, after she learns of Tom's affair with Myrtle, she
hits Myrtle and kills her. Instead of stopping or trying to help, she drives off. Later, when
asked about the accident, she lets Gatsby take the blame. The end result of this, of course, is
Gatsby's death at the hands of George Wilson, who doesn't know Daisy killed his wife because
she never owned up to it.
Fitzgerald also show the corruption of the American Dream in how he portrays
Daisy's lifestyle. She and her equally corrupt friend Jordan Baker sit around all day basking in
their wealth, as shown in the scene where Nick first comes to the Buchanan household. He
enters the house to see them just sitting there, staring into nothing. It becomes obvious that
their everyday schedule mostly consists of this during the day, and drinking heavily at parties
during the night. Fitzgerald makes it clear that something is wrong with this picture in the
Nick's sarcasm and disillusionment.
Nick's cynicism reveals the message of the novel: people like Daisy are leading
America down the wrong path and destroying the American Dream and all things involved in
that, mainly a sense of morals and a strong work ethic. Daisy exemplifies the worst qualities of
human nature that Fitzgerald saw in his day. Her life revolves around sitting and doing nothing
with all of her unnecessary wealth, all the while going to any extremes in order to gain more
possessions. This greed corrupts not only her, but all of society in the same position as her.