The Character of Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby
Length: 1224 words (3.5 double-spaced pages)
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The character of Daisy Buchanan has many instances where her life and love of herself, money, and materialism come into play. Daisy is constantly portrayed as someone who is only happy when things are being given to her and circumstances are going as she has planned them. Because of this, Daisy seems to be the character that turns Fitzgerald's story from a tale of wayward love to a saga of unhappy lives. Fitzgerald portrays Daisy as a "doomed" character from the very beginning of the novel. She seems concerned only of her own stability and is sometimes not ready to go though what she feels she must do to continue the life that she has grown to know. She tells that she only married Tom Buchanan for the security he offered and love had little to do with the issue. Before her wedding, Jordan Baker finds Daisy in her hotel room, "groping around in the waste-basket she had with her on the bed and pull[ing] out [a] string of pearls. "Take 'em down-stairs and give 'em back.... Tell 'em all Daisy's change' her mine... She began to cry - she cried and cried... we locked the door and got her into a cold bath." (Fitzgerald 77)
Money seems to be one of the very top priorities in her life, and everyone that she surrounds herself with, including her daughter, seem to accept this as mere fact with her. She lives in one of the most elite neighborhoods in the state, in one of the most elegant houses described in the book, and intends very much for her daughter to grow up much like she has. "And I hope she'll be a fool --that's the best thing a girl can be in this world today, a beautiful little fool." (Fitzgerald 24) She raves repeatedly of boats and large windows and halls where many a extravagant party is held. This only stands remind of her reliance on material goods and her stories of her gowns and home furnishings confirm this sad fact. Daisy is one woman who is at home in Bloomingdales, and shuns anyone who would be out-of-place at a gathering of societies richest and most pompous citizens. She is forever looking forward to showing off, and she exhibits such behavior when she parades her daughter around in front of guests like an inanimate object. So intimate in fact, that it seems as if Pammy was not even really wanted.
"In June 1922, Nick records Daisy's statement that her daughter is three years old. Daisy married Tom Buchanan in June 1919. If her child is indeed three, then Daisy was nine months pregnant at her wedding. ... The age of the child is a clue, planted by Fitzgerald, to Daisy's premarital promiscuity or even an indication that Pammy is Gatsby's child... It might also be asserted that Daisy's mistake in Pammy's age was intended by Fitzgerald to indicate her indifference to the child." (Bruccoli 38)At the end of the book, however, there is a sudden realization that is the same as the people whom Daisy interacts with; this is how Daisy was raised, and it is the Daisy that they must learn to accept.
Another character flaw of Daisy's is her reliance on men. She is seen as a women who's entire existence is based not on what she has personally accomplished, but what the man she has married has done with his life, and to support her. Tom was a very successful football player. He is handsome. But what entices Daisy the most is his abundant wealth that he has no problem spending and sharing with his wife. For this, and not for love, Daisy and Tom are married. It is a marriage out of convince, one that was just the next step in both of their lives. At Gatsby's party, this is most apparent. "Go ahead," answered Daisy genially, "and if you want to take down any address here's my gold pencil."... She looked around after a moment and told me the girl was "common but pretty," and I knew that except for the half-hour she'd been alone with Gatsby she wasn't having a good time." (Fitzgerald 107)When she is faced with the decision to tell both men whom she is truly in love with, Daisy confesses that she really was in love with Tom for a time, but also that Jay Gatsby was one of her beaus. She is unwilling to deny her original love to Tom in any way, and states: "I love you now - isn't that enough? I can't help what's past... I did love him once-but I loved you too!" (Fitzgerald 133) She gives the expression that she would have married Gatsby had it not been that he was poor. He was also, at the time that the two originally met, somewhat from the wrong side of town, but his uniform help to disguise this. Because of his undying love for Daisy, Gatsby has come to spend the rest of his life making enough money in unlawful ways so as to buy her love. Daisy is once again portrayed as a selfish and materialistic woman who worries about no one but herself. But what we as readers find to be the most unnerving part of Daisy's entire character is her total unhappiness.
Despite all that she has had placed upon her, Daisy only wants what she has never learned to accept. This is truelove, without strings, attachments, or material goods. She repeatedly reminds the readers that love is exactly what you make of it, though she seems to have made a mockery of love in her own life. She is an example of what is completely wrong with the modern society's idea of love; that it can be bought and sold at will of the buyer and seller. For, even when she is offered unconditional love she doesn't know how to react to it. "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. At his lips' touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete." (Fitzgerald 43)This is very wrong, and Daisy lives in misery her entire adult life amid things that are supposed to buy her happiness but lend her nothing but heartbreak. She is confused and has learned nothing of how to handle true love when it is given to her. In her world she must buy and sell her soul and love like the goods in a store window, for a price. The readers sees her almost as a martyr of her own actions and misconceptions of life.
All of these character flaws; Daisy's selfishness, materialistic views, reliance on men, and overbearing emphasis on money, all lead to her own destruction. Though unlike George and Gatsby's physical destruction, Daisy's is one of a mental and spiritual kind. She is seen as someone who has forsaken her true love with Gatsby for Tom and the stability that he stands for, thus creating her own demise. She stands as a symbol of what one can do to destroy oneself with ignorance and innocence together.