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Different Interpretations of Love in The Great Gatsby
Almost every character in The Great Gatsby claimed to be in love with someone. While reading the novel, one may begin to question the authenticity of any of the characters feelings. Each character seems to interpret love in a completely different way. It makes one wonder if any of the characters have any idea of what love really is.
A prime example of this unique observation is Tom. He seems to think love is more of a controlling, dominating feeling. He doesn’t do much loving and nurturing for either of his women. He cheats on his wife, and beats his mistress. If he truly loves either of them, he sure has a bizarre way of showing it. He likes being able to control Daisy the way he does, and he loves having Myrtle obey him because of his money. It seems he loves controlling them, not being with them.
Another example is Myrtle. She obviously does not love her husband or she wouldn’t be cheating on him, and trying to leave him. She has two men in her life. One who tries his best to provide for her with his meager earnings, but does love her. The other is powerful, prestigious, and wealthy, but breaks her nose. The choice here would be obvious for someone else, but Myrtle takes the alternate route. She chooses the rich man who beats her over her husband who does his best to care for her. There seems to be an ulterior motive behind this decision. Perhaps she doesn’t "love" Tom after all. Perhaps she loves his money.
Daisy is yet another character seemingly confused by love. When she was only seventeen she fell in love with a young Gatsby. She left him because he was not wealthy enough for her blood. She later married another man who is wealthy. Several years later when Gatsby comes back into Daisy’s life she is ready to leave her husband. It seems odd that if he wasn’t good enough for her when she was a girl, that he suddenly would be now that she is a grown woman with a husband and child. Could it be perhaps because he is now just as wealthy, or even more so, than her husband. It is a distinct possibility Daisy is mistaking her love for money, for love for Gatsby.
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And last but not least, the man the novel was named after; Gatsby. He claims to love Daisy so much that he would do anything for her. His feelings seem truly genuine. His actions, however, border more on obsession than love. He tries to get her to leave her husband. What if Daisy is truly happy with Tom. If you really loved someone would you want to break up their marriage. His obsession makes him willing to partake in illegal activities and, even split up a family. It seems Gatsby has taken the phrase "love knows no boundaries" a little too seriously. If Gatsby truly loved Daisy, he would want her to be happy no matter who she was with. Instead he tries almost forcefully to get her to leave the only life she has ever known. That seems just a little obsessive rather than loving.
It seems the only person in this entire novel that comes the closest to understanding love, is Mr. Wilson. He does his best to make a good life for Myrtle, even though he knows she isn’t happy. After her accidental death he tries to avenge her killer by murdering Gatsby , and then in his agony, turns the gun on himself. He couldn’t bear living without his wife, and with what he had done. Mr. Wilson was obviously mentally unstable, but that was only because he lost the only person he ever really loved.
The characters in this novel all interpreted love in their own unique way. Some interpreted it for power, domination, want of money, or even obsession. Maybe some of them really were in love. Maybe some of them were not. Whether any of them really were in love with the person they claimed to be, or thought they were in love with will never be known. The characters may never even figure it out for themselves.