Gatsby’s Daisy: Materialistic and Shallow or Smart and Realistic?

**Article contains some spoilers**

I think that everyone in the world is fully aware that The Great Gatsby has dominated cinemas and the media in the last few weeks. Gatsby fever has taken over as we embrace Baz Luhrmann’s portrayal of the roaring twenties and captivate ourselves in Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan’s doomed romance. Having read the book years ago and seen the original 1974 film, I was intrigued to see the new take on Fitzgerald’s bittersweet love story- in particular the character of Daisy.

Daisy Buchanan is definitely one of those love-hate characters. Her choices lead you to cry “What the hell are you thinking?!” and her motives are always uncertain. Most responses I’ve heard towards Daisy’s character have been negative; I remember thinking myself once I had read the book and seen the original film that she actually wasn’t a very nice lady (with a different choice of words). After seeing it at the cinema, once the film had finished there was a chorus of words with similar effect. It is undeniable that Daisy is slightly fickle and pathetic with her feeble decision making, but it lead me to wonder whether she was simply misunderstood throughout?

Spoilt for choice: with Jay Gatsby (left) and Tom Buchanan (right)

After a brief romance with Daisy, Jay Gatsby leaves to fight the war. During this time she waits around for a bit for Gatz but meets wealthy heir Tom Buchanan. In typically bad timing, Gatsby writes to Daisy on her wedding day and explains that he is penniless but strives to get rich and please princess Daisy.  What is Daisy to do?! The poor man who loves her more than life itself or the rich guy with a wandering eye? Decisions I tell you. Anyway, Daisy marries Tom, que a lifestyle of luxury with consequences resulting in his frequent infidelity. Meanwhile Gatsby, unfazed by this revelation, is determined to win Daisy over by buying a house near hers (across the dock infact), getting rich (through illegal schemes, but still) and throwing extravagant, lavish parties- all in faint hope that Daisy will attend one of them someday, be impressed by his wealth, and the two can commence with their relationship. Daisy is unaware of this whole plan by the way.

With some help from Gatsby’s new pal and ironically Daisy’s cousin Nick, this plan actually works and their romance is rekindled for a short while. After a series of unfortunate events (caused by Daisy and Tom would you believe) Gatsby dies and is framed for everything whilst the Buchanan’s scarper to set up home elsewhere, leaving no forwarding address.

So, for the second time, Daisy chooses Tom Buchanan, leaving audiences and readers to wonder whether she is well. Her obvious decision to choose wealth and lifestyle over what can be described as ‘true love’ (on Gatsby’s behalf anyway) leads her to be perceived  as a materialistic, shallow gal. Ok, so Gatsby’s money is  a tad illegitimate, but he himself exclaims that he has just as much as Tom, so Daisy would be able to lead the exact same life… instead the cheating husband replaced by the hopelessly devoted Gatz and the occassional mob boss causing riots via telephone or at the infamous soirees. She’ll be missing out on nothing except the fact that Gatsby was not born into money, therefore lacks the same ‘honorable’ and ‘respectable’ status that Buchanan manages to maintain through his background.

Or was Daisy simply thinking of herself and her family’s (she has a child with Buchanan) future? How stable would Gatsby’s business deals be? Would his money last? He did tend to get a bit worked up about things, and these rich guys must sustain a cool and collected image in order to be representable. So what if Tom cheats, he comes home to her in the end and they are able to live comfortably with no scandals or disruptions… as long as they ignore his shenanigans. And she does love him, she cries, only a little bit, but she does! How great is Gatsby anyway?! He’s the guy that wants to do his best but ends up going nowhere, he’ll never do in the long run.

Was Daisy right in choosing Tom all along, if anything for the financial and lifestyle stability, or is it all just about background and status? Is she clever or just plain selfish? It all depends on your own moral beliefs. Either way, Daisy had a plan, and a life with Gatsby obviously wasn’t on the list. Sigh.

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