The Superficial Love of Gatsby: His Obsession with Daisy's Wealth

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Words: 1237 |

Pages: 3|

7 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

Words: 1237|Pages: 3|7 min read

Published: Jan 31, 2024

In The Great Gatsby, one of the most prominent features of the book is the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy. This relationship is what starts and ends the book, as every event is triggered by Gatsby’s obsession with Daisy and his desire to rekindle their love. He moves to the West Egg to be near her and dies protecting her and her reputation. Yet, this love may not be what it seems on the outside, a man wishing to reconnect with a past love he never forgot. In reality, Gatsby never truly loved Daisy for who she is, but what she represented.

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Daisy is the embodiment of the wealthy and what comes with it, which is what Gatsby sought after since his childhood. His values are clear, as when Daisy and Gatsby meet again for the first time, Gatsby is eager on showing her his mansion, and more specifically, his clothes. “He opened for us two hulking patent cabinets which held his massed suits and dressing-gowns and ties, and his shirts, piled like bricks in stack a dozen high...He took out a pile of shirts and began throwing them, one by one, before us”. (Fitzgerald 92) His purpose in doing this is to establish his surface image and wealth. Gatsby’s closet is defined as being “two hulking patent cabinets”, so his interest in his appearance and demonstrating his wealth is obvious. His manner of “throwing” the shirts is to show his carefree like ways with money. The reason behind Gatsby’s criminal activity is to do the same thing, which is to achieve the money that will put him at the same level as Daisy and feel worthy enough as to be part of that upper class. Tom confronts Gatsby on his illegal business and calls Gatsby a “common swindler”, which proves that earning money through that business will never make him part of the “real” upper class. Yet, this is the only way for Gatsby to have enough to equal those with old money, such as Tom and Daisy. Having old money also brings security and luxury. “He might have despised himself, for he had certainly taken her under false pretenses. I don’t mean that he had traded on his phantom millions, but he had deliberately given Daisy a sense of security; he let her believe that he was a person from much the same stratum as herself — that he was fully able to take care of her. As a matter of fact, he had no such facilities — he had no comfortable family standing behind him, and he was liable at the whim of an impersonal government to be blown anywhere about the world.” (Fitzgerald 149) He wants to live the life of somebody part of the upper class and convince them that he is just like those from old money as he had “deliberately given Daisy a sense of security”. He could only fully satisfy himself if he had that wealth. 'She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby — nothing.” (Fitzgerald 149) Gatsby felt he was left with “nothing”, without the things Daisy represented. “Her porch was bright with the bought luxury of star-shine; the wicker of the settee squeaked fashionably as she turned toward him and he kissed her curious and lovely mouth. She had caught a cold, and it made her voice huskier and more charming than ever, and Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes, and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.” (Fitzgerald 149-150) The porch has the “luxury of star shine” and her voice the “freshness of many clothes” which symbolizes the luxury of her old money. Her voice has “youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves”, which is the glamour youth holds, and herself, which is said to be “gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor.” This describes the security of old money. Gatsby also details her voice as being “full of money”, as that is what he sees in her. All of his actions that may seem like they are only to appease Daisy, is more focused on making himself feel like one who is part of Daisy’s social class.

Gatsby believes his desires can be achieved through Daisy, as she holds the key that will allow him to achieve the future he dreamed of. One of his desires is his need to change the past. His past is described as being the exact opposite of what he hopes to achieve. “His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people — his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all...For over a year he had been beating his way along the south shore of Lake Superior as a clam-digger and a salmon-fisher or in any other capacity that brought him food and bed. His brown, hardening body lived naturally through the half-fierce, half-lazy work of the bracing days.” (Fitzgerald 98) Gatsby disliked his original roots to the point where he could not accept his own parents because they did not fit into his dream of being pure wealth. He held an dull job that only brought him the minimum aspects of survival and gave him the body of someone who was truly from the lower class. Daisy on the other hand is described with having a “white face” that was “sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth” and “dark, shining hair.” This, in comparison, to Gatsby’s “brown, hardening body”, makes it much more apparent being part of the wealthy can change physical appearance alone. She is also from a wealthy family that matches the status of Tom Buchanan’s family. Daisy is the perfect embodiment of the type of person Gatsby wants to be. He was obsessed with creating a fantasy in which he could attain the wealth. “The most grotesque and fantastic conceits haunted him in his bed at night...Each night he added to the pattern of his fancies until drowsiness closed down upon some vivid scene with an oblivious embrace...they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.” (Fitzgerald 99) The fairy’s wing is Daisy, to who he bounds his fantasy to. With their first kiss, he also “wed his unutterable visions to her perishable breath”, where he ties his vision that is beyond reality, to Daisy, who could never help him attain that dream because it was “not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion”.

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Every length Gatsby goes to in order to appease Daisy, is more in favor for himself. Becoming wealthy was to satisfy his fantasy of being part of the upper class, while the surface seemed like his attempts to be worthy of Daisy’s love. He valued Daisy’s luxuries and security her old money brought, rather than for who she really was. Gatsby stayed blind to her true self as he could only see the part of her that would help him achieve his goal of changing the past. Their relationship may be seen as a tragic love, but the underlying truth is that Gatsby’s love was a superficial one.   

Works Cited:

  1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 1925.
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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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The Superficial Love of Gatsby: His Obsession with Daisy’s Wealth. (2024, January 31). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 13, 2024, from
“The Superficial Love of Gatsby: His Obsession with Daisy’s Wealth.” GradesFixer, 31 Jan. 2024,
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