How are sexual relationships and love portrayed in The Great Gatsby? I am writing an essay comparing the portrayal of sexual relationships, relationships and romance between The Great Gatsby and...

How are sexual relationships and love portrayed in The Great Gatsby?

I am writing an essay comparing the portrayal of sexual relationships, relationships and romance between The Great Gatsby and Lady Chatterley's Lover but could not find anything about how the sexual relationships are shown in The Great Gatsby.

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William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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According to an article in Wikipedia:

Lady Chatterley's Lover is a novel by D. H. Lawrence, first published in 1928. The first edition was printed privately in Florence, Italy, with assistance from Pino Orioli; an unexpurgated edition could not be published openly in the United Kingdom until 1960. (A private edition was issued by Inky Stephensen's Mandrake Press in 1929.) The book soon became notorious for its story of the physical relationship between a working-class man and an upper-class woman, its explicit descriptions of sex, and its use of then-unprintable words.

D. H. Lawrence's novel was regarded as shocking and scandalous, and is still so regarded in some quarters. On the other hand, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, though it chronicles the wild behavior of the Roaring Twenties, is remarkably restrained and chaste. There are two adulterous love affairs going on simultaneously--one between Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson and the other between Gatsby and Daisy--yet there are no descriptions of any physical intimacy. Gatsby, in fact, seems like a bashful schoolboy when he finally meets Daisy again at Nick's cottage.He has had to spend millions on real estate and entertainments in order to bring this meeting about. Tom Buchanan keeps an apartment in New York City for his trysts with Myrtle, but the only physical contact Fitzgerald describes occurs when Tom breaks Myrtle's nose.

Novels published in America during the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s did not offer vivid descriptions of intimate relations between men and women. Whatever went on between couples was only hinted at. Many readers have asked whether Gatsby and Daisy were actually having an affair, because Fitzgerald apparently was unwilling and unable to offer the reader any glimpses into the boudoirs.

Here is the closest Fitzgerald comes to saying explicitly that Gatsby and Daisy were on the point of making love. It occurs at the very end of Chapter 5. This is the first time Daisy has been inside Gatsby's home. Nick says:

They had forgotten me, but Daisy glanced up and held out her hand. Gatsby didn't know me now at all. I looked once more at them and they looked back at me, remotely, possessed by intense life. Then I went out of the room and down the marble steps into the rain, leaving them there together.

What happens after Gatsby and Daisy are alone together is left to the reader's imagination. That is as explicit as Fitzgerald ever gets. They have not kissed each other and are not even holding hands when Nick leaves. It is significant that Daisy holds out her hand to Nick. Fitzgerald had to establish that he was being relieved of his responsibility as Daisy's escort and was being assured that she was perfectly content to be left there alone with Gatsby.

Gatsby's love for Daisy is symbolized by the wealth and material possessions he has piled up. Daisy's love for Gatsby seems remarkably temperate. There is very little real love between Tom and Myrtle. She likes having a lover who spends a lot of money on her, and he likes having a succession of extramarital affairs. He does seem a bit shaken up when he finds that she has been killed by a hit-and-run driver, but hardly as much so as her pathetic husband.




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