In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, Daisy is Gastby's symbol of success. Why, according to some critics, is she inadequate to Gatsby's vision?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The idealism of Jay Gatsby, although replete with sentimentality, is not corrupt. Unlike Dr. Ecklesburg, his eyes do not look down upon the Valley of Ashes, a world devoid of real value in which dreams are mere illusions. Instead, Gatsby believes in his dreams; his "grail" is, indeed, attainable; he can recreate his halcyon past with Daisy and he can return to the romantic environment in which they fell in love.

Whereas his vision of materialism is idealized as a form of success, Daisy's materialism is in the form of $30,000 pearls and many-colored shirts in which she buries her head and cries "stormily" over their beauty:

"It makes me sad because I've never seen such--such beautiful shirts before."

With a voice that "sounds like money," Daisy is banal in her materialism, selling herself to Tom Buchanan for a beautiful string of pearls and all that accompany it, whereas Jay Gatsby perceives the acquisition of wealth and material possessions not as an end in itself, but as a means of successfully transporting him into the world of the socially elite in which resides his love. 

In his love and concern for Daisy, Jay Gatsby holds a vigil under her window, standing in the moonlight and rain, "watching over nothing," but Daisy thinks only of herself, conspiring to hold onto her life of wealth and prestige across a kitchen table with her husband Tom Buchanan. For this reason, in the next chapter, Nick shouts to Gatsby,

"They're a rotten crowd....You're worth the whole damn bunch of them put together."

In his unselfish and idealized love for Daisy, Gatsby is willing to sacrifice himself and assume the blame for Myrtle's death; on the other hand, the self-serving Daisy is willing to allow Gatsby to be blamed for her crime as the police will mistakenly assume that he has been the driver since he is the owner of the "death car." 

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question