Explain how Nick describes Gatsby's feelings about the presence of Daisy in his house in The Great Gatsby.

In The Great Gatsby, according to Nick's descriptions, the presence of Daisy in his house causes Gatsby to feel mostly joy. Nick also describes Gatsby as feeling infatuated with Daisy and rather overwhelmed.

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In chapter 5 of The Great Gatsby, Gatsby shows his pride in his large, opulent house, remarking to Nick that it took him three years to earn the money to buy it, even though this contradicts what he has already said about his inherited wealth. From the moment that Daisy enters, however, the only point of the house and its contents are the effect they have on her. Nick observes,

He hadn't once ceased looking at Daisy and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real.

Daisy has been a dream for Gatsby so long that familiar objects in his home seem equally magical and unreal in her presence. Nick describes three distinct stages in Gatsby's reaction:

After his embarrassment and his unreasoning joy he was consumed with wonder at her presence.

The embarrassment does not last long, and the joy leaves him inarticulate, unable to describe his feelings at the sudden realization of his dreams. The emotional reaction to this joy and wonder makes him run down "like an overwound clock."

At this point, there seems to be a curious sympathy between Gatsby and Daisy. It is not so unusual that he shows a neighbor round his house, though one would not expect him to include his bedroom in the tour. However, to pile up his shirts for her admiration is a strange gesture, suggesting that he is overwrought and running out of ideas. Daisy, however, is in a similar mood of emotional tension and cries "stormily" over the beauty of Gatsby's shirts.

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In chapter 5, as Gatsby shows Daisy around his house, his eyes remain fixed on her. He reassesses everything in his house according to "the measure of response it [draws] from her well-loved eyes." This moment represents for Gatsby the culmination of everything he has been working for for the previous five years. He has built this house, across the water from Daisy's own house, specifically with the purpose of impressing Daisy and winning her back. This moment, therefore, when Daisy is seeing the inside of his house for the first time, represents for Gatsby the moment when his efforts prove worthwhile or futile. This is the moment upon which the rest of his life depends. For this reason, Gatsby is fixated on Daisy when she is in his house. For this same reason he is also rather "dazed." Nick describes, for example, how Gatsby "nearly toppled down a flight of stairs."

Nick also describes Gatsby as being "consumed with wonder at [Daisy's] presence" and as looking as if he was "running down like an overwound clock." This latter quotation, comparing Gatsby to an "overwound clock," links back to the previous point about Gatsby having worked tirelessly for the last five years for this very moment. He has pushed himself so hard in pursuit of this goal (to see Daisy in his own house) that he has become overly tense, like a wire stretched too tightly or, indeed, like an "overwound clock." Now that he actually has Daisy in his house, all of his tension is being released. The implication is that he feels momentarily drained, like a runner after a race or like a boxer after a fight.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
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