In The Great Gatsby, how does Daisy Buchanan represent the American Dream?Daisy may be considered Gatby's American Dream, but how does Daisy represent the American Dream? Please provide a thesis...

In The Great Gatsby, how does Daisy Buchanan represent the American Dream?

Daisy may be considered Gatby's American Dream, but how does Daisy represent the American Dream? Please provide a thesis statement to summarize information.

Expert Answers
lschertz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thesis: Daisy embodies both the American Dream and the downfall associated with such a dream.

Support: The American Dream is often described as a sort of 'get-rich-quick' scheme.  Happiness and success are desired as quickly as possible - usually in the form of money - at whatever cost necessary.  Daisy is a perfect representation of just just a belief.  She knew Gatsby 5 years prior to the story, years before she knew Tom.  But she refused to marry Gatsby because he was not rich.  She came from money, and she felt that, in order to remain happy and successful, she needed to marry someone with money. So, she watches Gatsby build his fortune and his mansion just for her, in order to entice her into leaving Tom.

However, as much as she represents the American Dream, she represents the downfall of it as well.

"The danger is, like Gatsby, she carries the “well-forgotten dreams from age to age." (enotes character analysis)

Daisy cannot let go of her vision of the perfect American Dream, and she carries these dreams with her, unable to adapt to new situations.  So when Gatsby lets her drive and she kills a woman, she cannot accept responsibility for it.  She needs her life to continue to be beautiful and happy simply because she has money.  Therefore, she abandons Gatsby and returns to her husband.  She then leaves before Gatsby's funeral.  She feels that to go to his funeral would require a sacrifice of this dream that she shared with Gatsby, and as long as there is no tangible evidence, she can cling to money as happiness and success.

Therefore, Daisy can be seem as representational of both the American Dream and the destruction of it.

thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One can only consider Daisy Buchanan to embody the American dream if you see her as merely an object of desire, or of the male gaze, rather than as a human being with her own life, goals, and individual existence. In fact, from a feminist perspective, one could argue that The Great Gatsby itself shows women mainly as objects of male sexual desire and as rewards for male characters rather than as genuine people with their own needs and stories. 

Jay Gatsby himself, of course, embodies the American Dream in his reinvention of himself and his portrayal as a self-made man who gets rich by his own hard work and cleverness. His aspirational goals include not just wealth but being accepted by the powerful and aristocratic families of East Egg. One is never sure whether Gatsby loves Daisy for herself or for the old money she represents. While she is part of Gatsby's dream, she herself represents the precise opposite of the American Dream. 

Daisy is descended from wealthy "old money" and married to a man of the same class. Despite having an affair with Gatsby, she eventually returns to Tom and lets Gatsby take the fall for her killing Myrtle. She represents the way in which old money is entrenched and the powerful WASP elite establishment is eventually impermeable; her narrative arc suggests that the American Dream is just that—a dream or illusion. 

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The Great Gatsby

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