How does Fitzgerald present love as a destructive force?

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price7781 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

F. Scott Fitzgerald showed how love was destructive primarily through what Jay Gatsby gave up to win the heart of Daisy Buchanan.  Gatsby was so obsessed with Daisy, it was all he was focused on.  His entire existence at the beginning of the novel was to tempt her to one of his lavish parties so he would see her again.  Throughout the novel, everything he did, from planning the perfect lunch to buying the most beautiful pale pink shirts, was to impress her.  The obsession destroyed his life.

He also denied his past and family by changing his name from Gatz to Gatsby.  Gatsby originally came from a poor family and was not part of Daisy’s social class.  At the end of the novel, Gatsby’s father showed up to the funeral, and Nick was amazed to meet him because Gatsby never talked about his family.  Gatsby was ashamed of his family and destroyed that love to achieve Daisy’s affection.

Another thing that his love for Daisy destroyed was his integrity and honesty.  In order to become rich, Gatsby was involved in illegal activities of some sort with Wolfshiem.   Since the novel was set in the 1920s, bootlegging liquor could be the business he was in to make his money. 

Because of his love for Daisy, Gatsby gave up and destroyed his ideals, his family values, and his integrity.  He destroyed his old self to become the new Gatsby in hopes of impressing a love he could never attain.  

Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

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