Where can you find evidence of Gatsby's devotion/obsession with an ideal, rather than an actual person[Daisy]?The first sentence of this question was "Although Gatsby professed to love Daisy, there...

Where can you find evidence of Gatsby's devotion/obsession with an ideal, rather than an actual person[Daisy]?

The first sentence of this question was "Although Gatsby professed to love Daisy, there is a sense that he was not in love with her as much as he was in love with the idea of her." This is just a question for my English class. Please help and thanks. :)

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dstuva's profile pic

Doug Stuva | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby does love Daisy, but he is also in love with an idea or an ideal, or, more specifically, with the idea of an ideal past. 

Evidence for this is seen when Gatsby isn't satisfied by Daisy's loving him "now."  Gatsby has a plan, a vision, a dream, a view that his relationship with Daisy is special, beyond the normal.  It is not enough that Daisy loves him now, she must have always been in love with him for the five years since they first met.  She must have married Tom for reasons other than love. 

For Gatsby's idea or ideal to be true, Daisy must have been pining for him all these years.  That's what it would take for the dream to be true, for their love to be special. 

The fact that Daisy's current love is not enough for Gatsby (and Daisy is aware of this, of course; she refers to it herself) demonstrates that Gatsby loves more than just Daisy.  It doesn't prove that he doesn't love Daisy, but it does prove he loves more than just her.  He spends the novel trying to recapture the past:  an ideal past that, unfortunately--as the events of the novel demonstrate--never really was.

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susan3smith | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Jay Gatsby is a dreamer.  There are several facets of his dream.  One is the Horatio Alger success story that involves discipline, hard work, drive--the rags to riches idea.  This dream was begun in his youth, as his father reveals, and one that he obviously has attained in his adulthood.

The second dream was fashioned by Dan Cody.  Dan Cody on his yacht introduced Gatsby to the lifestyle of the rich, and this lifestyle becomes the second part of Gatsby's dream:  Cody's yacht "represented all the beauty and glamor in the world."  Gatsby with his cream colored car and mansion in West Egg has the kind of lifestyle that Dan Cody represented for him.

Daisy is the third part.  What Daisy represents to Gatsby is more difficult.  She is the face that he puts to his dream.   Gatsby is in love with Daisy's life.  In Chapter 8, we learn that Gatsby falls in love with Daisy and her house:

Her porch was bright with the bought luxury of star-shine; the wicker of the settee squeaked fashionabl as she turned toward him and he kissed her curious and lovely moth.  She had caught a cold and it made her voice huskier and more charming than ever and Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the  youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot sturggles of the poor.

Daisy represents Old Money, love, and more importantly eternal youth.  Attaining Daisy in the way that he wants is impossible.  Gatsby wants to turn back the clock to the time when they were young and in love, and when he appeared to her as a rich officer in the military, and he could come and go in that glittering house of hers.  What Daisy represents to him is a missed opportunity of the kind of love and lifestyle that had he been a rich young man he would have had.  Having the wealth now does not mean anything because all the money of the world cannot make Daisy a woman who never married and who never had a child.  Neither can his money now make him a rich young man in his youth, who would have been Daisy's equal.  This is the dream he is chasing.  It is this dream that cannot be attained even if Daisy sleeps with Gatsby in the afternoons or leaves Tom and marries Gatsby.  He cannot have her as she was in her "white girlhood" in Louisville.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The previous posts were really accurate.  I would posit that one piece of evidence that can be used is that there is little that Gatsby reveals that shows him to be in love with Daisy as a person.  There is little in way of specific elements intrinsic to her as a person which shows him to be in love with her.  There is little in way of emotional connection between them both.  Certainly, Daisy is shown to be part of the "flapper" social scene, where such emotions do not merit such investment.  Yet, Gatsby does not really reflect this in his own right.  He shows little in way of pure emotional or affectual sensibility that reflects to us that he is in love with Daisy, the person.  The vision and the journey, to quote a previous thought, might be more of what enamors him and drives him.  It is in this light that Fitzgerald might be making a statement on the nature of relationships that hope to succeed as to what is needed on that end.

missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Daisy represented something that Gatsby couldn't have because he was impoverished at the time of their late teenage romance. It is human nature to want what you cannot have. Gatsby apparently went to great lengths to become a man that she would be able to socially date, but by the time he gets around to actually getting her again, time and situations have changed.

For Gatsby, it was about the journey as much as the relationship. That green light at the end of the dock meant he had a prey to conquer. Once conquered, it would be over.

The material objects he used (the shirts, the nice things he brought to Nick's to make their first reunion up to her standards) combined with the situations he created (at his party, he was more concerned with her having a good time) demonstrate that he needed acceptance. It doesn't matter who the girl would have been, his self-confidence had been shot once and he needed it repaired. So, for specific evidence, I would go to the end of chapter 5 where we see so many of the material items he uses to impress her with. If it was a real relationship, she would have just been impressed with his character and that would have been enough.

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