What is the contradiction of Daisy's voice being "as matter-of-fact as it could ever be," and then "full of aching, grieving beauty,[that] told only of her unexpected joy" in Chapter 5 of The...

What is the contradiction of Daisy's voice being "as matter-of-fact as it could ever be," and then "full of aching, grieving beauty,[that] told only of her unexpected joy" in Chapter 5 of The Great Gatsby?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When Gatsby reunites with Daisy in Chapter Five of The Great Gatsby, his attempts to stop time are symbolized by the fall of the mantlepiece clock at Nick's house.  Ignoring the clock, Daisy matter-of-factly remarks that she has not seen Gatsby for many years; Gatsby quickly replies, "Five years next November." At this point, Daisy does not appear to be interested in Jay Gatsby; however, as he and Daisy talk alone over tea, Nick, who has stepped outdoors, hears their voices

rising and swelling a little, now and then, with gusts of emotion.

When Nick returns to his house, reflective of what he has heard, Daisy has been crying and Gatsby "literally glowed." Nick tells Gatsby that it has stopped raining; he repeats this to Daisy and she says she is glad as

[H]er throat, full of aching, grieving beauty, told only of her unexpected joy.

Truly, Daisy promises much more than she is capable of emotionally. Then, Gatsby invites Nick and Daisy to his house and the brass buttons on the dress Daisy wears "gleam in the sunlight," symbolizing Daisy's values as materialistic. Once inside, Daisy is impressed with Gatsby's possessions, crying when he pulls his many-colored shirts out for her to see.

Clearly, there is a confusion of the aesthetic beauty of nature and of love, with the carnal and material. Daisy is insincere; she evaluates with the measures of wealth and status; she fluctuates in the warmth of her voice because she is merely interested in the illusion of love. Daisy is deceptive, and this deception is revealed in her voice that is charming with the "jingle of it, the cymbals' song of it."  In her careless world, Daisy's only joy emanates from wealth; the rest is illusion.  She is interested in the illusion of her love for Gatsby; she feels "unexpected joy" in the illusion of Gatsby's social status, his mansion and colored shirts.  On the other hand, Gatsby holds her as an ideal to be reached in his confusion of the aesthetic with the material.  In his self-deception, Gatsby wants Daisy to be perfect, but he soon realizes that she "tumbled short of his dreams" because of the "colossal vitality of his illusions." Gatsby's fatal vision is as incongruous with his ideal as Daisy's "aching, grievous beauty" is with her matter-of-fact words. 

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