Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby: Money versus Love Dilemma

Being written at the beginning of the 20th century, The Great Gatsby remains a mystery for both the most attentive readers and the fussiest critics, to a great extent. Indeed, numerous critical interpretations of the novel still appear and present new insights into the whirl of events described by Fitzgerald. In particular, the essence of the relationships between Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby as the main characters reveals its doubleness whereas money and love are tightly intertwined within this interpersonal connection. The opinions of the researchers differ in this respect. Nevertheless, it is argued in this essay that, in the light of Daisy-to-Jay’s connectedness, regardless of which side is being presented, money and status always permeate at the background.

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Jay Gatsby

To start with, the protagonist of the novel, Jay Gatz, or Gatsby, is a vivid illustration of the money-to-love non-separateness. First, this relation is linked to his initial aspirations to gain Daisy as a desired trophy after he comes back from the war and finds out that she got married. Of course, he has probably loved her given his young ambitions as a poor soldier who was lucky enough to make a rich girl interested in his persona. However, his seemingly love-like obsession with Daisy is sourced through acquiring immense wealth in an illegal way, which again mixes feelings with material gains. In this respect, love is a motivation, while money is a driving force for Gatsby willing to attain his American Dream, namely, Dais. His gaining a high status within the upper class of new money generation is veiled with a name of love as long-lasting emotional state and explicit duality at the same time. Gatsby’s obsession with money undermines the sincerity of his feelings. Therefore, his love is corrupted since it is pursued through material means, and this approach constantly progresses throughout the novel.
In an endeavor to revive his relationships with Daisy, Gatsby recreates himself in a new image of rich and famous, which underlines the money background in this quest again. The character covers himself with a mystery of wealth and prosperity by arranging overly pathetic and extravagant parties as a way to attract attention of his ideal woman. For this hero, Daisy is an ultimate goal to be achieved through the years of substantial efforts. At a certain point, it seems that he is really in love and the feelings overwhelm him. For example, this issue may refer to Gatsby’s gentle belief in green light observed by Nick when he meets him first. Further, Jordan explains this as a symbol of Daisy’s closeness and his unfulfilled dreams of love. On the one hand, this illustration is touching as it entails a possibility of his inner aspirations for regaining a soul mate that he has once lost. On the other hand, everything around him has become too artificial, even a renewed Gatsby. As a result, the aforementioned moment of sincerity can be perceived as an embodiment of his endless quest for a present for himself that he is about to outbid from Tom as a commodity. Indeed, when the trick with parties does not work out with Daisy, he finds another one, involving Nick for asking her for tea. Similarly to a businessman trying to reach the target audience and win the maximal market share, he finds diversified and suitable strategies to win Daisy. Nevertheless, this is not actually Gatsby’s fault. This shortcoming is a misbelief of the entire American society based on pursuing the Dream “to the fullest stature of which they [US citizens] are innately capable,” with clear “connotations to the financial success” (Lindberg 14). Thus, an update of Jay’s image has been initially flawed, though it corresponded to the time requirements whereas every attainable goal has been measured through the lens of commerce at that period.

Daisy Buchanan

In the discourse of the novel, Daisy is not innocent at all, and her romanticized vision of love is also money-mediated. Moreover, the proponents of positioning this female character as negative claim that she is the “first notable anti-virgin of our fiction, the prototype of the blasphemous portraits of the Fair Goddess as bitch in which our twentieth century fiction abounds”. On a similar note, such one-sided depiction of the heroine is not justified and not objective. Although it is hard to clearly state if she is capable to experience true love, as expected, the fact that money heavily influence her love-centric decisions is evident. Gatsby is an embodiment of her youth affection, underlined with seemingly sincere feelings. Following the remembrances of the characters, five years before the novel’s narration, she devoted herself to Jay Gatz, a military man of poor origin. However, this was the power of money guiding the society at large that reinforced her to change her mind and marry Tom instead.
Apart from that, all potential Daisy’s feelings and emotional sincerity are initially diluted with the social norms of the old-money world she belongs to. To illustrate, this factor is traceable in the birth of her child, which she is not even interested in. When the character finds out that her newborn child is a girl. With the above phrase, the woman reveals the actual sense of her inner self. She is positioned as a weak female that is incapable to oppose her outside world even in the name of the love that could fill her life with spiritual but not only material meaning. Daisy’s possible aspirations for love surrender before the strength of the money she becomes an integrated part of. It follows that the money has a too strong control over her, making any manifestations of individuality or feelings an impossible option.

Jay and Daisy

Since the day of Jay and Daisy’s reunion, happiness seems possible for a moment, but this is money that breaks all the illusions. Their meeting at Nick’s place is one of the most controversial episodes where the invisible struggle between money and love achieves its highest point. Foremost, the woman of Gatsby’s ideals stresses, “I certainly am glad to see you again!”. Both characters are overwhelmed with hopes, expectations and somehow hidden love. In this euphoria, the reader is likely to assume that this is the part when true love is supposed to enter their lives again as an immense source of sincere feelings. However, a great disappointment follows further. This statement makes one to understand that real love was never possible in this story at all, even Fitzgerald himself writes that the core of Daisy as a person is money. This fits in with both the culture at the time in the novel and the culture in the real world. Everyone wanted to possess a girl as if Daisy and women wanted to be her. So does Gatsby. In the next moment, Jay shows his ideal woman his richness and success instead of speaking of his endless love through affection. As Lewis aptly notes, “…even though those feelings are sincere,” he prefers “showing off his possessions” and eloquent wealth of the house to Daisy and Nick by emphasizing that it took just three years to earn the money that bought it. In contrast, Daisy is not naive at all. She absolutely justifies Gatsby’s beliefs when she cries above his shirts of huge quantity. Thus, love-to-money connection is inevitable for these two characters.
Finally, the end of the discussed love story is not happy at all because the narration reveals the decay of love under the immense pressure of money and a complete transformation of this feeling into a commodity. To illustrate, the verbal fight of titans, Tom and Jay, for Daisy is a vivid manif
estation of the validity of this claim. These men do not care about the emotional state of the woman whose fate they expect to decide. On the contrary, they measure the extent and strength of their rights on her as contradiction of the aristocratic money owned by Tom to that gained by Gatsby in a questionable manner. The way how Buchanan acts and asks the provocative questions and Gatsby posses his sharp answers and exclaims that Daisy has never loved her husband are direct evidence of a bargaining process over love as a commodity. Being cornered by this question, “a symbol of Gatsby’s illusions” replies that he demands too much since she “did love him once”, though loves Jay too. Thus, his dream of gaining the golden girl and her willingness to experience romantic love results into “the failure of a mutual dream”. In this way, an ideal woman that Jay Gatz once felt in love with is also corrupted with the lifestyle she got an integral part of due to the marriage with an upper-class old-money owner, Tom Buchanan. Therefore, the analysis sheds the light on that the love encounters a fiasco in face of money power in the novel The Great Gatsby.


The discussion held in the scope of the essay eventually proved that, in the light of Daisy-to-Jay’s relationship, regardless of which side is being presented, money and status always permeate at the background. This tendency is clearly traceable throughout the entire work written by Fitzgerald. Since the first attempts of Jay Gatz to revive Daisy’s affection, the doubleness of sincerity versus money undermines the philosophical essence of this connection. Foremost, the male character chooses a money-focused means to achieve his ultimate goal. In addition, his American Dream of a woman from the upper class is pursued through the lens of illegally acquired wealth and an artificial aura of richness and popularity, which Gatsby develops around his persona. What is more, Daisy is not an angel-like innocence in this respect. Of course, the claims of the scholars underlining her solely negative perspective seem not convincing. In contrast, she becomes the victim of the money, which excessively controls the world she belongs to. Therefore, the society and its stereotypical worldview that is based on the power of wealth allows no room for sincere feelings. The latter consumes any implications of true sincerity and transforms love into a commodity, which old and new money owners attempt to buy for any means possible.

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