(Spoiler Alert: Do not read if you haven’t read The Great Gatsby. If you have read it, or alternately, don’t care about ruining the end, jump right in. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.)
So I was reading The Great Gatsby again (Okay fine, I was watching it, but I have read it), and I realised something. I don’t think Daisy Buchanan ever actually loved Jay Gatsby. Not when she was going to Long island house for parties, not when Nick Carraway set up that meeting between them, not when she told Tom about the affair in that hot as hell New York apartment, not even when Jay went to her house five years previously, during the First World War. Daisy was really just leading poor Gatsby on so that she could get back at her obnoxious, philandering husband, Tom Buchanan.
This isn’t to say that Gatsby didn’t love her. He loved her with a stalker-ish devotion. The poor optimistic Jay Gatsby was one of the saddest unreciprocated lovers of all time. How depressing that his house across the bay, his criminal empire, his hours staring at the green light, and all his weekly parties (by the way does that remind anyone else of Ted Mosby? Just me? Okay) would be in vain, because the day Daisy noticed him was the day she needed a way to make Tom pay. And very conveniently, the “way” was in the house across from her, desperate to see her.
Now obviously I have to back up a claim like this with some good hard evidence. Consider this: the very first time Nick visits the Buchanan house, Daisy talks about her daughter saying “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool- that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool”. Sounds like the sort of thing she’d say if she found out about something that she didn’t want to know. Something like her dear husband’s cheating ways. Now, despite her very damsel-in-distress-esque air, she seems like the sort of person who wouldn’t take betrayal lying down. She was probably planning to get back at Tom from the moment she found out about his mistress.
Now about the famed New York apartment scene, when all Nick could talk about was the burning heat. So Daisy was at that moment ready to run off with Gatsby and leave Tom, but by that evening she was back together with Tom and a few days later she had left Long Island with him. So either Daisy never actually intended to go anywhere with Jay, or she is the biggest flake in the history of English Literature.
And I cannot ignore the elephant in the room – The Accident. The petite, soft-spoken Daisy Buchanan became a hit and run artist, smacking into Tom’s mistress, Myrtle and not even looking back. And then she let Gatsby take the blame! And didn’t run off with him in the night, and didn’t call him for days on end while he waited for her by the phone. And didn’t go for his funeral after her dear Tom got him killed by Myrtle’s distraught husband.
Now some might say she was product of the times. A reaction, if you would, to the debauchery of the roaring twenties and to the obvious subjugation of the feminine by the masculine. And perhaps those some are right. Fitzgerald certainly isn’t forgiving of the American Dream. But that hardly changes the fact that Daisy is a heartless, manipulative bitch.
To be fair Daisy might have had some affection for Jay when she first met him. But I chalk that up to a love for uniforms and not for the people inside them. At any rate she was pretty quick to forget him. As for her tantrum the night before her wedding, that was probably just cold feet.
Really the Great Gatsby is a story about a poor naïve boy from North Dakota, getting taken along for a ride by two incredibly self-centered, manipulative assholes, and getting murdered for his trouble. It’s a true tragedy.