Love Versus the Idea of Love
In many instances, infatuation with an idea of something or someone can mislead many into believing in a false interpretation of love. In F. Scott Fitzgeralds novel The Great Gatsby the main character, Jay Gatsby, is a victim of such deceit. A charming, affluent girl named Daisy Buchanan attracts him at a young age and his desire for her grows as they take separate paths in life. Although Gatsby proclaims his love for Daisy, what he fails to mention is why he has these feelings and what she offers as a person that is worthy of his love. He constantly reflects on her materialistic assets and never mentions what kind of person she is. This distorted perception of love, lacking any emotional connection, demonstrates that Gatsby does not truly love Daisy Buchanan; he is in love with an embellished figment of his imagination.
The traditional definition of love is a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection for another (Love). Love means a sharing of emotion and trust and growth in relationship, something that Gatsby and Daisy never share. An infatuation drastically differs from this, meaning, to inspire or possess with a foolish or unreasoning passion, as of love (Infatuate). Infatuation is a static process characterized by an unrealistic expectation of blissful passion without growth and development.Gatsbys feelings towards Daisy undoubtedly compare to the latter. His love for Daisy has no reasoning or depth; it is passion and fascination with who she appears to be and what she has to her name. He goes out of his way to please her, spends all of his time thinking about her, and sets all of his priorities in life around ultimately achieving her approval. The distinction in what he feels is illustrated through Gatsbys comments and descriptions of Daisy.
He found her excitingly desirable. He went to her house, first with all the other officers, then alone. It amazed him he had never been in such a beautiful house before. But what gave it an air of breathless intensity was that Daisy lived there (Fitzgerald 148).
As a penniless officer in the military, he is captivated by her monetary position as well as her social status among men. It excited him, too, that many men had already loved Daisy it increased her value in his eyes (Fitzgerald 149). This reveals that Gatsby, like any human being, wants something that others covet. She is marked as something valuable that every other man wants, increasing Gatsbys desire for her. He is in love with the idea of being with her and is excited by the competition to which it requires. Daisy is the forbidden fruit that he knows he must not touch, but he cannot help himself. Knowing that he cannot rightfully make her his own with his current monetary standings made him even more eager to have her. he took her because he had no real right to touch her hand (Fitzgerald 149). Gatsby was smart and jumped at this lucky opportunity to claim something a woman so ideal. This further supports that Gatsby was not truly in love with Daisy, only with the idea of having something so desirable.
To truly fall in love takes time and requires getting to know someone to a profound degree. In Gatsby and Daisys relationship, time was never an aspect. They met, developed an enormous feeling of attraction, and called it love. They never took the time to really get to know one another before he left for the war. This relationship is comparable to Romeo and Juliets in William Shakespeares The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. The star-crossed lovers meet once and are in love. In reality, no two people could experience feelings to such degree in such a short amount of time without getting to know each other. Love requires knowing a persons character, who they truly are and what they believe in. Gatsby reveals nothing about who Daisy is as a person, what she thinks or believes, or even what she likes. He only describes what she has and what attracts him to her. A similar foolish infatuation occurs in the movie Titanic, where a lower class working boy falls for an upper class debutante. Whether or not he is truly in love with or simply caught up in the midst of her wealth and charm is debatable, much like Gatsbys situation with Daisy. Gatsby himself might start to realize he is not truly in love with Daisy when he finally has her in his home. He had been full of the idea so long, dreamed it right through to the end, waited with his teeth set, so to speak, at an inconceivable pitch of intensity. Now, in the reaction, he was running down like an overwound clock (Fitzgerald 92). Gatsby built up his image of Daisy so much that when it comes down to being with her in reality, she does not amount to his expectation. If he truly felt love for Daisy, the real her would not have fell short of his imaginary idea of her.
Daisy is the ultimate goal that Gatsby sets to achieve. He claims he loves Daisy, but more than that, he loves what she represents. She has the grace and class of old money, which is something he never had. He had to re-invent himself to be good enough for her, which became a life-consuming quest in which she was the end reward. Daisy, in all her beauty, her glamour, and her riches, represents the American Dream. Her name itself implies the power of the American Dream. Daisy is a flower that even when mowed over will always grow back. No matter how many blows the American Dream takes, it will always return, as beautiful as ever. Everyone wants her. Each man had his own way of attaining her, with only a lucky, privileged few finally experiencing her greatness for themselves. They would take what they could get, ravenously and unscrupulously (Fitzgerald 141). A man that wanted Daisy must commit himself to the following of a grail, (page 141). The grail, a symbol in many different mythologies as an unobtainable item. Gatsby saw this dream in her and
In conclusion, Gatsby did not truly love Daisy. He became obsessed with a desirable woman and created an illusion of her in his mind that made him want her more. Since this was during the Jazz Age, the American Dream was success and wealth. Gatsby was trying to achieve this and being with Daisy meant success in this aspect. He has no connection to Daisy as the person, no emotional tie linking them in an eternal relationship called love. He merely coveted her for her wealth and value in the social world. He acted as most humans would, in the interest of his greed. Gatsby knew that Daisy is the one thing he could not have, so he worked hard to achieve him fame and fortune to get her. With Daisy in his life he felt that his American Dream would have neen complete. Ultimately, Gatsby was in love with an idea, not an actual person.