All right… 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… You see, I think everything’s terrible anyhow… And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything. (The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald)
Hi, I just wanted to say that the Daisy Buchanan post is a stellar analysis of the character and thank you for it! I could never express my thoughts on her and the post does just that :)
You know, we don’t usually publish asks that compliment particular posts (although I’m sure if one were to go back through the answered asks they would probably find contradictory evidence), but I think I’m gonna tackle this one briefly. So, first of all thank YOU for taking the time to write in, and we’re so glad you liked the post. But yeah, in writing the Daisy post, I wanted to address the popular perception of the character but also offer some much-needed commentary on said perception. It’s important to remember that Daisy Buchanan is very much a product of her time, and her time was not particularly understanding of or to women (see also: Myrtle, Jordan). Most people I know who have read Gatsby (which is basically everyone I know, and probably basically everyone most of you know, if you are or were an American student) hate Daisy with a passion; in fact I might go so far as to say that she is the most hated character in a novel full of characters who I wouldn’t describe as particularly likable people. And it’s also worth acknowledging that I used to be one of those people. But then I think it’s important to step back for a moment— from feelings that you have probably internalized since first reading the novel however many years ago— and ask yourself what it is about Daisy that makes her so hateful. If the answer is “she’s shallow, she’s vapid, she’s selfish,” well, first of all, those adjectives could be applied to the rest of the characters as well (Tom Buchanan, anyone? I mean. Look at him.), but more importantly, realize that those traits are essentially defense mechanisms she has been forced to adopt due to societal expectations and pressure. Look no further than her admission regarding the birth of her daughter: “I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” These words aren’t meant to convey a hope that her daughter will merely be stupid— she hopes that she will grow up to embody society’s expected characteristics for women of Daisy’s social class, because Daisy believes she will be happier living in such a world. It’s also worth mentioning that one of the reason I suspect people are so harsh about Daisy is because— like many past and contemporary female figures in male-centric novels— she is a woman in a man’s world who does not conform to the male protagonist’s wishes and expectations for her. In Daisy’s case, Gatsby’s expectations for her are wildly and unfairly high. His love for her is based on both a much younger version of herself as well as a constructed version of her that he has built up in his mind over the years. When she is not the same person she was back then, Gatsby is disappointed, and because we, the readers, have been set up to sympathize with Gatsby (remember that Nick, our narrator, thinks the world of Gatsby), we are immediately predisposed to fault Daisy for her own personal growth. The other problem people seem to have with Daisy is that she chooses Tom over Gatsby, and this, I think, is the crux of audience interpretation of the character. Daisy chooses Tom because Tom represents the only lifestyle she has ever known, and ultimately she is too afraid to give that up, knowing, as she does, how hard it will be for her as a woman in the 1920s to overcome the stigma of leaving her old money husband and legacy for an admittedly shady new money bachelor. Obviously Daisy is not a perfect character (she commits a hit and run. Don’t think I wasn’t going to mention that!), but the negative response I see surrounding her seems, to me, largely unfounded.
That was much longer than I think you expected me to answer, and certainly than I expected to write, but it turns out that I thought Daisy deserved a moment in the spotlight so that all 78K of you guys could think about her differently, if only for a moment.
“It’ll show you how I’ve gotten to feel about – things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the
ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away
if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my
head away and wept. ‘All right,’ I said, '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.”