Love and Romance in The Great Gatsby Essay
“The Great Gatsby” is one of the most outstanding works written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The main character of the story is a prosperous man, Jay Gatsby, whose ambitions and romance with an aristocratic young woman, Daisy, led to a tragic end. Nevertheless, it is possible to say that Gatsby becomes a victim of the customs and traditions of society.
Jay Gatsby idealizes romance because it reminds his youth, his true feelings free from cupidity and greediness. Love to Daisy helps him to recreate his past and symbolizes the realization of his secret dreams. The love of Daisy is the only thing he cannot possess, for this reason, it becomes so desirable and attractive.
It is possible to single out two different worlds: the world of reality represented by wealth and money, and the world of dreams, which embodies love. Gatsby idealizes romance because only dreams have value for him. The theme of love plays an important role in the lives of both characters, Gatsby and Daisy. The story is unique because the author depicts events, experiences, time, memories through different people. Wealth and money symbolize stability and social recognition, while romance and love are desirable but unachievable. “ Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault, but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion” (Gatsby, Ch. 5). Quite early Jay Gatsby explores the meaning and significance of money in life. The theme of romance is closely connected with the absence of wealth and money. Jay was not rich enough to marry Daisy, now he has a chance, as he thinks, to restore their love, because “she was the first “nice” girl he had ever known” (Gatsby, Ch.8).
On the other hand, Gatsby has to idealize romance because love for Daisy is the only thing he values. For this reason, dreams rule his world. Romance reminds Gatsby of his youth when he met Daisy and fell in love. Those times, he felt a lack of money but he was much happier than now to be in love with Daisy. Gatsby describes his past: “He knew that Daisy was extraordinary, but he didn’t realize just how extraordinary a “nice” girl could be. … her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby—nothing. He felt married to her, that was all” (Gatsby, Ch.8). Now, he is a rich man socially “equal” to Daisy.
For Gatsby, ideal romance means pure relations free from cupidity and social statuses. All his “friends’ can be characterized as greedy and spoilt people who do not know what friendship is, rating only money and social status. Gatsby is unsatisfied with life and with reality. In his work, Fitzgerald depicts confrontations between wealth and honesty. “Sometimes they [guests] came and went without having met Gatsby at all, came for the party with a simplicity of heart that was its own ticket of admission.” (Gatsby, Ch. 3). As though to emphasize his vision of the life-denying nature of most modern existence, Fitzgerald does not use the imitative method to portray characters through motivation and conditionality. Gatsby tries to build pure relations with Daisy based on faith and eternal love.
On the other hand, “Jay Gatsby” is an ideal person who wants to marry “an ideal Daisy”. Gatsby was lucky enough to realize his dream and became a millionaire; nevertheless, he does not belong to the aristocracy who possess both money and a high level of education. In this case, Daisy is an “ideal” for Gatsby, who possesses wealth, good breeding, and education. “Her voice is full of money,” he said suddenly. That was it. I’d never understood before. It was full of money—that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song of it. . . . high in a white palace the king’s daughter, the golden girl. . . . (Gatsby, Ch.7). His hopes and dreams almost inevitably resulted in disappointments because lack of education was “Achilles’ heel” for him.
Everything in Gatsby’s life is real: “I ascertained. They’re real.” “The books?” “Absolutely real—have pages and everything. I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard. Matter of fact, they’re absolutely real. Pages and—Here!.” (Gatsby, Ch.3). For this reason, Gatsby wants to feel “true” love which means much more for him than cars, books, and the house with a swimming pool. The author states that ideal romance represents wealth and success, and future hopes for the ideal life.
For Gatsby, love means an unachievable dream which does not come true. In this sense, he is a victim because he needs to escape from the realities of life that he cannot change. He is a victim of social prejudices which destroy human relations and hopes. To some extent, ideal romance implies eternal love: He wanted nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and say: “I never loved you.” (Gatsby, Ch.6). He accesses wealth and property, but the only thing he cannot possess is Daisy.
It is possible to say that “love and romance” represent losing hopes for Gatsby. He is happy about the way his life turned out to be, but life struggle makes him unsympathetic and callous towards others. When he was young, he loved and he was loved. Gatsby’s desire to possess a love of Daisy is closely connected with the dissatisfaction with his past. “I wouldn’t ask too much of her,” I ventured. “You can’t repeat the past.” “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” Usually, love represents happiness and hope, but for Gatsby, it means losses and hopelessness.
On the other hand, love symbolizes “light” in his life. The symbolic interpretation of the events, comparison, and contrast between the meanings helps Fitzgerald to hold readers’ attention. Gatsby lives in the “dark” all the time and does not know the beauty of the surroundings. Past and present mean good and evil, hopes and disappointment, and more important life and death. In a capitalist society, there have to be both winners and losers, and Gatsby wants to be a winner not only in material gain but in love also.
Gatsby can be seen as a person who does not use the warmth of his heart as his emotional guide. But love symbolizes the psychological state of Gatsby who becomes more passionate and sympathetic. Like a young fellow, he spent a night near the window of his lady to be aware that she was safe: “Nothing happened,” he said wanly. “I waited, and about four o’clock she came to the window and stood there for a minute and then turned out the light.” After this scene, Gatsby feels hopeless and depressed, which forces him to confess to Nick and tell the story of his love: “Well, there I was, ‘way off my ambitions, getting deeper in love every minute, and all of a sudden I didn’t care. What was the use of doing great things if I could have a better time telling her what I was going to do?” (Gatsby, Ch.8).
It is possible to say that love for Daisy forced Gatsby to become rich and prosperous. If we assume that Daisy was from a middle-class family Gatsby would marry her and would not become wealthy. Fitzgerald rings up questions concerning the moral health of people, and in spite of all the negative life lessons, Gatsby understands what it is to be an individual.
As the most important, love and romance resulted in the death of Gatsby. Fitzgerald portrays the union of money and love as an inevitable evil people face, which destroyed their lives: ”So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past” (Gatsby, Ch. 9). Fitzgerald shows how ridiculous, stifling, and potentially harmful the attitudes and trappings of society can be. Fitzgerald ridicules the class’s pretensions to knowledge and values and its faith in the power of money.
To conclude, Gatsby’s dream represents ideal love which greatly affects him. He has everything except beloved Daisy. When wealth starts to dominate, people usually act in their own interests, they degrade as the keepers of love and morality as Daisy did. It remains disappointing that the social issues that are generally identified as pertaining to deal with questions of individual choice. The dream was once equated with certain principles of love and honesty, it is now equated with money and prosperity. Fitzgerald portrays ideal romance in a specific manner which helps him to convey the main message of the story and express his own attitude towards interdependence of wealth, love, and personal values.
- Fitzgerald, F.S. The Great Gatsby. Available at: http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/f/fitzgerald/f_scott/gatsby/index.html