Throughout the novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the character of Daisy Buchanan undergoes many noticeable changes. Daisy is a symbol of wealth and of promises broken. She is a character we grow to feel sorry for but probably should not.
Born Daisy Fay in Louisville, Kentucky, Daisy was always the princess in the tower, the golden girl that every man dreamed of possessing. ?She dressed in white, and had a little white roadster, and all the day long the telephone rang in her house and excited young officers from Camp Taylor demanded the privilege of monopolizing her that night,? (79). Daisy is beautiful, rich, and appears very innocent as a young woman, although it is later suggested that she was quite promiscuous.
While she was the object of every man?s desire, Daisy was madly in love with Jay Gatsby. Daisy tried to escape to New York to see Gatsby off to war but was prevented by her parents because Jay did not meet their standards. They disapproved of him because he did not have as much money or come from a family in the same social class as their own.
Though Daisy wrote letters to Gatsby and promised to remain faithful she married Tom Buchanan from Chicago the very next year. Tom was incredibly wealthy and ?the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars,? (80). Daisy seemed to be madly in love with her new husband and looked to be very happy.
Daisy has been married to Tom for quite a considerable amount of time and they have already had a daughter by the time Daisy?s cousin, Nick, reappears in Daisy?s life. Mrs. Buchanan is extremely friendly with her cousin and always seems glad to see him. Daisy always acts as though she wants to open up to Nick and tell him something but then becomes very insincere. It is as if she is hiding a secret that she wants to tell but knows that she should keep to herself.
Through the course of the novel, Daisy handles her husband?s affair very calmly. Even when Tom?s mistress telephones during dinner Daisy exclaims, ?it couldn?t be helped,? (20). Although she must obviously be hurting deeply on the inside, Daisy displays no physical signs of distress over her husband?s affair. This makes her appear stronger than she really is.
Daisy is actually a very weak person. This is probably due to all the physical and mental abuse she has suffered by her husband. She allows him to have complete control over her and order her around as if she were a small child. In a way, she seems to like that Tom is in control because she never has the burden of making decisions. Because of Tom?s finances, Daisy never is in need of anything. She likes living a life of luxury and appears to be quite happy with her situation. While she may not like the concept of her husband cheating on her, she would never consider leaving him or getting a divorce because of what society would think of her. It is Daisy herself that chooses to remain in a loveless marriage.
When Daisy is reunited with Jay Gatsby one sees a different side to the woman. She seems more alive and happier than ever. Daisy actually has something to look forward to each day, instead of her usual routine. As her affair with Gatsby continues, Daisy becomes more and more confident. She also becomes more careless. She is now bold enough to walk over to Gatsby and kiss him on the lips in front of Jordan and Nick in Tom?s home (122).
Daisy?s new attitude on life is clearly evident when she suggests to her husband that she will ride with Gatsby, instead of him, into town. Because of her love affair, Daisy has a new sense of power and is able to stand up to Tom. Once at the hotel in town, Daisy is at the height of her new power. She confesses to Tom that she loves Gatsby and is leaving him. She seems very sincere and sure of herself at the time, but then has what could be deemed as a nervous breakdown and retreats into her old ways. She lets Tom talk her back to her senses and even though she still insists she is leaving her husband, it is clear that she is not.
Clearly distraught on the drive back to her home, Daisy strikes a woman with Gatsby?s car and does not even bother to stop. She knows that the woman was probably instantly killed and that is was all her fault, but allows Jay Gatsby to take the blame. This shows Daisy?s utter lack of morals. Daisy relies on her husband and Gatsby to take care of the situation so that she is not blamed for the death. She killed a woman, but will never admit to this terrible sin.
After killing Myrtle, Daisy retreats into her old ways and apparently forgets or tries to forget about Gatsby and Nick. She goes on vacation and never once calls or comes home even for Gatsby?s funeral. This shows her uncaring nature that was also evident in her lack of parenthood for her young daughter.
Because Daisy was so vain, it was quite easy for her to retreat back into her own ways. Money was more important to Daisy than ever before. She gave up her only true love for money and social status. She was not a strong person and thought that money meant everything. She would never have been truly happy with Gatsby because just as he was not up to her standards when they first fell in love as teenagers, he still did not have enough money to meet her high expectations. In a way, Daisy was the ultimate snob. Because of her wealth, she felt that she was better than everyone. Like money, Daisy promises more than she gives. Her voice seems to offer everything, but she was born to disappoint. She is the sort of person who is better to dream about than to actually possess.
During the course of the story, Gatsby loves Daisy too much to see what is wrong with her, while Nick stands back and sees the way Daisy lets other people take care of her in crises, especially noticeable the night before her wedding and on the night of Myrtle Wilson?s death. Daisy, unlike Tom, uses her money rather than her body or her personality to bully others. She uses her surplus of money to protect her from reality, and when reality threatens to hurt her, she cries and goes inside the protective womb her money has made for her.
F. Scott Fitzgerald probably wanted everyone to feel sorry for Daisy. However, one finds it hard to feel sorry for someone as well off as herself. She is a symbol of money and the corruption it brings. One must be careful not to identify Daisy with the green light at the end of her dock. The green light is the promise, the dream. Daisy herself is much less than that. Even Gatsby must realize that having Daisy in the flesh is much, much less than what he imagined it would be when he fell in love with the idea of her.
While Daisy Buchanan undergoes numerous changes throughout the novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, she remains a symbol of wealth, broken promises, and dreams corrupted. While one finds it easy to feel sorry for her, she is in no means the victim of the novel.
F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company, 1992