A Defense of The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan

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Daisy Buchanan is one of the most hated characters in literary history. This young woman is not only shallow and materialistic, but she is also perceived as cruel, manipulative and self-centered. For Gatsby, Daisy is an impossible goal, an angel who fell to earth, that will help him on his quest to become the important man that he has always longed to be. However, he asks too much from Daisy, and in a night of reckless passion, Gatsby loses Daisy forever.

Now, most of us know how this story ends.

SPOILER ALERT:

Daisy hits her husband’s mistress Myrtle with a car, and Myrtle dies. Gatsby takes the blame for the fatal accident. Gatsby desperately tries to contact Daisy, and then Gatsby dies and Daisy does not even send a single flower to he ex-lover’s funeral. She disappears into her rich and privileged life with her rich but abusive husband. This appears to be an exceedingly cruel act.

It appears that Daisy has used Gatsby to get back at her cheating husband and to distract herself from her own self-indulgence and boredom. Daisy comes off as the real villain in this book, as she is the catalyst for Gatsby’s untimely demise, but there is a chance that Daisy is not as self absorbed, materialistic, and cruel as we think. It is possible that Daisy was trying to help Gatsby, and that Daisy was only doing what she needed to survive.

When you initially think about the story, Gatsby seems romantic. He has loved Daisy for many years and is willing to take her away from her abusive marriage and hum drum life. Gatsby appears to want to give Daisy the world, but Daisy is not a fool, and one of the clearest things in this book is the fact that Gatsby will never be able to stop living in the past.

Daisy did not really abandon Gatsby. In that hotel room, where Gatsby breaks down, Daisy realizes just how impossible it will ever be for either her husband or Gatsby to accept her as she is. Her husband wants a pretty fool, and Gatsby wants the Daisy he met five years ago. Daisy only wanted her freedom. She wanted a passionate romance with Gatsby, but he made it abundantly clear that the life style she wanted and deserved was not possible.

If Daisy had gone off with Gatsby, she would have entered a marriage of mental abuse rather than physical. Gatsby would never be able to forgive Daisy for not being the person he imagined her to be, he would be heartbroken by it every day and become obsessed with changing her.

Daisy was not given a choice of love or money, power or passion. She was given the choice of mental abuse or physical abuse. She just had to decide which one she could handle. The fact was that she was used to physical abuse, used to being cheated on and having to suppress her thoughts and opinions. She was used to playing the part of the pretty fool. She was not ready to be mentally and emotionally abused every day. She could not pretend to be the Daisy of five years ago, and she could not face Gatsby’s crushing disappointment.

The Daisy of five years ago no longer existed. Daisy had a child with her husband. She had a tolerable life. She was connected to her family’s respectable name should anything go awry, and she knew she could never be the person Gatsby wanted her to be. With Gatsby, Daisy would have lost everything. Her family would disown her for the scandal. Gatsby would probably never accept Daisy’s daughter into his life. Daisy would have to leave her daughter to fend for herself, and be completely disconnected from the people she knew and loved her whole life.

Daisy should not have let Gatsby take the blame for her crime and she should not have left without an explanation, apology, or goodbye, but we cannot look at her actions and call her entirely shallow and soulless. There was a time when Daisy loved the idea of Gatsby and she truly believed he was her escape to freedom, her savior.

But Daisy is not a fool, and once she realized that she could never be the person Gatsby had dreamed of, she avoided Gatsby in an attempt to preserve his dream while also setting him free from a union that would have made both of them miserable. By choosing her loveless, abusive marriage over Gatsby, Daisy chose to save her daughter from ever having to deal with what she had to deal with. Daisy chose to save her daughter, and to save herself from a life she would not be able to handle, and although it may seem cruel, we have to remember Daisy’s major flaw in this book is she is not an idiot.

Daisy lived in a man’s world, in a time where the men in her life decided everything for her, and she had almost no power as a woman. Daisy did what she needed to survive, and though it was unfortunate, being a intelligent woman in a man’s world is dangerous enough, and all she could hope for was to get by.