3. Subtext/The Gatsby & Daisy Relationship
Like I mentioned earlier Fitzgerald’s novel features a lot of excess but it’s all for a purpose to present a portrait of a tragic figure who drowns himself in wealth and hopeless ideals. The movies portray Gatsby’s life as fun whereas the book makes it abundantly clear that Gatsby is a sad and delusional man who has gained the world yet he only wants more and more, which leads him to utter his famous line of “You can’t repeat the past? Of course you can” to emphasize his delusions.
Gatsby’s longing for Daisy is a parody of the very nature of the American dream and how it can destroy a person. His relationship with Daisy is all a metaphor for this but the movies just treat their romance as a cliche’ movie romance with all of the brilliant subtext stripped away. Case and point you ask? I was watching tv a couple days ago and an interview with DiCaprio describing how he approached his role was on. The interviewer told him that when he, as Gatsby, was reunited with Daisy she started crying because they were finally together.
That’s the exact opposite reaction someone should have when experiencing the story. Daisy and Gatsby should never be together. He is only using her to fulfill his dreams of repeating the past and she is only using him for his wealth and social position. Gatsby has accumulated vast amounts of wealth in an effort to reclaim her but has lost his humble, lower class roots in the process. Likewise, Daisy is the “beautiful little fool” that she claimed all girls should be and is really the most morally bankrupt character in the entire story.
As Nick says of her and Tom “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.” Gatsby is just another thing for Daisy to abuse, throw away and then have someone else clean up after her, which is ultimately why Gatsby ends up dead in his swimming pool.
Their love can never last and Fitzgerald used their naivety to fill the last half of his novel with subtext regarding the state of America in the 1920s.
This article was first posted on May 16, 2013