Psychological portraits of Daisy and Gatsby in “The Great Gatsby” by Scott Fitzgerald

Psychological portraits of Daisy and Gatsby in “The Great Gatsby” by Scott Fitzgerald. Characters are an important part of any novel. As a genre, the novel is long enough to develop characters, and to have quite a few of them as well. For this reason, most of good novels have life-alike, and well-developed characters.

It is up to the author of the novel to make reader like or dislike certain characters. A vivid example of this is The Great Gatsby, a novel by F Scott Fitzgerald. Written in the 1920’s, the book is very much an example of the Jazz Age.

The Great Gatsby can be called a love story. The narrator, Nick Carraway, moves east where he is caught up in the businesses of those around him. His neighbor, Jay Gatsby, is trying to win the heart of Daisy, who is married to Nick’s college friend, Tom Buchanan, who is having an affair with Nyrtle Wilson, the wife of a gas station attendant.Narrative perspective plays a very big role in a novel like The Great Gatsby, because the whole affair is seen through one person’s eyes, Nick Carraway.

So let us take a closer look at two main characters of the novel: Daisy and Gatsby. Daisy is a trapped woman. She’s trapped in a marriage that she is unhappy in and trapped in a world where she has no chance to be free or independent. She is at the mercy of her husband, a man who takes her for granted. Daisy is also terribly clever, delivering some of the funnier lines of the book. When a reader looks at the foolishness and shallowness of Daisy they must realize that Daisy may be doing out of necessity. As she said when she delivered her daughter, “- that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool”. Daisy is smart enough to understand the limits imposed on her and has become jaded and indulgent because of them.

The word careless also describes Daisy well. Many of the things that Daisy does, the accident with Myrtle in particular, show a woman who is just careless. She has become very much wrapped up in herself. Part of this is due to the fact that she had been spoiled all her life. She was born into money and had an endless assortment of men who would continue to spoil her. So she has learned to think only of herself without regard for the people that it may hurt.

To understand Gatsby one has to look at not only his true life, but the life that he tried to create for himself. The truth is that he came from poor beginnings and created a fantasy world where he was rich and powerful. Even in his youth Gatsby was not content with what he had. He wanted money, so he managed to get it. He wanted Daisy, and she slipped through his fingers. So even when his wealth and stature are at their greatest, he will not be content. He must have Daisy. Yes, there is love. But more than that there is a drive to posses her because that is what he wanted for all of those years. She was part of his image for the future and he had to have her. And although Gatsby seems very kind, he is not afraid to be unscrupulous to get what he wants. When he wanted money, he was more than willing to become a bootlegger. His drive is what makes him who he is, good and bad. Moreover, this drive ends up ruining his life.

Actions play a part in positioning a reader along the story line. Because the novel is in first person view, most actions may be classified as narrator’s monologue, his recount of events. A characters actions also play the part of forming their style. We read this book, and part of our liking or disliking characters is how well they shape up to our morals. This may change, however, from character top character. We may dislike Tom because he is trying to steal someone’s wife, but we overlook Gatsby’s actions of the same thing.

Sympathies change how we feel about characters in the novel. We sympathize with Gatsby. He cannot marry his girl; he is too poor and must go off to fight in the war. When he comes back, he single-mindedly carries out his quest to win her back. In Gatsby’s case, we ignore the means, but we sympathize with him for the terrible end that comes. It is sad too, that Daisy will never love him for his own sake.

Sympathy and opinions also connect to the style of the character, which is an important part of positioning a reader. Gatsby’s style is to be cool, calm, and efficient, and to pursue his goal. He is one of those types who is never phased by anything. He is always there with his ‘Old sport’ attitude, which just adds to the reader’s admiration for him.

Through these prisms of psychological portraits which distort and color the lives of Fitzgerald’s characters, we see why human’s elations are, as Nick Carraway describes them, “short-winded”. We see what  Jay Gatsby is – undoing, his numb and unable to get what he want. As he suited up in his cool demeanor time and time again, perhaps we should have guessed that his coldly methodical five-year plan to restore the past would end up, in the sizzling heat of a five-hour showdown, as useless as one of the spent match heads Daisy flings so carelessly after lighting a cigarette.


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