The Great Gatsby is a story about a man, Gatsby, who is stuck in alternate reality. He is stuck in a past life and wants to remain in it forever. The Great Gatsby reflects a story about the great American dream and, as some may view, a beautiful love story. The Great Gatsby is not a story about perfect love. In fact, it actually mocks the notion that love having no flaws. Fitzgerald writes about the corruption of love and illustrates the obstacles and dangers of corrupted love. The “love” presented in The Great Gatsby is unethical. Fitzgerald depicts the nature of love in the novel to revolve around obsession, self-destruction, and greed. The Great Gatsby lacks true love and affection to make it a perfect love story. Gatsby is a character with an unrealistic conscience. He is blinded by an idea of love that only he can see. The love he sees is not true love, but in fact an obsession with lust. Helen Fisher, an anthropologist who studies human behavior states in “The Brain In Love”, “Romantic love is an addiction…a perfectly horrible addiction when it’s going poorly. And indeed it has all the characteristics of an addiction.
You focus on the person, you obsessively think about them, you crave them.” This quote taken from a TED Talk portrays Gatsby’s nature of love perfectly. He is addicted to the idea of Daisy. The addiction is horrible because all he does is focus on her and only her. Even though he has not spoken to her in years after the war, he still craves her. It is very clear that Fitzgerald wanted the audience to notice Gatsby’s frightening obsession with Daisy. He follows her every move. He becomes rich for her and buys a mansion for he and holds countless outrageous parties, all because of her. Gatsby says, “Look at this. Here is a lot of clippings-about you” (Fitzgerald 90). Gatsby documents Daisy’s life. He creates a scrapbook with countless pages regarding Daisy’s life. He collects every possible thing that relates to Daisy. He alters his life to make Daisy love him. “Infatuation then develops in a specific psychobiological pattern…beginning with intrusive thinking” (The Nature of Romantic Love).
This applies directly to Gatsby’s behavior. He consumes his time thinking about Daisy and planning his life accordingly to Daisy’s likes, dislikes, and interests. And after being rejected, the obsession worsens. Daisy has countless flaws including being indecisive, cowardly, and materialistic. She is not the type of person someone would typically fall in love with. But once again, the element of Gatsby’s obsession comes into play. His obsession causes blindness and he is unable to see Daisy’s flaws. In Helen Fisher’s “The Nature of Romantic Love she states, “But the limerent casts these flaws aside and fixates on those characteristics that he or she finds unique and charming” (The Nature of Romantic Love). Gatsby’s fixation on Daisy obliges him to only see the good in Daisy that was barely even there anymore. She doesn’t have the best qualities. She has the power to leave Tom, yet she doesn’t. Why? Because she has everything she needs by staying with him.
He supplies her with money, luxuries, and lives a comfortable life with him. Daisy puts her wants before the feelings and regards of others. Gatsby is sightless when it comes to pointing out Daisy’s negative qualities. The love presented in The Great Gatsby is self-destructive. It breaks Gatsby and forces him to partake in illegal activities to impress his significant other. The terrible obsession Gatsby has for Daisy causes him to not see the real Daisy. He is in love with the Daisy from the past. This essentially ruins him. He is not in love with the cowardly, shallow Daisy, but the sweet, comforting one from the past. Gatsby’s reality distorts after Daisy leaves him. Helen Fisher states in her TED talk, “You distort reality. Your willingness to take enormous risks to win this person.” Gatsby does just this. He corrupts and endangers his life because of his willingness to do anything for Daisy. He misrepresents his reality and does not see any harm in participating in illegal things. Gatsby takes risks for Daisy.
In Helen Fishers TED talk she explains that this is a factor of love. Fitzgerald illustrates this factor in his novel by developing Jay Gatsby’s character into someone who will take massive risks. He is willing to jeopardize his own life to impress Daisy. Tom Buchanan says, “That’s one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong” (Fitzgerald 134). In this statement, Tom is reflecting his opinions on Gatsby, believing that Gatsby contributes to unjust acts. Tom was correct. Gatsby does partake in illegal activities and slowly destroys his reputation by doing so. People know of Gatsby’s misdemeanors. This is just another example of how unethical the love that exists in the novel really is. The love depicted in The Great Gatsby revolves around greed. The environment Daisy was raised in caused her to only view a materialistic life.
Helen Fisher writes, “Culture, for example, plays an essential role in one’s choice of partner and the timing and process of courting.” Daisy grows up in a very luxurious environment, where money is a factor that contributes to a person’s personality. Why does Daisy suddenly fall back in “ love” with Gatsby when he finally acquires a lot of money? Daisy’s idea of love is blinded with greed. For many years, she forgets about Gatsby when he goes to war and focuses and devotes her life to Tom Buchanan. Tom, a man of wealth, gives Daisy all she need, except love. Tom has multiple affairs with other mistresses, yet this does not bother Daisy. She is content living her life with Tom until Gatsby reveals himself. She falls back in love with Gatsby due to the amount of money he has. Only then does she decide to pursue a relationship with him. Daisy acts like a coward in the novel. Greed is what she has fallen in love with, not Gatsby nor Tom. Daisy’s greed gets in the way of the love that could have been between Gatsby and herself. Daisy’s importance in life orbits around material comforts.
She says, “They’re such beautiful shirts it makes me sad because I have never seen such beautiful shirts” (Fitzgerald 89). The stunning silk shirts represent all of the material luxuries Daisy obsesses over. She has fallen in love with the idea of Gatsby, but not him. Both Daisy and Gatsby confuse greed with love. They long for money and material possessions and corrupt love to fulfill their American Dreams. He believes money will bring him anything, even Daisy’s love. Fitzgerald writes in his novel, “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay. He had waited five years and bought a mansion where he dispensed starlight to casual moths — so that he could ‘come over’ some afternoon to a stranger’s garden” (78). Gatsby spends hundreds of thousands buying a mansion out of greed. He is ravenous for Daisy’s attention. Daisy represents a life filled with luxuries and money and essentially, the American Dream. Gatsby was never able to let that idea go so he devotes the majority of his time to Daisy.
Fitzgerald’s novel represents a life full of corruption and mimics the idea of love. It intertwines the ideas of obsession, destruction, and greed among the characters. Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship focuses on the materialism of the era. Instead of truly falling in love with one another, they fell in love with the idea of each other. Gatsby fell in love with the Daisy that no longer existed and Daisy fell in love with what Gatsby represented; greed, money, corruption, and luxuries. The love presented in The Great Gatsby was not love, but an unhealthy infatuation of obsession and greed. Fitzgerald describes the nature of love to be unscrupulous. The characters were not in love, but rather in love with a perfect idea of one another that did not exist.