The novel The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald explores the ideas of love, money and social status. The story takes place in 1992 and is about the socialite Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is a charming, yet strange man who tries to win the heart of Daisy Buchanan. She comes from wealth, but Gatsby doesn’t, this causes him to try and convince her of his worthiness. He tries to accomplish this by lying about his past, making illegal money to gain status and by taking on the values of a wealthy person.
A recurring theme of what lust, with the influence of money, can cause a person to do is carried out throughout the novel. It is evident that characters are swooned by people with a large bank statement. Overall, the novel depicts how money affects relationships. In this paper, I discuss the illusion of love.
One event that stood out to me was when Jordan Baker was describing Daisy’s actions to Nick Carraway.
Jordan had met with Nick, on behalf of Mr. Gatsby, so she could tell him the relationship between Daisy, her husband Tom, and Mr. Gatsby. Jordan begins the story by explaining how in love Daisy was with Gatsby because he looked at her like nobody else has. But, the two were separated when Gatsby left for war. Even though Daisy was heartbroken, after a year she found love again with Tom Buchanan. He came from the same social class as Daisy, having private cars and enough money to buy her a 0,000 pearl necklace.
They decided to get married. Half an hour before Tom and Daisy’s rehearsal dinner Jordan walked in on a drunken Daisy with the pearls grasped in her hand. She wanted Jordan to give them back to “whoever they belong to” and tell them that she had changed her mind. Jordan ended up cleaning Daisy up and in the matter of thirty minutes Daisy was downstairs wearing the pearl necklace proudly. (pg.75-76) This was one of the first parts of the novel where one sees how Daisy truly feels towards Tom. The decision to give the pearls back shows a quick look of what Daisy truly wants, not to get married. But this is only metaphorical because she ends up marrying Tom for his social standing and wealth. She had a moment where she broke down, as people day, the truth comes out when your drunk. Daisy knew deep down that she didn’t want to marry Tom but was content to do so because it would be a good look. The mass amount of money that Tom possesses made Daisy fall under the illusion of love. She liked being spoiled and having high end materials. Living the high life was something Daisy was used to, so she expected her man to be able to provide. But she realized before the rehearsal dinner that she didn’t truly love Tom. By wearing the necklace and continuing with the evening, Daisy shows that she cares more about staying wealthy and maintaining her social status than she does about finding true love. Thus, Tom’s money is swaying Daisy towards him and causing her to feel like she is in love when really, she isn’t. Daisy thinks she is because Tom can give things to her that others can’t, which she likes.
Another piece of The Great Gatsby that I found oddly interesting was the fact that Mr. Gatsby was so infatuated with Daisy. When he had met Daisy, he gave off the impression of being wealthy because he had acquired the mannerisms of an affluent person. This was because he had been working on a yacht for the summer. Daisy never asked if he had money, and he never told her that he didn’t. Gatsby knew that if Daisy found out that he didn’t come from money that she wouldn’t be with him. Gatsby understood that in the roaring 20’s it was important to have a high social status because it strengthened people’s relationships. When Gatsby returned from war, he was determined to make something of himself in order to show Daisy that he was worthy of her. I find it very cute, but somewhat creepy how in love Gatsby was with Daisy. I mean he didn’t even know her very well and he was so different than her. He would have to change himself in order to be up to Daisy’s standards. In other words, he knew he needed to have money in order to win her over. He made this his mission in life, eventually he gained money through illegal liquor sales. Gaining money this way was very popular in 1920 because it was the time of the prohibition. The prohibition in the US was when liqour sales were made illegal. The prohibition lasted three years, so Gatsby spent those three years getting rich off of the illegal production, transportation and distribution of alcohol. With his newfound riches he decided to buy a huge mansion that was viewing distance from Daisy’s house. He obviously did this on purpose because he was still infatuated with her. In his eyes, this would show Daisy he we worthy of her. He would throw extravagant parties hoping that she would show up, he used to “read a Chicago paper for years just on the chance of catching a glimpse of Daisy’s name.” (pg.79) This shows Gatsby’s willingness to do whatever it took to rekindle his relationship with Daisy. He was blinded by the fact that he only wanted to be with her because she represented wealth that he’d only dreamed of obtaining. By gaining the love of Daisy he would have proven to himself that he made it. That he was no longer a poor man working on a yacht, but one who could own one and have the prettiest girl. The want for money puts Mr. Gatsby under the illusion that he loved Daisy. But, was this love or was this turning into a stalker like obsession?
Earlier on in the novel it is revealed to the reader that Tom is having an affair. He is seeing Myrtle Wilson, who is was married to a hardworking auto mechanic that didn’t make very much money. This caused her to seek out a partner in Tom. I have heard that money s the number one cause of divorce, and is this case that statement is proven true, only her husband never new about Tom. Myrtle loved how Tom brought her into the world of fancy clothes, luxurious hotel rooms and expensive dinners. This was a parallel to her life with her husband. Myrtle had been, “living over a garage for eleven years. And Tom’s the first sweetie that she’d ever had.” (pg.35) At a party one night, Myrtle’s sister Catherine mentions that, “neither of them can stand the person they are married to…what I say is, why go on living with them if they can’t stand them? If I was them, I’d get a divorce and get married to each other.” (pg.33) Catherine brings up a very good point in this line, why don’t they just divorce their partners and marry each other? For Myrtle this would be a dream, she would finally be exposed to a lifestyle she’s always wanted. Myrtle insinuates that because her husband, Mr. Wilson, cannot provide a nicer home that he must not love her and doesn’t treat her well. One the other hand, Tom stays with his wife because they have equal standing in social classes and there is too much societal pressure to stay with Daisy. Both characters are too blinded by money to see that love was standing right in front of them. Myrtle’s husband works hard to put a roof over her head because he truly loves her, but Myrtle is willing to throw that away because she values money and bases her love for someone on the amount of money they can provide for her.
The next part of the story that aids the theme of the illusion of love is when Nick and Jay Gatsby are talking about Daisy in chapter seven. Gatsby tells Nick that Daisy’s, “voice is full of money.” (pg. 120) This is when Nick finally realizes why Gatsby is so intrigued by Daisy, it is because of her money and what that money represents in society. Gatsby relates the loveable tone of her voice to money. The story finally directly shows how Gatsby combines his fondness for Daisy and his drive to create wealth and status. This alludes to the fact that Gatsby may not actually love Daisy, but he loves the connections that come along with being with her.
The illusion of love is carried out to the end of the novel. It is shown when Tom and Daisy are eating dinner, they don’t sit by each other and Tom simply talks at Daisy, not with her. One can see how unloving and unhappy this relationship is. Typically, newlyweds are very emotional with one another and show a ton of affection, but not Tom and Daisy. “They weren’t happy, and yet they were not unhappy either.” This quote shows how they were just content with one another, in my opinion, this is not how newlyweds should be about one another. Their marriage is important to them because it symbolizes high social status as wealthy people with sustainable lives. But it also shows how neither of them are happy being with one another. The want for money and to have a reputation for having it causes these characters to suppose that they love each other. The illusion of love is created because of the want for something more. The want for money drives these characters to create feelings that wouldn’t be there without this driving force.
The illusion of love causes a major love triangle in the story. Tom is married to Daisy, who has an affair with Gatsby. But Tom is also unfaithful because he had been having an affair for even longer with Myrtle. The illusion of love causes these characters to marry their spouses in the first place, while it also causes them to be unfaithful. I find it so interesting how love, or the thought of love, causes one to act so wildly. For instance, Tom marries Daisy because he knows his family and friends would approve, since they are in the same social class. Daisy accepts even though she is still heartbroken over Gatsby leaving. She does this because she knows Tom will be able to provide and amplify the luxurious lifestyle she had already been living. But, when Gatsby came back into her life, Daisy knew she still had feelings for him. I find it strange how true emotions eventually always come out. Daisy thought she could forget about Gatsby and move on with her relationship with Tom because money made her feel like she loved him. But, when Gatsby came back into the picture, the fake illusion of love with Tom left, leaving the true emotions for Gatsby. But when Daisy finds out that Gatsby gained his fortune illegally its like she had a mental breakdown. In an instant she turned on him and confessed her relationship with Tom wasn’t a complete lie, that she did love him at one point. You see, once she found out Gatsby didn’t gain his wealth through a legal way her lust for him diminished. Money caused the illusions of love in this novel. Money seems to be the end all reason for the infidelity and lies about love in the story. The Great Depression happened 10 years after the time of the story, so maybe the want for money was just a way of life at this point in time.
All in all, I believe the author did a fantastic job at portraying the theme of how money influences who one lusts for. The larger picture of this novel is to show that people have such a thirst for wealth and social status they fall under the illusion of love in order to achieve riches. I agree with this statement because I believe that people are naturally drawn to money. I mean money paves paths in life that less fortunate people have to work much harder for. For example, money can buy better education that can lead to a better career, so the rich stay rich while the poor stay poor. So, if one can marry into money, they are exposed to luxuries they never had before. Everyone likes to live the highlife occasionally, so this can impact a person to feel love for someone based on how much money they have. One can see this play out in modern times, for example, the terms “baby daddy” and “baby girl” refer to the relationship between a rich older man and a young female. I never really thought this happened until the other day. I got a message through social media from an older, yet attractive man asking me to be his sugar baby. I was grossed out and taken back at the fact that this was a real thing. Like do people say yes to obscured things like that? A sugar baby is typically a young female who sends nude pictures, have sexual relations and/or will live with a “baby daddy.” In return, he will pay for whatever she want. The “baby girl” tends to develop feelings for the “baby daddy” overtime, but this is not because she truly loves him, it is because he buys her nice things and pays for whatever she wants. I believe generating emotions for someone you are having sexual relations with is natural. No matter how wrong the situation is, one always develops feelings for someone they are sexual with. Thus, whatever leads them to sleep with that person puts them under the illusion of love. The sugar baby is in love with his wallet, not him. This relates to The Great Gatsby because like Gatsby these girls are willing to do what is necessary to be involved in a higher social class. This paper explains how the illusion of love is blanketed over a society who craves wealth. Since money can cause the feeling of love to be misconceived, I wonder what other emotions are influenced by the power of the dollar.