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Beauty in White, Corruption in Gold, The Character of Daisy Buchanan

Prevalent in stories written in the 1920’s, corruption is a common trait found in characters. Stemming from reasons such as fame, wealth, and greed, it adds depth to the story and questions morality itself. The book, The Great Gatsby, also published in the 1920’s, showcases many examples of characters being corrupt because of wealth’s easy access or pursuit. Take Daisy Buchanan, one of the most interesting cases in literature. The deep desire for a luxurious and wealthy lifestyle is the source of the corruption of Daisy’s character.

Daisy indeed cares about her relationship with Nick in the novel The Great Gatsby since she displays considerate behavior towards him. She stated, “I’m p-paralyzed with happiness” (Fitzgerald, 8) upon seeing him after a long time. Moreover, she told Nick, “We heard you were engaged to a girl out West” (Fitzgerlad, 19) although she knew that he was single, referring to Jordan Baker as a love interest. The fact that Daisy is interested in matchmaking Nick with Jordan, a trusted friend of hers, proves her caring attitude. Ultimately, however, Daisy’s behavior towards others depends on how they might benefit her financially or socially. To illustrate, Daisy loathed Gatsby’s parties after only one visit since most of the guests were nameless faces using Gatsby’s wealth to their advantage. “The whole caravansary had fallen in like a card house at the disapproval in her eyes,” Nick described (Fitzgerald, 114), displaying how she disliked strangers tarnishing Gatsby’s reputation behind his back and taking advantage of him. Daisy’s behavior towards her child is also circumstantial as she only desires to boast about her wealth and status through her, further proving her immorality due to her reliance on wealth. For when her daughter said, “I got dressed before luncheon,” Daisy replied, “Your mother wanted to show you off” when guests were present (Fitzgerald, 117). Daisy proceeded to leave her moments later in the care of her nurse leaving for a trip. Thus, Daisy’s treatment of other characters in the novel is based on personal gain, whether financial or societal.

Admittedly, Daisy’s character is presented as innocent and pure, adorned in white clothing persistently throughout the novel. For instance, when Nick first met Daisy and Jordan he described them as the following; ”They were both in white, and their dresses were rippling and fluttering as if they had just been blown back in after a short flight” (Fitzgerald, 8). Not only relating to the poem, The Hollowmen, through the strong presence of wind, this passage describes Daisy as an ethereal angel. On the contrary, as proved by her actions later on in the book, she is not what she seems to be. The irony is evident between her first impression of Nick and her later discovered desires for luxury and reliance on wealth. For example, if Daisy held to her representation, she would have been livid at Tom’s immoral behavior and affair. In reality, though, she was aware of the affair and took no action to prevent it to maintain her wealth and social position. This reveals her desire for a comfortable lifestyle and how she prioritizes money over happiness in her relationship. As Daisy replied, “holding down the receiver,” to Jordan, “that’s Tom’s girl on the telephone” (Fitzgerald, 116). Her answer also reveals another symbolic connection through her name, Daisy. Similarly to Daisy, daisies are adorned with white petals surrounding a gold center that also, according to a Celtic legend, symbolizes innocence and purity. In the novel, Daisy’s angelic representation is the white petals and her desires are the gold center. Hence, there is irony and symbolism foreshadowing her corruption.

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The strongest reason by far relating to Daisy’s corruption is her basing crucial decisions on monetary gain or loss in fear of losing wealth. Throughout the book, Daisy faces numerous crucial moments in her life, all of which she handles in the best interest of wealth. The first instance where this is witnessed is when Daisy allows herself to fall in love with Gatsby under the pretense that he is wealthy. As Nick stated about Gatsby, “he let her believe that he was a person from much the same strata as herself” (Fitzgerald, 149). Explaining how Daisy was deceived into thinking that her lover at the time was just as wealthy as she was, allowing herself to be involved with him deeply. However, impatient for his return, Daisy decided to marry Tom.

“In June she married Tom Buchanan of Chicago” Jordan described (Fitzgerald, 75). Her fear of being without wealth overpowered her love for Gatsby and rendered her morally paralyzed, an idea repeatedly enforced by the poem The Hollowmen. Gatsby even strived for wealth, fame, and power all in hopes of impressing Daisy and winning her heart. The most important decision she makes, however, is succumbing to Tom’s power and authority compared to Gatsby’s when their secret affair is revealed. This led her to deny any present feelings she had for Gatsby instead of Tom’s stability in wealth compared to Gatsby’s. Deceivingly, she leads Gatsby to believe that he had a chance, only for her to choose Tom over him, displaying her moral paralysis and her inability to fight for her feelings for Gatsby. “Please, Tom! I can’t stand this anymore” Daisy exclaimed (Fitzgerald, 135). Nick’s observations revealed Daisy’s true colors and irrational fear, causing her moral paralysis.

Hence, the desire for a wealthy lifestyle and money’s easy access are Daisy’s sources of corruption. She bases her behavior towards others on the amount of wealth they possess or the possible benefit to herself. Cleverly inputted irony and symbolism in the novel foreshadow her corruption and how she bases her decision on monetary gain is evident. In the end, she succeeds in maintaining her power and lifestyle, but at the expense of others, leaving trails of sorrow and violence behind her. She transforms something as beautiful as a daisy into a fearful and gold-desiring persona.

Citations

    1. Fitzgerald, F. Scott, et al. The Great Gatsby. Scribner, 2018. 

 

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