Does Jay Gatsby love Daisy? After reading the book, that is the question that one is left with. Perhaps, when they first met, but afterwards, Daisy, as a member of “[the] distinguished secret society” is the symbol and the image for what Gatsby aspires to achieve.
Young Jay Gatsby, an officer in the army first meets Daisy Fay when the other officers gathered at her house to compete for the attention of Daisy. Gatsby, meeting Daisy and seeing her wealth “falls in love” with her and her house. This creates Gatsby’s dream to have enough wealth and status to marry Daisy. Gatsby’s love seems to encompass everything that Daisy is- status, social class, wealth, beauty- the epitome of what Gatsby longed for growing up in North Dakota as a penniless farmer.
The reunion of Gatsby and Daisy at Nick’s house reveals Gatsby’s core values of what he believes will win Daisy back. When the initial shock of meeting a long lost love had diminished, and Gatsby realizes that Daisy is happy to see him, Gatsby suggests a tour of his mansion. He shows Daisy his golden hairbrush, his decorated bedrooms, and his gaudy shirt collection just to show off his wealth. Gatsby, instead of using his charm to win Daisy back, believes that his rekindling of his relationship with Daisy would stem from the seeds of wealth.
When Nick, our narrator, attempts to pinpoint the eloquence and the tinkle in Daisy’s voice, Gatsby instantly recognizes it as “full of money”. This ties back to Gatsby’s love of “things” and monetary wealth. This is the main argument of the questioning of Gatsby’s love. As readers, we recognize Fitzgerald’s flamboyant and intricate style, and he would not skive off describing Daisy’s voice- Fitzgerald purposely does not describe Gatsby’s romantic love for Daisy. Daisy, in the eyes of Gatsby, is personified as money, and Gatsby wishes to obtain it to supplement his wealth. Daisy is no more to him than a house or a Rolls Royce.
On the fateful night when Myrtle was struck and killed, Gatsby discloses to Nick that Daisy was “the first “nice” girl he’d ever known”. Note the quotations around “nice”. This statement is an earthshaking quote that forces the reader to reimagine what they believe Gatsby truly loved. Gatsby did not believe that her personality was enjoyable to be around, Gatsby thought Daisy was nice because of all the wealth she had. Gatsby had never before been so close to a rich girl, and therefore Daisy was the first.
Another hint that Fitzgerald gives is that Daisy is symbolized as a “golden girl”. A type of girl that would win the beauty pageant, a type of girl that would be prom queen. But this is not what Gatsby sees. Even Nick, her cousin, recognizes the unique and alluring voice of Daisy. But all Gatsby sees and hears is the money in her voice, the money in her beauty. To Gatsby, the “golden girl” is not so much about the girl as the gold, and this is shows beyond doubt that Gatsby did not love Daisy.
The things that Gatsby does for Daisy can be seen as romantic. Perhaps they were, as an ulterior motive. But in the deepest part of his heart, all Gatsby wants is to marry Daisy to achieve his goal- to go up the social ladder. Perhaps Gatsby loves Daisy for her money she represents. But it cannot be questioned that Gatsby’s “love” for Daisy encompasses not only Daisy, but the whole upper class that she belongs to. Daisy to Gatsby was a step along the process to achieve his goal of status, and therefore that was Gatsby’s obsession.
From his childhood, Jay Gatsby hated and despised the way that he and his family lived, and tried his hardest to change their way of living. He taught himself how to act and speak like a member of the upper class. So when Daisy came along, he jumped at the opportunity to climb up the social ladder. Daisy was the last step on the ladder. Daisy is important, the most important thing to Gatsby not because he loved her as a person, but as the last step to his target of status.