Daisy In The Book & Movie

An essay and the collective opinion on the character I despise with all my body and soul.

There is, of course, a stark difference between Daisy’s character in the book and in the 2013 movie of The Great Gatsby. I personally have seen two reasons for this. The first is that Fitzgerald, while skilled in many areas, does lack (and has admitted to it) in sensuality and his ability to accurately depict sex and intimacy. Anything that occurs, either with Daisy and Gatsby, Tom and Daisy, Nick and Jordan, or even Nick and Mr. McKee, happens off-page and is left to be desired. The second is that movies are incapable of expressing what can only be expressed through words, certain characteristics and emotions, and so there are some ideas that missed the movie, both in the 2013 adaptation as well as that one in the twentieth century.

In the book, without analysis, Daisy is shown to be soft and kind, both lovable and slightly sensual. Not a single person found it difficult to adore her kind nature when first introduced, especially, Carraway when he first meets her again at her home, but she is undoubtedly sensual. This can be seen in her habit to speak softly so those around her must lean in (and while not stated explicitly, Nick sees this as a habit that could be, for someone interested in her, potentially inviting or sexually intimidating) as well as her automatic thoughts that Nick was interested in her when he had invited her to his home.

However, it becomes clear later on that Daisy is both selfish, shallow and undeserving of the affection she constantly receives. In the event where Daisy cries over Gatsby’s shirt, we are first introduced to Daisy’s shallow nature. While many excused her cries as an inability to express her sadness for marrying too soon, I believe that there was no hidden meaning. It went to portray the four-lined stanza at the beginning of the book. Symbolically, by throwing his expensive shirts, an obvious sign of wealth (but more so a sign that wealth did not matter with Daisy by his side), Gatsby had worn his gold hat, had leaped as high as a man could, until she cried out for him, “I must have you”. Daisy, beautiful outside and childlike in nature, admired his possessions, the great house, the large garden, the flowers and the sunken baths. She mourns over the possibility of love and wealth, both of which are equally important to her.

The 2013 adaptation, however, proves to be interesting on many fronts. To my understanding, the director had wished to redeem Daisy and her character. In the movie, she was shown to be kind and caring, as she was initially in the novel, and is allowed to carry on this nature until closing screen. Even as she is leaving Gatsby’s death, essentially her fault through time and time again of selfish actions, she is shown to be sorrowful. Not sorrowful enough to redeem herself, but enough to evoke pity from viewers. Her morals were as good as spilled milk up until the very end, but she is portrayed to be kind-hearted and I believe the director did this purposely. She is shown as less shallow too, but I believe this happened because it becomes difficult to hate someone so kind in person.

The movie, because it was an adaptation, did feel the need to stick to the script exactly, which is something I have never appreciated. This is because it is obvious that the book did the storyline more justice, and so the film should, in my opinion, do something more for the story; something that the author was unable to do. However, it failed to do this, staying away from portraying intimacy just as Fitzgerald had done. Even in another format other than sex, could Daisy’s selfish nature have been portrayed, but it was not.

To me, the book portrayed Daisy as exactly who she was. This is obvious because the book was the format that decided her character, not the movie. Thus, it would be odd to ask whose representation is more effective. However, the only issue was that Nick, though relatively unbiased, did have opinions that shone through his writing. Not until the very end, when he expressed his distaste for the wealthy community, did he speak negatively about his cousin. Of course, it is understandable that he did not wish to speak ill about those close to him, but I still have found key faults in the way she is portrayed. If she had been shown as a shallow character from the beginning, there would be little depth to Daisy, and I understand that Nick didn’t see her as immediately shallow, I just believe there was some fault in the way Nick perceived her at the very beginning. This being said, with a book narrated by a man, it is near impossible to expect actual deep analysis, especially considering Fitzgerald’s humble background that very easily translated into Nick’s.



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