Daisy has been described as selfish and shallow. How far would you agree that this is how Fitzgerald portrays her?

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Daisy has been described as ‘selfish and shallow’. How far would you agree that this is how Fitzgerald portrays her?

Daisy Buchanan, in Fitzgerald’s 1920s American novel: ‘The Great Gatsby’, is the love of Jay Gatsby and the person he has devoted the last five years of his life to. Initially, Fitzgerald portrays her as pure, attractive and innocent, but gradually reveals her selfish and shallow personality. Ultimately, the reader feels that she is not a worthy objective of Gatsby’s dedication.

At first, Daisy is displayed as a strikingly extraordinary person, with pure morals. When Nick first meets her, he describes her voice as “an arrangement of notes that will be never played again”. Fitzgerald uses a technique called synecdoche to use her voice to represent her personality, so this shows that she is special and unique. She is also many times in the novel associated with white; she and Jordon were “both in white” when Nick meets them. White has connotations of purity and innocence, showing that Daisy appears to be on the surface, an incorruptible and perfect person. Her innocence is further emphasised with her simple, naïve questions, like “What do people plan?” and “Who is ‘Tom’?” She is also shown to be of high status when Nick describes her as “the king’s daughter, the golden girl”, displaying how she is a divine figure who needs to be chased after, as gold has connotations of richness and extreme wealth. Daisy is, at the outset, portrayed as an exceptional and charismatic person.

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Although in the beginning parts of the novel Fitzgerald portrays her positively, the reader gradually realizes her shallow personality, through her love of materialism. When visiting Gatsby’s house, she has overdramatic reactions to his possessions, even bursting into tears over “such beautiful shirts”. This shows that she is happy for the material possessions and wealth Gatsby can provide, rather than for rekindling lost love. The fact that she chose Tom over Gatsby heavily implies that she prefers “old money” wealth and high social status over true love. Gatsby describes to Nick that “her voice was full of money”, representing her ...

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A good essay title that provides scope to look in detail at the character of Daisy and her role in 'The Great Gatsby'. The points are well supported and refer directly to evidence from the novel. A more rounded response may have looked at the reasons that could be argued against the description of Daisy as 'selfish and shallow' and to consider that Daisy was in a class and social position that provided her with few choices about how to act. In order to fully explore the character of Daisy the essay could also have looked at the role and actions of some of the other characters and how this impacted the portrayal of Daisy.