Gatsby Uncovered: Daisy’s role of Svengali
Despite Gatsby’s role of hero and or central character in nearly every criticism of The Great Gatsby it seems clear that this is in great error. Daisy is the true main character, she is the driving force of the book, the connecting factor and the victor in the end. The Great Gatsby has been misinterpreted from a male-centric standpoint up until this time, portraying Daisy as weak and emotional. I will show you how Daisy is clearly the feminine heroine and main character of the book.
Past reading have seen Daisy as a weak and fragile woman whose wants and needs are debated over and fought over by Tom and Gatsby, but those needs are not actually true to her. In the scene where Tom and Gatsby confront one another over who Daisy loves, Daisy’s voice is barely heard. Both men seek to speak for her as Gatsby says, “‘Your wife doesn’t love you,’ said Gatsby quietly. ‘She’s never loved you. She loves me’” (116). Daisy for her part stays mostly quiet, allowing the men to speak for her and fight for her. She is seen as afraid to speak, but the end result of this scene is that she has two men and can easily choose either one. Though she seems weak she is actually in control.
Lets cut to the chase here. Daisy is the Svengali of the story, she is the underlying driving force through all of the book. First she is why all of the characters know each other. Daisy meets Gatsby five years previous to the story and leaves in him such a want for her so strong that he devotes the entirety of the rest of his life to attaining her. Daisy is Nick’s cousin and why Nick was around to witness the story and then write it. Nick would have no story to tell without being related to Daisy. Jordan was her bridesmaid and friend. Tom is her husband. Myrtle exist merely as an opposition to Daisy’s happiness, an opponent to take Tom away from Daisy. She is the Villain or enemy, which every story surely needs. There are no other characters with such a central role in the story as Daisy.
Next Daisy is the driving force for Gatsby, the assumed main character of the story. It is made clear that everything he has done was in order to win her, a five year plan, meticulously enacted. Daisy turns Gatsby, in all his power and position, into a little boy, when they first meet again after not seeing each other for five years, he become full of fear visibly shaken, so much so that Nick reprimands him, “’You’re acting like a little boy…not only that but you’re rude. Daisy’s sitting in there all alone’” (84). The image of him looking out a the green light of Daisy’s house is unmistakeable a sign that he is entirely devoted, even controlled by Daisy, his need of her having full control over him. “But I didn’t call out to him for he gave a sudden intimation that he was content to be alone—he stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and far as I was from him I could have sworn he was trembling” (33). Had young Jimmy Gatz never met Daisy he would never have had the drive to succeed to such lengths as he did.
Myrtle’s death is the climax for Daisy’s story. Myrtle who is seeking to steal Tom away, to steal away her husband and the father of her child, Daisy’s opposition. Daisy win Tom back during his fight with Gatsby, but also kills her competition literally, destroying any change that Myrtle could attempt to keep seeing Tom on the side. Daisy was driving when the car hit Myrtle and killed her, and Gatsby chooses to take the blame for her. Daisy not only is victor but she finds a scapegoat to take any consequences. It is a beautifully enacted victory for her.
The book ends with all opposition to Daisy’s happiness gone. She goes on a trip leaving all behind. She proves to be a strong woman not a weak one. She gets what she wants and she does it without mercy. Though it is not the surface view, it is still undeniably that Daisy makes out well in the story and that she brings the story and characters together. In the 1950’s a strong, non-gentle, non-submissive, non-virginal (yes she does sleep with Gatsby, cheating on her husband) and non-angelic woman for a main character would be unheard of. The same is true for the period the book represents, the 1920’s as well. Nonetheless if we look below the surface we can see that she was the main character and she does break the patriarchal view of the stereotypical woman.