“All right… I’m glad it’s a girl. I hope she’ll be a fool–that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool… You see, I think everything’s terrible anyhow… And I know. I’ve been everywhere and seen everything and done everything.”
– F. Scott Fitzgerald
Sometimes I hate Daisy. The entire story of The Great Gatsby is basically all her fault. I hate that she embodies some of the worst stereotypes society has about women: she is just a pretty face, she cannot take responsibility for her own life without the help of men, she is completely superficial. Throughout the course of the story we find out how thoroughly selfish she is- she uses people as entertaining diversions! She faces a hot day, a friend, a party, and her child with the exact same ennui. She is a careless driver. Sometimes I hate Daisy.
Sometimes I hate F. Scott Fitzgerald and the male writers behind each Gatsby movie. I watch and I wonder- is this what men really think of women? When they write a sweeping epic novel or movie, the female character they come up with is Daisy Buchanan? I wonder if they think that that is what females are like- dressed to the nines, using the money of men, full of clever words and tricks, devoid of compassion and any sense of responsibility. Sometimes I hate the men who wrote the character of Daisy.
But sometimes I love Daisy. I wish we could sit down and have tea. Because just as Gatsby, Tom, and Myrtle are representative of larger societal criticisms, I see that everything that Daisy represents is not a critique of women, but of a patriarchal society. Daisy has no power in her own life. Daisy is not meant to represent the best of women, but what happens when women feel they have no other means of survival than to become a beautiful little fool.
Does anyone but me read the line about becoming a beautiful little fool and understand exactly what Daisy means, that if only we were fools the world would be so much easier to live in? The story would be so much harder for Daisy if she decided not to play the beautiful little fool. If she were not a beautiful little fool, Daisy would have to face up to a hit and run, her part in Gatsby’s death, her infidelity, and her choice to marry a man for his old money! There would be legal, financial, emotional, and spiritual consequences. Instead, as a beautiful little fool, she runs away from the end of the story.
Deciding to take charge of your own life is the hardest possible way to go. And yet if we were to sit down and have tea- hopefully wearing some of Daisy’s amazing dresses- I would tell you that it’s worth it.
I would agree that it might feel great to have as many men as possible fall in love you, but I would remind you that love like that is an illusion and a loss of power.
I would agree that it’s terrifying to accept the consequences for mistakes, but it is freeing knowing that you have no secrets to fear.
I would tell you that it is hard to be assertive about your decisions and your identity, but it’s wonderful to find that you have valuable opinions and a unique personhood.
I would tell you that although working on relationships with those around you can be painfully difficult, it is worth the deep and lasting love and trust that results.
And I would tell you that although it’s rough going to take the hardest road, it is worth it to get to see the end of the story.
Do you resonate with Daisy’s quote? What are some ways that we can fight the urge to become beautiful little fools?
You can read my review of the movie, and a style post, here.