Beautiful Little Fool: On Daisy Buchanan and the Hardest and Best Way to Live


“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.

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4 comments on “Beautiful Little Fool: On Daisy Buchanan and the Hardest and Best Way to Live
  1. Lau says:

    I believe that if I took the same road as she did (yes there were opportunites) there would still be consequences and burdens. No matter what happens in life, people will love and hate you for it. Sometimes though, the life you have is not what you would necessarily have chosen, given the choice, yet – as you grow older and wiser – you will realise that the choices you make will always have an outcome, good or bad. Sadly, its how we deal with it that matters.

    • abelovedone says:

      You’re right, even being a beautiful little fool doesn’t protect you from consequences, but it’s really tempting to believe that it will! I admire you for choosing a different road than Daisy.

  2. Farrell, I am blown away by this post. This is so insightful. Seriously, let’s go get coffee and talk about books all day.

    I feel the same way. I have a love-hate relationship with Daisy, but even moreso, with the way that women were treated. She was treated like a pet by almost everyone who came into contact with her. Even Gatsby at times. I’d like to ask Fitzgerald about his thoughts on patriarchy, about relationships, about love and consequences.

    Thanks for writing this post! It got me thinking in such great ways.

  3. Vanessa says:

    In my readings of the Great Gatsby (I didn’t read it in school, surprisingly) and some vague research I’ve done, Daisy is based off of Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. She was unconventional, manic, smart and very much trapped in a box. She was from an old money Southern family where she was probably taught that Nice Girls don’t…never…always…

    I also feel like if Daisy did marry Gatsby instead of Tom, she would have been miserable. This is a woman who is used to a certain life style and can’t comprehend life with out $40 manicures and her daily $20 Starbucks habit. Living with broke Gatsby would have been a different sort of torture than her life with Tom the blow hard. However, I don’t think she married Tom for his money. I think it was more pressure from her family/society at large that Nice Rich Girls Don’t Marry Poor Unknowns.

    Tom had the breeding and the cash that Gatsby didn’t. Case in point: The scene where the people on horseback ride by Gatsby’s place. The woman invites Gatsby to dinner and he accepts. He goes back into his house and the man tells Nick, “Doesn’t he know he’s not wanted?” Meaning they had the correct pairing of men and women and by accepting the invitation, Gatsby has committed a faux pas. He was never taught those softer skills/rules that the upper classes “know”. Heck, he hardly even knows the real Daisy. He keeps throwing those wild parties and she’s never shown up.

    I love the book and I think the story is more about miscommunication than anything else. No one is really talking about what they really feel. They’re all stuck in these roles that they feel like they have to play and just going through the motions. When I read Fitzgerald (and Hemingway) I try to focus more on what is left unsaid, that’s usually more important that what their characters are actually saying.

    All of this is to say, great post! You really got me thinking. 🙂

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