A look at Jay Gatsby’s ceiling breaking
So much of the intrigue and action of The Great Gatsby is watching Jay Gatsby make moves to get what he wants and witnessing how those actions affect his psyche. The breaking point for Gatsby comes in the almost-climatic apartment scene in which Gatsby confronts Tom about Daisy. The reader picks up valuable insight to the importance of the situation for Jay Gatsby by the things he says in an attempt to upset Tom.
The first big quote to look at, in regards to Gatsby’s psyche, comes right after Gatsby breaks and confronts Tom. He backs up his assertion that Daisy loves him, and not Tom, by saying:
“She never loved you, so you hear?” he cried. “She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me. It was a terrible mistake, but in her heart she never loved any one except me!” (Fitzgerald 130).
There are a couple of sentences that signal some of the things Gatsby is dealing with. When Gatsby tells Tom that Daisy only married him because he (Gatsby) was poor and she was tired of waiting for him, we learn two things about Gatsby: he has self-esteem issues that are attached to money and he has rationalized that the only reason Daisy would marry Tom over himself is because of finances. The last sentence also features Gatsby projecting on to Daisy. There is no way he can know what she feels in her heart unless she told it to him or she says it in the room – and that isn’t how the sentence is written. Gatsby is arguing Tom about his idealized Daisy rather than the Daisy that may be in the room. That is at the heart of the divide of the two men.
A section of text that builds off the thought of Gatsby arguing to get his idealized Daisy comes after Gatsby revealed to Tom that they had known each other five years prior. Fitzgerald writes:
Tom turned to Daisy sharply.
“You’ve been seeing this fellow for five years?”
“Not seeing,” said Gatsby. “No we couldn’t meet. But both of us loved each other all that time, old sport, and you didn’t know. I used to laugh sometimes” – but there was no laughter in his eyes – “to think you didn’t know.” (Fitzgerald 131).
Gatsby doesn’t let Daisy talk when Tom actually addresses her. While that can be approached from a feminist view, what does it mean when it is looked at from a psychoanalytic angle? As has been established, Gatsby is arguing for his Daisy – not Daisy herself. If he lets her answer he is acknowledging that the woman he has been pursuing, his green emerald prize, isn’t of his creation. For a person who has had so much control in creating the life he has had up until this point, it would be utterly out of character for Gatsby to do anything else than continue in his fever dream.
The last point, and the point of breaking for Gatsby, comes from Daisy being unable to acknowledge that she only loved Gatsby. Daisy says:
“Oh you want too much!” she cried to Gatsby. “I love you know – isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past.” She began to sob helplessly. “I did love him once – but I loved you too.”
Gatsby’s eyes opened and closed.
“You loved me too? He repeated. (Fitzgerald 132).
Everything is in “Too”. His world crashes. By putting too in italics the reader is informed that Gatsby now realizes he is on the exact same plane of love Tom is on in relation to Gatsby. They are not Romeo and Juliet, their stars were never entirely crossed. Too, with all of the facts that Daisy finally gives out, informs Gatsby that Daisy is no longer this idealized encapsulation of love anymore. Too allows Gatsby to know that Daisy is a woman with her own thoughts and feelings and that thought makes him so uncertain for the rest of the book.
A psychoanalytic approach to looking at Gatsby is interesting because it parallels with other approaches and could be used in tandem to create a great paper. Taking a psychoanalytic approach to looking at Gatsby and combining it with a Marxist approach could provide a great argument for Gatsby being a greater symbol for the American public in the time period. A feminist approach, in tandem with the same psychoanalytic analysis, could provide a great starting point for the male versus female dynamic of the time period and how each sex arrived to their own conclusions. Used alone, in this instance, we witness Gatsby start to sink. “Too” foreshadows everything to come at the end of the book. Is it the mortal wound that is unable to be resolved? Yes.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “The Great Gatsby”. Scribner. Ney York. 1st. 2004. Print. 7/12/14.