My friend and I were having a discussion about The Great Gatsby and Mr. J. Gatsby in particular. My friend opines that he is a superficial man because all he cared about was wealth and showing off. His love for Daisy was also more about showing her that he can indeed become rich.

This, my friend says, is proved from two incidents:

  1. When Daisy tells Gatsby that they should elope, he refuses because he was more focused on showing Tom Buchanan that he was better than him.
  2. When J. Gatsby, Tom, Daisy, Nick and the other lady are at the New York apartment, Gatsby insists Daisy to verbalize that he is better than Tom and that she loves him over Tom. This, my friend says, is shallow and mean as this was tacitly understood she loved Gatsby over Tom.

I, on the other hand, believe that he wasn't shallow. He loved Daisy and deep inside he was hurt because she refused to marry him because he was 'penniless'. All of this was amplified by the years they were separate. In the end Daisy betrayed him. She was shallow and not him.

So, which one is it: shallow man or hurt lover? Are there any further proofs from the movie (or the book?) or any other information in favour of one of those viewpoints or has this been left open for interpretation?

NB: I have not read the book. Feel free to use it for explanation if it provides better insight into his character (or maybe the movie has deliberately made him more ambiguous than the book).

  • 1
    I wonder who would downvote this question, it isn't any more opinionated than many other good analysis questions. But I haven't seen the movie (nor read the book) either, I admit.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Feb 3, 2014 at 18:58
  • Its a perfectly good analysis question IMHO
    – iandotkelly
    Feb 3, 2014 at 20:09

1 Answer 1


Personally, I believe that J. Gatsby went through a change in the film. At first, he was a hurt lover focused on getting Daisy back into his life. However, after the first party that both Buchanan and Daisy attended, Gatsby became focused on not just getting Daisy, but showing that he was better than Buchanan. In the end, it was his pride that made him stay at his estate rather than elope. Call him superficial, but in the end, he just wanted to know that he deserved Daisy, rather than just take her from Buchanan.

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