Is the love that Gatsby feels driving his relentless pursuit of winning over Daisy? Are all of his schemes to ‘win’ over Daisy worth it? In Gatsby’s eyes Daisy represents the American Dream, wealth, power, fame, and beauty which is the reason why Gatsby is attracted to her. Although Gatsby's fantasies with Daisy never become a reality, his love for her can only be felt in the pursuit, not in 'having' her as his own. In ‘The Great Gatsby’, Fitzgerald tries to focus on Jay Gatsby and his constant pursuit for Daisy Buchanan. While Gatsby is away at war, Daisy falls in love and gets married. During the next 5 years all Gatsby tries to do is win over Daisy although she has found someone else. The question that still remains is, is this love or is it the idea of being with her that is causing his obsession? Perhaps he only wants to be with her because she lives the American Dream and Gatsby wants to be a rich and powerful man that he feels he is meant to be.
We see closer to the middle of the book the romantic past between Daisy and Gatsby. Daisy is invited to tea where Gatsby happens to pass by and sees Daisy. Now, reunited Gatsby and Daisy act very uncomfortable towards each other. During this encounter they do not truly start to connect with one another until Gatsby is told that Daisy is embarrassed. They start to get to know each other again, but Gatsby is surprised to see what kind of person Daisy has evolved into over these years. “As I went over to say goodbye, I saw that the expression of bewilderment had come back into Gatsby’s face, as though a faint doubt had occurred to him as to the quality of his present happiness. Almost five years! There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams—not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. It had gone beyond her, beyond everything” (Fitzgerald). Gatsby is not as satisfied as he thought he would have been when he was reunited with Daisy. Throughout these years, he had built up this idea of Daisy but now, Daisy was not the girl that his memory thought she was. It was his imagination that made him keep thinking of Daisy this certain way even though she has evolved. When Gatsby saw Daisy, he assumed that everything would fall back into place and be as it was before he went off to war. His imagination of Daisy tried to recreate what he and Daisy had in the past and he thought it would become his reality. Gatsby wanted to change his life from being in a poor family to a rich and wealthy man of society and he believes Daisy is the factor that is able to change that for him. She symbolizes the life that Gatsby has always wanted. “Her voice is full of money” (Fitzgerald). He so desperately wants Daisy to fall in love with him because she is the only ticket to getting the life he has always dreamed of. He believes that getting Daisy to love him despite everything can prove that he has changed for the better.
Throughout the story we do see evidence that Gatsby really is in love with Daisy. “Gatsby bought that house so that Daisy would be just across the bay” (Fitzgerald). This suggests that Gatsby wants to be closer to Daisy so that he can watch over her and protect her from any form of harm. The only reason he hasn’t done anything too drastic is because he is afraid. “He’s afraid. He’s waited so long” (Fitzgerald). He tries to overcome his fear by asking Nick to ask Daisy to tea in hopes of Daisy still being as in love with him and he loves her. Gatsby even remembers the exact date since their last encounter together. “Five years next November” (Fitzgerald). This is a romantic hint that he truly loves her. The memories Gatsby recalls including the time he first met Daisy and the first time he kissed her proves his passion that he has for Daisy. Even firing all of his servants so that Daisy’s reputation wouldn’t be ruined is another example of the love that he feels for her. Gatsby’s intentions were good and his love for her is true but his expectations of her were not what he had expected after all these years.
Even with all these factors present it is still possible that Gatsby is not really in love with Daisy but he just loves the idea of being in love with her. Gatsby is only in love with Daisy because of her identity and what she represents. He is unable to forget the past where Daisy once saw him as a perfect man in her eyes and can’t accept his new reality. Gatsby’s want of wealth and power only proves that he only loves the idea of her and not actually her. He loves who she thought he was in the past and can’t comprehend the idea of love that he is truly feeling in the present. The fact that she married Tom Buchanan, a very wealthy man only made Gatsby think that she was really choosing him. In addition to this it is very likely that he only loved the thrill of trying to win over Daisy. “It excited him too that many men had already loved Daisy—it increased her value in his eyes. He felt their presence all about the house, pervading the air with the shades and echoes of still vibrant emotions” (Fitzgerald). The idea of winning Daisy out of all these other men who would have done anything to have her love them is what Gatsby wants above all else. Being the winner of the ‘prize’, which is Daisy, is a race that many try to complete but do not win. Gatsby thinks that by winning this ‘race’ he will have everything his heart desires which is wealth, power, and the girl he has supposedly always wanted. His imagination and unwillingness to overcome the past is what is blocking him from seeing his reality. “He talked a lot about the past, and I gathered that he wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy” (Fitzgerald).
Overall, it is debatable whether or not Gatsby actually loved Daisy or whether he just loved the idea of her. There is evidence that suggests that Gatsby truly does love Daisy but there is also evidence which proves he does not actually love her. There are many theories that people have but in conclusion he really only loved the idea of winning her over rather than actually being in love with her. After he came back from the war his love for her faded. The love he thought he had for Daisy was his imagination and the reality he had constantly pictured in his head. She had evolved into a different person over the years and was not what he had expected. He is not truly ready to accept that fact that Daisy moved on and is living a different life that is not with him.