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ONE OF THE GREAT THINGS
With the imminent release of the re-make of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, and Carey Mulligan, there has been a resurgence of interest in the book version. The Great Gatsby is available free on Google Play, free (as well as for $.99.) Moreover, there are a number of other sites where the e-book version of The Great Gatsby is also free: freebooks-at.blogspot.com, freeebookonline.org, and myenglishpages.com. The Kindle e-book version is priced at $12.99.
Here, we will focus on Daisy. To say that Daisy is an interesting character is, of course, an understatement. In an excellent article in the Boston Globe, “Our great fascination with ‘Gatsby” (May 5, 2013), Ed Symkus perfectly captures the genius of Fitzgerald’s writing: “Fitzgerald’s book is beautifully written, showing off a masterful control of language, and most important, its characters are open to interpretation. Some think of Gatsby as a romantic figure, others see him as a hollow shell of a man; to some Daisy is a tragic heroine, to others she’s a mindless twit.”
Here are some of Fitzgerald’s descriptions of Daisy.
Daisy, Chapter 1:
I looked back at my cousin, who began to ask me questions in her low, thrilling voice. It was the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down, as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again. Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered “Listen,” a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour.
Daisy, Chapter 6:
Daisy began to sing with the music in a husky, rhythmic whisper, bringing out a meaning in each word that it had never had before and would never have again. When the melody rose, her voice broke up sweetly, following it, in a way contralto voices [the lowest register of the female voice] have, and each change tipped out a little of her warm human magic upon the air.
The origin of Daisy’s line “A beautiful little fool.”
In Sometimes Madness is Wisdom, Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald, A Marriage, (Ballentine, 2001 p. 112), the author, Kendal Taylor, writes that on the occasion of the birth of their child,
Scott scribbled down Zelda’s first words out of anesthesia … “Isn’t she smart- she has the hiccups. I hope its beautiful and a fool- a beautiful little fool.” … Years later in The Great Gatsby, Daisy would say almost the same thing. “I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. ‘All right,’ I said. I’m glad its a girl. And i hope she’ll be a fool- that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'”
NOW, LET’S GO TO THE MOVIES
THE MOVIE VERSIONS
The 1949 version with Alan Ladd as Gatsby and Betty Field as Daisy. (You can go to 10:00 for Gatsby’s death scene.)
The 1974 version with Robert Redford as Gatsby and Mia Farrow. This clip is of Daisy and Gatsby at Gatsby’s house.
The 2013 version with Leo DiCaprio as Gatsby and Carey Mulligan as Daisy, the trailer.
NOW, CAST YOUR OWN GATSBY MOVIE
The Great Gatsby Produced and Directed by You:
The Globe Article by Ed Symkus contains a masterful summary of all of the Gatsby versions- movies, plays, and television.