The Cost of Twisted Love in Fitzgerald and Wilde

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The novels The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde deal with the theme of love and the many forms it can take. This is developed in both novels through the use of the character archetypes of the lover and the innocent. Both novels illustrate how twisted forms of love affect the characters, their relationships, their choices and their lives. The authors use the lover and the innocent archetypes to help emphasize the negative effects that twisted forms of love can have on and how they motivate individuals.

The theme of love in The Great Gatsby

In The Great Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan first seems to fall under the archetype of the innocent, however, as the novel progresses it becomes apparent that the archetype of the lover is much more befitting of Daisy. The Lover is someone who flourishes in a situation lack allows them to be close to who or what they love, they fear exclusion from a group and cannot stand being alone. This describes Daisy Buchanan perfectly, she is present as the embodiment of wealth, grace, sophistication, and high society, be that as it may, she is also shown to be materialistic, disloyal, uncaring, and someone who thinks of herself and their gain above all else. She is evidently aware of her husband, Tom’s, affair and is plainly discontent in her marriage, consequently, she is unapologetic in her affair with Jay Gatsby. It is in the said affair where Daisy shows her true color, showing that she does not genuinely care for Gatsby, but rather what he can offer her now that he is wealthy and has made a name for himself. This is made apparent when, “... Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily. 'They're such beautiful shirts,' she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. 'It makes me sad because I've never seen such – such beautiful shirts before' (Fitzgerald 98), she is not crying because of the shirts but rather what they represent, that being wealth. Additionally, Daisy shows little regard for her daughter Pam, seldom taking care of her, forfeiting motherly duties to a nanny, and viewing her more as an object to be shown off rather. “‘That’s because your mother wanted to show you off’... With a reluctant backward glance the well-disciplined child held to her nurse’s hand and was pulled away,” (Fitzgerald 123-124). Furthermore, after the confrontation between Jay and Tom, Daisy callously runs over Myrtle, reconciles with Tom, and the two move away, leaving no forwarding address, and leaving Jay to his death. Daisy realizes that if she were to be with Jay she would lack the comfort and security that she has with Tom, and ultimately chooses to stay with Tom not out of love for him but rather out of what he can provide her. “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy-- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made …” (Fitzgerald 187-188). Ultimately, Daisy’s love for others is conditional and she shows the only person she truly cares for is herself.

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In Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the titular character Jay Gatsby has spent the majority of his adult life working to become wealthy and find the love of his life Daisy Buchanan. Jay’s behaviors are characteristic of the Innocent archetype; he is s

Fitzgerald first presents Jay Gatsby as mysterious, wealthy, and sophisticated, however as Nick gets to know Jay it is revealed that he is in fact a hopeless romantic, fixated on winning Daisy’s love. Jay’s actions portray the quintessential aspects of the Innocent archetype, who is characterized as optimistic, sincere, loyal, truthful, and naive. Jay Gatsby grew up impoverished and yearned for a life of wealth and luxury; this is precisely why he fell in love with Daisy, as a young military officer. Daisy was a debutante from an affluent family and represented everything that Jay aspired to be, in his eye, she was the personification of the life he desired. Jay even goes as far to say, (Daisy money quote). Despite their shared love, Daisy marries Tom, who was everything that Jay was not, that being wealthy, educated, and from an affluent family. This consequently leads Jay along the path to making a name for himself, becoming the man he feels Daisy deserves, and become someone from her world. After numerous years Jay builds a name for himself, he made his fortune bootlegging alcohol through his drugstores and buys the house across the bay from the Buchanan’s home, visible from Jay’s lawn. (Green light quote). Jay views and associates Daisy with this light, being that she was the motivation that pushed him towards his now life, the light that lead him out of the darkness of poverty. However when Jay reunites with Daisy she falls short of his expectations, he views her as the epitome of perfection and the embodiment of the American dream, but when she is unable to renounce her love for Tom and say her love belongs only to him she falls short of his expectation. (Confrontation quote). This destroys Jay because Daisy has destroyed his dream and devalued everything he has worked for, in many ways Jay did not love Daisy as much as what she represented, in short, he fell in love with the idea of her. He was naive in his belief that she would abandon her life and be with him. To the very end Jay was loyal to Daisy protecting her, keeping that she was the one that murdered Myrtle Wilson a secret and dying at the hands of George Wilson as a result.

The theme of love in The Picture of Dorian Gray

In Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray the titular character Dorian Gray has portrayed an archetypal Lover character through his manic love for his youth and beauty as well as what he is willing to do to protect them. In the beginning, Dorian is an impressionable young aristocrat, who’s beauty captures the attention of a painter, Basil Hallward, and noblemen Lord Henry Wotton. Dorian becomes the subject of Basil’s latest portrait and helps him unlock his artistic potential. It is at this point where Dorian’s obsession with staying young and beautiful stems after Lord Henry comments on how these traits are fleeting; this roots a fear in Dorian that causes him to sell and curse his soul for eternal youth and beauty, “How sad it is! I shall grow old, horrible, and dreadful. But this picture will remain always young. It will never be older than this particular day of June…. If it were only the other way! If it were I who was to be always young, and the picture that was to grow old! For that—for that—I would give everything! Yes, there is nothing in the whole world I would not give! I would give my soul for that!” (Wilde 32). Dorian unknowingly sells his soul to keep his youth which he feels is what makes him relevant in society and that without that he is nothing. To make matters worse, due to his impressionable nature, Lord Henry is able to convince Dorian to adopt a pleasure-seeking and hedonistic morality, similar to his own. Henry often denounces the social hypocrisy and morality in which they live. The more time he spends with the more nuanced Dorian’s morality becomes, this is however changes when Dorian meets a poor actress by the name of Sibyl Vane. Dorian is initially inthraughed with her due to her being an actress and from the way that Dorian describes his love for Sibyl, he appears to be infatuated with her profession rather than her. (quote from chapter 4). In truth he does not love Sibyl, he does not aspire to form a long-lasting and healthy relationship with her father to aid her in growing her career. Moreover, in his time spent with Henry, Dorian has become adapted to manipulating others. Dorian’s manipulation is evidence of his growing selfishness and vanity as well as the degradation of his soul; the portrait of Dorian being the physical manifestation of his degrading soul. Dorian’s final heinous act that secures the damnation of his soul, is the murder of Basil. When Basil informs Dorian of the atrocious rumors about him a response Dorian invites Basil to view his masterpiece. Upon seeing his once beautiful painting now showing the corruption of Dorian’s soul. Basil is shocked and tells Dorian how his obsession with his youth and beauty has ruined the both of them, '... I worshiped you too much. I am punished for it. You worshiped yourself too much. We are both punished,' (Wilde 157). Dorian blames Basil for the degradation of his soul, he loathes him for it and murders him for it. He fails to recognize that it was he who was to blame, that it was the result of all of his atrocious acts and his mania revolving around his appearance.

In The Picture of Dorian Gray, Sibyl Vane is the epitome of innocence, having been dealt a poor hand in life she tries to make the best of it only to be betrayed by the love of her life. As a talented actress in a dilapidated theater in London’s East End, Sibyl portrays many of Shakespeare’s leading females and despite the poor quality of the productions, her performances are excellent. Upon witnessing her portrayal of Juliet from Romeo and Juliet, Dorian becomes enthralled by her voice and her beauty. Sibyl’s good heart and kind nature prompt Dorian to abandon his hedonistic way and change for the better, (Change quote), however, this does not last The two fall in love and are engaged; this is when their relationship begins to deteriorate. Having now known and experienced real love Sibyl is no longer able to portray the fictitious love in the plays, this comes to a head when again performs as Juliet; however unlike before her performance is now listless, dull, and artificial. Expecting Dorian to understand that she can no longer act due to there shared love and hopes for them to start their life together but is shocked and broken when Dorian tells her, (Killed love chapter ⅞). Heartbroken and distraught, Sibyl took her own life by means of poison. Upon learning of Sibyl, Dorian feels no remorse or guilt, and Henry helps him to conclude that Sibyl is a theatrical work of art, “It seems to me to be simply like a wonderful ending to a wonderful play. It has all the terrible beauty of a Greek tragedy, a tragedy in which I took a great part, but by which I have not been wounded,' (Wilde). In the end, Sibyl was not the object of Dorian’s love but rather an aesthetic appreciation, he saw her as a thing he could manipulate and throw away when she was no longer useful when she no longer represented the idea he so adore. The greatest fear of the archetypal innocent character is to be abandoned, exactly what Dorian did to Sibyl, “


In conclusion, The Great Gatsby and The Picture of Dorian Gray show how love can take various forms, and how twisted forms of love can lead to negative consequences for individuals, their relationships, their choices, and their lives. Both novels use the archetypes of the lover and the innocent to emphasize the effects of twisted love on individuals. In The Great Gatsby, Daisy represents the lover archetype, showing how her love is conditional and that she only cares for herself. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, the titular character embodies the lover archetype as well, manifesting his love for youth and beauty and showing how it drives him to manipulate others and ultimately leads to his downfall. Both novels illustrate how love, if twisted and corrupted, can lead to dire consequences, and how it is important to have a healthy relationship with love.

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