Theme Of Intimacy In The Great Gatsby

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The relationship most obviously based on a fear of intimacy is that of Tom and Daisy. Men and women who fear intimacy find ways to do so by engaging in infidelity as a means of hurting their partner, but less obviously, as a means to hurt themselves. This idea is well elaborated by Kristeva: “People who are threatened by intimacy and sexuality … are unable to consummate an intimate relationship and flee into promiscuity. They, also, retreat into being little boys or little girls in the face of an adult sexual relationship, because they are too guilty to consummate the relationship… Intimacy is avoided by choosing unavailable people or by pushing people away when they become too close” (Kriteva). When the readers are first introduced to Tom,…show more content…
His treatment of Myrtle suggests no deep emotional investment either, as is showcased when he casually breaks her nose with “…a short deft movement” (Fitzgerald 41). He calls for her when it suits him, lies to her, and exerts physical dominance when she becomes inconveniently demanding. He has no desire to be close to his mistress; she is merely the means by which he avoids being close to his wife. Similarly, Daisy’s fear of intimacy, though as intense, is not quite as immediately apparent. Indeed, her marital fidelity, until her affair with Gatsby, and her distress over Tom’s involvement with Myrtle might suggest to some readers that Daisy desires emotional intimacy with her husband. Jordan’s description of Daisy after her honeymoon reinforces this interpretation: “I’d never seen a girl so mad about her husband. If he left the room for a minute she’d look around uneasily and say ‘Where’s Tom gone?’ and wear the most abstracted expression until she saw him coming in the door” (Fitzgerald…show more content…
Though Daisy certainly would not use this language to describe her feelings, it is very unlikely that she was even aware of her psychological motives. For both Tom and Daisy, fear of intimacy is related to low self-esteem. If Tom were as emotionally secure as his wealth and size make him appear, he would not work as hard as he does to impress others with his money and power, as he does, for example, when he brags about his house and stables to Nick, when he flaunts Myrtle before Nick and others, when he degrades those who don’t belong to the ‘dominant race.’ Daisy’s low self-esteem, like her fear of intimacy, is indicated in large part by her relationship with Tom. Falling so much in love with a man who was openly unfaithful to her suggests an unconscious belief that she does not deserve better. Furthermore, Daisy’s insecurity, like Tom’s, frequently requires the ego reinforcement obtained by impressing others, attempts at which the readers see in her numerous affectations in, for example, her interactions with her cousin Nick. Tom and Daisy’s fear of intimacy is apparent in their relationships with their daughter Pammy as well, as neither spends time with her. Their daughter is being raised by her nurse and
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