Daisy Buchanan

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Daisy Buchanan
The Great Gatsby character
Daisy Buchanan.png
Daisy Buchanan as portrayed by Carey Mulligan
Created by Francis Scott Fitzgerald
Portrayed by
Full name Daisy Fay Buchanan (real name)
Gender Female
Family Tom Buchanan (husband)
Pammy Buchanan (daughter)
Significant other(s) Tom Buchanan
Nationality American

Daisy Fay Buchanan is the focal character in F. Scott Fitzgerald's magnum opus The Great Gatsby (1925).

Character biography[edit]

Daisy Fay was born into a wealthy Louisville family. By 1917, Daisy was courted by several officers, by which she met Jay Gatsby and the two fell in love. Before Gatsby left for war, Daisy promised to wait for him. After Jay started attending Trinity College, Oxford, Daisy sent him a letter revealing that she had married Tom Buchanan. During the marriage, Daisy gave birth to the couple's daughter, Pammy, who Daisy had hoped would be "a beautiful little fool." After her cousin Nick Carraway arrived in East Egg, having a brief reunion with Daisy, he met Gatsby who at that point had spent years trying to become wealthy so he could win Daisy's love, throwing large parties of grandeur in hopes Daisy would come.[1] Nick successfully sets up a meeting between the two for the first time in five years, leading to an affair.[2] At the Buchanan home, Daisy, Tom, Jordan, Nick and Gatsby decided to visit New York City, Tom taking Gatsby's yellow Rolls Royce with Jordan and Nick while Daisy and Gatsby drove alone.

Once the group reached the city, they have a party in an expensive hotel suite that descends into a confrontation between Daisy, Tom and Gatsby. Though Gatsby insisted that Daisy never loved Tom, Daisy admits that she loved both Tom and Gatsby. The party ended with Daisy driving Gatsby out of New York City and Tom leaving with Nick and Jordan. Myrtle mistook Daisy and Gatsby in the car for Tom, believing he had returned for her and was killed after running out to the vehicle and being struck, leaving a panicked Daisy driving away from the scene of the incident. In her home in East Egg, Gatsby assured her that he would take the blame if the two were caught. Tom told George, Myrtle's husband, that it was Gatsby's car that killed Myrtle, which was followed by George going to Gatsby's home in West Egg and shooting both him and himself in a murder-suicide. After Gatsby's murder, Daisy, Tom and their daughter left East Egg, having no forwarding address either. As Gatsby took the blame, Daisy did not tell anyone of her role in Myrtle's death, the only other living person knowing the truth being Nick.

Creation and conception[edit]

According to his own letters and diary entries, Fitzgerald's character of Daisy was based on Chicago socialite and debutante, Ginevra King,[3][4] whom he had met on a visit back home in St. Paul, Minnesota while enrolled as a student at Princeton University.[5] Immediately infatuated with her, according to his biographer Andrew Mizner, Fitzgerald "remained devoted to Ginevra as long as she would allow him to", wrote to her "daily the incoherent, expressive letters all young lovers write",[6] and she would become his inspiration for Daisy, as well as several other characters in his novels and short stories.[6][7]

The curator of Fitzgerald manuscripts and letters at Princeton, Don Skemer, has written that Ginerva "remained for Fitzgerald an archetype for the alluring, independent and upperclass woman, ultimately unattainable by someone of a modest social background like himself", and that she "was a model for Daisy", as well as being "recognizable in many other [Fitzgerald] characters."[8]

There is also evidence of Daisy being partially based on Fitzgerald's wife Zelda.[9] Theresa Anne Fowler has written of the similarities that both Daisy and Zelda shared: "the Southern upbringing, the prominent family. And it is no secret that Scott borrowed liberally from Zelda’s early diaries and their own life for his stories."[9] And, when their daughter Scottie was born, Zelda, upon emerging from the anesthesia, was reported to have expressed her hope that their child would be a "beautiful little fool" -- one of Daisy's lines, among many others, that have been attributed to Zelda.[9]

Daisy as a reference point[edit]

The figure of Daisy in American culture is generally unfavorable. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was compared to Daisy by Maureen Dowd of The New York Times for speaking in a "soft, measured" voice only audible if one leans in.[10] This was debunked by David Fiderer of The Huffington Post who wrote that Daisy only married Tom Buchanan for his wealth as opposed to Gatsby and added, "Daisy is a very passive and frivolous character who never thinks out the consequences of her actions. Daisy could not be more different than Hillary."[11] Along with her husband Bill Clinton, the couple have been termed the Daisy and Tom Buchanan of American politics.[12][13][14][15] Sarah Palin was called "a Daisy Buchanan for our time" by Will Bunch, who claimed Palin was like Daisy in being "a careless person, indeed, who tosses around words or images with nary a thought as to their effect, before she retreats back into her money or vast carelessness or whatever."[16] George F. Will of The Washington Post invoked Daisy along with her husband when describing Bill O'Reilly due to what Will called their similar tendency to "smash up things" and then leave behind "mess" others would have to clean up in their place.[17]

Daisy has become associated with wealth and glamor.[18][19] Actress Carey Mulligan, who portrayed Daisy in the 2013 film adaptation, said Daisy was similar to members of the Kardashian family, later stating, "what I was trying to imply was that there’s an essence of part of the amazing business they run as the Kardashians is looking beautiful a lot and looking very present, presentational and perfect.”[20] Since the comparisons, members of the Kardashian family have been compared to Daisy.[21] Shaun Fitzpatrick of Bustle compared Daisy with the lead character in the novel Irresistible: The Jazz Age Life of Henrietta Bingham, even using images of Daisy when talking about actions of the character since as Fitzpatrick wrote, she was similar to "a character in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel".[22] Inga Ting of The Sydney Morning Herald used an image of Mulligan as Daisy in an article titled, "Men want beauty, women want money: what we want from the opposite sex".[23] The character's physical description has become synonymous with 1920s culture.[24]



In the 1974 film adaptation, Daisy is portrayed by Mia Farrow. A photo of Farrow portraying Daisy graced the cover of the first issue of People magazine in promotion of the then-upcoming film. In the photo, Farrow holds a string of pearls in her hand while the pearls are also in her mouth.[25] It was later emulated in 2014 by Taylor Swift.[26] Farrow's performance as Daisy was met with mixed reception, Bruce Handy of Vanity Fair praising Farrow as being "full of vain flutter and the seductive instant intimacy of the careless rich"[27] while Leigh Paatsch of News.com.au thought Farrow missed Daisy "by a country mile."[28] While Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote favorably of Farrow as Daisy, he added that Daisy "may be an impossible role, one that is much more easily accepted on the page than on the screen."[29]

Luhrmann version[edit]

In the 2013 film adaptation, Daisy is portrayed by Carey Mulligan.[30] Mulligan had two 90-minute auditions, which she found to be fun and served as her initial encounters with Leonardo DiCaprio, who read with her both days. Mulligan left the audition, unsure she had secured the role, but was satisfied to have played off DiCaprio.[31] Mulligan read the novel in preparation for auditioning for the role, finding the book to be accessible due to its length. Mulligan was familiar with the dislike some readers of The Great Gatsby had for the character, but felt she could not "think that about her, because I can't play her thinking she's awful." Mulligan strayed from watching Farrow's prior portrayal of Daisy, believing she might steal from Farrow's performance subconsciously for her own.[32]

Baz Luhrmann confirmed Mulligan had been cast as Daisy in November 2010, the month after she acquired the role.[33] After the confirmation, Time assessed Mulligan as being attractive but in a childlike way, a contrast to the womanly beauty of Daisy in an article.[34] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter in his review of the film wrote that viewers had their own ideals about Daisy's character and would debate whether Mulligan "has the beauty, the bearing, the dream qualities desired for the part, but she lucidly portrays the desperate tear Daisy feels between her unquestionable love for Gatsby and fear of her husband."[35]

Other media[edit]

Phyllis Kirk portrayed Daisy in an episode of the television series Robert Montgomery Presents adapting The Great Gatsby. Jeanne Crain played Daisy in an episode of the television series Playhouse 90. Mira Sorvino played Daisy in the 2000 film adaptation. Tricia Paoluccio portrayed Daisy in the episode "Novel Reflections: The American Dream" on the television series American Masters. Daisy is portrayed by Madeleine Herd in an adaptation by Independent Theater productions.[36]


Emma Gray of The Huffington Post wrote of Daisy, "As F. Scott Fitzgerald's twisted 1920s version of a manic pixie dream girl, The Great Gatsby antiheroine has become one of the most discussed and polarizing female characters in American literature."[37] Reception to Daisy has been mixed. An afterward in the 1992 edition of the novel by publisher Charles Scribner III claimed that Fitzgerald blamed the initial commercial failure of The Great Gatsby on it containing "no important woman character and women control the fiction market at present.” The line was inferred that Fitzgerald did not believe it contained any sympathetic female characters. Katie Baker of The Daily Beast concluded that though Daisy lives and Gatsby dies, "in the end both Gatsby and Daisy have lost their youthful dreams, that sense of eternal possibility that made the summertimes sweet. And love her or hate her, there’s something to pity in that irrevocable fact."[38]

Daisy as a role model has been critiqued. After the release of the 2013 film adaptation, Carlie Lindower wrote that while she understood why Daisy was looked up to by some female readers of the novel, Daisy should not be compared to the "heroines of our day" since she was no longer contemporary in being "molded into her specific state of dependence from an old model." Lindower furthered that she was a pawn in Gatsby's life for him to put his hopes and dreams on and that her weakness was "integral to the novel’s plot and understandable for its setting."[39] Ella Ceron of Though Catalog found Daisy to be "a classic Susan Glenn", defining Susan Glenn as an enigma a man forgets from his boyhood days and also adding, "You shouldn’t want to be a man’s Daisy Buchanan because even if somebody loves you enough to take the fall for your wrongdoings, the fact that you let them says a lot more about you than it does about them."[40]

Dave McGinn listed the character as one who needed their side of the story in their novel told, questioning if she really had a "voice full of money" as Gatsby claimed and wondered what her thoughts were on the love triangle between her, Gatsby and her husband.[41]


  1. ^ "The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – review". The Guardian. December 23, 2015. 
  2. ^ Maglio, Tony (November 2, 2013). "Leonardo DiCaprio to Tobey Maguire in ‘Gatsby’ Deleted Scene: Daisy Buchanan’s a Gold Digger (Video)". TheWrap. 
  3. ^ Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph (2002), Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald (2nd rev. ed.), Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, p. 123–124, ISBN 1-57003-455-9 
  4. ^ Lawton, Mark (January 19, 2016). "Westleigh Farm subdivision moves toward final approval". Chicago Tribune. 
  5. ^ Noden, Merrell. "Fitzgerald's first love". Princeton Alumni Weekly. November 5, 2003.
  6. ^ a b Mizener, Arthur (1972), Scott Fitzgerald and His World, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons 
  7. ^ Stepanov, Renata. "Family of Fitzgerald's lover donates correspondence". The Daily Princetonian. September 15, 2003.
  8. ^ Stevens, Ruth (September 7, 2003). "Before Zelda, there was Ginevra". Princeton. 
  9. ^ a b c Fowler, Theresa Anne (March 31, 2013). "Rehabilitating Zelda Fitzgerald, the original It Girl". Telegraph. 
  10. ^ Dowd, Maureen (January 2, 2008). "Design or Reign?". The New York Times. 
  11. ^ Fiderer, David (January 4, 2008). "Maureen Dowd, and The Women of Washington Who Project on to Hillary". The Huffington Post. 
  12. ^ "REPORT: TEAM HILLARY ASKED PLATTE RIVER TO REDUCE EMAIL DATA STORAGE". powerlineblog.com. October 6, 2015. 
  13. ^ Rubin, Jennifer (January 22, 2014). "The Clinton delusion". The Washington Post. 
  14. ^ Weisberg, Jacob (December 20, 1998). "A Question of Character". Slate.com. 
  15. ^ "Hillary Rodham Clinton's Affective Death-Spiral". RedState. September 18, 2015. 
  16. ^ Bunch, Will (January 12, 2011). "Palin talks "accountability," doesn't take any". Media Matters for America. 
  17. ^ Will, George F. (November 10, 2015). "Bill O’Reilly makes a mess of history". The Washington Post. 
  18. ^ "The Rich in Fiction". The New Yorker. September 12, 2015. 
  19. ^ "Ben Carson cat collars and other must-have candidate holiday gifts for your family". December 18, 2015. 
  20. ^ Miller, Julie (May 1, 2013). "Frighteningly, Carey Mulligan Used the Kardashians as Inspiration for Playing Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby". Vanity Fair. 
  21. ^ Warner, Rosie (November 7, 2015). "Steal Kourtney Kardashian's Gatsby Look With A Few Simple Menswear Pieces — PHOTOS". BUSTLE. 
  22. ^ "6 Ways To Be A Jazz-Age Goddess, Straight From Real-Life 1920s Heroine Henrietta Bingham". Bustle. June 15, 2015. 
  23. ^ Ting, Inga (October 1, 2015). "Men want beauty, women want money: what we want from the opposite sex". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  24. ^ Mcentee, Katherine (January 17, 2016). "The Most Unforgettable Outfit From Critics Choice Awards History Goes To A 2013 Throwback — PHOTOS". Bustle. 
  25. ^ Willis, Jackie (October 8, 2014). "Taylor Swift Recreates Mia Farrow's 1974 'People' Cover". Entertainment Tonight. 
  26. ^ Schlosser, Kurt (October 8, 2014). "Taylor Swift channels Mia Farrow for People's 40th anniversary cover". 
  27. ^ Handy, Bruce (April 26, 2013). "As Baz Luhrmann’s Great Gatsby Arrives, a Look Back At Its Failed 1974 Predecessor". Vanity Fair. 
  28. ^ Paatsch, Leigh (May 13, 2013). "Gatsby vs Gatsby: Di Caprio vs Redford. Which version is the greatest?". News.com.au. 
  29. ^ Canby, Vincent (March 28, 1974). "The Great Gatsby (1974) - A Lavish 'Gatsby' Loses Book's Spirit:The Cast". The New York Times. 
  30. ^ Barsamian, Edward (April 15, 2015). "Is Carey Mulligan Channeling Daisy Buchanan?". Vogue. 
  31. ^ Peikert, Mark (May 9, 2013). "Carey Mulligan Is More Than a Movie Star in 'The Great Gatsby'". Backstage. 
  32. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (May 10, 2013). "Carey Mulligan had to find good side of Daisy". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  33. ^ Fleming Jr., Mike. "Baz Luhrmann Tells Deadline: Carey Mulligan Is My Daisy Buchanan". 
  34. ^ "Carey Mulligan as Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan? Let’s Think This One Over". Time. November 17, 2010. 
  35. ^ Schillaci, Sophie (May 9, 2013). "'Gatsby': Carey Mulligan Addresses Daisy's 'Flawed' Character, 'Hates' Watching Her Own Work (Video)". Hollywood Reporter. 
  36. ^ Lenny, Barry (September 6, 2015). "BWW Review: THE GREAT GATSBY Recreates The Jazz Age In High Society Circles". BroadwayWorld. 
  37. ^ Gray, Emma (May 10, 2013). "Daisy 'Great Gatsby': 9 Opinions About Fitzgerald's Ms. Buchanan". The Huffington Post. 
  38. ^ Baker, Katie (May 10, 2013). "The Problem With The Great Gatsby’s Daisy Buchanan". The Daily Beast. 
  39. ^ Lindower, Carlie (May 15, 2013). "'The Great Gatsby' Movie Review: Carey Mulligan's Daisy Buchanan No Role Model". Mic. 
  40. ^ "A Warning To The Girls Who Will Idolize Daisy Buchanan". Thought Catalog. May 8, 2013. 
  41. ^ McGinn, Dave (June 1, 2015). "Three characters we’d like to see tell their side of the story, like Fifty Shades’ Christian Grey". The Globe and Mail.