The 4 Loves in “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Essay Sample)


The 4 Loves are a thematic topic explored through the study of philosophy that indicate the motives and intentions behind human action. Each love reflects a different intent, identifies where people stand in relation to each other, and, “motivates all action, both human and divine” (Lawhead 143). “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald uses three of The 4 Loves to communicate the conflicts that occur between characters because of these human dispositions regarding love. 

The first type of love demonstrated in “The Great Gatsby” is eros. This type of love is erotic and passionate and most clearly describes the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy. This type of love describes their journey with each other and the excitement they feel together. This type of love satisfies Gatsby’s goal of being with the woman he had fixated his attention on for so long. Eros love shows the reality of this goal. Their love is demonstrated when Gatsby, “kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete” (Fitzgerald 117). The eros love Gatsby has for Daisy is the romantic connection he feels toward her and demonstrates the feeling of completion he has when in her presence. Gatsby had waited for so long for the love he had with Daisy and became obsessed with it, using it as his sole source of satisfaction. Rather than being obsessed with Daisy though, he becomes obsessed with the memories he had of her. He is in love with who Daisy used to be, rather than who she has become. “You try to improve yourself for the sake of the one you love...However, this does not mean that the one you love is similarly affected by you” (Lawhead 96) describes how Gatsby views Daisy. He has kept his feelings for her that he has had since when they first fell in love and thinks she views him the same way even though that is not true. Gatsby loves Daisy greatly with an Eros love, and bases his goals off of her and how he is able to best benefit their relationship with each other. 

The second type of love Fitzgerald utilizes in his writing is Philia, which describes a type of love between friends. Friendship is one of the strongest bonds humans can have, and describes a mutual trust between equals. Friendships that stick out in “The Great Gatsby” are the ones between Daisy and Nick, Daisy and Jordan, and Gatsby and Nick, the closest friendship shown in the novel. Gatsby and Nick’s close relationship seemingly began by coincidence, but in reality, this philia love stemmed from Gatsby’s attempts to get close to Daisy. His manipulation of Philia shows how, “You can be in love with someone and that love can affect everything you do” (Lawhead 96), even jeopardize a friendship. They appear to have a great relationship between them and seem to care greatly about each other as most friends do, but as the novel progresses, the reader can infer that their relationship was built on the grounds of selfishness. When they first met each other, it was at one of Gatsby’s extravagant parties where Nick was greeted by, “one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance that you may come across four or five times in life” (Fitzgerald 48).  There is a mutual trust between them from this moment, and Nick’s trust in Gatsby’s intentions allows them to become closer. Though they are very close, they might be at a closeness where judgment and manipulation arises. Through the motive, Gatsby would have to get closer to Nick through the fact that he is Daisy’s cousin, Gatsby does not need a friend, but a connection. Much like this, Nick is very concealing in his true opinions for Gatsby and is constantly judgmental of him yet keeps silent to preserve his reputation. Though they have opinions and intentions that do not encompass a perfect friendship, Nick admires Gatsby and sees, “something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life ..... it was an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again. (Fitzgerald 2). He admires his reach for a goal, even if he is unable to reach it, Nick looks up to him for having a dream to pursue. 

The third type of love shown is Sorge, the love of parents for a child. This relationship is not commonly shown throughout “The Great Gatsby”, but there is a glimpse of this in the relationship between Daisy and her daughter, Pammy. In this novel, Pammy appears to represent a younger version of Daisy, and the way Daisy raises her appears to be based on her past mistakes and regrets. Daisy states that she is, “ glad it's a girl” (Fitzgerald **), and also shares that she hopes, “she'll be a fool -- that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool" (Fitzgerald 17). This reflects the saying that ignorance is bliss. Daisy believes that her daughter is most safe and secure if she is a fool because she would have the opportunity to lean on a man and rely on him to take care of her. This seems like the best way for her to be protected and gives her hope for Pammy’s future. Pammy also represents a reminder to Gatsby that Daisy has moved on and has another life. The years that Pammy has lived and started her life are years Gatsby lived without Daisy with him. The Daisy he knew was young, unmarried, and childless, and Pammy taints this memory of her by hitting him with the truth. When Pammy makes her appearance in the story, she is treated as if she is less than human, and merely the property of Daisy. Pammy is paraded in front of her mother’s guests and used as a demonstration of Daisy’s success rather than her child. Daisy centers her life around herself, her social status, and her happiness, and ignores Pammy when a better opportunity comes along for her. Pammy is treated like a chore that is only enjoyable every once in a while. Gatsby ignores the way Daisy ignores her own daughter and is still in awe of who he believes she is even though that has passed. 

The 4 Loves demonstrate to people through both life experience and novels how humans communicate and relate in everyday life. They are essential to life and the relationships that are made during a lifetime. Three of these four loves demonstrated in this philosophical theme assist readers of, “The Great Gatsby” in observing how the characters of the novel grow in their characters, for the better or worse. 

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