Daisy Buchanan

Daisy Buchanan
The Great Gatsby character

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
Jay Gatsby
Nationality American

Daisy Fay Buchanan is a fictional character in F. Scott Fitzgerald's magnum opus The Great Gatsby (1925). In the novel, Daisy is depicted as a married woman with a daughter that comes in contact with former lover Jay Gatsby after five years of no contact. She is widely believed to have been based on Ginevra King.[1] She has appeared in various media related to the novel including feature films and plays. Daisy has had varying levels of reception, some being sympathetic toward her while others argue that she is the true antagonist of The Great Gatsby.


The Great Gatsby

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.[2] Nick successfully sets up a meeting between the two for the first time in five years, leading to an affair.[3] 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 in Tom's car, while Tom left with Nick and Jordan. Tom's mistress Myrtle, who earlier had a falling out with Tom, seeing Tom's car and believing he had returned for her, is killed after running out to the vehicle and being struck. Daisy, panicked, drove 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 Gatsby 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.

Film and other adaptations

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.[4] It was later emulated in 2014 by Taylor Swift.[5] 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"[6] while Leigh Paatsch of News.com.au thought Farrow missed Daisy "by a country mile."[7] 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."[8]

In the 2013 film adaptation, Daisy is portrayed by Carey Mulligan.[9] 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.[10] 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.[11] Baz Luhrmann confirmed Mulligan had been cast as Daisy in November 2010, the month after she acquired the role.[12] 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.[13] 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."[14]

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. Starting in 2006, in the Simon Levy version of the play, Daisy was portrayed by Heidi Armbruster, who according to Quinton Skinner, "is full of loony momentary enthusiasms and a dangerous sensuality, though by the second act, Armbruster’s perf veers toward hollow mannerisms."[15] Daisy was portrayed by Monte McGrath in the 2012 version of the play, her performance being met with acclaim.[16] Daisy is portrayed by Madeleine Herd in an adaptation by Independent Theater productions.[17]

Creation and conception

According to his own letters and diary entries, Fitzgerald's character of Daisy was based on Chicago socialite and debutante, Ginevra King.[18][19][1] He had met on a visit back home in St. Paul, Minnesota while enrolled as a student at Princeton University.[20] 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",[21] and she would become his inspiration for Daisy, as well as several other characters in his novels and short stories.[21][22]

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 upper class 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."[23]

There is also evidence of Daisy being partially based on Fitzgerald's wife Zelda.[24] 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."[24] 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.[24]


When first introduced, Daisy is shown to speak in a manner that is childlike and without any knowledge of what is correct. She fakes ignorance when speaking in Tom's presence but then reveals her actual feelings to Nick, including the fact that she had hoped her daughter would be unintelligent. From this, it is implied that her mannerisms are not some mere attempt at fooling those around her but actually contribute to an ongoing effort to serve as a role model toward her daughter and be directly responsible for her not learning much and becoming the "beautiful little fool" that she had aspired to have for a child. Daisy's motivations in wanting this are revealed by her to be that of hoping that her daughter is spared the unpleasant events that can occur in one's life and rooted in her view that she will not be affected by the emotional pain of her life as in being moronic, she cannot understand the events transpiring around her.

Though she is faithful to her husband in the years of their marriage leading up to Gatsby's return, she jumps nearly instantly at the chance of being able to have an affair with Gatsby. While it appears at first that this is a mere relationship of lust between two former lovers that are seeking to reignite an old flame, it is later revealed by Daisy's words to Tom after he learns of the relationship that she went along with it due to her feeling of neglect by her husband. Not only did her neglect drive her to the point of breaking a vow, but so did her ambitions to have an actual fulfilling relationship for the first time since shortly after she married, as Daisy reveals the lack of intimacy between her and Tom, further evidenced by his continued decline to show her any type of consideration in their shared appearances. Daisy's reluctance to accept Tom's claims of remorse demonstrate that her trust is not earned easily and the fact that she continues seeing Gatsby following this proves that she was not as concerned with the consequences of her cheating than that of her happiness.

Looking at Daisy’s character, one can see she did care for Gatsby, though maybe not as much as she ended up caring for Tom. Daisy was important to Gatsby because Daisy made Gatsby feel loved. Though no matter what Gatsby did to win Daisy’s affection, she married Tom and remained married to him despite Gatsby’s pursuit of her. “[Gatsby’s] efforts to attain Daisy…are no more successful, as she abandons him and he realizes too late that he has set his sights on the wrong goal.” [25] Daisy is “a woman who gives birth to a child, cheats on her husband, kills another person, and allows Gatsby to take the blame for her mistake.”[26] This says much about Daisy’s character, because Daisy seems to think that she can do what she wants without needing to worry about the consequences of her actions, nor how they affect other people. Beginning when Gatsby left the first time for the army, for she could never seem to find someone to fill the hole that which Gatsby had left: “Wild rumors were circulating about her…After that she didn’t play around with the soldiers any more but only with a few flat-footed, short sighted young men in town who couldn’t get into the army at all.” [27] Then there came the time for Daisy to marry Tom, but she wanted to “change’ her mind!” for she knew that she loved Gatsby still, but decided not to do anything about her conflicted heart.[28]

Daisy as a reference point

Daisy has become associated with wealth,[29] victims of marital affairs,[30] and glamor.[31][32] Since the Baz Luhrmann live action film was released, featuring Daisy with a bob cut, certain versions of the hairstyle are attributed to her.[33][34] 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.”[35] Since the comparisons, members of the Kardashian family have been compared to Daisy.[36] 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".[37] 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".[38] The character's physical description has become synonymous with 1920s culture.[39]


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."[40] 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.[41] Daisy has become a role model for young women who aspire to attain wealth, be considered physically attractive and fashionable and portray appealing personal qualities.[42] This desire has been critiqued due to the perceived outdatedness of the character,[43] her shallowness,[44] and for sending negative connotations.[45]

Daisy has been vilified for the consequences of her actions, causing the deaths of several characters and even considered the true antagonist of the novel. She ranked No. 1 on 10 On Screen Villains that Will Make Your Blood Boil, Part 2 on Moviepilot, a list consisting entirely of female film characters.[46] Bloom wrote that though Daisy was not technically the villain of the story, "she still sucks, and if it weren’t for her a couple key players in the book would be alive at the end of it." Bloom then dedicated the subsequent list of her top ten detestable literary characters to Daisy.[47] Despite the criticism, some commentators have sympathized with the character. 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."[41] 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.[48]


  1. 1 2 Dinitia Smith (September 8, 2003). "Love Notes Drenched In Moonlight; Hints of Future Novels In Letters To Fitzgerald". New York Times.
  2. "The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – review". The Guardian. December 23, 2015.
  3. Maglio, Tony (November 2, 2013). "Leonardo DiCaprio to Tobey Maguire in 'Gatsby' Deleted Scene: Daisy Buchanan's a Gold Digger (Video)". TheWrap.
  4. Willis, Jackie (October 8, 2014). "Taylor Swift Recreates Mia Farrow's 1974 'People' Cover". Entertainment Tonight.
  5. Schlosser, Kurt (October 8, 2014). "Taylor Swift channels Mia Farrow for People's 40th anniversary cover".
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  9. Barsamian, Edward (April 15, 2015). "Is Carey Mulligan Channeling Daisy Buchanan?". Vogue.
  10. Peikert, Mark (May 9, 2013). "Carey Mulligan Is More Than a Movie Star in 'The Great Gatsby'". Backstage.
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  12. Fleming Jr., Mike. "Baz Luhrmann Tells Deadline: Carey Mulligan Is My Daisy Buchanan".
  13. "Carey Mulligan as Gatsby's Daisy Buchanan? Let's Think This One Over". Time. November 17, 2010.
  14. Schillaci, Sophie (May 9, 2013). "'Gatsby': Carey Mulligan Addresses Daisy's 'Flawed' Character, 'Hates' Watching Her Own Work (Video)". Hollywood Reporter.
  15. "The Great Gatsby". Variety. July 26, 2006.
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  17. Lenny, Barry (September 6, 2015). "BWW Review: THE GREAT GATSBY Recreates The Jazz Age In High Society Circles". BroadwayWorld.
  18. Bruccoli, Matthew Joseph (2002), Some Sort of Epic Grandeur: The Life of F. Scott Fitzgerald (2nd rev. ed.), Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina Press, p. 123–124, ISBN 1-57003-455-9
  19. Lawton, Mark (January 19, 2016). "Westleigh Farm subdivision moves toward final approval". Chicago Tribune.
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  21. 1 2 Mizener, Arthur (1972), Scott Fitzgerald and His World, New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons
  22. Stepanov, Renata. "Family of Fitzgerald's lover donates correspondence" Archived June 9, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.. The Daily Princetonian. September 15, 2003.
  23. Stevens, Ruth (September 7, 2003). "Before Zelda, there was Ginevra". Princeton.
  24. 1 2 3 Fowler, Theresa Anne (March 31, 2013). "Rehabilitating Zelda Fitzgerald, the original It Girl". Telegraph.
  25. Comeau, Patrice, "Boats Against the Current: The American Dream as Death Denial in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman" (2012). Honors Theses. Paper 39. Page 18. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1038&context=honors>
  26. Comeau, Patrice, "Boats Against the Current: The American Dream as Death Denial in F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman" (2012). Honors Theses. Paper 39. Page 19. Web. 10 April 2016. <http://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1038&context=honors>
  27. Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 1995. Print. Page 81.
  28. Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 1995. Print. Page 82.
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  30. "Ferne McCann keeps it simple in a plunging white top and chic black culottes as she leaves the This Morning studios". dailymail.co.uk. March 31, 2016.
  31. "The Rich in Fiction". The New Yorker. September 12, 2015.
  32. "Ben Carson cat collars and other must-have candidate holiday gifts for your family". December 18, 2015.
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  34. "Kris Jenner celebrates 60th birthday with glitzy Great Gatsby-themed soiree". New York Daily News. November 7, 2015.
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  42. "'The Great Gatsby' Movie Review: Carey Mulligan's Daisy Buchanan No Role Model". mic.com. May 15, 2013.
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  44. "Why Daisy Buchanan Sucks And We Should Start Imagining People Complexly". literallydarling.com. October 12, 2013.
  45. "A Warning To The Girls Who Will Idolize Daisy Buchanan". Thought Catalog. May 8, 2013.
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  47. "Daisy, You're a Drip, Dear: Detestable Literary Characters Who Are Not Technically Villains". thehairpin.com. May 17, 2013.
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