Both as Gatsby’s obsessive love for Daisy

Both Moby Dick and The Great Gatsby are seen as tragic American greats that display
society anxieties of the time. Views such as the liberal attitudes to sexuality
and the rise in wealth is underlined through the characters transcendent wisdom
and the obsessive eyes of the protagonist’s.  In Moby dick, Ahab believes
that the whale is a manifestation of all things evil in the world and feels
that it is his destiny to abolish it. Additionally, the white whale can be seen
as an ‘allegorical representation of an unknowable God’.1  It highlights exploitation during the
nineteenth century representing the destruction of the environment though
economically excessive expansions. In contrast to Gatsby, Daisy symbolises the ‘paragon
of perfection’ 2
in which she epitomises wealth and sophistication that Gatsby longed for as a
child and becomes infatuated with as an adult. Furthermore, F. Scott Fitzgerald
highlights his conception of America in the 1920’s through Daisy as to him, she
represents ‘amoral values of the aristocratic East Egg set’. The protagonist’s
obsessive desires and destructive delusions primes them to reach in to the past
rather than going forward with their lives.

Throughout The Great Gatsby Nick becomes transfixed
by Gatsby and Daisy’s compelling love tragedy as Gatsby’s obsessive love for Daisy
is the most compelling love tragedies in the entirety of English literature.  Nick ‘involuntarily … glanced
seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far
away, that might have been the end of a dock. When .. looked once more for Gatsby
he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness’ highlighting
Gatsby’s infatuation with the green light as he believes it symbolises Gatsby’s
hopes and dreams for the future. The green light is situated at the end of Daisy’s East Egg dock and is
barely visible from Gatsby’s West Egg lawn. Gatsby’s desire for Daisy is
parallel to the American dream- which is his ideal lifestyle, in this case for
Gatsby it’s Daisy. Nick
compares the green light to how America, rising out of the ocean, must have
looked to earlier settlers of the new nation. This is similar to Moby Dick as the ocean represents the
depth of human knowledge that are beyond comprehension and supports the theme
of the knowledge bound by limits. This suggests that, the ocean of the novel
represents the world or life where man struggles and plays his role. This is
suggested through Ishmael aesthetic and also emotional appreciation of the ocean,
in which he is drawn to like Gatsby is drawn to Daisy.  

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During the era that The Great Gatsby
was written homosexuality was fundamentally frowned upon and also illegalised
throughout the states. The work of Sigmund Freud became a popular attitude in
which he suggested homosexuality as a psychological dysfunction.3
Throughout the novel, Fitzgerald uses underlining subliminal suggestions of
homoeroticism to perceive plausible deniability to Nicks homosexuality. Although
its undetermined, there are many homosexual overtones presented throughout the
novel. For example, Nicks sexual orientation becomes prominent as he distinguishes
an idiosyncratic illusion towards Gatsby in which Tom underlines his belief
that ‘He threw dust in your eyes just like he did in Daisy’s’4.
Nicks comparison to Daisy highlights a parallel adoration towards Gatsby
suggesting his homosexuality.  Furthermore,
Fitzgerald highlights other homosexual implications regarding Nick and Mr.
McKee. Nick introduces the reader to Mr. McKee as ‘a pale, feminine man from
the flat below’5 and as
he fell asleep on the chair Nick describes how he ‘wiped from his cheek the
remains of the spot of dried lather that had worried me all the afternoon’.
Firstly, the adjective ‘feminine’ means to have such to have qualities an
appearance traditionally associated towards women, thus, suggesting Mr. McKee’s
flamboyancy. Furthermore, there are underlining factors that suggest that Nick
is attracted enough to this ‘feminine man’ to feel comfortable enough to wipe a
spot of shaving cream from his face whilst he sleeps. On top of this Nick seems
to be almost infatuated with Gatsby himself along with his rare experiences
that have occurred during his life and Tom’s robust physique. Both of which
Nick talks about with admiration, however there is absence of infatuation with
the females in the novel. Nick shows ambivalence towards Jordan as he portrays her
as ‘a slender, small-breasted girl, with an erect carriage, which she
accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet’
suggesting that he is critical of her.

In comparison, Moby Dick includes
elaborate descriptions with which the author establishes his permissive
behaviours of the characters. During the beginning of the book, before the
Pequod sets sail, Ishmael doesn’t find a hotel, and is therefore made to share
a room with Queequeg, the savage harpooner, ‘Thus, then, in our hearts’
honeymoon, lay I and Queegqueg- a coy, loving pair’ Here, Melville compares Ishmaels
experience to ‘Man and Wife’ to exaggerate this established homosexuality. Melville
transcends metaphorical language when he speaks about squeezing sperm whilst ‘I
squeezed that sperm until a strange sort of insanity came over me; I found
myself unwittingly squeezing my co-labourers’ hands in it… Such as
affectionate, friendly, loving feeling did this avocation beget; that at last I
was continually squeezing their hands’. The phrase ‘Sperm’ stands for the male
reproductive cell. Thus, symbolises the androcentric crew underling the
masculinity on the ship and also highlighting the possible homosexuality of
crew members aboard the ship.

Melville, Herman. Moby Dick (oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008)


2 Fitzgerald,
F. Scott. The Great Gatsby (London: Oxford, 2000)

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby (London: Oxford, 2000)


5 Froehlich,
MG. ‘Gender Dissent, and Homosexual Passing in The Great Gatsby’. The Space Between: Literature and Culture,
1914-1945 6 (1), pp.81-103. (2010)