Language Arts 11
My thoughts upon concluding Tyson’s psychoanalytic reading of The Great Gatsby were mixed. I felt that she did a decent job showing evidence that supported her theory that the characters all showed deep fear of intimacy, but having just read the book myself, it occurred to me that their fear of intimacy most likely stemmed from other core issues. I would have liked to see Tyson go more in depth with her diagnoses of the characters.
For instance, Tyson discusses Gatsby’s love for Daisy in terms of a symbol for success. She even discusses his childhood poverty, “Gatsby’s desire to move up in the world resulted from his unhappy life with his impoverished parents,” and through this, she hints at his core issue without out rightly diagnosing him. What Tyson is hinting at is Gatsby’s inferiority complex, his true core issue that drives his actions. In fact, I wouldn’t diagnose Gatsby with a fear of intimacy at all, because his inability to establish a connection with Daisy (though he has no problem connecting with Nick, or Wolfsheim) is a result of his inferiority complex.
Tyson’s diagnosis of Daisy is insufficient as well. Tyson acknowledges Daisy’s knowledge of Tom’s infidelity, but like Gatsby, she refuses to provide any diagnosis that would sway the reader’s attention away from the theme of fear of intimacy. “Daisy already suspected him of infidelity. This would explain why she seemed so distracted whenever Tom was out of sight.” What Daisy’s paranoia (though justified), truly represents her fear of abandonment, which results in her eventual fear of intimacy. We know that that Daisy doesn’t feel a fear of intimacy until her relationship with Tom, evidenced by her previous first intimate relationship with Gatsby.
Finally, Tyson provides a very shallow diagnosis of Nick. Previously in the psychoanalysis chapter, Tyson discusses the effects of having an insecure sense of self as, “This core issue makes us very vulnerable to the influence of other people, and we may find ourselves continually changing the way we look or behave as we become involved with different individuals or groups.” Throughout the book, Fitzgerald describes Nick being moved around by many different characters, Tom, Gatsby, showing an obvious insecure sense of self, which is why he falls for Jordan, another character that lets her life be dictated by other’s opinions.
Tyson provided great examples that showed fear of intimacy in characters, but all her examples were extremely manipulated to portray only fear of abandonment, and while all the characters do display a fear of abandonment to a certain extent, it is not their true core issue.
1) What other issues do Gatsby, Daisy, and Nick’s core issues result in?
2) What are the core issues of Tom? Wolfsheim?
3) Are there any characters that do display fear of intimacy as their core issue?