Daisy Buchanan of The Great Gatsby and Brett Ashley of The Sun Also Rises
Written right after the publication of Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is apparently influenced in many ways. The most obvious of Fitzgerald's influence is manifested in Hemingway's portrayal of his heroine, Brett Ashley. Numerous critics have noted and discussed the similarities between Brett and Daisy Buchanan, and rightly so; but the two women also have fundamental differences. Compared to Daisy, Brett is a more rounded, complex character, and Hemingway has treated her with more sympathy than Fitzgerald has with Daisy. Some similarities between Brett Ashley and Daisy Buchanan include their physical beauty, their extravagant/ flamboyant lifestyle, and their unhappy marriages. However, their most important similarity is the destructive influence they have on their suitors.
Daisy attracts Jay Gatsby with her beauty--not only her physical appearance, but also the entire carefree, comfortable, luxurious lifestyle:
Gatsby was overwhelmingly aware of the youth and mystery that wealth imprisons and preserves, of the freshness of many clothes and of Daisy, gleaming like silver, safe and proud above the hot struggles of the poor (157).
To Gatsby the rich life is temptingly desirable because it was equaled to Daisy herself. Her life far detached from the sweaty hard struggling seems to hold as much enchanted beauty as she holds for Gatsby. He falls in love with that beauty, and Daisy has become his one and only goal and dream in life. With this, Fitzgerald is putting the blame for Gatsby's fall--his indulgence in the wrong dream, and his wrong choice of means to achieve his end--on Daisy.
But that dream is amplified by Gatsby's own imagination. It makes the dream more beautiful, more desirable, and more complete than it actually is, like the enchantment of the green light on the Buchanans' porch. Gatsby sinks into it, allowing his imagination to exaggerate until finally,
The colossal vitality of his illusion … had gone beyond her, beyond everything. He had thrown himself into it with a creative passion, adding to it all the time, decking it out with every bright feather that drifted his way. No amount of fire or freshness can challenge what a man will store up in his ghostly heart (101).
That dream is also empty because Daisy is empty. Fitzgerald depicts her as an empty, useless and dependent female who ultimately lacks definition. Whereas Gatsby works to pursue Daisy, Nick has a regular job, and even Jordan has her tournaments; Daisy does not have a purpose, a profession, or even a talent for anything. Her purposelessness is apparent in this scene with Jordan Baker:
"We ought to plan something," yawned Miss Baker, sitting down at the table as if she were getting into bed.
"All right," said Daisy. "What'll we plan?" She turned to me helplessly. "What do people plan?" (16)