The Great Gatsby: A Full Spectrum of Character



 







Throughout Fitzgerald\'s The Great Gatsby, there seems to be a broad



spectrum of moral and social views demonstrated by various characters. At



one end, is Tom, a man who attacks Gatsby\'s sense of propriety and



legitimacy, while thinking nothing of running roughshod over the lives of



those around him. A direct opposite of Tom\'s nature is Gatsby, who displays



great generosity and caring, yet will stop at nothing to achieve his dream



of running off with Daisy. Also, in the middle of this, are various



characters who seem to sway back and forth in their stands as convenient.



This range of personalities lends itself well to a uniquely subtle



interplay between their characters



 



At first glance, The Great Gatsby is merely a classic American tragedy,



portraying the story of a man\'s obsession with a fantasy, and his resulting



downfall. However, Fitzgerald seems to weave much more than that into the



intricate web of emotional interactions he creates for the reader. One



interesting element is the concepts of greatness each has. For Daisy, it



lies in material wealth, and in the comfort and security associated with



it. Daisy seems to be easily impressed by material success, as when she is



touring Gatsby\'s mansion and seems deeply moved by his collection of fine,



tailored shirts. It would seem that Tom\'s relative wealth, also, had at one



time impressed her enough to win her in marriage. In contrast to that,



Gatsby seems to not care a bit about money itself, but rather only about



the possibility that it can win over Daisy. In fact, Gatsby\'s extreme



generosity gives the reader the impression that Gatsby would otherwise have



never even worked at attaining wealth had it not been for Daisy. For



Gatsby, the only thing of real importance was his pursuit of Daisy. It



would seem that these elements are combined, too in the character Myrtle.



Myrtle is, as Daisy, impressed with Tom\'s wealth and appearance, but, like



Jay Gatsby, is stuck in a fantastic, idealized perception of her object of



affection. Even when abused and trampled over by Tom, Myrtle continues to



adore him, just as Gatsby continues to dote upon Daisy after being



obviously rejected by her. As far as ethical considerations, Gatsby tends



to prove himself a sincere and caring person, while Daisy and Tom just



destroy the lives of two people and then leave town to escape the



consequences of their actions. Between the cold ruthlessness of Tom, and



the tenderness of Gatsby, there are also characters who appear to fit



somewhere in between on this scale. Jordan, while appearing to be a nice,



respectable lady, is seen in several instances as an accused in cheating



and is tends to bend the rules when it suits her, such as during a game, or



during her relationship with Nick. Jordan seems to be a standard of



semi-corruption, of naked self-interest, that the other characters on the



extremes of the scale of moral and social considerations can be measured.



Thus, The Great Gatsby presents an extremely interesting set of moral



imagery.



 



It can be said, then, that one of Fitzgerald\'s main talents, as shown in



the novel, is in showing various levels of moral and emotional development



in characters, and juxtaposing them. Perhaps it is this element that



distinguishes The Great Gatsby from many other novels with similar



elements.

Category: English