Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is an American novel written by F Scott Fritzgerald, set during the roaring twenties. The story follows Jay Gatsby as he tried to win back the love of Daisy Buchanan, who is married to the millionaire Tom Buchanan. The dynamic and relationship between the two characters is an interesting one, as they both bid on winning the love of Daisy.

Newfound Wealth

Jay Gatsby acquires his wealth through a bootlegging business, at a time when alcohol was prohibited in America, which allowed him to amass a fortune and buy a house in the fictional West Egg in Long Island. This is contrasted with Tom Buchanan who is born into a wealthy family and has a privileged upbringing, which allows him to buy a house in the more upscale area of East Egg. The fact that Tom is ‘old money’ and Gatsby is ‘new money, plays a critical role in the novel.

Daisy

Daisy Buchanan is an attractive woman who is the wife of Tom, and she too comes from a wealthy southern family. She has a short-lived romantic relationship with Jay Gatsby a few years prior to the setting of the novel in 1922. The relationship had to end however, because Gatsby was deployed elsewhere in the army, and both knew the relationship would be impossible due to the disparity in class between the two.

It is made clear in the book that Gatsby amasses his wealth to impress Daisy and win back her love. Daisy also knows that Tom has a mistress he regularly meets, but does not cause a fuss due to it and accepts it. Despite this affair, Tom claims to still be deeply in love with Daisy. Daisy is a central part of the novel and the subject of both Tom’s and Gatsby’s attention as they bid to win her love. Gatsby and Daisy begin an emotional affair, which enrages Tom, and he confronts Gatsby to expose his illegal activities as the source of his wealth in front of Daisy. At this point Daisy realizes that her alliances lie with Tom.

While Tom confronts Gatsby in New York he orders Daisy to drive back to their house with Gatsby, as a show of power that Gatsby no longer has Daisy. On the way back Daisy demands to drive the car and runs over Tom’s mistress. Gatsby takes the blame for this and Tom’s mistress’ husband kills him.

The novel shows how evil prevails over good, Tom a white supremacist and unfaithful to his wife, still wins her love, over the honest Gatsby who works hard to try and win her love. There is also a stark difference between the two physically; Tom is described as a ‘brute’ by Daisy and called ‘hulking’ by his mistress, leading to an imposing presence, whereas Gatsby is more reserved and not imposing, barely seen at his own parties that he hosts. Daisy is central to both their characters. For Tom he cannot be seen as a weak man by losing Daisy, and his pride cannot survive the devastation of the loss, whereas Gatsby’s unrelenting desire to be with Daisy ultimately leads to his death.

The Great Gatsby is a novel which details the downfalls of excessiveness, and it is highlighted with Jay Gatsby’s death, as his excessive infatuation with Daisy means he pays the ultimate price with his life.

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