The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald Final Essay

The Wrong Couple, The Perfect Couple

Tom Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson, in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, are two very different people, yet they are still drawn to each other. From the passage beginning "So Tom Buchanan and his girl" and ending "from a locked bureau door," in Chapter two, Fitzgerald is able to portray Tom as an immoral sexist, and Myrtle as an ignorant superficial woman.

Tom is married to Daisy, and Myrtle is married to George, but Tom and Myrtle are having an affair. As the passage starts, "So Tom Buchanan and his girl," Fitzgerald already shows the reader that Myrtle is nothing more than a pet Tom may have. Nick being the narrator feels this way, but he would have used a more respectful term if Tom had respected her at all. But because Tom feels that Myrtle is just "his girl," Nick must feel the same way, because all the information he knows about her is from Tom. Already Tom is a sexist, because he would never think of the situation as "Myrtle and her boy."

Later as Myrtle is buying a dog, she asks whether it is a boy or a girl. The vendor says it is a boy, yet Tom says, "It’s a bitch." Regardless of what the sex of the dog is, Tom is convinced it is a girl. He must like the power he has that lures girls in, first Daisy then Myrtle with his money. I think he just wants to say the word "bitch" to show off his masculinity and his strength. He also pretends to be an expert on everything for instance, he says, "That’s no police dog." He couldn’t tell the difference between a police dog and a non-police dog, but he saw the "man peer doubtfully into the basket" and he took advantage of the situation. Once again to show that he thinks he’s perfect. People in the 1920s were becoming more liberal, but I don’t think swearing was as prevalent as it is today. Perhaps the word "bitch" was only used to describe a female dog, and not women, but it still goes to show that Tom tries to control women.

Tom is also contradictory with himself. On page 24, it says, "The fact that he had one was insisted upon wherever he was known. His acquaintances resented the fact that he turned up in popular restaurants with her and, leaving her at a table, sauntered about, chatting with whomsoever he knew." Then in chapter one, on page 15, Nick and Jordan are talking. "’You mean to say you don’t know?’ said Miss Baker, honestly surprised. ‘I thought everybody knew.’

‘I don’t.’

‘Why—" she said hesitantly, ‘Tom’s got some woman in New York.’

‘Got some woman?’ I repeated blankly."

Once again, Myrtle is nothing more than just some woman that Tom has. Nick is even surprised by the use of the words, "some woman." But Jordan is even more surprised that Nick doesn’t know. The fact that she’s surprised proves that Tom must make it clear to everybody, and Daisy probably knows about her too, but she innocently doesn’t believe it.

In chapter two though, Fitzgerald writes, "So Tom Buchanan and his girl and I went up together to New York—or not quite together, for Mrs. Wilson sat discreetly in another car. Tom deferred that much to the sensibilities of those East Eggers who might be on the train." According to this, Tom doesn’t want anyone in East Egg to know about Myrtle, so there’s the contradiction. I think he doesn’t want Myrtle to know that everyone else knows. Once again it gives him the power to tie her to a leash and do whatever he wants with her. He manipulates her, and she absolutely falls for it.

Myrtle, I believe, has self-declared innocence. After marrying George, her life became boring, and she wanted some excitement. She felt Tom could give that to her, therefore she doesn’t see the bad side of Tom. She sees his money and the fact that he can satisfy her, so she’s happy being on his leash. Tom has more respect for Daisy than he does for Myrtle, yet Myrtle doesn’t care. Maybe she cares, but she pretends to not care after telling herself that Tom is who she wants. After so many times, she’ll believe herself.

She wants to be pampered, not cared for as George has done. She wants money and she shows that by changing her dress again and again. "She had changed her dress to a brown figured muslin." Later it says again, "Mrs. Wilson had changed her costume some time before, and was now attired in an elaborate afternoon dress of cream-colored chiffon." And even before the muslin, she was wearing, "a spotted dress of dark blue crêpe-de-chine." She may not have the money for George is just a garage shop owner, but she wants to, so she pretends to.

Myrtle tries to be sophisticated with tabloid magazines such as "Town Tattle" and books such as "Simon Called Peter," and "some of the small scandal magazines of Broadway." This shows the superficial side of her, only caring about the unimportant things in life. Later, Nick says, "so I sat down discreetly in the living-room and read a chapter of Simon Called Peter—either it was terrible stuff or the whiskey distorted things, because it didn’t make any sense to me." Nick tries not to judge people, but from that, it already shows that he has formulated an opinion of Myrtle.

Another indication of her pretending to be sophisticated is that after she gets off the train, she buys "some cold cream and a small flask of perfume." Then Fitzgerald writes, "she let four taxicabs drive away before she selected a new one, lavender-colored with gray upholstery." This shows how she wants to feel power and how much she wants to be part of high society. She loves Tom because she believes he can give her those things. She is oblivious to that fact that Tom doesn’t really care that much for her, at least not as much as she cares for him. Her love for him, though, is also superficial.

I feel sorry for Myrtle because she wants to be loved, but in the wrong way. George loves her and she doesn’t see it, she wants Tom love, because she loves his money. She buys the dog perhaps for comfort, or just for the sake of buying something, once again to show that she has money that she doesn’t have. She doesn’t care at all what kind of dog it is; she’s just happy to have one. "’I want to get one of those dogs,’ she said earnestly. ‘I want to get one for the apartment. They’re nice to have—a dog.’" She probably hasn’t ever given one moment’s thought to having a dog, but once the opportunity rose, she went for it. That is very likely how she fell for Tom, he was there, and she jumped at the opportunity.

Tom and Myrtle are different people, but maybe they are perfect for each other. Tom just wants a woman he can boss around and hold on a leash. Myrtle just wants a man with money who can give her what she wants, regardless of how he treats her. The sad part is Myrtle doesn’t see how Tom treats her. They are both too absorbed in themselves that they don’t care about other people, so therefore they make the perfect couple.