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“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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How similar are an arrogant, wealthy man, a poor mechanic’s wife, and a Southern beauty? Although seemingly different, all three of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s characters practice infidelity throughout The Great Gatsby. By choosing his theme and character development carefully, the author proves that infidelity pertains to no specific types of people or social classes in the novel. Fitzgerald consciously and effectively combines the theme of unfaithfulness with the character development of Tom, Daisy, and Myrtle throughout The Great Gatsby.

Fitzgerald’s narrator depicts Tom as a spoiled rich man from the beginning of the novel; “His family were enormously wealthy- even in college his freedom with money was a matter of reproach…” (6). Because of this wealth, Daisy “married Tom Buchanan without so much as a shiver” (76). But despite his comfortable lifestyle and his loving wife Daisy, Tom deliberately searches for more. When Jordan confesses, “…Tom’s got some woman in New York” (15) the author directly depicts Tom as a cheater. Fitzgerald establishes his theme of unfaithfulness in Tom, the rich man, but continues the theme with other types of characters as well.

Although a seemingly pleasant young wife, Daisy deliberately cheats on her husband. When Daisy “…went over to Gatsby and pulled his face down, kissing him on the mouth” (116) just as Tom left the room, she blatantly abandons her poise and self-control, and establishes herself as a cheater as well. Nick describes Daisy’s charming nature at the beginning of the novel, “[She] held my hand for a moment, looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in the world she so much wanted to see. That was the way she had” (8-9), yet by the climax of the story, Daisy’s infidelity proves to the reader that unfaithfulness pertains to even the most unexpected. Fitzgerald characterizes Daisy in a much more positive way than Tom, yet both married people cheat on their spouses.

The author continues the theme of unfaithfulness with another character in his novel. Myrtle, very different from Tom or Daisy, lives in the “valley of ashes” (23), a poor, run-down area between West Egg and New York City. This “middle thirties, faintly stout” (25) woman lives as a poor mechanic’s wife, yet shares a unique similarity with Tom and Daisy. When Tom arrived at her husband’s garage, “[Myrtle] smiled slowly and, walking through her husband as if he were a ghost, shook hands with Tom…” (25-26). Fitzgerald subtly hints to the reader that Myrtle, like the Buchanans, cheats on her husband.

Whether rich or poor, male or female, Fitzgerald distinguishes many of his characters as cheaters. By carefully fusing character development with an infidelity theme, the author consciously proves that unfaithfulness exists in diverse categories of people. Although people differ in social status, age, or gender, anyone can be adulterous.

Bibliography– *includes most recent publishing of text*

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “The Great Gatsby”. Scribner Publishing, New York. 1999

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