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Love in The Great Gatsby Essay


Though The Great Gatsby offers a clear image of what life was like in the 1920s, it does not offer a definition of love, or a contrast between love and romance, but what it does suggest is that what people believe to be love is often only a dream. The novel is set in a time when many Americans main objective was becoming rich and love was something to possess. As a result, all of the relationships in the Great Gatsby fail because they are based on materialism and not love. Tom sees Myrtle as nothing more than a sexual object. In return for sex, Myrtle receives gifts, money, and status in return. George is the only character in the novel that is truly in love. Myrtle doesnt love her husband because he doesnt give her status or wealth. Daisy marries Tom for his money and as a substitute for Gatsby when the war separates them. Gatsby starts the affair with Daisy so he can return to the past and marry Daisy. Daisy goes along with the affair because she is lured in by Gatsbys huge mansion and expensive possessions. As a result, they live empty lives.

One example of a failed relationship is the adulterous affair between Tom and Myrtle. Their relationship is mutually materialistic. Tom uses Myrtle for sex, and in exchange, Myrtle receives gifts, money, and social status. Tom came from old money so he looks down on anyone who is below his social status. Therefore, he treats Myrtle as if she is trash. Myrtle Wilson, the wife of George Wilson, has become unsatisfied with her marriage because of her husbands lack of success as a car repairman. Her desire for a better life is evident when she relates her first meeting with Tom: "It was on the two little seats facing each other that are always the last ones left on the train. I was going up to New York to see my sister and spend the night. He had on a dress suit and patent leather shoes, and I couldn't keep my eyes off him, but every time he looked at me I had to pretend to be looking at the advertisement over his head. When we came into the station he was next to me, and his white shirt-front pressed against my arm, and so I told him I'd have to call a policeman, but he knew I lied. I was so excited that when I got into a taxi with him I didn't hardly know I wasn't getting into a subway train. All I kept thinking, over and over, was 'You can't live forever; you can't live forever" (Fitzgerald 42). This quote also shows Myrtles materialism and that she wasnt attracted to Toms looks but rather his fancy clothing. Myrtle thinks that Tom will divorce Daisy and marry her, however Tom thinks otherwise. He doesnt see Myrtle as a person, but a sexual object that he can treat however he feels like it. His degrading treatment of Myrtle is shown at the apartment party when Tom breaks her nose after she dared to mention Daisys name: Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!' shouted Mrs. Wilson. 'I'll say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Dai - ' Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand" (Fitzgerald 43). The pathetic nature of their relationship is reinforced when Myrtle is killed. After a fight with her husband over the affair with Tom, she runs toward a golden car that she thinks is Toms. This represents her desire of wealth, and the driver of the car, Daisy, as a symbol of the life and materialism that Myrtle wants. A moment later Myrtle rushed out into the dusk, waving her hands and shouting ... The 'death car' as the newspapers called it, didn't stop ... Myrtle Wilson, her life violently extinguished, knelt in the road and mingled her thick dark blood with the dust ... The mouth was wide open and ripped a little at the corners, as though she had choked a little in giving up the tremendous vitality she had stored so long (Fitzgerald 143-44). The nature of the relationship between Tom and Myrtle is best symbolized by the expensive dog leash Tom had bought for Myrtle's puppy. It reflects the fact that Tom is the master, the one who controls his "pet" with money. As the master, Tom is free to do as he pleases. As the "dog", Myrtle receives gifts for proper behavior. This relationship does not represent a proper definition of love because violence and greed are inherent in it, which are not present in the true definition of love.

George and Myrtles relationship is another example of a failed relationship. Myrtle seems ashamed that she is married to George when she is at the apartment party and says: I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasnt fit to lick my shoe. The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake. He borrowed somebodys best suit to get married in, and never even told me about it, and the man came after it one day when he was out. George is the only person in The Great Gatsby who is truly in love. However, when he discovers the dog leash wrapped in tissue paper on Myrtles dresser, he realizes that she has been involved with another man and locks her in a bedroom. Her materialism and his revenge ultimately lead up to three deaths. However, when Myrtle is killed, the desperate and deranged Wilson seeks out the driver of the yellow death car, whom as he believes to be the lover of his deceased wife. Erroneously, he connects the car with Gatsby and learns the location of Gatsbys mansion from Tom Buchanan. He murders Gatsby while he is in his pool and then commits suicide. (Wyly 70) This quote suggests that love causes people to do violent things, but this isnt true. It is vengeance that leads to these actions.

The Buchanan marriage is also a complete failure. It is the war that separated Daisy and Gatsby, and his absence is one of the reasons she married Tom. At the time, Gatsby wasnt as wealthy as Tom so money was the determining factor of their marriage. If Gatsby had more money back then, it would be more likely that Daisy would wait and marry him. However, the most important factor was his money and status. Tom is from a rich family. He can give Daisy everything she wants. The wedding ceremony proved this: In June [Daisy] married Tom Buchanan of Chicago, with more pomp and circumstance than Louisville ever knew before. He came down with a hundred people in four private cars, and hired a whole floor of the Muhlbach Hotel, and the day before the wedding he gave her a string of pearls valued at three hundred and fifty thousand dollars (Fitzgerald 82).That it is a marriage of convenience, not love, is apparent on several occasions in the novel. For example, while Daisy was giving birth to their only child, "Tom was God knows where" (Fitzgerald 23). Furthermore, Tom's affairs began after only 3 months of his marriage. A newspaper account of Tom's accident mentions that the chambermaid he was with her broken arm. Of course, Daisy knows Tom ways too well; she even offers him her "little gold pencil" so that he gets the number of a "pretty but common" girl he is interested in at Gatsby's party, although Tom pretends to want to switch tables for another reason. The fact is that their marriage is founded upon wealth and power; that is what keeps them together, and what reveals how barren their marriage it is.

Gatsby is the one who tries to separate Tom and Daisy. It is Gatsby's dream to be reunited with Daisy, to go back to the past, and to marry Daisy (Wyly 51). This is his incorruptible dream, as Gatsby tells Nick: Can't repeat the past? [Gatsby] cried incredulously, why of course you can!(Fitzgerald 117). After reuniting with Daisy, Gatsby begins an affair that is made possible because he is extremely rich; Daisy is a materialist that can be lured by money. When they first reunite, Daisy shows little true emotion. It is only when he shows her his huge mansion and expensive possession that Daisy displays strong emotion (Wyly 59). For example, as Gatsby shows her his expensive clothes from England; suddenly, with a strained sound, Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily" (Fitzgerald 99).

When the affair between Gatsby and Daisy is discovered, Tom and Gatsby confront each other over Daisy. In this crucial event, Daisy reveals her true view of her affair with Gatsby - that it was simply a way of filling in her empty days, an entertainment. It is also revenge for Tom's many adulterous affairs. Deep in her heart, she is not determined: "Oh, you want too much! [Daisy] cried to Gatsby. 'I love you now - isn't that enough? I can't help what's past. She began to sob helplessly. I did love him once - but I loved you too (Fitzgerald 139). Having betrayed Gatsby twice already, Daisy now betrays him for the final time - unwilling to face the consequence of Myrtle's death, Daisy and Tom conspire to frame Gatsby for the accident. Gatsby is then killed by George Wilson, as Tom has led him to believe that Gatsby is both Myrtle's lover and killer. In the end, this relationship fails because Daisy values nothing but materialism; she does not even send a flower to Gatsby's funeral.

All the romantic relationships in the Great Gatsby are fake. The characters are so materialistic that they believe that love is something you can physically acquire, rather than be spiritually given. Love is essential in a relationship. However, materialism is essential in the relationships presented in The Great Gatsby. These relationships are failures because they are founded on the physical rather than the spiritual. When love affairs ultimately lead to three deaths, Fitzgerald shows that any relationships based on materialism are sure to have their downfall.

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