The Great Gatsby: Understanding The Female Characters


The Great Gatsby is a book that follows the narrator, Nick Carraway, written in 1925 by F. Scott Fitzgerald. F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 and passed away in 1940. The story is seen through the eyes of Nick Carraway, however, as the title implies, the story is about Jay Gatsby, a wealthy man who is in love with one of the main female characters, Daisy. Although Daisy was one of the main female characters, Jordan and Myrtle played a huge role in The Great Gatsby as well. These characters can be compared in how they act towards men, what their motivation and goals are, and how they are treated by men.

Beginning with Nick, he did not have a close relationship with any of the female characters at the start of the story. However, as time went by, the relationships between Nick and Daisy as cousins, and Nick and Jordan as lovers developed. First, Daisy is Nick’s cousin, who she does not know very well. The main causes of this are because Nick had to go to war and how his cousin Daisy was disowned by the family, as he states, “Daisy was my second cousin once removed, and I'd known in college. And just after the war, I spent two days with them in Chicago."(Chapter 1, Page 8, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald). As a result, Daisy is not very close to Nick at the beginning, however, they come to know one another better. Furthermore, Daisy even begins to confide in Nick about her marital problem in the first chapter, when she invites him over to the Buchanan house. Even Though Nick’s perspective of Daisy does not change too much from the beginning to the end of the story, it does change. Nick becomes disappointed in Daisy at the fact that she does not even show up to Gatsby’s funeral, a death she partly caused.  Similarly to Daisy at the beginning of the story, Jordan and Myrtle were not close to Nick either. Nick had seen and befriended Jordan when he was first invited over to Daisy’s house, where Jordan struck Nick as mysterious and alluring. Later, Jordan and Nick meet during Gatsby’s party, and for most of the story, the two become lovers who are very close to one another. Nick finds assurance of his feelings when Jordan tells him that she likes him as she says, “I hate careless people. That’s why I like you.” (Chapter 3, Page 64, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald) However, they break up after Myrtle's death when Nick finds that Jordan does not feel much about the death unlike him as he says, “I’m five years too old to lie to myself and call it honor.”(Chapter 9, Page 190, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald). In contrast, unlike Daisy and Jordan, Myrtle never had any relationship with Nick, but was rather a character Nick came into contact with because of Tom. The very first time Nick learned anything about Myrtle was at the Buchanan house where she called Tom.  Myrtle, as a person who comes from a humble background, tries to act sophisticated and high class, which causes distaste in many characters such as Nick. However, Nick also mentions that Myrtle is very lively and burning, showing her vivid nature. Between these women, Nick’s closest relationship was with Jordan, his love interest, followed closely by his cousin Daisy.

Next, the relationship between the female characters and Tom. In the story, Daisy is Tom’s wife after she was pressured by her family. She states that at first, she did not like it and even felt abandoned when she gave birth to their daughter as she says to Nick, “Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling….”(Chapter 1, Page 20, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald).  Even though Tom and Daisy do not have a very strong relationship that looks very toxic on the outside, at some point they become strongly bonded as Daisy does not wish to leave a well off family, and Tom likes having a beautiful sociable wife. On the other hand, Myrtle is Tom’s mistress, someone who he cheats on Daisy with.  She believes that Tom cares about her because he takes her to big restaurants and spends money on her. Yet, she does not know that she is just one of Tom’s many mistresses. Myrtle’s relationship with Tom was crumbling to pieces throughout the story, like when he broke her nose or told her that she is only just another mistress to him, yet Myrtle still loved Tom.  Additionally, Myrtle has a husband who she says she has loved at first but despises now, as she states, “I married him because I thought he was a gentleman," "I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn't fit to lick my shoe."(Chapter 2, Page 38, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald). Lastly, Jordan is a friend of Daisy, and that is how she had met Tom. These two don't have much of a relationship with one another because they do not have much in common. However, Tom believes Jordan to be a tomboy as he comments that her family "shouldn't let her run around the country in this way"(Chapter 1, Page 22, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald). Out of the three female characters, Tom’s main relation was with Daisy, but he also had a relationship on the side with Myrtle

Last but not least, Gatsby shared a relationship with only one of the characters in the story, Daisy. Gatsby loved Daisy more than anything and anyone and had always hoped to be with Daisy. Furthermore, Gtasby’s hope of one day being with Daisy symbolizes the American dream.  Similarly, Daisy also loved him as they had promised one another to marry each other after Gatsby came back from the war, however, Daisy had to marry Tom due to family pressure. Nevertheless, Gatsby did not give up as he wanted to win her back.  Gatsby tries to win her love back after coming back, and he succeeds as Daisy says "I love you now—isn't that enough? I can't help what's past,” (Chapter 7, Page 141, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald) but that does not suffice for Gatsby as he wishes for her to leave Tom and be with him. Sadly, at this point, she had mentioned that she loved Tom as well, which hurts Gatsby’s feelings. Even though these words were said to Gatsby, his undying hope was still with him as he waited till his death for Daisy to call back and talk to him. As far as Gatsby and Jordan’s relationship goes, Jordan is just a guest at Gatsby’s large parties, not too much more. Moreover, Daisy also acts as a matchmaker between Daisy and Gatsby since she helps them reunite again after all the time apart. In terms of Myrtle, Gatsby and Myrtle do not know anything of each other, aside from the fact that Gatsby saw her die. In the novel, Gatsby only had a close relationship with Daisy, but none of the other main female characters.

Between the main female characters in the story, Daisy is by far the most important one as it is her choice between Gatsby and Tom that is tearing her and everyone else apart. Daisy is in love with both Tom and Gatsby, and as she mentioned at the beginning of the novel, she was looking for something to aid her in getting rid of her boredom. Later on, she attempts to leave Tom for Gatsby as she tells Gatsby that she loves her, however, she does not go through with the plan and decides to stay with Tom and her family. Myrtles' overall goal was to be loved by Tom and have a lavish life as a person in high society. Her main motivations were the money she got from being around Tom, yet she was run over by Daisy. Lastly, Jordan was a friend of Daisy who met Nick, who she started to get closer to. Her goal in the novel is her attempt at helping Gatsby get back together with Daisy, as mentioned before, since when Gatsby calls her and tells her of his past with Daisy in chapter three.   

In conclusion, the novel The Great Gatsby is a novel about tragedy written in 1925 by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although the novel follows Nick through the story of Gatsby, the female characters in the story all play an important role in how the story turned out. Daisy was the main love interest of the story who had to choose between Tom and Gatsby, Jordan was the love interest of Nick, and Myrtle was the mistress of Tom. Although these characters acted differently towards men, had different goals, and were treated differently by the men, they were characters who had an influence throughout the entire story, and are, along with the other main characters of the story, responsible for the death of Jay Gatsby.

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