Violence In The Great Gatsby

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In the novel The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald set in the 1920s, a man named Jay Gatsby who became rich through illegal means tries to win the heart of a woman named Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan’s wife. The wife of a garage owner named George Wilson, Myrtle, is also having an affair with Tom. Throughout the course of the novel, Tom and Wilson run into similar encounters. Both of them discover that their wives have been cheating on them and have comparable reactions. These discoveries and related events reveal their attitudes toward women and become violent. Tom Buchanan and George Wilson show many similarities and differences in their attitudes toward women, their ways of showing violence, and their reactions to being cuckolded. Tom…show more content…
An early display of Tom’s violence is when he is arguing with Myrtle about whether or not she has the right to say Daisy’s name. When Myrtle refuses to comply with Tom’s request, “making a short, deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand”(20). The scene in which this event takes place is in the beginning of the story and is probably meant to represent a typical day in Tom’s life. This shows Tom’s willingness to use violence over an issue as small as Myrtle saying a name. Furthermore, this violence is used by Tom to control Myrtle’s actions. However, Wilson uses violence under much more extreme conditions. For instance, when he is talking to Michaelis about Myrtle’s death, he says “It was the man in that car. She ran out to speak to him and he wouldn’t stop”(87). This quote shows that Wilson believes the driver of the car that killed Myrtle was performing an act of murder. This revelation and earlier discovery of his wife’s affair pushes him to the brink of reality, and he believes there is no solution other than to avenge his wife’s death. Consequently, he later finds and murders Gatsby whom he believes to be the killer. The difference in the context of Tom and Wilson’s acts of violence demonstrate the differences in their…show more content…
In particular, Tom is able to control his actions and manipulate those around him to achieve his goals. For example, after explaining to Daisy about Gatsby’s illegal means of becoming wealthy, he says “You two start on home, Daisy...In Mr. Gatsby’s car. Go on. He won’t annoy you. I think he realizes that his presumptuous little flirtation is over”(75). This quote demonstrates the control that Tom has over the situation. He is confident that Daisy no longer loves Gatsby and makes this clear by telling Daisy to ride home with Gatsby. Tom’s appropriately chosen words of “presumptuous” and “flirtation” further serve to discredit Gatsby’s affair with Daisy and belittles Gatsby’s character. In this way, Tom is able to maintain composure and convince Daisy to stay with him. On the other hand, Wilson becomes completely distraught and is unable to think rationally upon discovery of his wife’s affair. This can be seen by Nick’s description of Wilson that “he had discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world, and the shock had made him physically sick”(67). It is clear that knowledge of Myrtle’s affair has imposed a tremendous amount of stress on Wilson, so much to the point that he became sick. Additionally, George makes some poor choices as a result of this stress, including locking up Myrtle in the room and threatening to force her to move west. It should
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