Comparison and Contrast in The Great Gatsby
The success of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is in part due to his successful characterization of the main characters through the comparison and contrast of Daisy Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan and George B. Wilson, and Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby. The contrast is achieved through two principle means: contrasting opposite qualities held by the characters and contrasting one character's posititve or negative qualities to another's lack thereof. Conflict is generated when the characters sometimes stand as allegorical opposites. On the other hand, comparison of two characters is rather straightforward. This comparison and contrast is prevalent in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
To begin with, Daisy and Myrtle have similarities and differences. The similarities revolve around the characters' marriages. First, both have an affair sometime in the novel. Myrtle's sister, Catherine, whispers to Nick: "Neither of them can stand the person they're married to" (33). Partially as a result of this intolerance, both begin affairs. Daisy says that she loves both her husband, Tom, and illegitimate boyfriend, Gatsby: "I love you [Gatsby] now -- isn't that enough? ... I did love him [Tom] once, but I loved you too" (133). Daisy says that she loves both Tom and Gatsby. Here, Daisy's character must be taken into account. Daisy might just as well love Gatsby's shirts, house, or other status symbols as she loves Gatsby as a person. Similarly, she might also only love Tom's status symbols. Myrtle certainly only loves Tom's status symbols. She tells Nick, "He had on a dress suit and patten leather shoes, and I couldn't keep my eyes off him..." (36). This is the point where the characters diverge. Myrtle has an affair to get away from her poor husband. Indeed, Myrtle feels that Wilson is too lowly for her. Again, she tells Nick, "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" (35). While Myrtle married thinking her husband was a gentleman, Daisy married because she wanted to settle her life. The narrator explains,
She wanted her life shaped now, immediately -- and the decision must be made by some force ... that was close at hand.
That force took shape ... with ... Tom Buchanan. ... Daisy was flattered (151-152).
Daisy married more for convince. Other than the affairs, differences in marriage can be found. For starters, Daisy is romantic. She once says,
...it's very romantic outdoors. There's a bird out there on the lawn that I think must be a nightingale come over on the Cunard (Line) or White Star Line. ... It's so romantic, isn't it, Tom? (15).
This is revealing of Daisy in that it revels her way of thinking. She sees a bird and instantly thinks of romantic things like cruise lines. Daisy's approval of the movie director and his star at Gatsby's party also shows her romanic...