19 April 2014
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel, The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald discusses many themes of the 1920s, with a specific focus on the rich and idle class, the “old money,” those whose wealth allows them to be careless and destructive without consequences. In the novel, this group of people is characterized by Tom and Daisy- a couple who moves leisurely through life, destroying relationships and lives without knowing or caring. Tom’s privileged upbringing has made the concepts of morality and responsibility completely foreign to him, and he is the driving force in this mutually corrupt relationship: his disregard for everything except his own personal pleasure shapes the interactions between him and Daisy. Daisy on the other hand is a blank slate, a mirror of her surroundings, an empty-headed, whimsical girl who just wants to have fun. The carelessness afforded to her by Tom’s money and influence, and, by extension, Tom’s own habits of carelessness, molds Daisy into a sad shell of a person. Daisy is not inherently corrupt and destructive, as Tom is, but it makes no difference as Tom has already passed the worst of his characteristics onto her. Indeed, it is Daisy, not Tom, who performs the ultimate sin at the end of the novel, and it is Daisy, not Tom, who shirks away from taking responsibility for this terrible deed and instead allows innocent lives to be destroyed for her actions. Daisy and Tom are the perfect couple. Neither cares the slightest bit about the other and so both live absurd, dreary lives, thinking they have found happiness, while instead both have become disinterested with the ease of living they enjoy. This disinterest makes Tom and Daisy the victims of the wealth and influence that are so commonly seen as desirable, and tragically manifests itself in every aspect of their lives- predominantly in the habitual carelessness and penchant for negligent destruction both characters display throughout the course of the novel.
Tom, having been brought up in extreme wealth and still dependent on the carelessness it affords him, moves destructively throughout life without regard for anything but himself and his personal happiness. A telling example of Tom’s rampant carelessness comes in the form of his extramarital relationship with Myrtle. In chapter one, just as Nick has arrived at Tom and Daisy's house for dinner, Tom has to suddenly leave to answer a call from "some woman in New York" (Fitzgerald 15). While he is gone, Jordan remarks, "She might have the decency not to telephone him at dinner time. Don't you think?" At this moment, Tom's lack of caring becomes blatantly obvious: he knows full well that Daisy is aware of his affair but still does not care. With this in mind, one might think that Tom cares for Myrtle- perhaps he used to love Daisy but now has shifted his affection to Myrtle instead. This is simply not the case. Tom cares about nothing and nobody, not even...