Best Character Analysis: George Wilson - The Great Gatsby (2023)

Best Character Analysis: George Wilson - The Great Gatsby (1)

if you think about itThe Great Gatsby's main character, George Wilson is often the last one that comes to mind. Compared to his voluptuous wife, Myrtle, Tom, Daisy, Jordan, and of course the titular Gatsby himself, George, with his pale face, shrinking and passive, may almost escape your memory — and perhaps he would entirely if he didn't come out one to be one of the most important characters in the novel.

George has the least "side time" of the seven main characters, but is important because of the pivotal role he playsthe end of the novel. Because of this, we don't know as much about George's personality, motivations, or traits as we do about other characters.

This guide goes over what we know about George and explains why he's so important. Read on to learn more about the man under the ashes.

Article Roadmap

  • George as a character
    • physical description
    • George's backstory
    • actions in the novel
  • character analysis
    • Quotes about and from George
    • Tips for writing about George
    • Common discussion topics and essay ideas

A brief note on our quotes

Our citation format in this guide is (chapter.paragraph). We use this system because there are many editions of Gatsby, so using page numbers would only work for students with our copy of the book.

To find a citation that we cite via chapter and paragraph in your book, you can either locate it by eye (paragraph 1-50: beginning of chapter; 50-100: middle of chapter; from 100: end of chapter) or use the search function if you are using an online or eReader version of the text.

George's physical description

The important things first. What does George look like? Here is Nick's brief description:

He was a blond despondent man, anemic and a little handsome. When he saw us, a wet glimmer of hope jumped into his light blue eyes. (2.8)

Myrtle and George, despite being married for twelve years, are strikingly different people. WhileMyrtle is outgoing and lively,George is shy and boring– In fact, his physical description only lasts a few sentences, while Myrtle has a paragraph-long introduction. Though there's a hint of what drew Myrtle to him all those years ago, a "faint" attractiveness, Nick emphasizes George's depressed, dank, "mindless" effect. As a matter of fact,He is explicitly associated with the Valley of Ash, the bleak industrial part of Queens where he and Myrtle live. (See oursArticle about the Valley of Ashfor further analysis on this point.)

This initial description makes the reader realize that George is a much less active, ambitious person than his wife, which accounts for his resentment and the power struggle that leads to his extreme violence at the end of the novel.

George's backstory

Twelve years before the novel begins, George married Myrtle in a borrowed suit (2.116, 8.69). They have lived above his garage in Queens for 11 years. Perhaps Myrtle was attracted to him because he owned (or would soon own) his own business, or he somehow convinced her "that he was a gentleman... [who] knew about discipline," but that facade quickly collapses , andGeorge appears to have come to terms with his working-class life. While Myrtle claims to no longer care about George, he still appears to be in love with her, as shown in him "hurriedly" following her suggestions (2.17).

Tom Buchanan makes deals with George Wilson's garage a few months before the novel begins, even promising to sell him a car. But unbeknownst to George, Tom Buchanan patronizes the garage as he is having an affair with Myrtle. The affair is Myrtle's first (2.117). Perhaps that's why George Wilson remains in the dark until the novel's suspenseful climax.

(Video) George Wilson Analysis: The Reflection of Gatsby

To see how George's background blends into the background of the other characters, watch thisour Great Gatsby timeline.

George's actions in the novel

We meet George in firstChapter 2, when Tom stops by his garage. Tom has some sort of car deal with George, but it's not exactly clear what that transaction is. None of this is advertised, but I think here's what happens: George tries to buy Tom's car to resell, and Tom bugs George by pretending to consider George's lowball offer because Tom is actually there to look after himself set up a liaison with Myrtle.

We'll see George again firstChapter 7, when Tom pulls up at the garage in Gatsby's yellow car to fill up on the way to Manhattan. George tells Tom that he needs money because he wants to move west with his wife. Meanwhile, he has begun to suspect his wife's affair. George actually locked Myrtle upstairs and plans to keep her there until they have the money to move (7.311).

Later that day, George and Myrtle fight. We don't get any details of the fight, save for a snippet that Michaelis, a nearby cafe owner, hears as she runs out of the house: "Throw me down and hit me, you dirty little coward!" (7.314). At that moment, Daisy and Gatsby speed by in the yellow car. Myrtle, assuming Tom is driving, rushes out into the street, "waving her hands and shouting" (3.15). Daisy runs her over without stopping, leaving Myrtle dead.

InChapter 8, George, devastated by the violent death of his wife, loses all faith in God and resolves to find the owner of the yellow car. Police assume he went garage to garage asking about the yellow car until he found Jay Gatsby's name and address (8.107). With this information, George goes the rest of the way to Gatsby's Mansion (8.107). He shoots Gatsby swimming in his pool for the first time all season. Then he shoots himself, and "the Holocaust was complete" (8.113).

InChapter 9, the mystery of how George Gatsby found it is solved. Tom confesses that George was at Tom's house for the first time that night. There, Tom told him that the yellow car was Gatsby's, implying that Gatsby was the one who killed Myrtle and the one who slept with her (9.143).

Best Character Analysis: George Wilson - The Great Gatsby (2)George Wilson proves the old action movie adage: never take your eyes off the guy with the gun.

Quotations from George Wilson

In general, he was one of those exhausted men: when he wasn't working, he sat on a chair in the doorway and stared at the people and cars driving down the street. Whenever anyone spoke to him, he always laughed in a pleasant, colorless way. He was his wife's husband and not his own. (7,312)

After our first introduction to George,Nick emphasizes George's gentleness and deference to his wife and comments very bluntly that he is not his own man. While this comment reveals a bit of Nick's misogyny - his comment seems to think George is his wife's "man" as opposed to his own being his main weakness - it also continues to underscore George's devotion to Myrtle.

George's apparent weakness may make him an unlikely choice for Gatsby's killer, until you consider how much pent-up fear and anger he harbors at Myrtle, culminating in his last two acts of violence: Gatsby's murder and his own suicide.

His description continues to ground him in thevalley of ash. Unlike all of the other main characters, who roam freely between Long Island and Manhattan (or, in Myrtle's case, between Queens and Manhattan),George remains in Queens, contributing to its entrenched, passive image. This makes his final trip to Long Island on foot feel particularly eerie and desperate.

Some man was talking to him in a low voice, trying from time to time to put his hand on his shoulder, but Wilson neither heard nor saw it. His eyes fell slowly from the swaying light to the table setting against the wall, and then back to the light, and he let out his high, terrible cry incessantly.

(Video) The Great Gatsby | Characters | F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Oh, wir Ga-od! Oh, wir Ga-od! Oh, wir Ga-od! Oh, wir Ga-od!" (7.326-7)

George is completely devastated by the death of his wife, to the point where he is heartbroken and unaware of the reality.Although we hear that shortly before he treated her roughly, locked her up and insisted on taking her out of town, he is completely devastated by her loss. This sharp break with his earlier passive personality suggests his turn to violence towards the end of the book.

"I spoke to her," he murmured after a long silence. "I told her she might be able to fool me, but she can't fool God. I took her to the window -" With an effort he got up and walked to the rear window and leaned his face against it, " - and I said, "God knows what you've done, everything you've done. You can fool me , but you cannot fool God!" "

Michaelis, standing behind him, was startled to find himself looking into the eyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg, which had just emerged pale and huge from the dissolving night.

"God sees everything," repeated Wilson.

"It's an ad," Michaelis assured him. Something made him turn away from the window and look back into the room. But Wilson stood there for a long time, his face close to the window pane, nodding into the dusk. (8.102-105)

George seeks comfort, redemption and order where there is nothing but advertising.This speaks to the moral decline of New York City, the East Coast, and even America in general during the 1920's. It also speaks to how alone and powerless George is and how violence becomes his only means of revenge.

At that moment, the reader has to wonder if there is any kind of morality that the characters adhere to, or if the world is truly cruel and utterly without justice - and with no god but thatempty eyes from dr. TJ Eckleburg.

Common Essay Topics / Discussion Areas

First, we have some advice for writing about poor Mr. Wilson.

Given that George has very little side time compared to the other main characters, you will most likely need to write about him in relation to Tom Buchanan, or in an essay that features the aspirants (George, Myrtle, Gatsby) with old money (Tom and Daisy and even Nick and Jordan). You're less likely to just have to write about George. Explorehow to write a great comparison and contrast essayabout these or other characters by reading our article!

George's most important scenes are in Chapters 7 and 8, during Myrtle's murder and its aftermath, so be sure to read and comment on these chapters carefully when writing about George.

Take a close look at his interactions with Tom and Myrtle, and also consider how George interacts with one of the novel's most iconic symbols: theEyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg(He sees them as the eyes of God while Michaelis tries to remind him it's just an advertisement). This particular scene could go well with an essay on god and/or morality in the novel as George seems to be the only one looking for some kind of god or higher power.

(Video) Gatsby characters 6 - George Wilson

Why do the characters in the book who strive to increase their social status (Gatsby, Myrtle, George) end up losing while the old money (Tom, Daisy, and Jordan) get off relatively unscathed?

The fates of Gatsby, Myrtle and George reconnect with the theme on thebroken promise of the american dream, as well as a criticism of theClass system in America in the 1920s. How come?

Tom and Daisy have to hide behind their money while Gatsby, Myrtle and George end up dead. Specifically, Myrtle is run over by Daisy, Gatsby is killed by George (who is being manipulated by Tom), and then George kills himself. SoDespite Tom and Daisy's direct complicity in both murders, neither of them faces consequencesfor her bad behavior.

This is a sharp indictment of the class system of 1920s America, where the rich literally play by different rules than the poor (or the up-and-coming).The fates of George, Myrtle and Gatsby also shatter any illusions about the possibility of social advancement in this world, or even in the promise of the American Dream itself. Whether you manage to amass a fortune like Gatsby, or simply strive for a better life like George, you are still powerless in the face of old money, privilege, and classicism in the United States .

This intense pessimism is supported by Nick's return to the Midwest at the end of the novelgloomy mood of the end.

Why doesn't George notice Myrtle and Tom's affair?

You may be wondering, "How on earth does George not realize his wife is cheating on him"? After all, we know that Tom doesn't go to great lengths to hide Myrtle from his friends, taking her to popular restaurants and even dragging Nick into the apartment he rented for her in New York. Also, Tom visits the garage and he and Myrtle barely hide their relationship.

So it might seem strange that George really has no idea. However, if you think about itGeorge has no access to Tom's social circles, and that he rarely leaves his garage, George has no way of knowing what his wife is doing in New York and who she is meeting (remember, this is an era long before cell phones and Facebook!).

Aside from that,George is also very interested in doing business with Tom, so that's an incentive to subconsciously overlook what's going on.

George's failure to take notice of the affair for so long speaks to George's complete isolation from the world of old money and, more broadly, from the vast class divisions in America in the 1920s. Tom and Daisy's world is so separate from George's that they can live whole lives he doesn't know about. This stark disconnect is evident in George's strange, sad walk to Long Island, where he kills Gatsby and ends his life. It was impossible for George to safely cross the class lines in society.

What's next?

Still a little confused about how the novel's climax plays out?Read our summaries ofChapter 7AndChapter 8for a clear play-by-play of what exactly is happening on the street between Manhattan and West Egg.

Why is Myrtle cheating on George?What does she see in the tyrant Tom Buchanan? Read oursAnalyse von Myrtle Wilsonto fully understand the complicated marriage between the Wilsons!

Write an essay on George Wilson?Then you should definitely read our analysis of thevalley of ashand theEyes of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg. George is closely related to these two symbols, so make sure you understand them!

Would you like to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points?For each test, we have written a guide of the 5 best strategies to use to improve your score. Download now for free:

(Video) Who is George Wilson Great Gatsby?

Best Character Analysis: George Wilson - The Great Gatsby (3)

Best Character Analysis: George Wilson - The Great Gatsby (4)

Do you have friends who also need help preparing for the exam?Share this article!

Best Character Analysis: George Wilson - The Great Gatsby (5)

Dr. Anna Wulick

About the author

Achieving the 99th percentile on her SATs in high school, Anna went on to major in English at Princeton and earned her PhD in English Literature from Columbia. She is passionate about improving student access to higher education.

Get free guides to increase your SAT/ACT

(Video) The Great Gatsby | Characters | F. Scott Fitzgerald


What type of character is George Wilson in The Great Gatsby? ›

Wilson is portrayed as a weak man, he loves his wife and is tormented by knowing she is unfaithful. George develops as a tragic figure in his grief over losing Myrtle, rocking himself back and forth and muttering incoherently. He is intent on avenging Myrtle's death and finding the driver of the yellow car.

How would you describe George Wilson in The Great Gatsby quotes? ›

He was a blonde, spiritless man, anaemic, and faintly handsome. When he saw us a damp gleam of hope sprang into his light blue eyes. The Great Gatsby, Chapter 2.

What is the significance of the name George Wilson in The Great Gatsby? ›

Fitzgerald used the name Wilson because it is a name a person with normal wealth would have. Compared to the pretentious name of Buchanan, Wilson is for a man who has to work for his American Dream.

Who is the most respectable character in The Great Gatsby? ›

In conclusion Gatsby is a respectable and honored man in this book. What makes him stand out among other characters, even though he has some negative sides himself, is that he is not careless. His goodness outshines all his bad side, and that's why readers and Nick are more attached to him in this novela.

What is the character analysis of George Wilson? ›

According to Carraway, 'He [George Wilson] was a blonde, spiritless man, anæmic and faintly handsome. ' Wilson is clearly a beaten man, bogged down by his unfortunate financial situation: 'When he saw us [Carraway and Buchanan], a damp gleam of hope sprang into his blue eyes.

How does George Wilson represent poverty? ›

Wilson lives in poverty as “wiping his hands on a piece of waste” is an attempt to clean his hands. He is lifeless and lacks vitality. His only hope is in his auto shop business, which still does not work out well for him as business is slow.

How is George Wilson characterized in Chapter 2? ›

Tom leads Nick to George Wilson's garage, which sits on the edge of the valley of ashes. Tom's lover Myrtle is Wilson's wife. Wilson is a lifeless yet handsome man, colored gray by the ashes in the air. In contrast, Myrtle has a kind of desperate vitality; she strikes Nick as sensuous despite her stocky figure.

What is George's goal in The Great Gatsby? ›

For George Wilson and Jay Gatsby, that was the ultimate goal; to be rich, bringing happiness. On the other hand, for Tom and Daisy Buchanan, the dream of wealth and status was already achieved.

Is George Wilson a static or dynamic character? ›

A minor character who would be seen as dynamic is George Wilson. At first we see him as a weak kind of man, who is cheated on by his wife. After his wife's death he changes to a very strong crazy person that kills Gatsby, and then himself.

Who was the most admirable character in The Great Gatsby and why? ›

An admirable character in the novel is the narrator, Nick Carraway. In the beginning, Nick has always been an outcast that is seen as more practical and has integrity.

Who is the most morally corrupt character in The Great Gatsby? ›

Daisy is the most corrupt of three characters. This is best exemplified when she makes a promise to wait for Gatsby to come home from war and marry him. While at war, Daisy marries Tom Buchanan, a wealthy man, because money is the only thing that Daisy cares about.

Which character is least likable in The Great Gatsby? ›

In the Great Gatsby Tom is an unlikeable character. How does Fitzgerald use language to portray him like this? Fitzgerald uses both language, Tom's various interactions with people and the attitudes he demonstrates through his statements to show his dislikeable character.

How is George described and what does it mean? ›

George is described as 'small and quick'. This is in contrast to Lennie who is 'big and slow'. George is clever but quick to anger. Lennie is not clever and is slow to lose his temper.

What color does George Wilson symbolize? ›

Fitzgerald uses the color grey pervasively when describing his characters George Wilson and Jay Gatsby to illustrate their failures to obtain the American Dream. George Wilson and Jay Gatsby,…show more content…

How does George Wilson represent the American dream? ›

George's American Dream is to have someone in his life who will love him even if he is not the richest man in the world. He would also want to be successful in a career so he wont be struggling to make ends meet.

What does Wilson's Garage symbolize? ›

George Wilson's garage

Its interior is described by Nick as "unprosperous and bare", which reflects the plight of its owner who is one of society's losers. Nick describes the garage as "contiguous to absolutely nothing" which symbolises George's prospects.

What is George Wilson's attitude toward Myrtle? ›

What is George Wilson's attitude toward Myrtle? He once loved her, but now despises her. He idealizes her and is tortured by her infidelity.

Was Tom telling George that Gatsby killed Myrtle? ›

Tom tells him that he was the one who told Wilson that Gatsby owned the car that killed Myrtle, and describes how greatly he suffered when he had to give up the apartment he kept in the city for his affair.

What is George's upset about in Chapter 2? ›

Chapter 2 of `Of Mice and Men` is set in the bunkhouse on the ranch where the novel takes place. Candy shows George and Lennie to their bunks, and George is upset when he finds a can of lice-killer.

What does George Wilson realize in Chapter 7? ›

They pass the eyes of T.J. Eckleburg and stop for gas at George Wilson's station. Tom's mistress's husband, George Wilson? Yes, that very one. George, who now knows about his wife's affair but doesn't know it's with Tom, reveals that he needs money because he and his wife are going to move out West.

What is George's main conflict? ›

One of the most pivotal conflicts of the novel occurs in the form of man vs. himself as George struggles with decisions surrounding his friend, Lennie. Ultimately he kills Lennie to protect Lennie from society, and society from Lennie.

What symbolizes George's theme? ›

The theme for George are friendship, dream, freedom and sacrifice. George transformed from having Lennie by his side to getting the freedom he always wanted.

What does George's dream represent? ›

What is George and Lennie's Dream? George and Lennie share a dream. Lennie and George's dream is to save up enough money to buy a plot of land for themselves to gain self-determination and independence.

What social class is George Wilson? ›

George Wilson is a car mechanic and the husband of Myrtle Wilson. He owns a garage in the Valley of Ashes and lives above it. He is a lower-class, blue-collar worker who is depicted as downtrodden and lifeless.

Why is George a dynamic character? ›

Unlike Lennie, George is a dynamic character, meaning his thoughts and actions develop throughout the course of the story. Though he is a seemingly harsh man, he cares about Lennie. His sense of responsibility evolves from being responsible for Lennie to being responsible to everybody around them, as we will later see.

How would you describe Myrtle and George Wilson? ›

Myrtle and George, despite being married for twelve years, are strikingly different people. While Myrtle is outgoing and vivacious, George is shy and bland—in fact, his physical description takes just a couple of sentences while Myrtle has a paragraph-long introduction.

Who is the moral character in The Great Gatsby? ›

Who is the most moral character in The Great Gatsby? Daisy's cousin, Nick Carraway, is the most moral character in the story. He is the narrator and presents the story as an outsider looking in on a wonderous and depraved world.

Who was the hero in The Great Gatsby? ›

Gatsby is the eponymous hero of the book and is the main focus. However, although Gatsby has some qualities which are typically heroic, other aspects of his character are closer to the typical villain. Heroic traits: He is a self-made man.

Is George Wilson a round or flat character? ›

George Wilson is a flat character because we only know him as Myrtle's poor husband who is being cheated on. Chapter Four features a flashback when she discusses Gatsby and Daisy's past.

What is the indirect characterization of George Wilson? ›

Indirect Characterization

George is a man who works with his bare hands to achieve his own American Dream. While Myrtle tries her hardest to get out of the valley of ashes thru her affair with Tom.

Is George a round or dynamic character? ›

Unlike Lennie, George is a dynamic character, meaning his thoughts and actions develop throughout the course of the story.

Why is George a round character? ›

George is portrayed as a round character. You can see all sides of him, including his looks and the good and bad parts of his personality.

What does Wilson garage symbolize in The Great Gatsby? ›

George Wilson's garage

Its interior is described by Nick as "unprosperous and bare", which reflects the plight of its owner who is one of society's losers. Nick describes the garage as "contiguous to absolutely nothing" which symbolises George's prospects.

Who is the flat character Great Gatsby? ›

Daisy, while being an essential character to the novel, is a flat character since she never changes throughout the course of the story.


1. Gatsby Ch. 2-George Wilson Character Analysis & Annotations (2021-HL)
(Kristiana Lee)
2. What is George Wilson's role in The Great Gatsby?
(Ask About APPS)
3. The Great Gatsby - Tom Buchanan Analysis
4. Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
(Walter Bowne)
5. The Great Gatsby - Chapter By Chapter Analysis (PLUS KEY QUOTES)
6. Directions: The Great Gastby - Character Analysis
(Jessica Stokes)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Edwin Metz

Last Updated: 01/08/2023

Views: 5684

Rating: 4.8 / 5 (78 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Edwin Metz

Birthday: 1997-04-16

Address: 51593 Leanne Light, Kuphalmouth, DE 50012-5183

Phone: +639107620957

Job: Corporate Banking Technician

Hobby: Reading, scrapbook, role-playing games, Fishing, Fishing, Scuba diving, Beekeeping

Introduction: My name is Edwin Metz, I am a fair, energetic, helpful, brave, outstanding, nice, helpful person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.