Character Relationships in The Great Gatsby Albert Literary Resources (2023)

While Fitzgerald's novel is full of vibrant settings and scandalous storylines, it's the character dynamics that steal the show. From the moment our narrator Nick Carraway enters the Buchanan mansion, the hazy glow of their glamorous lifestyle quickly fades as the characters reveal their true motivations. The main and secondary characters in the playthe great GatsbyHave their own dark secrets - and they're not afraid to take advantage and abuse others to get what they want. In this article, we will review the characters in the play and their relationships.the great Gatsby.

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main characterthe great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby

Character Relationships in The Great Gatsby Albert Literary Resources (1)

jay gatsby is the main characterthe great Gatsby. Throughout the novel, many of Gatsby's guests and neighbors wonder who he really is. There has been speculation that he was a German spy during the latest war. Others wondered if he had killed a man (Fitzgerald 44). Tom Buchanan and others suspected him of being a smuggler, which proved to have some truth (Fitzgerald 61). But overall, Nick concludes that "those who accept Gatsby's hospitality pay him a subtle homage, but they know nothing about him" (Fitzgerald 61). Gatsby seemed to prefer this.

(Video) The Great Gatsby | Summary & Analysis | F. Scott Fitzgerald

It wasn't until a reporter came to town to investigate Gatsby that readers finally learned the truth about this elusive character. Even in his youth, Gatsby (then known as James Gates) was ready to shed his old self and completely change himself. Gates despised his parents, "incompetent and unsuccessful farmers," because they seemed at odds with his idea of ​​himself as a "son of God" charged with chasing after life's luxuries (Fitzgerald 98).

His fatal flaw was his wild imagination, obsessed with "a universe of unspeakable pomp and ostentation" (Fitzgerald 99). When the day comes when he finally meets the wealthy and influential Dan Cody, James Gates, or his villain Jay Gatsby, is ready to jump at the chance. After Dan Cody's death, Jay hopes for a large inheritance; however, one of Cody's suitors steals it from him. At first, it seemed like this was the end of the story, but Jordan Baker revealed the rest of the story -- namely Daisy's role in it.

Jay enlists in the army and one night he is invited to a luxurious mansion owned by Daisy's parents. Daisy immediately fascinates Jay, but he's more fascinated than Daisy herselfideaHer image: glamorous, ethereal and extremely expensive object. This idea is especially disturbing when the reader learns that Gatsby "took her" one night when she was young, alluding to rape (Fitzgerald 149). When Daisy married Tom Buchanan instead of Gatsby, Gatsby reasoned in his head, convincing himself that Daisy never loved Tom, when in fact, she probably never loved Gates either Compare. She just wants to lock away her thoughts of a happy future.

Gatsby has been living in an imaginary world that one day Daisy will be his, a world he believes he has won by pursuing the American Dream. In blind optimism, Gatsby is framed for Myrtle's death. Her husband, George Wilson, murdered him, and the guilty party, the Buchanan family, walked away unscathed.

Nick Carraway

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As the story's narrator, Nick isn't shy about sharing his thoughts on each character he meets. Because of this, many wondered if he was a reliable narrator, or if his own fascinations and loathings influenced his descriptions of his interactions with various characters. Nick was at first hesitant to judge anyone because of something his father said to him when he was young. But Nick turns ruthless with disgust in the face of countless signs of hypocrisy from those around him. Nick began his life at East Egg with wonder, but without a critical eye. But characters like Daisy and Gatsby constantly reveal his true selves to the point where he has to face their realities: shallow, insecure, opportunistic people.

daisy buchanan

Character Relationships in The Great Gatsby Albert Literary Resources (3)

Fitzgerald initially described Daisy as a flat character, lacking emotional depth or cognitive awareness. However, he also hints at something beneath the surface, describing her as "sad" and "lovely", as well as "charming" and "helpless" (Fitzgerald 8-9, 11). As the novel progresses, the reader learns that Daisy does feel deep emotions, or at least she used to have them, but because these emotions are so painful to her, she learns to suppress them as a survival strategy.

According to Jordan Baker, Daisy planned to leave Tom on the wedding day and elope with Gatsby. However, her friends and family prevented her from doing so. As it turns out, Daisy may not have loved Gatsby after all. Instead, she may have sensed within herself some "longing to make a decision" (Fitzgerald 151). Even if Gatsby isn't going to shape her life for her, someone will help her. Who else but the rich, influential and available Tom Buchanan. Almost immediately, however, Tom betrays Daisy, who chooses to distract herself by attending lavish parties. It makes sense, then, that Gatsby hopes to woo Daisy by throwing big parties night after night.

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A particularly disturbing result of Daisy's detachment from reality is her refusal to allow herself to become attached to her daughter, seemingly oblivious to her existence. One of Daisy's most memorable remarks was actually about her daughter, when she said: "I want her to be a fool - it's the best thing a girl can do in the world, a beautiful little fool" (Fitzgerald 17). Despite Daisy's best efforts, she's not stupid - she's well aware of Tom's infidelity. She knew there was nothing she could do about it, until she found herself in the driver's seat of Gatsby's car.

According to Gatsby, Daisy at first avoids Myrtle, but then comes back in her direction, speeding towards the woman in the road whom she definitely recognizes as Tom's mistress (Fitzgerald 144). Tom takes Daisy out of the woods again without any consequences for the damage she leaves behind.

tom buchanan

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Tom's history of fame and fortune is only revealed in a few pages of the novel, shaping his powerful presence throughout the story from the beginning. Not only was Tom's family extremely wealthy, but in addition to his family background as a star football player in New Haven, Tom had made a name for himself (Fitzgerald 6). Tom spent a lot of money, but was never happy. Nick believes Tom will be "adrift, seeking forever," hoping to relive his days in New Haven, viewing life through the lens of an "irretrievable football game" (Fitzgerald 6). Physically, Fitzgerald uses harsh adjectives to describe Tom: his eyes are haughty, his posture aggressive, his body brutal (Fitzgerald 7). Tom is restless and sullen, and his wife Daisy is the main victim of Tom's emotional side effects.

Not only is Tom having an apparent affair with a woman in town, but he's also abusing his wife and mistress. Always needing a sense of control, Tom is often judgmental in conversation, especially with Nick and Gatsby, two men who seem to know his wife beyond him. Everyone in Tom's life is a clear threat, and his words and actions reveal his personal insecurities.

In the end, Tom refuses to take responsibility for his actions. When Tom's life seems to spin out of control, with Gatsby threatening to take Daisy from him and George threatening to take Myrtle, Tom tries to wrest control by any means possible. He successfully facilitated Myrtle's murder, capitalized on George's grief, blamed Gatsby for Myrtle's murder, and took Daisy away at will with no consequences.

jordan baker

Character Relationships in The Great Gatsby Albert Literary Resources (5)

Jordan Baker is a self-made woman, similar to the rise of independent young women in the 20s. Although Daisy is her closest friend, Jordan is the opposite of Daisy because she is a professional golfer and doesn't need a man to decide her future. Both Jordan and Daisy have a presence in the room, but Jordan is more graceful, her posture like that of a young cadet (Fitzgerald 11). Jordan is an old friend of Daisy's, but their relationship lacks depth.

Minor characterexistthe great Gatsby

myrtle wilson

The depiction of Myrtle focuses on her appearance, which is highly sexualized, as if we only see her through Tom's eyes. Like her husband, Myrtle is simple-minded and believes that Tom will eventually leave Daisy to love and provide for Myrtle in a way George never could. Myrtle was also impulsive, immediately believing that Jordan Baker was Tom's wife simply because she was in the car with him. Acting on her impulse again, she dashes into a busy street and is killed by Gatsby's car.

(Video) So We Read On: How "The Great Gatsby" Came To Be and Why It Endures

George Wilsonn

Character Relationships in The Great Gatsby Albert Literary Resources (6)

George, owner of a down-and-out little auto shop and resident of Ash Valley, is a portrait of the working class: downtrodden, weary, but not without hope of a better life. He had the simple mind to think that Tom Buchanan's visit was because of a potential business deal, not because Tom wanted to see his wife. It is easy for George to believe that Gatsby is having an affair with his wife, given the slightest hint from Tom. He's also impulsive; not only does he plan to move west without warning before Myrtle is killed, but he also decides to avenge Myrtle by killing Gatsby before committing suicide.

Meyer Wolfshiem

Fitzgerald does not give us much information about Meyer Wolfshiem, other than to describe him as a "flat-nosed Jew" with small eyes and a tuft of hair in his nose (Fitzgerald 69) . Anti-Semitism peaked in the 1920s with the rise of the Ku Klux Klan and the popularity of strongly anti-Semitic publications such as the Dearborn Independent. For more on anti-Semitism in the 1920s, see this post on Albert's Literary Blog. Gatsby tells Nick that Wolfshiem is a gambler. Still, Gatsby's apparently secretive business relationship with Wolfheim suggests that Gatsby was involved in something more sinister and possibly illegal. When Gatsby is murdered, Nick makes an effort to contact Wolfsheim, and even when he does, Wolfsheim refuses to attend the funeral because he "can't get involved in it right now" (Fitzgerald 166).

Klipspringer and owl eyes

Cripspringer and Owl Eyes are both regulars at Gatsby's mansion, and they have very different ideas of Gatsby's hospitality. While Kripspringer just took advantage of Gatsby, Owl Eyes liked Gatsby and was amazed by his library. Both attended his funeral, but only Owl Eyes was there on purpose. Klipspringer just forgot about a pair of shoes.


Character Relationships in The Great Gatsby Albert Literary Resources (7)

Catherine's relationship with her sister Myrtle is essentially similar to the superficial nature of Jordan and Daisy's relationship. Although Catherine knew about her sister's affair, she just took advantage of Tom's wealth and the chance to go to town and have fun. After Myrtle is killed, Catherine becomes aloof, and her grief is forced.

Henry Gates

Little is revealed about Gatsby's father, and readers don't see him until his son's funeral at the end of the novel. Henry is described as serious, old, helpless, and depressed, the polar opposite of his carefree, flamboyant son. Through conversations with Nick, it's clear that Henry thinks highly of his son and takes pride in all he's achieved. These limited details add to the gravitas of the funeral scene. Gatsby's "friends" who gather around him every time he holds a party are nowhere to be seen. Only the father he rejected felt the heavy grief of Gatsby's death.

Character Relationshipsthe great Gatsby

It has long been accepted that a rich man has many friends, but that if a rich man becomes poor, even his closest friends will find reasons to abandon him (“Geneva Academy blog”). There are many rich men and women in the novel, and each character is either using others or being used. many charactersseemBuild real relationships with each other. However, these relationships can easily crumble and rupture when stress is applied.

For example, take the moment when Nick Carraway enters the Buchanan mansion. Tom uses Nick to assert his authority and manliness by undercutting his career and acquaintances. Daisy uses Nick to boost her self-esteem by forcing him to tell her how much everyone in Chicago misses her. At the beginning of the novel, Nick innocently cooperates with her actions. But as he spends more and more time with the Buchanans, he quickly realizes and resents their shallowness. Jordan uses Daisy's money and influence to boost his comfort and social status, and both Jordan and Gatsby use Nick to create Gatsby and Daisy's reunion.

(Video) The Great Gatsby

In addition to the novel's list of insecure characters, Gatsby wants Nick to affirm him, forcing him to tell him what he thinks of himself. Countless guests attend Gatsby's parties, enjoying his hospitality, but never taking the time to get to know him as a person. Wolfsheim and Gatsby use each other to attract new clients in shady business deals, Tom uses Myrtle Wilson for his own amusement, and Gatsby even begins to build his new Identity has used Dan Cody before.

Nick is the only character in the novel who really cares about anyone but himself. Thus, when rich Gatsby becomes "poor" by his untimely death, the events at the end of the novel come as a shock to him. Not only was his closest friend murdered, but no one seemed to care, and to add insult to injury, the perpetrator escaped unscathed.

Deepen students' understanding of charactersthe great Gatsby

Multiple activitiesAllow students to engage with these characters in greater depth.

We strongly recommend requiring students to complete aThe protagonist's autopsyAnalysis of the main characters in the novel! This activity prompts students to look for evidence to support characters' motivations and fears, and to track how those characters react to various people and events, citing evidence of their findings.

For more creative students, we suggest a creative writing activity that prompts students to put themselves in Daisy's shoes and write a journal from Daisy's perspective. The Daisy's Diary activity encourages students to imagine what is going on in Daisy's mind and develop her as a character through creative journal entries supported by textual details.

forEvaluate, students can engage in rich dialogue about these characters in the context of a Socratic seminar, using the textual evidence gathered on their postmortem charts to discuss character motivations and relationships. In addition, students can use external reputable sources to write a literary analysis essay, combining their own character analysis with academic analysis.

Use Albert's chapter quizzes to check comprehension

Each of our literature courses includes reading quizzes that you can use to track your students' reading progress and comprehension before moving on to new sections of text. You can find these reading quizzes atEvaluateTab for our theme guide.

each chapter ofthe great GatsbyHas its own 10-question reading quiz, each consisting of:

question typedescribe
5 multiple choice questionsThese questions assess students' reading comprehension skills. This way, you can make sure they all readandUnderstanding letters!
5 fill in the blank questionsThese questions ask students to fill in the blanks with appropriate characters or plot points, ensuring they remember what they read.


Fitzgerald, F. Scott.the great Gatsby. Scribner, 2018.

(Video) The Great Gatsby | Author Biography | F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Geneva Academy Blog."Proverbs 19:4 — Wealth makes many friends... – Geneva College, a Christian college in Pennsylvania (PA),


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