Relationships in the Great Gatsby

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Many correlate the 1920’s with happiness, success, and people living their lives to its full potential. The Roaring 20’s really shed some light on the American Dream, and how living out that dream will lead to your overall happiness. But along with the American Dream, comes pain and work. In The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the characters, Tom and Daisy Buchanan are used to expose the ugly truth about marriage and the American Dream. Tom is controlling and manipulative towards Daisy, holding her back from reaching happiness. Fitzgerald uses Tom and Daisy's relationship to symbolize the reality of marriage, and how it differs from the dream. Tom is manipulative of Daisy, yet she refuses to leave him because she is confused about her morals.

While Nick and Daisy were having a conversation about Gatsby, Nick claims ¨Tom Buchanan compelled me from the room as though he were moving a checker to another square¨(Fitzgerald 11). Tom is not only manipulative and aggressive towards Daisy, but also towards other people he interacts with. The author portrays Tom as a strong and controlling man, while everyone else is just a pawn in his game. Not only does Tom constantly manipulate his wife and others, but he is able to do so effortlessly without feeling guilty. Daisy lives a glamorous life and strives for happiness, yet Tom is constantly hindering her from shining. Tom´s expectations for Daisy are set low, and he never believes that she can do anything that will cause good. The reality of their relationship is demonstrated again when Nick makes a remark about Daisy. ¨It seemed to me that the thing for Daisy to do was to rush out of the house, child in arms-but apparently there were no such intentions in her head¨(Fitzgerald 20). Nick reveals how superficial Tom and Daisy’s relationship actually is and realizes how neither of them are not putting any effort or commitment into their marriage or their daughter.

Tom and Daisy’s marriage was built on lies and fear. Tom was continually cheating on Daisy, and Daisy was too scared to confront Tom about any of his wrongdoings. Fitzgerald had Miss Baker reveal to Nick about Tom´s misdemeanor, and how Daisy was aware of his actions. The situation that Fitzgerald created left everyone speechless. “The telephone rang inside, startlingly, and as Daisy shook her head decisively at Tom the subject of the stables, in fact all subjects, vanished into air”(Fitzgerald 15). The author wanted to suggest the idea that Daisy was incapable of confronting her husband, especially when it is something that has ruined their marriage. Once the news of Tom’s affair was announced to the entire table, conversation immediately breaks as they wait for Daisy’s reaction, and how she would respond to her husband. But she stayed quiet.

Tom is also controlling and manipulative towards Daisy when they are on their honeymoon. Their entire trip Daisy is paranoid that Tom is off somewhere with someone else. Nick claims “When they came back, and I thought I’d never seen a girl so mad about her husband. If he left the room for a minute she’d look around uneasily, and say: ‘Where’s Tom gone?’”(Fitzgerald 76-77). Fitzgerald creates the foundation of Tom and Daisy’s relationship to be built on lies. Daisy puts up with Tom and his affairs by keeping quiet to try to not cause any trouble. This relationship portrays inequality and manipulation demonstrating the harsh reality of the American Dream during the 1920’s.

Daisy’s American Dream is spending her life with Gatsby. Gatsby and Daisy symbolize the American dream because their relationship consists of love, wealth, and a lavish lifestyle. Seeing Gatsby with Daisy made Tom angry and jealous, even though Tom has cheated on Daisy multiple times before. The lifestyle that Daisy was able to experience with Gatsby, enabled her to attend fancy parties and live the life she’s always desired. “Tom was evidently perturbed at Daisy’s running around alone, for on the following Saturday night he came with her to Gatsby’s party” ( Fitzgerald 104). Since Fitzgerald portrays Tom as a controlling and manipulative man, it was easy for him to feel absorbed with anxiousness and betrayal when Daisy left to attend a party with Gatsby. Fitzgerald lets Tom’s character realize that he needed to do something to save their marriage before it’s too late. Tom was worried that Daisy was going to leave him with nothing. Fitzgerald authorizes Tom to confront Gatsby about having a relationship with his wife because of his extreme anger.

“ She’s not leaving me! Tom’s words suddenly leaned down over Gatsby. Certainly not for a common swindler who’d have to steal the ring he put on her finger” . At this point in the novel, Fitzgerald is creating a great tension in between all of the characters. Tom’s reaction to the new couple could have destroyed his marriage with Daisy. But instead the author let Tom tell Gatsby to stay away from his wife, leaving Daisy with nothing, except for Tom. Fitzgerald’s diction between the characters ended up leading to Tom manipulating Daisy into staying with him. This situation created a strong image of how dysfunctional the marriage is because of how easy it was for Tom to manipulate his wife into staying with him, and not Gatsby. 

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Relationships In The Great Gatsby. (2022, Jan 31). Retrieved December 1, 2023 , from

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