Fitzgerald's novel "The great Gatsby." The main theme that will be analyzed is represented by infidelity and its consequences. The main male character is Jay Gatsby, a wealthy man with a mysterious past. He is in love with Daisy, but she is married with Tom Buchanan. Tom is having an affair with Myrtle, who at her turn is married to George Wilson.
It is worth mentioning right from the very beginning the fact that when they were younger Daisy and Jay fell in love with each other. Jay however wanted to become rich and needed to pursue his dreams in this direction. Daisy promised he would keep herself for him. Through means which were not very moral Jay succeeded to become a very rich man, but Daisy did not wait for him as promised. Instead she got married to a very wealthy man, Tom. In the book we see Jay living close to Daisy and Tom.
Naturally the two of them meet and they start an affair. Daisy had gotten married because she needed to be loved and protected. She also needed to secure a social position for herself which she did through a marriage with a man who is extremely wealthy and can provide everything for her. "A phrase began to beat in my ears with a sort of heady excitement: "There are only the pursued, the pursuing, the busy, and the tired." (Fitzgerald)
Her decision had some important consequences. Not only did she betray Gatsby, but she betrayed herself as well. Years after we find her cynical and unhappy despite living in a beautiful mansion owning everything she wants. Ironically, just like she betrayed Jay's confidence, she now has to deal with her husband's infidelity.
Tom is having an affair with Myrtle who is very much in love with him. Despite being married to a man who is crazy in love with her, her affection is dedicated to a man who treats her as a mere object of desire. From a certain point-of-view, the unhappiness of both women might be considered a sort of poetic punishment for the moral betrayal which they performed in relation to their partner (in Myrtle's case) and their loved one (in Daisy's case).
The dynamics installed by infidelity are extremely interesting. Daisy may have been in love with Jay, but she did not wait for him. She is not in love with her husband, but she is hurt by his cheating behaviour. When she comes into contact with the new rich Jay she starts having an affair with him hoping she will receive the needed love and affection. Tom on the other hand is not in love with his wife, otherwise he would not be cheating on her. He is not in love with his mistress either, but he enjoys the power he seems to be having upon the two women.
It is ironic that despite being the original cheating party, when he starts suspecting that his wife may be having an affair as well, he becomes furious. He is not only outraged, but he would like to see the whole thing come to an end. In his case infidelity makes him feel that his power is diminished. He regards Myrtle as a simple object of desire and he probably considers Daisy as one of his properties as well. He hates Gatsby because through his affair with his wife he undermines his authority and demonstrates that his power is limited. In eliminating Gatsby, he returns to the initial position in which he seems to be in perfect control of everything.
The morality factor is another interesting theme in the story. Daisy proves to be immoral by betraying her oath to a man whom she presumably loved. Jay is immoral because of the manner in which he builds his wealth. He is also immoral because he accepts to have an affair with a married woman.
Is it really love that drives him into this or can the readers read between the lines the need to demonstrate to himself that he can have not only the desired fortune, but also the "perfect" woman who will make him feel fulfilled? In the end Jay will be a victim of his desire to be with Daisy. Although Daisy is not in love with her husband and she also knows that he is being unfaithful she has no intention of divorcing him, even after Jay comes into the scene.
On the other had, Myrtle is highly in love with Tom, even if she knows that this causes a lot of pain to her husband. She does not divorce either, contributing to the creation of tension between the parties. In the end, Myrtle dies because of an incident, while her husband becomes ironically, a victim of her lover. Tom tells him that it was Jay driving the car who killed her and crazy with grief George will kill Gatsby and eventually kill himself.
It is interesting to notice that instead of killing Tom, whom he may have regarded as the man who took his wife away from him while she was alive, he chooses to trust this man's word and punish the man who presumable took his wife away from him forever. George seems to be a very weak character and the fact that him and his wife lived in the valley of the ashes appears to be a symbolic choice of the author. Regardless of all the emotional dynamics intertwined in the lives of the couples which the book describes, ironically, once the people who had the status of extra-marital lovers are eliminated, life seems to come back to normal. (Parkinson, 2003)
While Tom Buchanan does not change throughout the novel, Daisy seems to reveal her negative side only at the end. Not only does she not mourn for Gatsby, but she has no problems in returning to a perfectly normal life with the man who had Gatsby killed. Under these circumstances Jay Gatsby appears to be a victim of this woman and his own feelings for her "I want to wait here until Daisy goes to bed" (Fitzgerald) .
Myrtle and Jay are in a certain sense symbols of temptation and therefore immoral through this. Once they are eliminated life turns to normality as if nothing had happened. The attitude of the author is rather sarcastic taking into account the fact that Jay and Myrtle were truly in love with their partners. If we are to judge things from a very determinate perspective, the strongly immoral parties were actually Daisy and her husband through the cruelty with which they act in their own benefit. We could ask ourselves at this point if any of the characters was happy and the answer seems to be no.
Daisy on the one hand is obviously unhappy with her rich cheating husband and will continue to be unhappy even after the death of her lover. Myrtle is definitely unhappy because she knows that Tom is not in love with her despite them having a relationship. Her husband is unhappy because he can not get her back and in the end he has to deal with her death as well. Gatsby is probably unhappy despite his fortune because the woman whom he fell in love with chose to marry another man despite the promise she made to him. Tom seems to be the strongest character. He has both Daisy and Myrtle, he has no remorse after killing Myrtle and has no problem using Myrtle's husband as a device for his revenge, eliminating Gatsby who was threat for his authority. (Parkinson, 2003)
He turns to living with Daisy who does not love him and whom he does not love, but their apparently perfect life gets back on track with him in perfect control. Taking into account his selfishness and cruelty one might assume that he may be the only character who is happy. Fitzgerald proves to be sarcastic one more time if we are to think that Tom was the first one to get involved in the vicious circle of infidelity. While Myrtle is severely punished is a symbolical manner which demonstrates her frailty, he seems to get out of the story completely intact (with an intact family as well).
It is safe to say that the tragic ending of the book has a lot to do with the ideals of the people involved in the story. Daisy was hurt by the cheating behaviour of her husband, but did not leave him because leaving him would have meant abandoning an important social status "I KNOW. I've been everywhere and seen everything and done everything…Sophisticated - God, I'm sophisticated." (Fitzgerald) While the generous and in love Gatsby is willing to take the blame for Myrtle's death, the readers must be reminded how Daisy acts upon her needs at some point, demonstrating that she only cares about herself "Her voice is full of money." (Fitzgerald)
Myrtle on the other hand was also aware…