Novelists are often concerned with exploring the confusions and complexities of social relationships. In this context, confusions refer to puzzling relationships, which are confusing to comprehend. Whereas, complexities relate to complicated and intricate issues. The different social relationships discussed in F.Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, THE GREAT GATSBY, are business colleagues, lovers and married partners. The characters involved in these relationships consist of, Jay Gatsby, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, Myrtle and George Wilson, Jordan Baker, Mr. Wolshiem and Nick Carraway. Each character interacts with others, establishing either confusion or complexities within their social relationship.
A complex social relationship explored in this novel is between Wolshiem and Gatsby. The two are business colleagues who work together, however, the nature of their business is rarely discussed. During lunch between Gatsby, Wolshiem and Nick, Wolshiem mistakes Nick’s reason of invitation, which Gatsby quickly states, ‘I told you we’d talk about that some other time.’ (p69) This suggests to the audience that their business is not above board, as Gatsby does not wish to discuss their business dealing in front of the company. Throughout the novel, their business relationship is kept very vague. On the surface it appears to be a normal business relationship, however, due to the uncertainty of their dealings, it is established to the audience that there is a complex relationship existing between the two characters. Thus showing how complexities can be explored through the social relations of business colleagues.
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Another example of a social relationship explored in the novel, containing complexities, is between Wolshiem and Gatsby from Wolshiem’s point of view. In the final chapter, Wolshiem sends Nick a letter in regards to Gatsby’s death. He states that he is, ‘…tied up in… very important business… cannot get mixed up in this thing now.’ (p157)
This reinforces that their relationship was strictly business and there was not a very strong friendship existing between the two characters. It appears that Wolshiem has very little respect for Gatsby, as he doesn’t have the courtesy to attend his funeral. It is portrayed that all Gatsby was to Wolshiem was a business colleague, nothing more. Wolfsheim doe not want to further their relationship as friends. Within the letter, Wolshiem refers to Gatsby as a ‘thing.’ This represents Gatsby’s death as an inconvenience on Wolshiem’s behalf. As Wolshiem was involved in some very important business,’ this once again reinforces the idea that their business relationship was below the board. Therefore, this shows how complexities can be explored in social relationships such as business colleagues.
In contrast to a complex relationship, the social relationship between Daisy, Tom and Gatsby from her point of view, is confusing. In a conversation between the three characters, Daisy is speaking to Gatsby in regards to her love for both men. She states, ‘I did love him once – but I loved you too.’ (p126) Daisy is unsure of her love for both Tom and Gatsby. She is confused about her own feelings and does not wish to hurt either of them. Daisy wants the best of both worlds. She wants what both men can offer her. By marrying Tom, she was given class, wealth, success and social acceptance. These were things in which she valued and desired. However, Gatsby offered her love and affection. Daisy is unsure of who she truly loves and is not strong enough to chose between the two. This establishes to the audience, that this social relationship existing is confusing, as she is unable to state her true feeling towards either man. Thereby demonstrating, how novelists can explore confusions of a social relationship.
In addition, the social relationship between Nick and Jordan from his perspective was confusing. He, too, was unsure of his love for Jordan. This is evident when he states, ‘Angry… half in love… tremendously sorry. I turned away.’ (p169) Nick has mixed emotions towards Jordan. He is confused about his feelings and their relationship. He is unable to express himself and resolve their problems satisfactorily, so he is turning and walking away. Nick is angry, in love, but yet sorry that it didn’t work out. This reflects his confusion. Nick never loved Jordan enough to keep him in West Egg. This once again reinforces his confusion about love. Nick realized that its time to move on. Their relationship has ended and he is walking away from Jordan. Thereby indicating, how novelists can explore the confusions of social relationships such as lovers.
In comparison, the social relationship between Myrtle and Tom is one of complexity. During the party held by Tom and Myrtle, Nick is having a conversation with Catherine who states, ‘Neither of them can stand the person they’re married to.’ (p35) Both Tom and Myrtle are looking for certain desires. Tom desires love, but by marrying Daisy he established class and wealth. Myrtle, on the other hand, is searching for a class, social acceptance and wealth, but by marrying George Wilson, she received love. Both characters are searching for their special desire that they cannot find in their marriage but in each other. This is why they find it necessary to have an affair with each other, so they can fulfil their desires. Thus showing, how social relationships, such as lovers, can be used by novelists to explore complexities.
An example of a confusing relationship is between Daisy and Tom, from her point of view. During their early years of marriage, Daisy was madly in love with Tom. This is evident when Jordan recalls to Nick, ‘…never seen a girl so mad about her husband.’ (p75) They shared their memories and wonderful nights together. They were both young and in love. However, when Gatsby, and their ex-lover, are reunited with Daisy, her love for Tom is not as strong. This is evident in New York when Daisy states to Tom, ‘You’re revolting,…’ (p125) After the five years they were apart, their love was strong enough to allow Daisy and Tom to become distant. Her views and opinions changed of Tom, due to her love for Gatsby. She was then confused about her won feelings, as to whom she really loved. Therefore, showing how Daisy and Tom’s relationship was confusing. Thereby demonstrating how novelists can explore confusions through social relationships.
F.Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, THE GREAT GATSBY, discusses many social relationships. These include business colleagues, lovers and married partners. Novelists often explore confusions and complexities through these different social relationships expressed in the novel. Interactions among characters, allow social relationships to occur. These characters consist of Jay Gatsby, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, Myrtle and George Wilson, Jordan Baker, Mr. Wolshiem and Nick Carraway. Each character is significant when establishing the confusions and complexities of social relationships.
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