After first glancing at The Great Gatsby, it didn’t seem as if any similarities between the wealthy, dainty Daisy Buchanan, the object of Gatsby’s worship, and Myrtle Wilson, the bawdy, mechanic’s wife who was having an affair with Daisy’s husband. In fact, it was felt that there was no comparison at all because I felt that other than sharing an abhor able man, there was nothing else to look at. But after deeper analysis, there was more to their motives and personalities go deeper than that.
For the most part, they both seem to have an affinity toward men other than their husbands. Daisy has a minor fling with Gatsby that developed from past feelings they had for each other. Myrtle has an affair with Tom Buchanan that developed after meeting in a train car. Despite the fact they seem to have an indifference to the general feeling that cheating is wrong, they both have different reasons for doing what they did. Daisy cheated because she’s a romantic of the worst kind; a romantic with no moral standing and a somewhat obscure sense of reality.
The phrase “hopeless romantic” would be an understatement. This can be best reflected in her statement in chapter six when she claimed that she would be leaving Tom. But after Tom’s statement, “She’s not leaving me…Certainly, not for a common swindler who’d have to steal the ring he’d put on her finger,”(140) the almost resolute feeling of wanting to leave Tom had changed. Tom went on with insulting Gatsby’s methods of acquiring money, and Daisy began to go back into Tom’s will. To put it bluntly, Daisy’s sense of morality depends on the strongest figure in the room, which made her susceptible to Gatsby’s charms when she was alone with him. Myrtle, on the other hand, was simpler in her choice of cheating on her husband. She was basically going on basic attraction. Her description of her initial attitude toward him was quite significant of this, “All I kept thinking about over and over was, ‘ You can’t live forever. You can’t live forever.'”(40)
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Despite their contribution to marital dysfunction in their lives, Daisy and Myrtle both have husbands that love them. Even though Daisy and Tom both have had extra-marital affairs, Tom has made it clear that Daisy is the one he finds worth coming home to, “… I love Daisy too. Once in a while I go off on a spree and make a fool of me, but I always come back, and in my heart, I love her all the time.” (138) Marital problems are blatant in this statement, but it is still a true profession of love, as twisted as it is. Myrtle’s husband has a more traditional love for his wife, but some may claim that George Wilson’s love was what destroyed him. There was an indication of this when Nick, Jordan, and Tom went to Wilson’s Garage. Nick observed that Wilson “had discovered that Myrtle had some sort of life apart from him in another world, and the shock had made him physically sick.” Indeed, George Wilson had displayed a great sense of urgency when he told Tom that he wanted to move west, in short, to escape Myrtle’s extra-marital relations.
Finally, these women proved to be quite similar in their desire to play a particular role in life to acquire happiness. Daisy has been familiar with this role for quite some time. When Gatsby described his initial meeting with Daisy, he stated that he knew that he had to pretend to have a great deal of money. Daisy had lived a life of money, and when the time had come, she had to marry into money to maintain her lifestyle. This is strongly reflected through her mannerisms. Even Gatsby states, “Her voice is full of money.”(127) After marrying Tom, she continues to live with this façade, which provides her with some sense of security. She lives in a large house complete with money, a big, strong, wealthy husband, and a live “mommy” accessory (a.k.a her daughter). This is what she wanted. Although much isn’t known about Myrtle before the time she met Tom, it is easy to come to the conclusion that she was probably significantly less wealthy than Daisy her entire life.
Perhaps it was under Tom’s influence, or perhaps it was an additional fantasy that she wanted to add to her affair with Tom, but Myrtle seemed to want to play the same role as Daisy did. Myrtle played out her desires in the small apartment Tom kept for them to get away to in New York. The apartment, as Nick described it, was filled with furniture of a more affluent lifestyle that seemed to be condensed into the small living room. Upon arriving in New York, Tom purchased a small dog at Myrtle’s request. Although I’d hate to compare a dog to a baby, the dog seemed to become Myrtle’s live “mommy” accessory. Furthermore, after the three of them reached the apartment and Myrtle had invited guests over for drinks, Myrtle changed her clothes, took on a more fake persona, “With the influence of the dress (Myrtle’s) personality had also undergone a change… Her laughter, her gestures, her assertions became more violently affected moment by moment.” (35) To some extent, she had achieved what she felt was a better lifestyle, a life-like Daisy’s.
Although there were major differences between them, something was definitely similar about their entire frail existence: In spite of material gains and essentially they were not happy.
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