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Literature: The Great Gatsby

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In the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the minor characters play
an important role in contributing to the plot, theme and give the reader an
overall understanding of the novel as a whole. The three most important minor
characters in the novel are Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchananís secret mistress,
George Wilson, Myrtleís husband and the owner of a run down garage on the side
of the road leading into the city, and finally Jordan Baker, an attractive young
woman golfer who is a compulsive liar, she also eventually becomes more and more
involved with Nick Carroway, the narrator. All three of these characters
contribute a great deal to the novel as a whole. Though their parts are small,
without them the novel would not be the masterpiece that it is. Jordan Baker is
the minor character with the biggest part. she is seen very often throughout the
novel. Jordan Bakerís most striking quality is her dishonestly. She is tough
and aggressive-a tournament golfer who is so hardened by competition and because
ot that she is willing to do anything to win. At the end of Chapter III, when
Nick is thinking about Jordan, he remembers a story about her first major
tournament. ďAt her first big golf tournament there was a row that nearly
reached the newspapers-a suggestion that she had moved her ball from a bad lie
in the semi-final round. The thing approached the proportions of the
scandal-then died away. A caddie retracted his statement and the only other
witness admitted that he might have been mistaken. the incident and the name had
remained together in my mind.Ē pg. 63. This incident stays with the reader
throughout the novel, reminding the reader (as it reminds Nick) that Jordan is
the smart but extremely dishonest new woman, the opportunist who will do
whatever she must to be successful in her world. Jordan Bakerís use in the
novel helps Fitzgerald get the story told. Because she is Daisy's friend from
Louisville, she can supply Nick with information he would not have otherwise.
She also serves as a link between the major characters, moving back and forth
between the world of East Egg (Tom and Daisy's house) and West Egg (Gatsby's and
Nick's houses). She is rich enough to be comfortable among the East Eggers but
enough of a social hustler to appear at Gatsby's parties. Jordan serves still
another purpose, she is actually Nick's girlfriend during the summer of 1922.
The Nick-Jordan romance serves as a good sub-plot to the Gatsby-Daisy
relationship, and allows the reader to compare and contrast the romantic-dream
like love of Gatsby for Daisy to a very practical but weak relationship created
through Nick and Jordan. Fitzgerald brilliantly uses Jordan Baker to incorporate
Nick into the novel as more than the narrator but as a real person. Jordan is
also used to show the contrast between two different kinds of relationships,
that of Gatsby and Daisy and Jordan and Nick. Myrtle Wilson is another minor
character that plays a great role in The Great Gatsby. She is the wife of George
Wilson. Myrtle is a very important character, because Fitzgerald uses her to
help expose Tomís brutality and to show how Tom is a hypocrite. Fitzgerald
uses Myrtle because it shows how Tom thinks of her as one of his possessions,
she is displayed openly to all of Tomís friends and acquaintances and they all
freely accept her. Tom uses Myrtle for the fueling of his own ego because it
makes him feel powerful and superior. The novel is propelled into excellence
because of Fitzgeraldís ability to use Myrtle to help portray Tom as an evil,
brutal and hypocritical man. By incorporating Myrtle into the novel Tom becomes
hated more by the reader because he disapproves Daisyís relationship with
Gatsby but he feels that his relationship with Myrtle is appropriate because
Myrtle is nothing more than a possession to him. Myrtle is basically confined to
chapter II, except for when she is killed in the end of the novel. During
chapter II the reader finds that Myrtleís one wish is to leave her class and
to become on of the elite rich. Myrtle obviously has the logic and morals to
become one of the elite because she is obsessed with appearances and unaware of
the realities of life. Myrtle says that she married George ďbecause I thought
he was a gentleman...I thought he knew something about breeding but he wasnít
fit to lick my shoe.Ē (pg. 39). Myrtle honestly thinks that she is above
George and that he is so far below her because , in her mind, she is one of the
elite because of her relationship with Tom. In reality Myrtle is just another
one of Tomís possessions. Fitzgerald uses Myrtle to show the reader how the
disillusioned life of the rich is not confined to the rich alone. Myrtle is from
a lower class but yet she has shares the same perspective on life with Tom and
the rest of the rich. They all feel that money is their key to superiority.
Though Myrtle is not rich at all she feels that she superior to the world
because she is connected to vast extensions of wealth through Tom. In the end
Fitzgerald shows the reader why he incorporated Myrtle into his novel. He used
her to show Tomís brutality and hypocrisy, but Fitzgerald uses Myrtle for a
deeper purpose. He questions the reader and the readerís morals directly and
basically makes the reader question his/her own self worth. He asks the reader
ďDo you feel above the world, because if you think that you are, you have
already proven that you are not.Ē George Wilson is the last major minor
character in the novel. He is the husband of Myrtle Wilson and in the end the
murderer of Gatsby. Tom treats George in a very unique way. Though Tom is having
an affair with his wife he still makes regular contact with him. Tomís
attitude towards George is one of pure evil. He treats George terribly because
Tom feels that he is so far above him and that he can feel free to treat him
with as little respect as possible. Tom uses George as his own personal punching
bag. This is seen when Tom baits the poor George into believing that he wants to
sell a car to him that in reality, Tom has no real intention of selling.
Fitzgerald also uses George to show a love that Tom could never have. With out
George in the novel the joy of true love would not have ever been seen in the
novel. Throughout all the relationships in the novel only Georgeís love for
his wife was true. Because of Georgeís love he was truly richer than Tom could
ever be. In the end it is seen why Fitzgerald used George Wilson in the novel.
George has such a greater spirit than Tom, and this just shows how Tom, along
with the rest of the rich, are so confused as to how to go about life.
Fitzgerald shows the reader that George reacts to the loss of his wife with a
show of grief that reveals a love that is beyond Tomís capacity. For Tom can
not love because he is incapable of true love, This is one of Tomís greatest
flaws, the closest thing to love for Tom is his love for his money. George
Wilson is used in the novel to show how deprived Tomís life really is. All
three of these characters play such an important role throughout the novel.
Though they are considered minor characters, but without them, the novel would
not and could not have had achieved the level of greatness that it is known for.
Fitzgerald brilliantly uses Jordan Baker to incorporate Nick into the novel as
more than the narrator but as a real person. Jordan is also used to show the
contrast between two different kinds of relationships, that of Gatsby and Daisy
and Jordan and Nick. Gatsbyís relationship with Daisy is one of false hope, a
sort of unattainable goal that plunges Gatsby deep into self pity. The
relationship of Nick and Jordan is a more modern relationship, neither of them
knows a great deal about eachanother, yet they pursue each other purely out of
physical attraction. In they end Nick does learn about Jordan and the life she
lives and he ends the relationship and Jordan appearance in the novel. George
Wilson played a key role in the novel as well. His purpose was to show the
reader the life of a working class man. George showed what life was like for a
man who had to work for every penny that he had. Though Tom feels that he is
above George, in the end Tom is not. George showed a love that Tom could never
have. With out George in the novel the joy of true love would have not ever been
seen. Throughout all the relationships in the novel only Georgeís love for his
wife was true. Because of Georgeís love he was truly richer than Tom could
ever be. Finally, Myrtle Wilson, she was perhaps one of the most astounding
characters in the novel. Fitzgerald used her not only to make the reader hate
Tom even more but to use her life and demeanor to question the reader directly.
Fitzgeraldís main goal, for the use of Myrtle, was to not so much to scare the
reader into questioning his/her own self worth, but to suggest to the reader
that you do not have to blinded by money to be disillusioned in life. The three
most important minor characters in the novel are Myrtle Wilson, George Wilson,
and Jordan Baker. All three of these characters contribute a great deal to the
novel as a whole. Though their parts are small, without them the novel would not
be the masterpiece that it is one of the best of the kind.
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