Comparing Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Comparing Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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“Two sides of the same coin,” is a commonly heard English saying used to describe two items that seem very different from each other but in reality share a number of similarities. Scott Fitzgerald demonstrates this idea in his novel, The Great Gatsby, when he introduces the characters Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. At first glance, both characters may seem like polar opposites. However, with a closer analysis, one can see that they are more alike than meets the eye. Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby share many ideas on the value of money, love, and the American dream, but their ways of approaching these concepts differ greatly.
One of the first things our narrator, Nick Carraway, tells us about both of these men is that they possess a great deal of money. On page 5, Nick gives the reader a description of Gatsby’s mansion:
“The one on my right was a colossal affair by any standard – it was a factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy, and a marble swimming pool, and more than forty acres of lawn and garden…My own house was an eyesore, but it was a small eyesore, and it had been overlooked, so I had a view of the water, a partial view of my neighbor’s lawn, and the consoling proximity of millionaires…”
On page 6, Nick emphasizes the amount of wealth Tom Buchannan possesses:
“His family were enormously wealthy – even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach – but now he’d left Chicago and come East in a fashion that rather took your breath away, for instance, he’s brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. It was hard to realize that a man I my own generation was wealthy enough to do that.
Gatsby throws lavish parties every...


... middle of paper ...


...t to Tom, it means a loss of control and power.
Tom Buchannan and Jay Gatsby represent the two types of men present in the 1920s – the old money and the new money. People who possess old money like Tom are reluctant to change with society and find comfort in the older ways of life. People with new money such as Gatsby embrace the changes that the 1920s brought and took advantage of the new opportunities present. Because of their differences in background and lifestyle, they naturally had different approaches on topics such as the value of money, love, and the American dream. Surprisingly though, many of their views were similar. They both used their wealth to hide things about themselves and neither of them seems to be truly capable of love. The men are like “two sides of the same coin.”

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004.

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