Flat Characters in "Of Mice and Men" and "The Great Gatsby" Essay

Flat Characters in "Of Mice and Men" and "The Great Gatsby" Essay

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Flat characters are an essential part of any novel because they help advance the plot and foil the other characters. Curley from Of Mice and Men, by John Steinbeck and Tom Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, are both examples of flat characters; the reader only sees one side to each of these characters: the callous and controlling part. Curley and Tom are both presented as flat characters and as the quintessential controlling husbands, who foil the more sensitive men in the texts. Because of their personalities, they indirectly kill those around them, and in doing so, help advance the plot.
The reader only sees the hard side of Curley and Tom, which makes them perfect illustrations of flat characters. In this way, Curley and Tom both exemplify possessive, controlling and jealous husbands who do not respect their wives. Curley is overprotective of his wife. He is worried about his wife because she has only been, “married two weeks and got the eye” (Steinbeck 28). This helps explain why Curley does not want his wife to have conversations with the other men; she has not been married long and she is already looking at them. He is paranoid that she will start talking to one of the men on the ranch and be unfaithful to him. Tom Buchanan is also a possessive and jealous husband. Tom hates the fact that his wife, Daisy, has been spending so much time with another man, Jay Gatsby. Tom says that he “‘may be old-fashioned in [his] ideas, but women run around too much these days to suit [him]. They meet all kinds of crazy fish’” (Fitzgerald 103). This illustrates Tom’s possessive tendencies, and shows that Tom is rather hypocritical, because he is having an affair with another man’s wife, so he, unlike Curley, has no excu...


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...en goes and, in his grief, shoots and kills Gatsby before committing suicide. All three of these deaths are indirectly caused by Tom. Both Curley and Tom, in some way, cause the death of a loved one, whether it is Curley’s wife or Myrtle, which in turn leads to the death of another character.
Curley and Tom are presented as flat characters and as the archetypical controlling husbands, who foil the gentler men in the texts. Because of their personalities, they indirectly kill those around them. Curley is controlling and jealous, like Tom. In addition, Tom is unfaithful and hypocritical. Curley is used to foil Lennie, while Tom is used to foil Nick and Gatsby. Curley and Tom cause the demise of people around them: a loved one, and one they hold responsible for the death of that loved one. Because of all this, Curley and Tom are necessary characters in their stories.

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