The success of Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is in part due to his successful characterization of the main characters through the comparison and contrast of Daisy Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan and George B. Wilson, and Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby. The contrast is achieved through two principle means: contrasting opposite qualities held by the characters and contrasting one character's posititve or negative qualities to another's lack thereof. Conflict is generated when the characters sometimes stand as allegorical opposites. On the other hand, comparison of two characters is rather straightforward. This comparison and contrast is prevalent in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby.
To begin with, Daisy and Myrtle have similarities and differences. The similarities revolve around the characters' marriages. First, both have an affair sometime in the novel. Myrtle's sister, Catherine, whispers to Nick: "Neither of them can stand the person they're married to" (33). Partially as a result of this intolerance, both begin affairs. Daisy says that she loves both her husband, Tom, and illegitimate boyfriend, Gatsby: "I love you [Gatsby] now -- isn't that enough? ... I did love him [Tom] once, but I loved you too" (133). Daisy says that she loves both Tom and Gatsby. Here, Daisy's character must be taken into account. Daisy might just as well love Gatsby's shirts, house, or other status symbols as she loves Gatsby as a person. Similarly, she might also only love Tom's status symbols. Myrtle certainly only loves Tom's status symbols. She tells Nick, "He had on a dress suit and patten leather shoes, and I couldn't keep my eyes off him..." (36). This is the point ...
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