Under the Shell: Facing Tom's True Self in "The Great Gatsby," by F Scott Fitzgerald

Under the Shell: Facing Tom's True Self in "The Great Gatsby," by F Scott Fitzgerald

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Under the Shell



In "The Great Gatsby," Tom is one of the most enigmatic, vivid and compelling characters. He openly broaches his racism, temperament and sexism as if he has no apprehension in the world. However, there is much more to his character than it seems. Tom uses his bulkiness and husky voice to mask his loneliness in order to escape reality. His loneliness can be seen through his constant venery of women, inability to settle down in one location and through his fear of losing control. Escaping reality, however, is only temporary and his pusillanimity to face his true self throughout the course of the novel catches up to him in the end.

Though Tom appears to have “a cruel body” (Fitzgerald 7) with “enormous power” (7), he uses his bulkiness and “gruff husky tenor [voice]” (7) to mask his loneliness and lack of confidence. Even before he marries Daisy, he does not have many friends and not many people like him. “There [are] men at New Haven who [hate] his guts” (7). He doesn’t directly assert that he wants people to like him, but Nick “always [had] the impression that [Tom] …wanted [Nick] to like [him] with some harsh, defiant wistfulness of his own” (7). Since Daisy and Tom are always on the go and have “drifted here and there unrestfully” (6), Tom never establishes any friendships or long-lasting relationships. Also, his loneliness can be shown through his constant seek for love, more specifically shown by his chase of women, in which he “[goes] off on a spree and [makes] a fool of [himself]”. This causes him to drift here and there, including the last place they reside in before East Egg, “Chicago” (131). Not only is Tom lonely, but he also lacks confidence. He feels the need to read sophisticated novels in order t...


... middle of paper ...


...rol”(125) and the reality that he’s lonely and lacks confidence, he does not succeed.

Tom Buchanan may seem as an arrogant, narcissist and misogynic man at first glance. On the inside, however, he is just a lonely man that doesn’t have confidence in himself. He doesn’t confront his fears, but rather, he muffles them up by using an impervious chassis of distasteful personality traits of arrogance and condescendence in order to avoid facing his true self. Escaping reality, however, is only temporary and reality always catches up. In the end, he is forced to face his cowardice and loneliness. When Nick sees him along Fifth Avenue, he “[frowns] into the windows of a jewelry store” (178) as if remembering the loss of Myrtle, or even possibly seeking a new abode for his thirst of love. Even eggshells that don’t decay for centuries will eventually corrode and disappear.

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Under the Shell: Facing Tom's True Self in "The Great Gatsby," by F Scott Fitzgerald

- Under the Shell In "The Great Gatsby," Tom is one of the most enigmatic, vivid and compelling characters. He openly broaches his racism, temperament and sexism as if he has no apprehension in the world. However, there is much more to his character than it seems. Tom uses his bulkiness and husky voice to mask his loneliness in order to escape reality. His loneliness can be seen through his constant venery of women, inability to settle down in one location and through his fear of losing control....   [tags: loneliness, control, confindence]

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