The bookish protagonist of the movie, Nick Carraway is a WWI veteran, a Yale graduate, and an aspiring bonds salesman on Wall Street. When we first meet him, he is at a sanatarium, diagnosed with alcoholism, anxiety, fits of anger and insomnia. He looks back ruefully on his experiences living in New York, pained by his memories of the past and haunted by his friendship with the mysterious Jay Gatsby. As a kind of therapy, his doctor recommends he write down his experiences. As he writes, Nick tells the story of how he befriended his wealthy neighbor, Jay Gatsby, and became entwined with the luxurious lifestyles of the rich on Long Island. Nick is friends with almost everyone in the novel, and is portrayed as quiet, reserved, observant, verging on voyeuristic. Tom Buchanan alludes to the fact that Nick likes to "watch" (which refers to sex, but could refer to most of the events in Nick's life) and Nick is often confused by his feeling of being at once "within and without." While he participates in the action of the movie, he is more of an observer than an agent. This confusion about his role in the events of his life is given meaning when he realizes that he is meant to be a writer. Nick's primary role as the protagonist is as an impartial observer, and the audience sees the events play out from his perspective.
The titular character, Jay is Nick's wealthy neighbor who throws extravagant parties in hopes of attracting the attentions of Daisy Buchanan, Nick's cousin, with whom he once had a passionate affair. Although he is well-known for the lavish parties he throws, Jay is enigmatic to the people who attend, and no one knows about his personal life or past. As the movie progresses, Nick learns more and more about Jay's past: born to a poor farming family in North Dakota, Gatsby always dreamed of better things, and eventually dedicated his life to the pursuit of wealth. Gatsby is obsessively ambitious and optimistic about his ability to ascend the social ladder. This leads him to pursue criminal projects in order to amass his wealth. In spite of this, he is painted as a fundamentally ethical fellow. Nick describes him as endowed with a seemingly endless supply of hope. Daisy prizes his well-developed "imagination." The combination of hope and imagination make Gatsby a determined, but also somewhat delusional, character, blinded by his own striving.
Nick's cousin, married to Tom Buchanan, and in love with Gatsby. Daisy is portrayed as an attractive and charming young woman from a wealthy background. She hides a sensitive interior behind a cynical and sarcastic mask. Secretly, she is extremely insecure about her husband's near constant infidelity, which he makes no effort to hide. She is affectionate, playful, but also plagued by a deep sadness. While Gatsby wants her to admit that she never loved Tom, she cannot deny that she cares for Tom, which complicates her reunion with Gatsby. While she loves Gatsby, she is worried that he wants "too much," and she ultimately betrays him, returning to her husband and fleeing town before his funeral.
Corrupt, dissolute, and extremely wealthy, Tom Buchanan is Daisy's husband. A former college athlete and heir to the fortune of one of the wealthiest families in America, Tom is a rude and brutishly unethical man. He holds racist beliefs, betrays his wife, and hits his mistress, Myrtle, across the face without shame. His fierce hypocrisy has tragic consequences, and his jealousy of Gatsby and Daisy's affair leads him to cruelly and remorselessly humiliate Gatsby in front of Daisy, which adds to her ambivalence. When he learns that Myrtle was killed by Gatsby's car, he encourages George Wilson to seek revenge on Gatsby. Tom is the antagonist of the film.
Tom's low-class mistress, whom he sees regularly and openly. She lives in the Valley of Ashes with her husband, George, a mechanic, and carries on an affair with Tom in nearly plain sight of her husband. Myrtle yearns badly to become wealthy, and relishes the fancy lifestyle that Tom gives her. She is portrayed as foolish, tasteless, and seductive. By the end, she becomes a sympathetic and tragic figure, running from her life in poverty into the street towards her own death.
Myrtle's husband, a pitiable and unintelligent man who works as a mechanic. George deeply loves Myrtle, and becomes violently angry with her when he learns of her affair. After her death he is completely devastated and seeks revenge on Gatsby, who he mistakenly believes was both her lover and killer.
Jordan Baker is a professional golfer and Daisy's best friend. She is portrayed as intimidatingly elegant and discerning, and when Nick first meets her he describes her as "the most frightening person I had ever seen." She maintains a cool detachment from the world around her, never getting too emotionally involved, but she also loves to engage in gossip. She is an ally to Nick at Gatsby's parties, but ultimately maintains no meaningful loyalties.
Meyer Wolfsheim is Gatsby's main business associate, whom he tells Nick "fixed the 1919 World Series." Wolfsheim is shown as somewhat untrustworthy and slippery as a businessman. Later, Tom describes him as a "gangster," engaged in corrupt business deals.
Herzog is Gatsby's mysterious and somewhat uncanny servant, who often interrupts Gatsby to inform him that someone is calling on the telephone.
Myrtle's sister, who attempts to seduce Nick at Myrtle's New York apartment.
The Great Gatsby (2013 Film) Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for The Great Gatsby (2013 Film) is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
The American dream is one of the main themes of the story. Hopes and dreams are what fuels people to achieve a piece of that dream. The American Dream means different things to different characters. Gatsby represents this dream in a big way....
The Great Gatsby (2013 Film) essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of The Great Gatsby (2013 Film), directed by Baz Luhrmann.