The Great Gatsby

Compare and contrast Gatsby and Tom. How are they alike? How are they different? What are the positive and negative characteristics of each ? What might attract Daisy to each of them?

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Tom and Gatsby share few similarities. They are character foils for each other, and they bring out what is best and worst in each other. Tom comes from old money; Gatsby is new money. Tom inherites his money; Gatsby gained his fortune through hard work and questionable means. Tom is a product of the Ivy League, and Gatsby learned what he needed to know through experience. Tom sees Gatsby as inferior...... and the often melancholy Gatsby, is resentful and defensive in the face of Tom's accusations. Consider this very strained exchange between the two:

Gatsby’s foot beat a short, restless tattoo and Tom eyed him suddenly.
"By the way, Mr. Gatsby, I understand you’re an Oxford man."
"Not exactly."
"Oh, yes, I understand you went to Oxford."
"Yes – I went there."
Pause. Then Tom’s voice, incredulous and insulting: "You must have gone there about the time Biloxi went to New Haven."
Another pause. A waiter knocked and came in with crushed mint and ice but, the silence was unbroken by his "thank you." and the soft closing of the door. This tremendous detail was to be cleared up at last.
"I told you I went there," said Gatsby.
"I heard you, but I’d like to know when."
"It was in nineteen-nineteen, I only stayed five months. That’s why I can’t really call myself an Oxford man."
Tom glanced around to see if we mirrored his unbelief. But we were all looking at Gatsby.
"It was an opportunity they gave to some of the officers after the Armistice," he continued. "We could go to any of the universities in England or France."
I wanted to get up and slap him on the back. I had one of those renewals of complete faith in him that I’d experienced before.

Daisy is attracted by the money and status afforded her by her marriage to Tom, but she is also drawn to her romantic notions about Gatsby. In the end, she is unwilling to give up her position to be with a man without pedigree. She is shallow at best.


The Great Gatsby