The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is filled with interesting and morally bankrupt characters. Of the many characters readers are introduced to, only a few have any redeeming features. This makes empathizing with many of them difficult, if not impossible. But, their very human problems are quite easy to relate to. The characters in the novel are tied together through their desire for wealth, social climbing, affairs, greed, and lack of empathy for one another.
Jay Gatsby is the title character of The Great Gatsby and the man around whom the novel revolves. He’s incredibly wealthy and lives in a large mansion in West Egg, where all the newly rich families establish residences. He throws fabulous parties every Saturday but his history is a mystery. No one knows where he came from or how he made his money. Nick slowly becomes Gatsby’s confidant after moving into a small house next door. As the novel progresses, readers learn more and more about the mysterious Gatsby.
His real name is James Gatz and he’s from North Dakota. He met the love of his life, Daisy, when he was young and made his fortune through criminal enterprises. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to win Daisy back, despite the fact that she’s already married to someone else. His single-minded focus on this dream eventually leads to destruction and death.
Nick is the narrator of The Great Gatsby. He’s a young man who served in World War I, attended Yale University, and moved to New York City to work in bonds. He rents a small house next to Jay Gatsby’s in West Egg. Nick becomes acquaintances with Gatsby and helps him reunite with Daisy, Gatsby’s life-long love interest, and Nick’s cousin.
Nick’s reserved, yet open-minded, and often troubled. This means that he serves as Gatsby’s confidant, often hearing the other man’s secrets and intentions. His history and personal relationships shape how the reader understands all the other characters and events. Nick is torn between an interest in the New York lifestyle and the fact that at his core, it doesn’t really suit him. It’s morally empty and purposeless, he determines at the end of the novel. Nick finally returns to Minnesota where he embarks on a different kind of life.
Daisy Buchanan is a beautiful, socially popular young woman who has lived a privileged life. She’s married to Tom, a wealthy although loveless man. The two live in East Egg together. Daisy is Gatsby’s love interest. She represents a life and passion he’s trying to return to, as well as a future dream he can’t help but fight for. She is the perfection Gatsby is striving for, and in his desire for her, he’s unable to see her flaws. In Nick’s eyes, she’s careless and willing to hide behind her money when times get tough.
Daisy’s husband and a mostly unlikeable figure. He’s large, comes from a wealthy family, and is often rough. He was a football star in his youth, a period of his life that is alluded to as his peak. Now, he uses boisterous and sometimes racist language and has had multiple affairs since marrying Daisy. The latter is not something he’s ashamed of. His current mistress is Myrtle Wilson. Despite this, he maintains that he and Daisy are in love with one another and they always will be.
Tom is described as “cruel” in the novel. Someone who uses his size and position to dominate others. He’s very single-minded, juxtaposed against Nick’s open-mindedness, and is only able to look at the world through one specific lens. He has everything anyone could ever want but continues to present himself as a victim of the world.
Jordan Baker is Daisy’s friend who works as a professional golfer. She’s young, beautiful, and often captures the eye of eligible men. She dates Nick but is unable to charm him in the same way she has others. Her life is fairly shallow and she a perfect symbol of the immorality Nick is turned off by. She cheated to win her first golf tournament and continues to live a dishonest life.
The husband of Myrtle Wilson, the woman with whom Tom is having an affair. He runs an auto shop that’s falling apart. When he realizes that his wife is cheating on him, he’s filled with sorrow and is further devastated when Myrtle dies. Readers might draw comparisons between George and Gatsby in that they’re both striving for a dream. Gatsby has been partially successful though. George is trapped in his lower-class income. Despite their differences, their lives are both upended by women.
Myrtle is Tom’s mistress. She’s married to George Wilson. She’s trying to improve her life by having an affair with Tom, who is many times wealthier than she is. She tries to take some control over her life with the affair, asserting a kind of power in her unfaithfulness. Unfortunately for her, Tom has no respect for her and treats her as an object. She meets a terrible end.
A drunk man that Nick meets at the first Gatsby party he goes to. He expresses astonishment over Gatsby’s books in the library.
One of the many people, a freeloader, who attends Gatsby’s parties. He takes advantage of the wealthier man’s money. After Gatsby’s death, Klipspringer is never seen again. His only concern is for a forgotten pair of tennis shoes.
A member of an organized crime group. He helped Gatsby make his fortune and continues to hang around the younger man. Wolfsheim is an intimidating figure that the reader immediately feels they can’t trust.
Gatsby’s mentor. He taught Gatsby everything he knows about living his life and following his dreams. He’s a wealthy copper businessman for whom Gatsby worked for aboard his yacht. He was Cody’s personal assistant. This role helped to inspire Gatsby to become rich.
George Wilson’s neighbor. He comforts the widower after his wife is killed. He’s one of the few “good” people that The Great Gatsby has to offer.
Who is the narrator of The Great Gatsby?
Nick Carraway is the narrator of The Great Gatsby.
Who is Jay Gatsby?
His real name is James Gatz and he’s from North Dakota. He made his fortune in illegal bootlegging and her criminal enterprises. His fortune, home, and desires are central to the plot of the novel.
Why did Jay Gatsby lie about his past?
He lied to become the person he wanted to be. James Gatz was poor and dreamless. Jay Gatsby on the other hand is powerful and wealthy.
Why did Daisy marry Tom Buchanan?
Daisy married Tom even though she was in love with Gatsby because he could provide the kind of life she wanted. Money and security were more important to her.
Who is the main antagonist in The Great Gatsby?
Tom Buchanan is the main antagonist of The Great Gatsby.