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Gatsby And Tom Comparison Essay

by : Raditya Darningtyas


The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925. Taking place in a fictional town on the Long Island, Fitzgerald was trying to depict the reality of wealth communities behind their lavish parties and luxurious houses. This story focuses mostly on Jay Gatsby, a rich man who lives in a big mansion next to the house the narrator of this story.  Throughout the novel, Gatsby is trying to rekindle his love with a woman from his past. Unfortunately the woman he loves, Daisy, has married to another rich yet arrogant man named Tom Buchanan.  Both the men love Daisy and refuse to let her go. As the result, they make some bad decisions in term of morality to win Daisy.  But they also show some differences between them in the way they try to achieve their goals. That is Gatsby to win Daisy back, and Tom, to keep Daisy on his side.  While persistency in pursuing our dream is mostly perceived as a good thing, it could also lead people to an upsetting disillusionment when they choose to break the rules to achieve their dreams.

The fact that all upper class people possess lots of money doesn’t necessarily means they are all alike. In the story we know that both Gatsby and Tom are wealthy, but they come from two very different backgrounds. Tom was born rich.  He comes from old money and he is used to this leisurely high class lifestyle. Nick Carraway knows him since their college and describes him as a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence who comes from a wealthy family and even in college his freedom with money was a matter of reproach (6). In contrast with Gatsby, who originally come from a poor family and he was actually working hard to earn his fortunes. So, Gatsby never takes his wealth for granted. At the time of Gatsby’s funeral, Nick read Gatsby’s old book and find Gatsby’s old general resolves; No Wasting Time, read one improving magazine or book every week (173). Nick found out that Gatsby was a diligent hard working man who was willing to improve himself even though he later uses illegal way and break the rules to build up his money. This difference between Tom and Gatsby affect their personality furthermore the way they handle things

Their different backgrounds result in different personalities and moral characters that later influence the bad choices they make in the story. Tom is an arrogant man who often shows off his power.  It makes him used to be in a position where he feels he is above another person. It even turns him into an ignorant racist who spread bad racialist ideas during lunch when Nick visits his house. Tom talks about how he and others on the table as the dominant race on the planet should do something before other race take control of the world (13). He also tries to get everything he wants without really having to bear the consequences. Just like having Myrtle as his mistress but can’t accept the fact that his action also results in Daisy’s affair with Gatsby (130). On the other hand, Gatsby has never shown any single behavior or statement that suggests he is an arrogant person. Gatsby never looks down on people. Instead he appears to be a timid person when he runaway during the first time he meets Tom (74). Gatsby is a romantic and hopeful person who defines optimism incorrectly. Gatsby believes that he could get Daisy back and change the past (110). Changing the past is an impossible thing to do because one can’t simply erase what has happened. So it makes him uneasy about Daisy’s statement that she loved Tom too. If only Gatsby feels contented that Daisy is willing to be with him without pressuring her to say she never loves Tom, i think Gatsby might have won the competition. However, Gatsby made the wrong choice and he has to die. Tom also makes wrong choice but somehow he never really has to bear any consequences.

Both Gatsby and Tom share the same ambition to have Daisy for themselves. Tom, who takes everything for granted, treat Daisy as a trophy and even cheats on her from the beginning of their marriage (15). Tom thoughts he has everything therefore he can do whatever he wants. He never realized before that Daisy is actually capable of leaving him. Gatsby tries to build up all his money and glamorous wealth to be able to make his dream comes true. He thought that Daisy has always loves him only and the only thing that makes them unable to be together is his poverty in the past. He believes that being wealthy and part of the upper class society would make Daisy instantly be with him. He can’t accept that no matter how much money he has, something that has happened cannot be erased completely. These dreams they shared result in their disillusionment about what they believe they can achieve while in fact the reality proves they can’t.

In United States, especially at that time period people have this idea of American Dreams. Whoever can get their dreams as long as they work hard toward it. However this book proves different. Gatsby works hard to get his dream including doing illegal things and he dies at the end. While Tom, a rich person from he was born doesn’t have to bear as hard consequences as Gatsby has, even though Tom also did cheating on Daisy which is as bad as doing illegal business. All these remind us again, that the way we chase our dream must be good and we never should sacrifice morality just to get what we believe we can achieve. Nick is the only character that survives all this drama in life because he has been maintaining his honesty and sense of morality.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is an American novel because it is classic and has entertained people for generations with its thought provoking issues and tragic pivotal characters. Two of the most intriguing ones are the men who have loved Daisy. Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby are different when it comes to society’s view, but they are also very much alike. They are both tragic figures even though they are tragic in completely different ways. Both Tom and Gatsby are good looking men.

They are both in their early thirties and they both have been a part of Daisy’s past. They have lots of money and have gone to good and important universities. They are intelligent men and they know a lot of the same people. They have things in their past that they would rather that people did not know. Gatsby’s main fear is that others will find out that he was born to a poor family and that Jay Gatsby that exists now was once James Gatz of North Dakota born in poverty. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself.

He was a son of God—a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that—and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception he was faithful to the end. (p 104) They hate each other and they are both having an affair with a married woman. Gatsby is the more likeable of the two. He is friendly, and he truly loves Daisy while Tom just wants to own her. Tom is more athletic than Gatsby because he has had more opportunities to play sports.

Tom is a racist and he thinks that not only are blacks beneath him, he also thinks that women, poor people, and people who have not always been rich are not as good as him. “Well it’s a fine book and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be—will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved. ” (p17) Gatsby welcomes all kinds of different people to his parties and he treats them all good. Tom got his money by being born into a very wealthy family and Gatsby has gotten his through organized crime and bootlegging.

That makes Tom more refined because he has always been rich. Gatsby learned how to be rich by working for another rich man named Dan Cody. Tom went to Yale University and he graduated. Gatsby went to a college in St. Olaf for a little while. Then he went to Oxford in England after they let officers who helped them in the war go there. He did not graduate because he did not have a good enough education when he came there. He does not tell people that he did not graduate. He just tells them that he attended Oxford. The fact that Gatsby did not graduate does not mean that he is not smart.

He would have had to be smart to obtain the money he did in such a short time. Many people bootlegged back then and were a part of organized crime, but they did not get rich, but Gatsby did. It was also very smart to come up with the plans that he did to get Daisy back into his life. Tom is intelligent enough to not lose his money and keep it working for him. He just does not use his intelligence for good. He reads books like the Rise of the Colored Empire so that he can hate people even more. Tom has had many affairs on Daisy.

He would rather people didn’t know about it even though he knows that Daisy does. Gatsby does not want anyone knowing anything about his past. He has made up an detailed lie about a past that did not happen just so people would not know that he had been a poor boy. Tom is also cheating on Daisy with Myrtle Wilson. Myrtle is married too. He is not only being untrue to his wife, but he is tearing up another marriage. Gatsby is also sleeping with a married woman. When we read the book, it is easy to want Gatsby and Daisy together, but it is still wrong.

He could wait and see if she left Tom, but he does not. He takes her while she is still married and living with Tom. Daisy picks Tom in the end for several reasons. Divorce was not seen as a good thing in the 1920’s and she would be looked down upon. She knows that Tom is her equal when it comes to social class, and Gatsby could never be. She and Tom are more alike that she and Gatsby. They are both users. She also has a child with Tom and that is a bond that is hard to break, especially since Pammy is so close to her father.

Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby are both tragic figures in the end even if only one of them dies. Jay because he did not achieve his dream that he had worked for so hard and Tom because he will never learn from his mistakes. Both characters are intriguing to the point that long after reading the novel, the questions of “what if Gatsby had lived”? and “what will happen to Tom in the crash of nineteen twenty-nine”? are pondered. They have become as real people to the ones who have read this fascinating novel. Works Cited Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. 1925. New York: Scribner Paperback Series, 1995.

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