Antagonist Analysis of The Great Gatsby Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 21 December 2016

Antagonist Analysis of The Great Gatsby

Tom Buchanan, the antagonist in the book, The Great Gastby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the darker side of the main character, Jay Gatsby. Where as Gatsby is an agreeable, attentive gentleman, Tom is the abrasive, physically powerful, and careless man who is concerned about one thing…himself. Tom is introduced as an arrogant and abusive husband to his wife Daisy Buchanan, who states, “That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking physical specimen of a —-,“ as she tries to deal with his selfish and emotionally abusive ways (F. Scott Fitzgerald 12). The Great Gatsby explores the dynamics of relationships between the love (or lack thereof) between man and woman. Fitzgerald portrays antagonist Tom as self-centered human being, not only through the emotional abuse and negligence of his wife, but likewise through the sexual encounters and philanders of various women.

One of Tom’s lovers, Myrtle Wilson, is so engrossed and enchanted by Buchanan that she is willing to risk her own marriage and is no longer attentive as some of her actions include “walking through her husband as if he were a ghost, shook hands with Tom, looking at him flush in the eye” (Fitzgerald 26). Unlike Tom, whose life revolves around no one other than himself, Gatsby’s life centers on finding the long lost love of his life, Daisy, and engulfing her with the true endearment of love between a man and woman. His one desire to fulfill his life with true love is interrupted twice by Tom Buchanan. Having loved Daisy as a young teenage boy and loosing her to life’s circumstances, Gatsby is determined to continue his search in hopes of locating this special woman who can never be replaced by no other beautiful face or body.

Gatsby’s adoration and respect for Daisy drives him to cast all his possessions and even his life into securing her love and saving her name, as he did after the accident shifting blame from her to him, “but of course I’ll say I was” [driving the car that hit and killed Myrtle] (143). Tom and Gatsby are black and white images of one another. Tom, the darker character, is a cold heartless man who moves people around like pegs on a game board. He continually rolls the dice to calculate his next moves giving no thought to the human lives he has at stake. After the death of Myrtle, Tom shows his lack of interest for the welfare of the woman he has been having an affair with and uses an opportunity to shift conflict between George, Myrtle’s husband, and Gatsby, “Wilson’ll have a little business at last” (137).

Unlike Tom, Gatsby’s bright image of love, concern, and devotion carries throughout the story. Gatsby holds onto love until the dire end, electing to protect Daisy from the wreck and the reckless relationship with her husband Tom, “I’m just going to wait here and see if he tries to bother her about that unpleasantness this afternoon (144). Tom is the perfect character to represent the antagonist in, The Great Gatsby. His selfish acts toward each character in the story shows his lack of respect for human relationships and his indulgence for self.

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  • University/College: University of Arkansas System

  • Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter

  • Date: 21 December 2016

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