How Does Fitzgerald Make Tom Buchanan an Unpleasant Character?

Topics: Roaring Twenties, F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby Pages: 3 (1005 words) Published: May 15, 2013
How does Fitzgerald make Tom Buchanan an unpleasant character? Support your answer by close reference to Fitzgerald’s writing.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald creates a most unpleasant character in the form of Tom Buchanan. Fitzgerald achieves this primarily by consistently showing Buchanan’s unpleasant characteristics to the reader in every situation where we meet him. Buchanan is displayed as a selfish, controlling and physically dominant bully who disregards care for anyone, including his wife, to get what he wants. He is also incredibly prejudice and not particularly intelligence and his racist views make him even more unpleasant, particularly to a modern audience. In, addition to his own characteristics, Buchanan is also unpleasant as he represents the immorality and materialistic nature of “Roaring Twenties”.

A chief characteristic of Buchanan is his selfishness. He selfishly pursues his desires with no regard for the consequences. His infidelities are a good example of this when we learn the he had a “little spree” in Chicago, an affair with a chambermaid just after his honeymoon, and Myrtle is just the latest of his mistresses. In addition, because Buchanan is of the “old money” East Egg ilk, he treats those self-made (such as Gatsby) with conceited contempt. For example he describes Gatsby, despite his vast wealth, as “Mr. Nobody from Nowhere”. This conceited disposition means he spends money freely and treats people poorly without any justification, an truly unpleasant characteristics.

Fitzgerald focuses descriptions of Buchanan on his physicality. His wife Daisy describes him as “... a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking physical specimen”. Buchanan’s appearance is linked to his physical behavior and his need to be in control at all times. According to Nick Caraway the narrator, his clothes fail to hide his “cruel body”, just as his sophistication and money can’t hide his brutal nature. Moreover, Buchanan is cold and rude in a constant...
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