The Importance of Myrtle in the Great Gatsby

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Myrtle, She Wrote As F.Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby comes to a close, Jay Gatsby is killed at the hand of Wilson. Wilson then goes on to end his own life. We are supposed to believe that Wilson killed Gatsby as some kind of vengeance for his late wife –Myrtle- who Wilson believes was killed by Gatsby. However, prior to this event, Wilson knew very well that Myrtle was not being faithful. Even before this news surfaced, Myrtle was never kind to Wilson and their relationship was a rather rocky one. With this knowledge, the reader is left asking “Why would a perfectly sane man kill for a woman that did not love him?”

From the reader’s very first encounter with Myrtle, it is quite clear that her husband is not very important in her view of her life. Nick describes her “walking through her husband as if he were a ghost”(Fitzgerald 30). She then goes on to order him around as if he is nothing more than her slave instead of the man she chose to spend the rest of her life with. Still it is obvious that neither Myrtle nor Wilson is going to end the relationship anytime soon simply because they cannot. Without the other, they truly have nothing: no money, no place in the social class, and no one to stick it out with. As Wilson fires the gun at himself, nothing is made clearer than that Myrtle, no matter how cruel, is all he has in his life.

Moreover, even when Wilson’s life comes to an end, he still had nothing and meant nothing to society. Very few people would have even given a second thought to the suicide of a sad, old, mechanic. Gatsby, however, is almost a god for some Americans, epitomizing the “American Dream” through his wealth and charm. His parties are attended by hundreds and his name is known by all, including Wilson. Though Wilson was old, he was not stupid and knew full well where he stood in society. Once he snuffed out the life of the most powerful man, however, Wilson was nothing. In those...
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