In the Great Gatsby the three main characters Jay Gatsby, Tom and Daisy Buchanan symbolizes the evils that changed how Americans went about achieving their dreams of money, wealth, and happiness. With the ending of World War 1, the rise in the stock market, and the band on alcohol between a younger generation and old wealth created society hungry for money and materialism. In their desperate attempt to achieve happiness they become lost in their efforts and their lives end in tragedy. In Daisy’s desperate attempt to achieve happiness, she becomes lost in her effort to be loved. Daisy wore many masks to hide her feelings of loneliness’ and her desperate desire to be loved. She often appeared superficial and suspicious towards others. Daisy was deeply in love with Gatsby, however, couldn’t wait for him to return from the war and marries Tom Buchanan instead. It’s only when she discovers Tom is having an affair with a married woman named Myrtle Wilson that she realizes she should have waited for Gatsby. Daisy feels trapped. Her husband treats her like a possession and tries to control her. Her marriage prolongs her desire for wealth and status in a society that is accustomed to privileges. Daisy also realizes how deeply Gatsby feels about her when he takes the blame for killing Myrtle when in reality it was Daisy who carelessly hit her while driving his car. In the end Daisy never discloses her love for Gatsby despite Tom’s suspicion. When Gatsby dies she doesn’t even attend his funeral and instead disappears from society with Tom and their daughter.
Gatsby wears a similar mask in his quest for happiness and instead gets caught up in crime and an early death. All the people he lavished his wealth upon don’t even attend his funeral and the woman he loves (Daisy) remains loyal to her unfaithful husband, Tom. Gatsby never discloses how he attained his money. Instead he bragged he was born into wealth. As a result Gatsby gets caught up in a social society that thrives on being identified with the rich by throwing lavish parties at his home with the well-groomed yard and an endless supply for alcohol. Like Daisy, Gatsby went in search of happiness believing money and status was the answer. He gets himself involved in crime to make sure he has an income. In his disparate attempt to win Daisy’s love he takes the blame for killing Myrtle Wilson. In the end, he loses his life. Myrtle’s husband shoots him believing he was responsible for his wife’s death. Only a few people including his father attends Gatsby’s funeral. His father is proud of his son’s accomplishment of wealth yet sad to realize it was Gatsby’s money that everyone cares about not his character.
In Tom’s careless attempt to define his character, he becomes a victim as a consequence of his own failures. Born into wealth Tom is arrogant, self-righteous, and lacking in morals. He believes his status gives him a certain power especially over woman. Tom’s affair with Myrtle and his womanizing clearly define his despicable nature. Myrtle, the wife of Wilson lives in the Valley Of Ashes, An impoverish area outside of New York City. Tom conducts this affair however, in New York City where it’s more acceptable. Tom can also be characterized as hypocritical. He allows himself so have an affair but feels victimized upon learning that his own wife is in love with Gatsby. Tom hides behind his money as a way to protect himself from the evils in society and the consequences of his own behavior. He takes no blame or responsibility for neither Myrtle’s death nor even his affair with Myrtle. He was found to be eating chicken dinner with his wife soon after Myrtle’s death. If he confronted Daisy about her love for Gatsby or her involvement with Myrtle’s death would unmask their emotions and serve no purpose for two people who are not capable of dealing with remorse.
All though Tom and Daisy were able to pack up and move their lives to an undisclosed location it can be assumed they secretly believed they were responsible for Myrtle’s death. Their money allowed them to escape but it never gave them the happiness that they were searching for. Gatsby, however, tragically lost his life and the true happiness he desired. All three main characters Jay Gatsby, Tom and Daisy Buchanan symbolize the failure to achieve the loss of the American Dream.