Character analysis of Myrtle Wilson The Great Gatsby

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Myrtle Wilson is a very important character in The Great Gatsby. Myrtle is, “in her mid thirties and faintly stout but she carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can" (29). She is the wife of George Wilson, who buys and sells cars for a living. They do not have a lot of money and Myrtle is extremely unhappy.

Myrtle is part of the lower class and does not have a lavish lifestyle like she wants. Myrtle never really loved George. She married him because she thought he was kind and a gentleman. She later found out how poor he was and says, “I thought he knew something…but he was not fit to lick my shoe” (39). This shows how important position in society is for Myrtle. She knew she had made a mistake in marrying him when she found out that he did not have enough money to own his own suit and had to borrow one (39).

She believes that because he is poor that he is worthless. Myrtle is involved in an affair with Tom Buchanan. Tom can provide her the kind of lavish lifestyle she does not have with George. They buy a dog together and a collar filled with diamonds. When George finds the collar he knows immediately that she is with another man because there is no way that she could afford it. Myrtle tries to explain but is locked up in the garage by George. While locked up in the garage, Myrtle wants to escape from her life with George. Her longing for wealth and a higher position in society ultimately lead to her death. When she spots the car that Tom had driven earlier that day, she sprints to it so that he can pick her up and take her away from her maniacal husband. Tom is not in the car and she is run over by Daisy (146). Myrtle’s death leads George to undertake the killing of Gatsby.

Myrtle never really loved Tom but just wanted his money. She called his house during dinner to talk to him without even thinking that he might get caught (20). She does not respect him at all except for when she wants something. When she and Tom are at the party at the apartment, she disrespects Daisy and Tom hits her in the nose. Myrtle only wants to get away from the poor life with George and live more luxuriously with another man. She hopes that someday that Tom will leave Daisy and they can live together. The nature of Myrtle Wilson is apparent at the party in the apartment. Even though alcohol is prohibited during this time, she drinks freely. She also says that when she first met Tom Buchanan, she was attracted to him by his suit. Myrtle says, “He had on a dress suit and patent leather shoes and I couldn’t keep my eyes off him” (40). Myrtle is materialistic and she was very impressed with the expensive suit Tom had on. This meeting made her think even less of George because he had to borrow a suit for their wedding.

Myrtle Wilson is a woman stuck in a bad marriage who can only think of the higher part of society. She wants to have a rich husband and an expensive lifestyle. Her dream of such a lifestyle eventually leads to her demise.

Fitzgerald, Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribners, 1925; New York: Cambridge UP, 1991. Novel.