How Myrtle is presented in chapter two of the Great Gatsby.

The first mention of Myrtle is when she is described as ‘Tom Buchanan’s mistress’, as if she belongs to a man and has no separate identity. This idea is reinforced when Tom says, ‘I want you to meet my girl‘, this highlights the idea that Tom also thinks that she is one of his belongings.

This presentation of Myrtle is significantly contrasted with the introductory description of Daisy and Jordan in another chapter. Myrtle is powerful, ‘thickish figure of a woman’, whereas Jordan, the Golfer, was the ‘balancing girl’, and Daisy’s description is almost vulnerable, which is shown through adverbs, ‘helplessly’, ‘languidly’, and, ‘absently’. Notably, when we are first introduced to Daisy and Jordan, they are the ‘only completely stationary object in the room’, whereas Myrtle tends to move around quite frequently. She is also presented to be feminine and seductive, words like ‘sensuous’, ‘smoldering’, ‘dark blue’, and, ‘slowly smiled’, are used. Essentially Myrtle is presented to be quite different from Daisy and Jordan.

Myrtle is introduced to be quite materialistic, ‘I want to get one of those dogs’, and she likes to have others buy things for her, in this case Tom. This quote also suggests that she’s impulsive, she doesn’t thoroughly think things through and neither does she consider the consequences of her actions, which is evident when Tom slaps her for saying ‘Daisy! Daisy! Daisy! I’ll say it whenever I want to!’ and during events towards the end of the novel. She is presented as a very active character which is unusual given her social and economic background. This is demonstrated through the use of active verbs, ‘she turned sharply’, ‘she let’, ‘she selected’, so she does a lot of things, which is again contrasted with Daisy and Jordan.

Fitzgerald uses her as a very fake character, ‘she changed her costume’, she likes to put on a facade. The word is used in a slightly derogatory way which implies that the narrator, or Nick as we know him, doesn’t like her. Also, ‘with the influence of the dress her personality had also undergone a change’, therefore it is heavily implied that she is trying to fit in because she knows that the real her isn’t socially accepted among the upper-class due to her economic background, thus her status.

Band given for this essay: Band 4.


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