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The ways that relationships develop help us to understand a text’s important message

Relationships built on lies cannot last. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, ‘The Great Gatsby’, Fitzgerald helps his readers understand important messages through how he develops the relationships between Tom, Myrtle, Gatsby and Daisy. All of these relationships are built on lies and are linked to the message of appearance vs reality.

‘The Great Gatsby’ is set in New York during the 1920s American Jazz Age. There are three important relationships in the novel. The first is between Jay Gatsby - a millionaire bootlegger who pretends to be what he’s not - and Daisy Buchanan, an affluent spoilt woman and wife to the womanising Tom Buchanan. The second important relationship is Tom and Daisy’s toxic marriage, and the third is the affair between Tom and Myrtle Wilson - wife of the poor garage owner George Wilson, in the Valley of Ashes. All of these relationships are important because Fitzgerald is using them to demonstrate the lies at their hearts. They are all built upon lies and deception.

Gatsby is obsessed with Daisy because she represents his acceptance into old money, and his version of the American Dream. In the novel, Gatsby’s obsession is demonstrated through his change in manner, his decisions, and his actions. He bought his mansion intentionally across the sound from Daisy, just to be closer to her. Daisy is described to him as “… the first nice girl I have ever known…” after fondly remembering the brief summer they shared five years earlier before he was deployed into the military. However, the word ‘nice’ is not being used to describe her personality or attitude, its being used to describe her materialistically.

Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship is predestined to fail, this is because Gatsby isn’t really who he appears to be. He is merely the crushed dreams of a poor 17 year old James Gatz, who changed his entire persona and name to try to be accepted into society and old money. To Gatsby, Daisy is the missing piece to achieving his dreams. He sees her as more of an object than a human being. Fitzgerald is cleverly highlighting the message of appearance vs reality because it seems like Gatsby loves Daisy, but in reality he only loves what she represents and what she can give to him - status and acceptance into old money aristocracy.

Daisy is overwhelmed by Gatsby’s intensity - his opulence and great mansion. She realises, on some level, that she cannot match the fantasy expectations Gatsby has of her. At Gatsby’s mansion, Daisy sobs ‘Daisy bent her head into the shirts and began to cry stormily’ Fitzgerald successfully shows his readers that Daisy begins to understand that Gatsby doesn’t see her as a real flawed person, only a fantasy symbol. Gatsby’s expectations are unrealistic, he has no healthy understanding of Daisy or even what an authentic relationship is like, therefore, the reality will inevitably disappoint him.

Furthermore, Tom and Daisy’s relationship is also built on lies. They pretend to be important and have class, having been born into wealth, but in reality they live characterless and meaningless lives that only revolve around money. While Tom and Daisy seem to have an amazing marriage filled with happiness and luxury, it is actually filled with scandal and chaos. Even when Daisy was giving birth to their daughter, her husband was having an affair. “Tom was God knows where.” However, they stay together because they know they are the same - they both belong to the same class, worship money, and have affairs. Fitzgerald cleverly highlights their toxic relationship and the message of appearance vs reality by using the oxymoron, ‘it couldn’t be helped! cried Daisy with tense gaiety’ referring to Toms phone call with Myrtle. This shows that Daisy is pretending to be happy in her marriage even though she, and everyone, know about Tom’s affairs.

Daisy’s only experience with marriage is with Tom - a womaniser. Therefore, her view on what marriage should be like is distorted - she thinks all husbands have affairs and this is reflected when she talks about wanting her daughter to be beautiful so she can marry rich, but also to be a fool so she can remain ignorant of her husbands affairs. “ I hope she’ll be a fool - that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Fitzgerald is cleverly showing his readers that Daisy is a woman of her time and place. She is trapped in a time where money is the only important thing - she is trapped in her marriage because Tom provides the financial support she thinks she needs.

Fitzgerald successfully highlights the message of appearance vs reality because Tom and Daisy’s relationship is built on lies. On the outside, it look glamorous, but it is actually filled with affairs and a dysfunctional home life. Daisy will not leave Tom despite her unhappiness because she knows they are “cut from the same cloth”. They are from the same social class and Daisy would rather avoid having to live up to expectations and avoid scandal than be happy.

Finally, Tom and Myrtle’s relationship is also built on lies. Myrtle thinks she has taste and style and pretends she is “lording it up” - but the whole relationship between her and Tom is cheap, tacky, and low class. Just like Gatsby, Myrtle pretends to be what she isn’t in order to be better. By having an affair with Tom, she sees herself as a member of the “upper class”. However, she is a wannabe and fancies she is something special because she is having an affair with a rich man. However, the hotel room that her and Tom meet in is garnish and tasteless - symbolic of the sleazy nature of their relationship. Both Myrtle and Gatsby have been duped into believing that the only way to attain the the American Dream is to be rich and sophisticated. They believe that a relationship with someone from old money wealth gives them the same status.

Tom lies to Myrtle about what he can’t leave Daisy. “You see… it’s really his wife that’s keeping them apart. She’s a Catholic and they don’t believe in divorce.” However, Daisy isn’t actually Catholic, this is just an elaborate lie crafted by Tom to string Myrtle along. Their relationship is shallow and false - it has been doomed to fail from the beginning. Their relationship is symbolic of the unrestrained hedonism of society and the resulting corruption of the American Dream. It is empty and meaningless and revolves around instant gratification. Fitzgerald is referring to a higher moral law.

Ultimately; Gatsby, Myrtle, and George Wilson all die in the end at the fault of Daisy and Tom Buchanan. ‘Tom and Daisy were careless people - who smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money’ They both know they don’t have to face any consequences because they have the safety net of financial security and wealth to bounce back on. They are careless with their actions because of the lack of consequences they face in life. When Gatsby “loses” Daisy to Tom, he loses the drive for his life and all meaning. Daisy blames him for the death of Myrtle because she knows he will let her because of her status - this eventually results in his death. Myrtle loses her dream of being accepted into old money the same way, her relationship with Tom was doomed to fail from the beginning. Her dreams are left to die in the dust just like she does. ‘Myrtle Wilson, extinguished by death, knelt in the road and mingled her thick blood with the dust’. Fitzgerald cleverly uses the word dust to symbolise the death of dreams. George Wilson kills himself because his dreams have too, been destroyed. His wife has been killed at the hands of Daisy Buchanan - he has nothing to live for.

In conclusion, Fitzgerald helps his readers to understand the important message of appearance vs reality by cleverly developing the relationships between Gatsby, Daisy, Tom and Myrtle in ‘The Great Gatsby’ All of their relationships are built on lies and are shallow. They are ultimately predestined to fail because no relationship can last if it is riddled with lies and deception.

You have a lot of excellent evidence, a strong sense of author, and are responding directly to the statement - you have got this!

Good luck :slight_smile: