Great Gatsby Morally Ambiguous Characters
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a novel about a man named Jay Gatsby who is living in the era which Fitzgerald referred to as the Jazz Age. The story is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway who characterizes himself as, “one of the few honest people that I have ever known. ” Speaking of characterization, Fitzgerald writes masterfully to create morally ambiguous characters which have a huge impact on the story. Although George Wilson was morally ambiguous, Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby are examples of characters with more impact on the story which are also morally ambiguous.
Daisy Buchanan is a major example of a morally ambiguous character in the Great Gatsby. Daisy is introduced to the reader as Nick’s cousin who lives in East Egg. She is described as attractive and charming. Daisy’s voice is her best feature, and is described as, “a wild tonic in the rain. ” She is also described as vacuous by Fitzgerald. When the reader is first introduced to Daisy, they learn that her husband, Tom, is cheating on her and has a mistress in New York City. Fitzgerald writes the story this way to make the reader feel bad for Daisy, and to make her seem better than she really is.
Then Fitzgerald does something which makes the reader like Daisy even more, he introduces Gatsby and his love for Daisy. Gatsby had been waiting to meet with Daisy again for five years and he finally got the chance to when Nick arranges a meeting between them. The fact that he loves Daisy so much makes the reader think that she must be perfect or at the very least a good person. But Daisy is nowhere near perfect. She is cheating on her husband with Gatsby. Although this may be justified by Tom cheating on her. Then she runs over Myrtle Wilson and then just keeps driving without stopping.
Then she let Gatsby take the blame for Myrtle’s death and this led to Gatsby getting murdered by George Wilson. And after all of this, she doesn’t even bother to go to Gatsby’s funeral. Fitzgerald wrote this book brilliantly in the terms of how he tugged at the reader’s heartstrings and masterfully controlled the feelings of the reader about Daisy. At one point the reader might like Daisy, or feel sorry for her, or think she is a good person, but by the end of the book the reader might very much dislike Daisy and feel she is almost evil.
The readers thoughts about Daisy at the end of the book are summed up by Nick when he says, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made. ” This shows that Daisy is morally ambiguous in the story, and that has an impact on the novel as a whole. The fact that she is morally ambiguous proves one of the themes of the book which is illusion v. s. reality.
While Gatsby had been waiting to see Daisy for five years, his illusion of her was that she was perfect, and once he finally sees her again he realizes that she’s not perfect and that she is only a human. Nick notices this when he says, “There must have been moments even that afternoon when Daisy tumbled short of his dreams – not through her own fault but because of the colossal vitality of his illusion. ” Through this evidence, the knowledge can be gained that Daisy is a morally ambiguous character and that the fact that she is morally ambiguous is important to the book as a whole.
Another character who can be viewed as morally ambiguous who has a lot of interaction with Daisy is Jay Gatsby. The second example of a morally ambiguous character is Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is a very rich young man who lives in West Egg and throws amazing parties. Gatsby is the main character of the story and so naturally Fitzgerald would want the reader to like him and to make him seem like a good person. One way Fitzgerald does this is by telling the story of how Gatsby saved Dan Cody from crashing his boat.
Another way Fitzgerald does this is by having Gatsby devote his life to becoming rich so that he can marry the girl he loves, Daisy Buchanan, which is a noble cause. This is the main reason why he is the Great Gatsby, because he went after such a noble cause which was love. The only problem is that to be able to be with Daisy, Daisy has to cheat on Tom. And this is not exactly a good thing. Another way Gatsby could be viewed as bad is that the way he becomes rich is through illegal bootlegging. One last example of how Gatsby is portrayed as good, is that he took the blame for Myrtle’s death.
So there are examples of ways Gatsby could be identified as good or bad/evil, so he is morally ambiguous. This is very important to the story as a whole as it helped exemplify the theme that hope is a sustaining element for a person. Gatsby’s hope that he would be with Daisy was so strong that he didn’t care that he had to do bad things to achieve that noble goal as long as it was achieved. And that hope helped him to do things that he probably wouldn’t have done otherwise like bootlegging and helping wives cheat on their husband.
And this hope is symbolized by the green light on the end of Daisy’s dock. Gatsby’s moral ambiguity played a very important role in the novel as a whole and was used creatively by Fitzgerald to create a complex story with many themes. Overall, the morally ambiguous characters in The Great Gatsby like Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby played a significant role in the book as a whole and helped to establish the ideas and themes which Fitzgerald was trying to convey throughout the novel.