The Great Gatsby Character Analysis
There are many themes and symbols in the famous American novel, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. For my project, I’m focusing on the themes of ignorance, destructivity, dishonesty, and the privileges of the wealthy. I decided to represent some of these themes on costumes that the characters would wear in the story.
For the first character, I chose Jordan Baker. It is known to us as the readers that Jordan is a dishonest, ignorant, and selfish person. At the beginning of the novel we find out that she once cheated on her golf tournament, Nick analyzes her character in chapter 3 saying, “She was incurably dishonest,” and that “She wasn’t able to be at a disadvantage…” (Fitzgerald 59). I came to realize after reading this chapter that Jordan baker’s dishonesty stems from insecurity and narcissism, she “instinctively avoided clever, shrewd men... she felt safer on a plane where any divergence from a code would be thought impossible.”(Fitzgerald 57-58). To portray her colors on her dress, I created a gradient of yellow to orange and added a white fur boa to her shoulders. The yellow represents dishonesty and apathy and the orange represents supremacy and insecurity. I specifically placed the orange to the bottom of the dress as the “roots” to her surface character. The real fur boa is the privilege and ignorance she wears as a wealthy golf athlete that stands above the poor. I was also inspired by the “flapper” fashion and applied it to her dress because her personality reflects the energetic and reckless attitudes of the flapper women in the 1920s. I think this dress accurately represents Jordan’s character and her psychology and accentuates important themes such as dishonesty and privilege.
The second character I chose was Daisy. Daisy is introduced as fragile, shallow, and materialistic. She had little to no power as a woman and believes that the best thing a girl can be is “a beautiful little fool.”(Fitzgerald 17). She was also shallow and mostly liked Gatsby for the power and money he had. For her dress, I gave her a real fox fur scarf and hat, a sheer gold shawl, and pearl necklaces over a white dress. The gold shawl is The fox fur was the big statement piece of the whole outfit, it represents the death of another creature for the advantage and comfort for another, just like when she abandoned Gatsby for a vacation with her family. The golden shawl represents a barrier that separated Daisy and younger Gatsby, he felt as if she was unattainable because he was poor and believed “he had no real right to touch her hand.” (Fitzgerald 149). Under all of her accessories, I designed her a white dress with pearls sewn in. To Daisy, pearls were a symbol of her marriage to Tom, and them being sewn onto her dress means that she is now tied to him forever. The white of her dress was to signify her indecisiveness between Tom and gatsby, her innocence, and carelessness. The dress and jewelry on her personate her social status, privilege, and wealth she has in this novel.
The last character I chose was Myrtle Wilson, the mistress of Tom Buchanan and the wife of George Wilson. Myrtle is a flamboyant and impulsive character that just wanted to live a better life. It is shown in the novel that the reason Myrtle married George was “because [she] thought he was a gentleman”(Fitzgerald 34) and says “The only crazy I was was when I married him. I knew I made a mistake. He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get married in…”(Fitzgerald 35). Myrtle is actually very similar to Daisy, they’re materialistic and shallow, they’re connected to Tom, and are tolerant to aggression from men. They’re so similar but the difference is that Myrtle is poor and Daisy is wealthy, this comes back to the theme of privilege where Myrtle has a different ending from Daisy’s even though both have similar characteristics. I tried to tie this theme to her accessories, so I gave her a fur coat symbolizing her benefits of being with Tom and a large hat with a feather to symbolize “a blindspot” or her ignorance of Tom’s abuse and her affair. For her dress, I chose purple, pink, white, and hints of green. The purple represents her immature and arrogant personality, the pink for her emotional and romantic personality, white for her innocence, and finally green for her desperation and envy. The green represents her desperation to escape the Valley of Ashes and her jealousy of Daisy Buchanan. I specifically chose white because although Daisy was having an affair, she did not deserve a tragic death. On the bottom of her dress, I added fake pearls which signify her affair with Tom and her social status. I think Myrtle is an interesting character that can be compared to Daisy, her character portrays the theme of the rich vs poor and privilege.
Many characters in the novel The Great Gatsby portray the privilege, dishonesty, and ignorance in the American dream. Daisy and Jordan are very privileged with wealth which contrasts with Myrtle who lives in the Valley of Ashes, Jordan is dishonest and lies to succeed, and all of the characters are blind and ignorant of their surroundings. I think it’s important for readers to reflect on the destructivity of entitlement, ignorance, and dishonesty in today’s America.