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Jay Gatsby & Tom Buchanan: Compare & Contrast Essay

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Updated: Nov 13th, 2021


In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald pays attention to the relationships between both Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan and Daisy Buchanan. The expression of love for Daisy, as portrayed by Gatsby and Tom, are somewhat different. However, both of them are in dire need of owning the woman, which makes them quite similar. There are many similarities and differences shared by the two men in an equal measure.

Jay, Tom, & Daisy in The Great Gatsby

Scott Fitzgerald’s book is mainly focused on the relationship of Daisy with Gatsby and Tom, with particular attention paid to similarities and differences between the two men. The features they have in common and differ in eventually influence the woman’s choice regarding whom to choose to build a relationship.

Tom and Gatsby are similar in several ways. The similarities involve both the men seeking to have total control of the woman. Moreover, they are prosperous and hostile towards each other. Both men want to achieve financial success. They consider their upper-class status in society to be of great significance. At Yale, Tom shows off his wealth by riding high-class cars.

The urge for more money and wealth is evident in Gatsby when he quits his job as a janitor. He considers the janitorial job humiliating and opts to get into organized crime to make more money. Both men love Daisy dearly so they can do anything to have her for themselves. Gatsby works hard for Daisy’s love and uses even illegal means to become rich to make him likable. Gatsby willingly takes the blame upon himself when Daisy kills her husband’s mistress while driving his car.

Their dislike and hostility for each other is another apparent similarity shared between the two. At the Plaza hotel, the two men involve themselves in a fight, which illustrates their dislike for each other. Their faults come out during the argument to the surprise of their close friends who are there. The two also hurl insults at one another. For instance, Tom shouts, “I suppose the latest thing is to sit back and let Mr. Nobody from Nowhere make love to your wife” (Fitzgerald 137).

More about The Great Gatsby

Even though Gatsby and Tom are similar in many ways, they are also different. First, Tom comes out to be brutal, though he has a powerful personality. Tom also resides at “East Egg” with people having old money. He went to Yale, and as a young boy, Tom did not have to work to earn a living since his parents were wealthy.

He uses extravagant things and lives lavishly to show off his wealth. He is shallow, cold-hearted, and does not care for other people. His carelessness comes out clearly at the time Tom “smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into money” (Fitzgerald 187). What he feels for Daisy is not real love; it is instead a possessive kind of feeling.

It appeals to his pride that he can play with Daisy’s feelings. He does not even try to win her love, as shown by his lack of effort and determination. Whenever they are together, Tom does not show any romance to Daisy since he always has greed. Tom rarely gets disappointed because he has a realistic view of life. These features of his character are clear to the reader, and they indicate the unique characteristics of Tom as compared to Gatsby.

On the other hand, Gatsby differs from his counterpart Tom in different ways. Gatsby has a kind and passionate personality. This is clear when Gatsby lets people he does not know to attend joints at his home. Gatsby resides in West Egg, a place with people having new money.

Gatsby comes from a humble background, “his parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people” (Fitzgerald 104) in North Dakota. He had to struggle to ensure he finished college. Jay is a big-hearted individual and has a loyal personality with a sincere love for Daisy. He dreams of her genuine love.

He shows his readiness to do whatever it takes to make Daisy fall in love with him. Daisy’s desire becomes the principal motivation for Gatsby as he tries to get rich. Due to his sincere and strong feelings to Daisy, he refers to her as the Holy Grail. He attempts to win her love by “committing himself to the following of a grail” (Fitzgerald 156). Daisy cares more about wealth than romance. For this reason, she chooses Tom over Gatsby. Coupled with Gatsby’s unrealistic view of life, this makes him disappointed.


Both Tom and Gatsby share several similarities and differences in equal measure. The differences cause a significant fight in the end that shutters Gatsby’s lifetime dream. Due to this fight, it becomes clear how the disagreement between personalities can result in detrimental outcomes. Such an example calls for everyone to embrace one another and appreciate the shared differences for the greater good.

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, Scott F. The Great Gatsby. London: Urban Romantics, 2012. Print.

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