Compare the death of Myrtle to the death of Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.
3 Answers | Add Yours
In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, both Mrytle Wilson and Jay Gatsby are victims of Tom Buchanan, the true villain of the novel who represents the careless recklessness of the Jazz Age. While Tom humors her with gifts, personal items, and a dog, Myrtle is deluded into believing he cares for her. But, when she mentions Daisy's name, he brutally slaps her. Tragically, she dies, too, in a brutal manner, a sacrificial victim to his excesses,
...kneeling in the street...her mouth wide open and ripped at the corners as though she had choked a little in giving up the tremendous vitality she has stored so long.
Rather than have his wife charged with this murder, Buchanan conspires with Daisy to let Gatsby take the responsibility. As the Buchanans in the house plan their strategy, much like Myrtle who is romantically deluded, Jay convinces himself that Daisy loves him and needs his protection as he watches solicitously outside the kitchen window as the Buchanan's conspire. However, Mr. Wilson, who has also been deceived by Tom Buchanan's machinations, makes Gatsby the sacrificial victim to the excesses of Tom Buchanan and Daisy as he believes that Gatsby is responsible for Myrtle's death. And, Jay Gatsby, too, dies brutally, sacrificed to illusion, face down in his pool, arms outstretched as though thrown from a cross.
There is also the factor of both the deaths being related to mistaken identities, though in different ways. Myrtle runs out into the street after the car because she thinks Tom is either driving it, or in it--she saw him in that car earlier in the day. Instead, Daisy is driving, with Gatsby as a passenger, and Daisy runs her down. Whether it is intentional on Daisy's part or not is one of the questions not answered.
When Wilson hears what car has run down his wife, he believes Gatsby was driving. He then goes to Gatsby's house and shoots him.
Both Myrtle and Gatsby die because the rich are different. Neither Tom or Daisy has ever taken responsibility for anything in their entire lives. Their money and social status protect them from the real world.
The lower classes, and in this case everybody else, are just chess pieces in their lives and easily sacrificed. Their emotions have been sanitized and they don't know what love is let alone how to feel or express it.
What Myrtle felt for Tom was real for her. She felt love and she felt pain.
Gatsby's love for Daisy was real for him. He was in love with an illusion of her that he had created but he felt the emotion, nevertheless.
Both were in love with illusions and both died as a result of getting in the Buchanan's way.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes