characters + theme of lonelinessHow can the theme of loneliness be applied to the other characters (excluding Gatsby) in the novel "The Great Gatsby"? (eg. Daisy, Myrtle, Tom, Nick, Jordan, George)...

characters + theme of loneliness

How can the theme of loneliness be applied to the other characters (excluding Gatsby) in the novel "The Great Gatsby"?

(eg. Daisy, Myrtle, Tom, Nick, Jordan, George)


Expert Answers
susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Look at the way each of the chapters ends.  I think you'll be surprised that each ends with Nick.  He is the one who is alone.  Take Chapter 1, for instance.  The last sentence reads, " When I looked once more for Gatsby he had vanished, and I was alone again in the unquiet darkness."  The next chapter ends with Nick alone at the Pennsylvania Station.  Chapter 3 ends with Nick declaring that he, unlike others, is the most honest person he knows.  You can continue in this way.  Nick does stand apart from the others.  He is the observer, the reporter, and ultimately the judge of the others.  He is among the glittering crowd but apart from them.  He takes part in the parties at Gatsby's, Mrytle's apartment, and at the Plaza Hotel, and yet he stands aloof.  He weakly tries to connect with Jordan, but he does not try to keep that relationship going and lets it die out.  He is, perhaps, in his own way as lonely as Gatsby.  Part of what causes his loneliness is sense of moral superiority.  It would be interesting to discover whether or not Nick is truly ethically superior to those around him or whether he perceives himself to be.  Nevertheless, the image we have of Nick, like Gatsby, is someone who stands apart from the rest.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I find Tom and Daisy to be two of the most lonely people in the world. It's interesting how in life people can be in relationships but be even more lonely than someone who truly lives alone. What do I mean by that? They know their marriage is a sham for at least the majority of the book. That creates a void for each of them. They live together as roommates and maybe go through the motions of a marriage, but they don't have an honest, committed connection with each other. They can't really talk to each other about true feelings because the lie of their relationship divides them. They look for other avenues to fill that void in their relationship. For Daisy it might be friendship with Jordan and New York trips and shopping. For Tom, we obviously see his alternative choice - an affair with Myrtle Wilson, who is also trying to escape a lonely marriage.

MaudlinStreet eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jordan is also truly alone in the novel. Nick describes her as "hard" and implies an indifference in her character. Certainly, by the end, it is clear that she does not care for anyone but herself. Nick's "careless driver" description is of course a metaphor for her relationships with other people. She uses them, and leaves them once she gained what she wanted. Her admittance that it's ok for her to be a "bad driver" since it's the responsibility of others to make sure they're driving safely, underscores the fact that she doesn't take into account the consequences of her actions. She feels others should look out for themselves, and nevermind what she does or says. Although she is engaged at the end of the novel, there's a knowledge that the marriage won't be one based on love and respect, but money and power.

lynn30k eNotes educator| Certified Educator

ALL of the characters, when you come down to it, are alone. None of them really connects with the others--not in any meaningful way. Gatsby tries--or so he thinks--to connect to Daisy, but he doesn't have a clue who she really is. Nick is summed up nicely in post number 2.  Myrtle and George are lonely in their marriage, and Myrtle and Tom have only one facet to their relationship. Tom and Daisy married for superficial reasons and don't tell each other what is really on their minds. Daisy doesn't even connect with her daughter, who makes the briefest of appearances and seems to be mostly a plot device to rock Gatsby's perceptions. I'd have to say that overall, loneliness is one of the major themes of the book--and it it brought home at the end when no one comes to Gatsby's funeral.

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

#2 makes a number of extremely valid points about Nick. Remember how the point of view of the novel fits in to this analysis. Nick is the unreliable narrator who is sojourning in a world that is not his own. He feels a kind of attraction to Gatsby and his world but seems to be repulsed by this world at equal turns. However, you are right in your question in identifying that in many ways all the characters in this whirlwind jazz-age world are lonely - money seems not to bring friends or happiness, but only appears to isolate us and remove us from each other.

Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm with #7.  The description of George as "mingling immediately with the cement color of the walls" is one of the saddest, loneliest lines in the novel.  This is exactly how Myrtle sees him and treats him--as part of the fixtures in a building she despises.  I'm equally dismayed by the fact that Daisy knew her husband was cheating on her on their honeymoon. In fact, everyone knew. Humiliation is extremely lonely. It really can't get much lonelier than being alone in a relationship meant for two. 

hadley818 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All though all of the characters are lonely in some way, Daisy and George seem to share a unique type of loneliness. They are both in loveless marriages. Daisy and Tom are alike but they don't seem to have true love for each other. George's love for Myrtle is not reciprocated. Daisy's and George's loneliness and longing for a connection show that the demoralization and social fragmentation of the Jazz Age affected all social classes, the rich and the poor.

user3994146 | Student

Gatsby is the mist lonely character in the novel, I say this because he might host all these huge parties with so many people but he is isolated and knows none of them.  

epollock | Student

Actually, loneliness is a subject and not a theme. A subject is a word while a theme is a sentence. The subject of loneliness appears often especially around the character of Nick, which the previous poster alluded to. People are often seen alone as a contrast to the many events in which people are together.

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The Great Gatsby

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