Compare and contrast the behaviors of Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby.

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Tom Buchanan and Jay Gatsby behave in some of the same ways. Both spend money freely and live in luxury. Each man believes Daisy loves him, and each one opposes the other in order to keep Daisy for himself. Both Tom and Jay assert strong will to get what they want; neither will admit personal defeat. When they do argue over Daisy in the hotel suite, both men argue with vehemence; their behavior suggests a sense of controlled violence.

Contrasting their behavior is an easier task. Tom treats others with arrogance and cruelty; Gatsby is open to friendship, accepting people he meets at face value. Unlike Tom, Gatsby does not behave with a sense of entitlement since he has worked throughout his life, not having been born into a life of wealth and privilege. Tom behaves in a manner that is both violent and hypocritical. He condemns marital infidelity, for instance, while carrying on an affair with Myrtle Wilson. Unlike Tom, who broke Myrtle's nose in an explosion of anger, Gatsby remains in control at all times, even refusing to drink at his own parties to avoid the loss of control. Inventing a rich and romantic background for himself may make Gatsby a fraud, but he does not act like a hypocrite; he does not condemn others for the same actions he takes. A very important contrast can be seen in their relationships with Daisy. Gatsby pursues Daisy because he loves her deeply; Tom struggles to keep Daisy in their marriage because he can't stand the idea that someone could take away a possession that belongs to him.

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