The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Compare and contrast the characters of Tom and Gatsby.

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Jasmin Ritchie eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Fitzgerald was clear in his intent when he developed the characters of Tom and Gatsby. At the time of their conflict both men are wealthy and while Tom's character clearly represents humanity interrupted and thus corrupted...by money and power, Gatsby's character resides in the realm that humanity still has the chance of remaining 'human' despite the money and power as long as there is goodness in the heart.  For Fitzgerald it is clear, Tom represents how the ends justify the means, Gatsby represents do the means justify the ends?...I think The Great Gatsby was Fitzgerald's way of holding a mirror up to anyone who read the novel, asking the readers to ask themselves...questions nobody really likes to answer.

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The differences between Tom and Gatsby are certainly obvious. Their similarities are more intriguing and interesting to contemplate. I've never given them much thought, really, but here goes.

  • Tom and Gatsby are about the same age (early 30s), as is Nick.
  • Tom and Gatsby are both...

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udonbutterfly | Student

Tom came from old money, he has been established in the world of wealth and status since his birth. Whereas Gatsby was a poor guy who acquired his wealth.

Tom also deals in a clean business as opposed to Gatsby who handles in illegal business such as bootlegging liquor. However both of these guys are obsessed with wealth. But Tom is obsessed with the wealth because of the power it gives him whereas Gatsby's obsession with wealth stems from him wanting to win the love of Daisy.

Both Tom and Gatsby also have a one track mind and only think of how things effect themselves. With Tom he only cares about pleasure and image he does no care whether it hurts Daisy. Gatsby only cares about getting Daisy back he does not care what type of situation it would put Daisy in.

Wiggin42 | Student

A similarity between the two is their obsession with wealth, maintaining their status in society, and the desire to have a perfect life. Tom and Gatsby both do despicable things to satisfy their selfish desires. They are both shallow people who care more about the shallow pleasures of life rather than any inward reflection.