Compare George Wilson and Tom. What did each man learn about his wife and how did they each react?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Wilson and Tom Buchanan are about as far as apart as it's possible for two people to be. George is a struggling small businessman operating a not very successful garage in the Valley of Ashes. He's a quiet, unassuming man without much ambition in life. He loves his wife, Myrtle, as we see from his reaction to her tragic death. But his relationship with Myrtle has an air of codependency to it. She's a much more dominant character, for one thing, and certainly a good deal more ambitious in life. She yearns for a gilded existence of lavish parties and fine clothes, a glimpse of which she gains due to her affair with Tom.

Tom Buchanan is a wealthy, dominant alpha male from a distinguished old money family. He's a bit of a bully and constantly needs to control and impose himself on those around him. He subscribes to the prevailing double standard in which it's considered fine for men to have affairs (so long as they don't get caught), but not women. So Tom, despite cheating on Daisy with Myrtle Wilson, is incredibly upset to learn that Daisy's been having an affair with Gatsby.

Tom treats both his wife and his mistress like dirt, whereas the meek, submissive George tends to put his wife on a pedestal. Each man also reacts differently when they find out that their other halves have been cheating on them. George's actions smack of desperation: hurriedly deciding to move out west and locking Myrtle in her room. Tom, on the other hand, with the arrogance and self-confidence of wealth and a good name, coldly and calculatingly sets out to wreck Daisy's affair by exposing the source of Gatsby's ill-gotten gains.

Ultimately, neither man has much respect or understanding for women. Both creatures of their time, they have a very narrow conception of what a woman's place in life should be. The difference lies in how they try to maintain control when the women in their lives start to challenge the roles they've been allotted by a male-dominated society. 

dneshan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tom Buchannan is a wealthy business man who comes from a well-to-do family from the MidWest.  He is married to Daisy and has a daughter yet seems to care little for them due in large part to the fact that he cheats on his wife with Myrtle, is physically abusive to his wife, and barely shows affection toward his daughter.  When Tom learned that Daisy was beginning a relationship with Gatsby, he found out as much information as he could about Gatsby and then called him out on all of the illegal things that he was into right in front of Daisy in order to ruin any possible relationship that Gatsby might have had with her.

George Wilson is a poor man who owns a gas station in the Valley of Ashes.  He is described in the novel as being "anemic" looking and "barely alive".  He seems to have no personality and does not even realize that his wife is having an affair until he finds a dog collar in her room.  When George learns about this affair, he decides they are going to move out west and then when he thinks that she was having an affair with Gatsby (and thinks that Gatsby killed her) he walks all the way to Gatsby's house and shoots him and then kils himself. 

These two men are similar in that they suppress their feelings for their wives until something goes wrong.  At that point, both men are then willing to fight for their wives and do what is necessary to get them back or get back at someone for hurting her. 

gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Wilson and Tom Buchanan are complete opposites throughout the novel. George is a poor, hard-working mechanic, who is relatively timid and submissive. George is also faithful to his wife and aims to please her the best he can. Unfortunately, George's wife, Myrtle, is unfaithful and has been cheating on him with Tom Buchanan. In contrast, Tom is a wealthy, arrogant man who continually cheats on Daisy and is portrayed as an ignorant, selfish person.

After finding a dog-leash, George is devastated to discover that his wife is cheating on him. He begins locking Myrtle in their apartment above the garage to prevent her from cheating on him again. Unfortunately,  Myrtle escapes from their apartment and is run over by Gatsby's car. Similarly, Tom reacts with anger and disappointment when he learns that Daisy is having an affair with Gatsby. Despite the fact that he too is unfaithful, Tom reacts by exposing Gatsby as a bootlegger. Essentially, both men are overwhelmed and take action to prevent their wives from cheating on them again.

robbaz12 | Student

you spelled kills wrong near the end. :)

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The Great Gatsby

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