In The Great Gatsby, how are Gatsby and Myrtle parallels? Consider the values, aspirations, and career of each in the story.

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missy575 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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These two are great to consider as parallels.

First, both want what they can't ever have. That which they both want happens to be attached. Although Gatsby wants Daisy and Myrtle wants Tom, Daisy's Catholic background prohibits a divorce. So a legitimate relationship for either pair is out of the question. Thus, Gatsby and Myrtle's continued faithfulness and devotion to their particular lovers will never get them the outcome they each are desperately searching for. The both travel on unattainable journeys.

Second, both look to materialism to fulfill their needs. This materialism is an avenue or tool to get to the relationship that they want to be in which, again, is unattainable.

In terms of career, neither have true careers. From our best guesses about Gatsby, we can read between the lines and assume he is indeed the bootlegger Tom pegs him to be. Myrtle, on the other hand, fulfills the role of a wife, but we don't even know how well of a home-maker she was because we only see the mistress in her character.

Each character is concerned with what others think of them and will go to great lengths to achieve approval.

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Hollis Sanders eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The first and most glaring parallel is that they are both obsessed with high society and the allure of the life that comes with it. Both of these characters wish to be among and surrounded by the elite, even if neither feels like they ever truly fit into that world. They are both trying to ensnare a particular member of that society. In the case of Gatsby, he seems to idealize Daisy, making her out to be everything that would complete him. In the case of Myrtle, she enjoys the comforts and material gains that are gifted to her by Tom.

Daisy and Tom are the footholds that Gatsby and Myrtle use, respectively, to cling to the world of high society. This is ironic because those two "footholds" turn out to be the two characters' undoing. Myrtle is killed by the driving of a hysterical Daisy, and Gatsby is killed by Myrtle's husband, who, due to Tom's lies, believed Gatsby was driving the car.

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