What is Myrtle's goal in The Great Gatsby?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Myrtle Wilson is unhappy with her life, to say the least. She detests her husband, feeling nothing but contempt for George and his economic circumstances. George was poor when she married him (although she didn't realize it, apparently), and he has remained poor in spite of hard work during their marriage. Myrtle sees George as being stupid: "He's so dumb he doesn't even know he's alive." George is trusting and easy to fool.

When Myrtle meets Tom Buchanan on the train, she takes up with him immediately and begins a sexual relationship that turns into an affair of some duration. Tom arranges for an apartment in New York where they can meet. He buys her nice clothes. They entertain friends, including Myrtle's sister Catherine. Myrtle sees Tom as her ticket out of her marriage and the shabby apartment over the garage where she lives with George.

Myrtle's goal, simply put, is to escape her marriage and the stifling life she leads. She wants wealth and glamour and some excitement. She wants to marry Tom Buchanan and become a rich man's wife. Catherine confides in Nick that Tom would marry Myrtle except for the fact that Daisy is a Catholic. This is obviously a lie Tom has told Myrtle to kill any talk of marriage.

Myrtle's goal--her dream--is impossible, just as Gatsby's dream is impossible.In many interesting respects, Myrtle Wilson and Jay Gatsby are character doubles; the parallels between them are striking.

 

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The Great Gatsby

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