The Great Gatsby Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby book cover
Start Your Free Trial

What is a comparison/contrast between Myrtle Wilson and Daisy Buchanan from F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby?

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write10,191 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

While Myrtle Wilson and Daisy Buchanan occupy completely different social classes, both characters share similar personality traits and values. Both women are portrayed as superficial, selfish individuals who cheat on their husbands and value material items. Myrtle Wilson carries on an affair with the wealthy Tom Buchanan in hopes of one day marrying him, while Daisy carries on an affair with her former lover Jay Gatsby.

In addition to carrying on extramarital affairs and committing adultery, both women are egotistical and selfish. Myrtle completely neglects her husband's feelings and assumes a supercilious personality while entertaining guests at Tom's downtown apartment. Similarly, Daisy dismisses her duties as a mother and wife when she cheats on Tom and completely rejects Gatsby after she discovers that he is a bootlegger. Daisy also demonstrates her selfishness by allowing Gatsby to take the blame for Myrtle's death and does not even attend his funeral.

One could also argue that both women are insecure and delusional. Myrtle resents her lowly social status and views Tom as her ticket to becoming a member of the upper class. However, she neglects to recognize the reality of the situation and acknowledge that Tom has no intention of leaving Daisy. Similarly, Tom's infidelity enhances Daisy's insecurities, but she refuses to recognize that her affair with Gatsby will not improve her life.

Despite their similar character traits and values, Myrtle Wilson and Daisy Buchanan have many differences. Both women hail from different backgrounds and occupy different social classes. Daisy hails from a wealthy family and is considered an elite member of the upper class, while Myrtle occupies the lower class. Daisy also married an affluent, bold man, while Myrtle married George, who is lowly, timid, and unsuccessful. Daisy is fortunate enough to live in the East Egg while Myrtle resides in the Valley of Ashes. Daisy also carries herself with grace and elegance. She is known for her seductive voice, while Myrtle is known for her vitality and sensuous body. Myrtle is also depicted as being more desperate than Daisy, which is illustrated when she attempts to stop Gatsby's car in the middle of the road. In contrast, Daisy is perfectly content enjoying her privileged lifestyle and knows that she can always fall back on her money if necessary.

mwestwood eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2006

write16,150 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Although they are from entirely different socio-economic class and they differ in personalities, Daisy Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson do share certain interests, as well as some personality traits.

Similarities

  • Both Daisy and Myrtle have relationships with Tom Buchanan, and neither really loves him. Their individual personalities are lost to social ambition.
  • Both women are materialistic - Daisy marries Tom because he gives her a $350,000 pearl necklace; she buries her face in Gatsby's many shirts and exclaims, 
    "They're such beautiful shirts....It makes me sad because I've never seen such beautiful shirts before."

    Myrtle likes how Tom buys her a dog and fancy collar for it; with Tom she has lovely dresses that she changes into in New York and goes to places with him that she could never go with her husband George Wilson.
  • Both women are concerned about their own self-interests - Daisy enjoys her tryst with Gatsby, but when he takes her affections seriously and confronts Tom, telling him, "She doesn't love you," Daisy backs down, telling Gatsby, "Oh, you want too much." For, she does not want to lose Tom's wealth and position.
  • Both women are unrealistic - Myrtle thinks that the only reason Tom has not married her is because Daisy is Catholic as this faith does not recognize divorce (but Daisy is not Catholic). She argues with Tom in her effort to get him to marry her, believing he loves her, but Tom becomes angry and punches her in the nose. Daisy is unrealistic about her relationship with Gatsby, reveling only in his attentions and the excitement of their illicit relationship.
  • Both women are selfish - Myrtle never considers the feelings of George when she goes with Tom to New York and various places. Daisy is not willing to leave Tom Buchanan for the love of Gatsby. Furthermore, she conspires with Tom to protect herself after hitting Myrtle. "Careless people," they let Gatsby take the blame for Myrtle's death.
  • Both women are amoral - They are only concerned with the satisfaction of their own desires, and will do whatever satisfies these desires. 
  • Both women are superficial - Daisy does not concern herself with the feelings of others, nor does Myrtle.

Differences

  • Myrtle becomes a tragic figure as she tries to transform herself in Tom's world. Daisy, on the other hand, enraptures men with her "voice that sounds like money" and her diaphanous nature that makes her seem vulnerable. Later, she becomes heartless and self-serving after running over Myrtle.
  • Daisy is jaded: "I've been everywhere...." One day she asks, "What will we do with the rest of our lives?" as she has become bored with living. Nick remarks, "I felt the basic insincerity of what she said." On the other hand, Myrtle exhibits "an immense vitality"; it is "as if the nerves of her body were smoldering."
  • Daisy has some sophistication; Myrtle has none. Myrtle has the scandal magazines on her coffee tables; she speaks of things not talked about in certain circles.  
Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial