What are the similarities between Macbeth and Gatsby?

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the similarities between Macbeth and Gatsby is that they both want to vault beyond their current social position. Macbeth, tiring of only being Thane of Cawdor, slays the king to become the ruler of Scotland. Similarly, Gatsby wants to go well beyond his humble midwestern origins to become not only wealthy but an admired member of the upper crust on Long Island. 

Both Gatsby and Macbeth hit roadblocks while climbing the social or political ladder. Macbeth becomes overcome with guilt, and he is eventually slain by his political opponents. Gatsby is unable to really gain access to the upper class, and he too dies in his quest for social betterment. 

Another similarity between Macbeth and Gatsby is that they have problematic relationships with the women they love. Lady Macbeth urges Macbeth to kill Duncan, the king, and she eventually kills herself out grief and guilt. Gatsby has amassed wealth largely to please Daisy, but, even though she reunites with Gatsby, she has no intention of dedicating her life to him. In the end, even after Gatsby dies, she does not mourn him and resumes her life with her husband.