Which of the main characters are dynamic and which are static in The Great Gatsby?  

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slcollins's profile pic

slcollins | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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I would agree that Tom, Daisy, Myrtle and Jordan are all static characters in the novel. Not a single one of them goes through any type of change. They are all portrayed as shallow, arrogant people who only think of themselves. That statement rings true until the very end of the novel for all four of them. An argument could be made for Gatsby also being static. He has gone through a big transformation, but that all happened before the summer of 1922 that Nick narrates for us. From the moment Nick meets him until that last day as he relaxes in his pool, he holds onto the hope that he can repeat the past and that Daisy will call. So that leaves Nick and George Wilson. Nick starts off the novel naïve and, as he tells us, one who reserves judgment. By the end of the summer, and into the fall after he returns to the city, he is much more aware of how shallow “those people” were and readily passes judgment on Tom and Daisy. George goes through a similar transformation. He is a weak character who can’t stand up to anyone, like Tom, at the start of the novel. By the end, though, he is determined and strong enough to murder a man and kill himself. 

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Static Characters:

  • Tom Buchanan-Daisy's extremely wealthy and arrogant husband does not change his attitude and views throughout the novel. He is callous, domineering, and angry during the entire story.
  • Daisy Buchanan-Nick's superficial cousin remains shallow throughout the novel and does not change her perspective of wealth and security. Although she attempts to regain a passion for life through her affair with Gatsby, she remains with Tom because he offers her security and money.
  • Jordan Baker-Daisy's close friend also remains shallow, cynical, and unattached throughout the entire story. Despite caring for Nick while they were together, she gets over their relationship quickly and moves on.
  • Myrtle Wilson-Tom Buchanan's mistress holds onto her dream of improving her life throughout the novel by attempting to leave her husband for Tom. Her views towards Tom and her aspirations do not change throughout the story.
  • Jay Gatsby-The protagonist of the novel does not change his feelings towards Daisy and remains optimistic about a future with her throughout the novel. Tragically, he never grasps the reality of Daisy's superficial personality and remains hopeful.

Dynamic Characters:

  • Nick Carraway-The narrator of the story moves from Minnesota to New York in 1922 to learn about the bond business. He is initially naive, open-minded, and tolerant at the beginning of the novel. As the novel progresses, Nick witnesses the superficial, dishonest lifestyles of the wealthy East Coast residents. By the end of the novel, Nick is repulsed by Gatsby's legacy, Daisy's relationship with Tom, and Jordan's dishonesty. After gaining valuable insight, he decides to go back home to escape from the shallow existence which is life on Long Island.
  • George Wilson-Myrtle's meek, faithful husband changes throughout the novel. For the majority of the story, George is a submissive, timid man who gets bullied by Tom. However, George becomes a dangerous person when he seeks to avenge his wife's death.
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