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In life, masks are used for a wide range of different things, whether it’s for a theatre production, to complete a Halloween costume for a costume contest or even just to try on in a store for fun. The thing about those masks is that they are visible, In Scott Fitzgerald’s book The Great Gatsby, the characters in the book put on masks, the difference is, is that these masks are not visible to others, and are used to conceal their imperfections. The characters that apply are three of the most obvious ones in the novel.
Myrtle Wilson’s character in the book is said to be one of the important characters. Myrtle is a woman in her “middle thirties, and faintly stout, but she carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can” (Fitzgerald 25). She’s not the prettiest or skinniest out of the characters in the book, but she likes to think she is. Myrtle is married to a guy named George Wilson, whom she is unhappy being married to, so the mask that Myrtle wears screens the discontent for her marriage. Before Myrtle had married George she had believed that George had money so that’s why she was going to marry him , but when she found out the truth that he didn’t have as much money as she thought, and that he had to borrow his tuxedo , it was too late to back out. Instead of expressing these emotions, Myrtle masks them by acting as if she’s content with her situation. By making herself feel better she is unfaithful to her husband and cheats on him with Tom Buchanan. Myrtle most likely does this because she wants people to think she’s wealthy, because Tom buys her all these expensive things.
Daisy Buchanan, whose husband is Tom Buchanan, is another person who wears a mask. Before Daisy married Tom she was in love with a guy named Jay Gatsby. When Jay went off to fight in World War I, Daisy had promised to stay and wait for him to comeback. Instead, she met Tom Buchanan, a very wealthy man and decided to marry him. The mask that Daisy wears hides the fact that she chooses to be married into money, and that her motivation for money is more important. Daisy strives to be high on the social ladder so if she is wealthy then people will think different of her. When Daisy and Nick Caraway are talking, Daisy says to him “You didn’t come to my wedding” Nick replies with “I wasn’t back from the war”. At that point, Daisy exclaims, “That’s true.” “Well, I’ve had a very bad time, “Nick, and I’m pretty cynical about everything” (Fitzgerald 16). When daisy reveals this, it seems like she claims she understands, but really she’s unsatisfied with such an excuse so another mask is that she no one really knows how she feels because she doesn’t really express it. The repercussions that Daisy faces is that instead of being with Gatsby , her true love she chooses to be with Tom for selfish reasons.
Jay Gatsby is a man who wears a mask the entire time up until his death. He’s is a man who has come into a “Great deal of money” due to his family dying (Fitzgerald 66). Being that Daisy Buchanan, the women he loved before the went to war left him for a wealthy man named Tom Buchanan, Gatsby wears a mask. Gatsby likes to flaunt his wealth by throwing large lavish parties at his mansion hoping that Daisy will attend one of them considering he happens to live across the water from her. Gatsby is so busy trying to impress Daisy that while he throws these parties, his behavior created gossip, which leads people to realize they don’t know much about him at all. We find out later in the book that Gatsby didn’t receive all his fortune from his family dying, that he actually accumulated it from organized criminal activity of all sorts. It seems like the whole time Gatsby’s hiding behind this mask he’s getting farther and farther from reality and his dream to win Daisy is probably not going to happen, because she’s not impressed.
Overall, Myrtle Wilson, Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby are three of the characters in the novel that put on false fronts in order to conceal their own imperfections, and they all suffer repercussions in one way or another. No matter if a mask is visible or not, they still hide true identity of a person.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print.
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