Minor Charactors, The Great Gatsby Essay, Research Paper
Wednesday, May 05, 1999
In the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the minor characters play an important role in
contributing to the plot, theme and give the reader an overall understanding of the novel as a whole. The
three most important minor characters in the novel are Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan?s secret mistress,
George Wilson, Myrtle?s husband and the owner of a run down garage on the side of the road leading into
the city, and finally Jordan Baker, an attractive young woman golfer who is a compulsive liar, she also
eventually becomes more and more involved with Nick Carroway, the narrator. All three of these characters
contribute a great deal to the novel as a whole. Though their parts are small, without them the novel would
not be the masterpiece that it is.
Jordan Baker is the minor character with the biggest part. she is seen very often throughout the
novel. Jordan Baker?s most striking quality is her dishonestly. She is tough and aggressive-a tournament
golfer who is so hardened by competition and because ot that she is willing to do anything to win. At the end
of Chapter III, when Nick is thinking about Jordan, he remembers a story about her first major tournament.
?At her first big golf tournament there was a row that nearly reached the newspapers-a suggestion that she
had moved her ball from a bad lie in the semi-final round. The thing approached the proportions of the
scandal-then died away. A caddie retracted his statement and the only other witness admitted that he might
have been mistaken. the incident and the name had remained together in my mind.? pg. 63. This incident
stays with the reader throughout the novel, reminding the reader (as it reminds Nick) that Jordan is the smart
but extremely dishonest new woman, the opportunist who will do whatever she must to be successful in her
Jordan Baker?s use in the novel helps Fitzgerald get the story told. Because she is Daisy’s
friend from Louisville, she can supply Nick with information he would not have otherwise. She also serves as
a link between the major characters, moving back and forth between the world of East Egg (Tom and Daisy’s
house) and West Egg (Gatsby’s and Nick’s houses). She is rich enough to be comfortable among the East
Eggers but enough of a social hustler to appear at Gatsby’s parties.
Jordan serves still another purpose, she is actually Nick’s girlfriend during the summer of 1922. The
Nick-Jordan romance serves as a good sub-plot to the Gatsby-Daisy relationship, and allows the reader to
compare and contrast the romantic-dream like love of Gatsby for Daisy to a very practical but weak
relationship created through Nick and Jordan. Fitzgerald brilliantly uses Jordan Baker to incorporate Nick
into the novel as more than the narrator but as a real person. Jordan is also used to show the contrast
between two different kinds of relationships, that of Gatsby and Daisy and Jordan and Nick.
Myrtle Wilson is another minor character that plays a great role in The Great Gatsby. She is the wife
of George Wilson. Myrtle is a very important character, because Fitzgerald uses her to help expose Tom?s
brutality and to show how Tom is a hypocrite. Fitzgerald uses Myrtle because it shows how Tom thinks of
her as one of his possessions, she is displayed openly to all of Tom?s friends and acquaintances and they all
freely accept her. Tom uses Myrtle for the fueling of his own ego because it makes him feel powerful and
The novel is propelled into excellence because of Fitzgerald?s ability to use Myrtle to help portray
Tom as an evil, brutal and hypocritical man. By incorporating Myrtle into the novel Tom becomes hated more
by the reader because he disapproves Daisy?s relationship with Gatsby but he feels that his relationship with
Myrtle is appropriate because Myrtle is nothing more than a possession to him.
Myrtle is basically confined to chapter II, except for when she is killed in the end of the novel. During
chapter II the reader finds that Myrtle?s one wish is to leave her class and to become on of the elite rich.
Myrtle obviously has the logic and morals to become one of the elite because she is obsessed with
appearances and unaware of the realities of life. Myrtle says that she married George ?because I thought he
was a gentleman…I thought he knew something about breeding but he wasn?t fit to lick my shoe.? (pg. 39).
Myrtle honestly thinks that she is above George and that he is so far below her because, in her mind, she is
one of the elite because of her relationship with Tom. In reality Myrtle is just another one of Tom?s
Fitzgerald uses Myrtle to show the reader how the disillusioned life of the rich is not confined to the
rich alone. Myrtle is from a lower class but yet she has shares the same perspective on life with Tom and
the rest of the rich. They all feel that money is their key to superiority. Though Myrtle is not rich at all she
feels that she superior to the world because she is connected to vast extensions of wealth through Tom. In
the end Fitzgerald shows the reader why he incorporated Myrtle into his novel. He used her to show Tom?s
brutality and hypocrisy, but Fitzgerald uses Myrtle for a deeper purpose. He questions the reader and the
reader?s morals directly and basically makes the reader question his/her own self worth. He asks the reader
?Do you feel above the world, because if you think that you are, you have already proven that you are not.?
George Wilson is the last major minor character in the novel. He is the husband of Myrtle Wilson
and in the end the murderer of Gatsby. Tom treats George in a very unique way. Though Tom is having an
affair with his wife he still makes regular contact with him. Tom?s attitude towards George is one of pure evil.
He treats George terribly because Tom feels that he is so far above him and that he can feel free to treat him
with as little respect as possible. Tom uses George as his own personal punching bag. This is seen when
Tom baits the poor George into believing that he wants to sell a car to him that in reality, Tom has no real
intention of selling.
Fitzgerald also uses George to show a love that Tom could never have. With out George in the
novel the joy of true love would not have ever been seen in the novel. Throughout all the relationships in the
novel only George?s love for his wife was true. Because of George?s love he was truly richer than Tom could
In the end it is seen why Fitzgerald used George Wilson in the novel. George has such a greater
spirit than Tom, and this just shows how Tom, along with the rest of the rich, are so confused as to how to go
about life. Fitzgerald shows the reader that George reacts to the loss of his wife with a show of grief that
reveals a love that is beyond Tom?s capacity. For Tom can not love because he is incapable of true love,
This is one of Tom?s greatest flaws, the closest thing to love for Tom is his love for his money. George
Wilson is used in the novel to show how deprived Tom?s life really is.
All three of these characters play such an important role throughout the novel. Though they are
considered minor characters, but without them, the novel would not and could not have had achieved the
level of greatness that it is known for. Fitzgerald brilliantly uses Jordan Baker to incorporate Nick into the
novel as more than the narrator but as a real person. Jordan is also used to show the contrast between two
different kinds of relationships, that of Gatsby and Daisy and Jordan and Nick. Gatsby?s relationship with
Daisy is one of false hope, a sort of unattainable goal that plunges Gatsby deep into self pity. The
relationship of Nick and Jordan is a more modern relationship, neither of them knows a great deal about
eachanother, yet they pursue each other purely out of physical attraction. In they end Nick does learn about
Jordan and the life she lives and he ends the relationship and Jordan appearance in the novel.
George Wilson played a key role in the novel as well. His purpose was to show the reader the life of
a working class man. George showed what life was like for a man who had to work for every penny that he
had. Though Tom feels that he is above George, in the end Tom is not. George showed a love that Tom
could never have. With out George in the novel the joy of true love would have not ever been seen.
Throughout all the relationships in the novel only George?s love for his wife was true. Because of George?s
love he was truly richer than Tom could ever be.
Finally, Myrtle Wilson, she was perhaps one of the most astounding characters in the novel.
Fitzgerald used her not only to make the reader hate Tom even more but to use her life and demeanor to
question the reader directly. Fitzgerald?s main goal, for the use of Myrtle, was to not so much to scare the
reader into questioning his/her own self worth, but to suggest to the reader that you do not have to blinded by
money to be disillusioned in life.
The three most important minor characters in the novel are Myrtle Wilson, George Wilson, and
Jordan Baker. All three of these characters contribute a great deal to the novel as a whole. Though their
parts are small, without them the novel would not be the masterpiece that it is.