These two women focus solely on their possessions and social status, ignoring the harsh realities that surround their socially diverse lives. Although Myrtle yearns for a wealthy lifestyle, she cannot escape her life of poverty and unfortunate. On the other hand, Daisy yearns for love, but she cannot escape her life of wealth and the luxury it provides her. Though their lives are polar opposites, Myrtle and Daisy are trapped by their dependency on wealth and living in society upper class. Although Myrtle possesses a fierce personality and is desperate to improve her social situation, she is trapped by her impoverished lifestyle.
She resides in the Valley of Ashes, a long stretch of land between East Egg and West Egg created by the dumping of industrial ashes. Nick Caraway portrays the valley of ashes as foul and desolate land when he says “The valley of ashes is bounded on one side by a small foul river, and when the drawbridge is up to let the barges through, the passengers on waiting trains can Signet 2 stare at the dismal scene for as long as half an hour” (Fitzgerald 28). Nick’s representation of the valley of ashes symbolizes absolute poverty and hopelessness.
The lower classes that inhibit this region, such as the Willow’s, all want to leave but cannot due to their poor financial state. Myrtle was not raised into wealth and is married to a man who makes very little income, which is why they live among the dirty ashes. Nick describes the setting of her husband’s workplace as a deteriorating place amongst the depressing state of the valley itself. He says, “The third was a garage- Repairs. GEORGE B. WILSON. Cars Bought and Sold- and I followed Tom inside. The interior was unprocessed and bare; the only car visible was the dust- overfed wreck of a Ford which crouched in a dim corner” (29).
Nicks physical description of George’s gas station is an indication of Myrtle’s poor living environments and her inability to leave her husband. She does not experience the wonders of being rich, for her husband owns a run-down gas station and makes very little money to support her. Myrtle possesses a fierce vitality and desperately looks for a way to improve her situation. She has an affair with Tom Buchanan, a wealthy married man who lives in the East Egg. Nick learns more about the affair when he as a conversation with Myrtle’s sister, Catherine, mesh really ought to get away from him,’ resumed Catherine to me. They’ve been living over that garage for eleven years. And Tom’s the first sweetie she ever had” (39). Myrtle looks to Tom to rescue her from the poverty in which she has lived in for the majority of her life. She would do anything to inherit some sort of wealth. When she is around Tom, she is much more arrogant and tries to live the typical snobby lifestyle. Signet 3 Myrtle feels tied to a husband she feels is dull and lifeless. She is also tied to his uncial state, which makes it extremely difficult to escape her life of poverty. Daisy is a beautiful young woman who is in love with money, ease, and material luxury.
She lives in the East Egg, which represents the old aristocracy. Nick describes her and her husband’s home as luxurious and high end. He says, “Their house was even more elaborate than I expected, a cheerful red and white Georgian colonial mansion overlooking the bay’ (11). Nicks representation of their home demonstrates how the East Egg is associated with the Buchanan and the monotony of their inherited social position. Daisy grew up in a wealthy family and resides in the aristocracy of the East Egg, so wealth is all she has known all her life.
She is married to an immensely wealthy man named Tom Buchanan. Tom has old money, meaning that he inhibited his fortune from his family wealthy background “His family were enormously wealthy- even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach” (11). Tom is a powerfully built man who comes from a socially solid old family. Daisy is blinded by his wealth and the financial ease he provides her, which makes it easy for Tom to manipulate her into staying with him. She is a careless arson who smashes things up and retreats behind her money (154).
Nick expresses his feelings towards Daisy when he says, “She wanted her life shaped now, immediately- and the decision must be made by some force of love, of money, of unquestionable practicality- that was close at hand” (159). Daisy proves her real nature when she chooses Tom over Gatsby, then allows Gatsby to take the blame for killing Myrtle even though she herself was driving the car. Signet 4 She was born into an upper class home and acts out the role of the wealthy wife. She never leaves her world of privilege to visit other ways of being.
Although the women’s standing in society is vastly different, they share many similarities. Both Myrtle and Daisy carry on affairs. Daisy has an affair with Gatsby, who she had been in love with five years ago “Then he kissed her. At his lips’ touch she blossomed for him like a flower and the incarnation was complete” (117). On the other hand, Myrtle has an affair with Daisy’s husband, Tom. Nick observes this obscure love triangle while he is in George’s gas station with Tom and Myrtle “A white ashen dust veiled his dark suit and his pale hair as it veiled everything in the vicinity- except his wife, who moved close to Tom” (30).
Both women are desperately unhappy with their personal lives, which is why they have affairs with people that are not their husbands. Daisy is like Myrtle in her feeling that she is tied to a marriage that is not fulfilling. Both women are in love with materialistic things. Daisy marvels over Gatsby golf shirts when she visits him in his home “It makes me sad because Vive never seen such-such beautiful shirts before” (99). For Daisy, the shirts represent wealth and means. When she bows her head and sobs into the shirts, she is displaying her interest in materialism.
She doesn’t cry because she has reunited with Gatsby, but because of the pure satisfaction all his material wealth brings her. Myrtle asks Tom to buy her a dog, a possession that her own husband could not afford ” ‘l want to get one of those dogs’ she said earnestly. ‘l want to get one for the apartment. They’re nice to have- a dog” (31). Tom provides Myrtle with the kind of lavish lifestyle she does not have with George. She marvels when he buys her a dog and a collar filled with diamonds. Signet 5 Lastly, both women are drawn to Tom because of his wealth.
When Myrtle talks about err first encounter with Tom, she describes a physical attraction to his expensive clothing, “He had on a dress suit and patent leather shoes and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him” (40). On the other hand, Daisy’s mere attraction to wealth is truly revealed when Gatsby says to Tom “She never loved you, do you hear? She only married you because I was poor and she was tired of waiting for me” (130). Tom comes from great wealth and a high-class family, which is alluring to both Myrtle and Daisy. Myrtle is used to living a middle-class lifestyle, so she enjoys indulging in the half of her double life with Tom.
Daisy ultimately chooses Tom over Gatsby because she feels secure behind his money and the life she has lived with him thus far. Both women are very much alike in their infidelity, attachment to materialistic values, and false sense of hopelessness. Although their lives are different in about every way imaginable, both Myrtle and Daisy yearn for a lavish lifestyle and to live in society upper class. Fitzgerald uses the female characters of Daisy and Myrtle to convey the different social standings in the twenty because they are so diverse. Myrtle comes from a lower middle class upbringing.
She is very poor and lives in a modest apartment above the garage her husband owns. On the other hand, Daisy has always had money and would not know how to live without it. However, these two women are very much alike in the sense that they are both selfish and weak minded when it comes to money. They see money as a gateway to a life of eternal happiness, which is why they are attracted to Tom’s wealth. Their attachment to materialistic values and their ignorance towards others demonstrate how Signet 6 these women are disillusioned by the inheritance of wealth in place of individual happiness.