Lies in The Great Gatsby

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  • 0:02 What Is a Lie?
  • 0:38 Tom's Lies & the Affair
  • 2:11 The Identity of the Other Man
  • 3:10 Daisy's Lie of Omission
  • 3:47 Gatsby's Lie about His…
  • 4:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natarielle Powell
In this lesson, we will analyze the many lies told in the classic novel ''The Great Gatsby''. Two characters lie to conceal their true identities and who really killed Myrtle Wilson, and another lies by simply keeping silent. Read on to find out more.

What Is a Lie?

The Great Gatsby is a classic novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and set in New York during the age of prohibition. The story is centered around the mysterious Jay Gatsby, who has a secret. Gatsby lies to keep his secret, and he is not alone.

Whether you choose to call it a fib or a fabrication, a lie is the intent to deceive others through actions or words. Three of the main characters - Tom Buchanan, Daisy Buchanan, and Jay Gatsby - are undeniably liars. Their lies conceal who and what they really are, and they end up bringing harm to the other characters as well.

Tom's Lies

Tom Buchanan is an old college chum of Nick Carraway, the book's narrator. He marries Nick's cousin twice removed, Daisy. Tom is also a sports fanatic and a real alpha male. He confides in Nick and trusts him with his true identity.

The Affair

Although Tom is married to Daisy and they have a beautiful little girl together, he lives with the lie that he is being faithful. Tom is having an ongoing affair with a fiery tart named Myrtle Wilson. She is the complete opposite of Daisy, who is prim and proper, classy, graceful, and fragile to an extent. Myrtle, on the other hand, is bold and sassy, sexy, talkative, and blunt to a fault.

Surprisingly, the other characters know about the affair, but they do not speak of it around Daisy. Although she is also aware of her husband's infidelity, she tries not to focus on it. With tenacity and sick boldness, Tom parades around as though he were a devoted husband, even when Myrtle interrupts the family dinner with a phone call.

One would think that Tom would be more discreet, but he trusts Nick enough to show him the real Tom Buchanan. With Nick he discloses his true identity and even takes him to his private apartment on the other side of town. Nick is especially surprised to be invited into such a confidence, but this is perhaps a plot to get Nick on his side.

Tom also presents himself as a faithful friend to Myrtle's husband, Mr. Wilson. He even patronizes Mr. Wilson's business and has a casual conversation about purchasing a car. All the while, he is clearly aware that the woman that he is sleeping with is this naive man's wife.

The Identity of the Other Man

After Myrtle dies, Tom puts on an appearance of concern for Mr. Wilson, only to try to find out if Wilson is aware that he (Tom) is the person Myrtle was having the affair with.

Oddly enough, Tom is not the only person who is having an affair. Daisy is having a captivating love affair with Jay Gatsby. The two were in a relationship years before Tom and Daisy married. Nick acts as a sort of matchmaker and gets Daisy and Gatsby back together. Surprisingly, Tom becomes furious with Gatsby, not Daisy.

Once Tom learns that Wilson does not know the true identity of the other man, he devises a plan to get rid of Gatsby without involving himself directly. Tom tells Wilson that Gatsby is the other man and seals the convincing lie with the evidence of the car that hit Myrtle.

Tom lies about Gatsby being the killer, and Wilson goes to the large mansion and shoots and kills Gatsby just before he shoots and kills himself. Tom's lie results in the loss of two lives.

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