Imagine being new in town; everything around is foreign, new and fascinating. The people are all unfamiliar, but as they slowly start to become acquaintances, the realization that many of them live unhappy lives filled with deception and lies becomes evident. It is quickly proven that this is not a life that keeps people satisfied for very long, and more times than not, leads to horrible outcomes. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, lying and deception leads to the ultimate downfall of many characters. The first character encountered in The Great Gatsby that deals with lying is Daisy Buchanan.
Daisy is first seen in chapter one when Nick goes over to her house to catch up with her and her husband, Tom. Daisy is a woman of many emotions, who is never quite satisfied with what she has. She is also someone who tries to make everyone think she has a wonderful life when really she is far from happy with the life she has. “I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool- that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool was Daisy’s response to the doctor telling her that her newborn was a girl” (Fitzgerald 17).
This quote shows just how unhappy Daisy is with her life, and how little self-confidence she has. Daisy saw the life that she was living as a mistake, this mistake was made the day she married Tom. The day of her wedding Daisy received a letter from Jay Gatsby, the man she truly loved and ‘She began to cry- she cried and cried… She wouldn’t let go of the letter’ (Fitzgerald 76). Even before Daisy was married to Tom, she already had regrets about marrying him. She still loved Gatsby, but the pressures from her family to marry someone worthy and rich overbore the idea of her love for Gatsby.
Daisy lied to herself when she tried to believe she loved Tom enough to marry him over Gatsby. In a similar matter, Tom Buchanan’s downfall begins in the very first chapter of The Great Gatsby. This starts when he answers a phone call from his mistress in the middle of dinner, which causes a scene in front of his guests. Answering the phone call from Myrtle not only causes Daisy to rush in after him and become upset, but it also brings the affair to the attention of Jordan and Nick, who then look at Tom in a new and more judgemental way. Tom’s affair also causes him to lose important parts of his character.
This was exemplified by the situation at the party in New York when Tom breaks Myrtles’ nose for bringing up Daisy’s name, “I’ll say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Dais-” Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand’ (Fitzgerald 37). In trying to keep his two lives separate, his life with Daisy and his life with Myrtle, Tom is losing his integrity through lies and wrongful actions. To quote The Great Gatsby: The Limits of Wonder ‘This is a world of pretense, held together by vain hopes and a sense of self-worth that depends mainly upon a bigotry that can reduce others to a realm of inferiority’ (Lehan 93).
In saying this, he means to make a point that the life Myrtle and Tom try to live in their affair is a world where people only feel good about themselves when someone else is made to feel inferior. This way of living leads people down a terrible path which causes them grief in the end. The third character seen that surrounds themselves with a great deal of lying in The Great Gatsby is Jordan Baker. When first introduced, Jordan is just a friend of Daisy’s who is a golfer, and little else is known about her. As Nick and Jordan start to form a relationship, it is apparent that Jordan has a problem with lying.
Nick realized that she was never up front with him, and ‘She was incurably dishonest. She wasn’t able to be at a disadvantage and, given this unwillingness, I suppose she had started dealing in subterfuges when she was very young.. ‘(Fitzgerald 58). This quote means to say that Jordan lies about anything and everything, simply to put herself at the top, with the repercussions meaning nothing to her. ‘At Jordan’s 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…
A caddy retracted his statement and the only other witness admitted he might’ve been mistaken’ (Fitzgerald 57). Jordan lying about moving her ball in a tournament is the prime example of her lying leading to her downfall. If the two men who caught her in her lie not taken their statements back, Jordan would have been ruined. Further in the novel, it is learned that Jordan Baker instinctively avoided clever, shrewd men’ and that it was because ‘she felt safer on a plane where divergence from a code would be thought impossible’ (Fitzgerald 57-58).
Nick learns this about Jordan as he spends more time with her, and he starts to understand why she hangs about with people like Tom, Daisy, and Gatsby. She spends time with them because they would not ever question her morals and motives, and would never call her out on them. She feels safe and secure in her world where no one will make her responsible for her actions, her world of lies and deception. Throughout the novel The Great Gatsby, many small lies are encountered along with people who’s entire lives are full of lies. While it is true that other characters lied, no one deceived others to extent that Jay Gatsby did.
Jay Gatsby was a man with little morals, who never felt remorse for leading all of his friends around him to believe he was someone he was not. Gatsby knew who he wanted to be from a very young age, and never cared about what morals he would have to lose to get there. ‘The very vehicle for one who formed his ideals as a teenager and never questioned them again’ (Seiters 82). Jay was deceitful about his entire being, ‘The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island sprang from his platonic conception of himself (Fitzgerald 98).
As this quote states, Jay is a man who is entirely made up of lies in every aspect of his life. Gatsby lives a quiet and secluded life, but throws the largest parties in town, creating the illusion of a successful, happy and content man. Before he even appears in the novel, it is felt as though he known through the rumors that float around the town and through the air at his parties. The rumors that are flung around at his party vary from rumors of him killing a man to him being a graduate of Oxford. None of the rumors are confirmed or denied for any of the gossipers, because the elusive Gatsby never makes his presence known.
That is, until one night, Gatsby comes and befriends Nick. It is assumed this was just because he was being friendly. As the plot of the story develops, we realize this is hardly the case at all. Gatsby is an actor of sorts; he knows how to play people to get exactly what he wants from them. ‘Gatsby is a poseur in the most serious sense of the word, and his entire life was fabricated to bring him back to his past lover, Daisy Buchanan’ (Mitchell 63). In order to understand why Gatsby would go to such lengths to get back to Daisy, where he came from and where he is now must be examined.
To start off, the party goers and townsfolk are suspicious of Gatsby and his background from the very start. This is because no one truly knows where he came from. He tells everyone that he was an “Oxford man”, because it made him look prestigious and smart, when in reality he only stayed five months. He also leads Nick to believe that his family had died, and he came into the money that he possessed because of their passing. “”My family all died and I came into a good deal of money” (Fitzgerald 65). Gatsby would never admit that he met the man who he really inherited his money from while walking along the shore in Lake Superior.
This would mean admitting that the life he came from was not anything like he had said, and was not a life that would make him worthy of Daisy. ‘His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people—his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all’ (Fitzgerald 98). Daisy came from a wealthy family, who had high expectations for the man she would marry. Daisy herself carried these expectations, which led her to marry Tom.
When Gatsby found out about Tom and Daisy’s marriage, he made it his goal to get her back, no matter the cost. Jay’s determination o win back his girl is the choice that leads him to his eventual total self-destruction. First and foremost, Gatsby starts his mission to get Daisy back with buying a house right across the bay from her. A lie straight off that it was ‘coincidence that he lived that close to her. He then befriends Nick at his party, and eventually asks him through Jordan to arrange for tea with Daisy at his mansion. Before Daisy’s arrival, Gatsby hires a man to cut Nick’s grass, because he feels as though it looks shabby and bad. Everything has to look and be as good as it can be for Daisy, even if it’s fake.
After their initial greeting, Gatsby takes Daisy to his house to show off his giant rooms and luxurious wardrobe. Daisy is awestruck and impressed, the reaction Gatsby waited so long for, and he is satisfied. Daisy is wrongfully led to believe that this life is true and secure, not built upon lies and obsessions. ‘Gatsby had deliberately given Daisy a sense of security; he let her believe that he was a person from much the same status as herself (Mitchell 63). Gatsby lied to Daisy about everything he showed her, simply to trick her into thinking he was a man worth loving again.
Worse yet is that ‘Gatsby lies to Daisy without the slightest compunction because she is the idealized object of his projections and therefore not real (Mitchell 64). In this statement, the author means to explain to us that Gatsby does not love Daisy for who she is anymore. He does not even see her as a person, but as his goal and reward for completing his task. Finally, Gatsby has won Daisy back. Both of them ‘in love again, with Daisy giving more of her affection to Jay then her own husband. Tom notices Daisy’s recent taking to Gatsby, and he becomes upset and hurt.
Tom confronts Gatsby about what is going on between the two of them, which only leads to a fight with no resolution and Daisy admitting she never loved Tom. The events from the day out lead Daisy to go rushing back home distraught, but nevertheless, driving. Myrtle sees the car Daisy is driving and recognizes it from her times out with Tom. She rushes towards it, expecting Tom to slow down and stop to talk. It is not Tom driving, but Daisy who is distressed and not giving her full attention to the road. She does not see Myrtle coming, and she kills her.
The events following lead Wilson to finding out about the affair between Myrtle and Tom, and recognizing the car that killed Myrtle. George Wilson then makes a drastic and life altering decision to go murder Tom, who he is sure was the one to kill Myrtle. When Wilson shows up at Tom’s door, he says the car was not his, but Gatsby’s, and points him in the direction of Jay’s house. Wilson goes over, finds Gatsby, and ends both of their lives. Jay’s wonderful life, filled with happiness brought to him by lies and deception, dies at the hand of a man who had his own life destroyed by a lie.
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, lying and deception leads to the ultimate downfall of many characters. Daisy, Tom, Jordan and finally Jay Gatsby himself all live lives of deception and trickery, and none of them are ever happy. Throughout this novel, Fitzgerald made the theme of lying leading to unhappiness and the downfall of the characters one that stuck us all. This theme teaches us all that the way to be genuinely happy with who and what we are is to be truthful with not only those around us, but also with ourselves.