Myrtle Wilson as the Wasteland Figure in the Great Gatsby

1597 Words7 Pages
30 November 2007 Myrtle and Fitzgerald's Wasteland Myrtle Wilson is Fitzgerald's vessel for illustrating the modern wasteland. His conception of the wasteland as an unavoidable, vulgar part of the 1920s society is parallel to his characterization of Myrtle as an unavoidable, vulgar character that refuses to be ignored. He uses her to point out what he sees as the faults of modern society. Myrtle is materialistic, superficial, and stuck living in the physical wasteland referred to as "the valley of ashes." Fitzgerald uses her to portray the social wasteland, particulaly the growing materialism and superficiality of modern society. He makes a huge statement about the repression of the impoverished by the upper-class in the modern wasteland…show more content…
Fitzgerald is showing the shallowness, absurdity, and stupidity of the new-money American consumer, whom he contrasts to old-money Tom Buchanan, who is not duped by the puppy vendor like ignorant Myrtle. Fitzgerald also uses Myrtle to show the lack of compassion and irresponsibility of new-money Americans through Myrtle and the puppy. The puppy is referred to as a "purchase" (28), which Myrtle briefly pays attention to but quickly forgets amongst the smoking and drinking, leaving the puppy "with blind eyes through the smoke, and from time to time groaning faintly" (37), one of Fitzgerald's most haunting and vivid images in the text. She haughtily talks about imaginary hired help that is supposed to take care of her puppy, which is Fitzgerald's criticism of new-money parenting and irresponsibility in modern society. Her self-centeredness catches up to her when George discovers the expensive puppy leash before her death. Next, Fitzgerald utilizes Myrtle's superficiality to exhibit another facet of the wasteland in modern society. Despite being a member of the lower-class, Myrtle becomes haughty and snobby when she is in the city. Her personality changes when she changes her clothes to "an elaborate afternoon dress of cream-colored chiffon… her laughter, her gestures, her assertions became more violently affected moment by moment" (30-31). She comes across as an over-the-top,
Get Access