Tom and Daisy Buchanan and Gatsby are all enormously wealthy but are also enormously selfish. The characters are controlled by money, putting it before their relationships with others. Tom's wealth contributes to his arrogance, and he cares little about the moral consequences of his infidelity and the effect it has on his wife. Daisy is also a shallow character, marrying Tom for his riches and the promise of a life of leisure. Her self-absorption is perhaps most evident when she doesn't so much as stop after (accidentally) hitting and killing Tom's mistress, Myrtle, while driving Gatsby's car.
Gatsby, too, is a slave to money and feels that his true worth is measured by his bank account rather than his character. In fact, it seems as though Gatsby's "love" for Daisy is really just infatuation, as he is drawn to her wealthy upbringing, her popularity among other men and her fashionable lifestyle, even remarking that her voice is "full of money." Despite the luxury that Tom, Daisy and Gatsby all enjoy, none of these characters seems to experience true happiness.
'Greatness' Is Often an Illusion
Young, handsome and rich, Gatsby seems to have the world at his fingertips, but his greatness is simply an illusion. The millionaire earned his fortune through dishonest means as a bootlegger, and he tells constant lies about his background and the source of his wealth. In fact, the man "Jay Gatsby" is really a false persona created by James Gatz, the son of "shiftless and unsuccessful farm people" from North Dakota. Though radiating with charm and surrounded by luxury, Gatsby is really a lonely, hollow man. The idea that success is often illusory still holds true today (just think of Bernie Madoff and Lance Armstrong, for instance). If you look around, there's no doubt that you'll still find Gatsbys among us, and perhaps there's a little Gatsby in all of us, too.
--Written by Kristin Colella