This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

The Unpleasant Character of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby

Essay grade:
arrow downward Read Review
downloadDownload printPrint

Tom Buchanan is an important figure throughout the course of The Great Gatsby, and is used as Fitzgerald’s symbolic representation of the moral and emotional decadence of the era. Tom forms part of Fitzgerald’s social critique of the upper classes, and reflects the perceived lack of values beneath the “glittering façade” of the rich. Tom Buchanan is made repulsive to the readership through his violent aggression, buttressed in his vast wealth and his maltreatment of all those around him, including his wife. Thus, Fitzgerald ensures that the readers’ sympathies lie with the tragic hero of the novel – Gatsby.

Are you Looking For A Custom Essay about “The Unpleasant Character Of Tom Buchanan In The Great Gatsby” NOW? You Found It!

Professional Writers that Guarantee an On-time Delivery


experts online

Nick’s speculation about how Tom seemed to be constantly seeking “the dramatic turbulence of some irrevocable football game” presents Tom as a restless character whose endless demands are unable to ever be fully satisfied. Nick personification of Tom’s “supercilious mouth” and “shinning arrogant eyes” echoes Tom’s innate sense of superiority. Fitzgerald’s lexical choice of “aggressively”, “dominance” and “power” repulse the reader by portraying him as overassertive, forceful and conceited.

Moreover, the fact that “not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body” seems to denote Tom’s barely restrained mental attitude. For example, during the dinner party Tom unexpectedly declares “Civilisation’s going to pieces’, broke out Tom violently… ‘The idea is if we don’t look out the white race will be- will be utterly submerged”. What Tom is reproducing here are racist ideas echoing the superiority of the white race. Fitzgerald’s use of aposiopesis makes Tom appear inarticulate, and unable to express his thoughts in a calm and civilised manner. Tom’s attitude of hereditary supremacy places him entirely in opposition to the self-made man. Thus Fitzgerald is able to juxtapose Gatsby’s “romantic readiness” with Tom Buchanan’s “complacency”, and hence allow the reader’s preferences to be drawn to Gatsby.

Tom is made particularly repulsive by his blindness to the truth about himself. Whilst he feels he is entitled to have “some woman in New York”, he is outraged by the thought of Daisy having an affair with a “Mr Nobody from Nowhere”. Tom’s double standards reveal him to be a hypocrite, but more importantly, Tom appears to be more outraged at who Daisy is having an affair with, rather than the fact that she is having an affair in the first place. Fitzgerald creates sympathy for Daisy by revealing her exuberance and her “glowing and singing” voice to be merely a mask to hide her true feelings. When she confides to Nick that the “best thing a girl can be” is a “beautiful little fool”, the reader glimpses the effect of Tom’s multiple affairs, which have caused Daisy to adopt a veneer of shallow cynicism. Tom’s repulsive behaviour seems to justify Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship, which seems to offer Daisy the scintilla or romance she is unable to acquire from her marriage.

Tom’s sense of self-righteousness is once again demonstrated in his attitude towards Gatsby. Tom repeatedly mocks Gatsby, calling his car a “circus wagon” and denouncing the vulgarity of his parties. The class division between the ‘old money’ and the ‘Nouveau Riche,’ represented by the physical and psychic division between West Egg and East Egg, remains a constant source of tension throughout the novel. Fitzgerald seems to be criticizing the fact that in post-war America, people are valued by their material possessions- and in Gatsby’s case, a “pink suit”. Gatsby’s inability to break into the upper classes is largely due to the whimsical actions of Tom Buchanan, who merely “smashed up” his dream and “then retreated back into [his] money” and “vast carelessness”. Tom’s inherent prejudice and ease at which he crushes Gatsby’s dream with a simple “short, deft movement” can be therefore seen as the measure of the moral decay of the 1920s itself, as the novel can be seen as a microcosmic representation of the greater American Dream.

Get a Personal "The Unpleasant Character Of Tom Buchanan In The Great Gatsby" Tailored Essay For You in 3 Hours!

100% Customized to Your Need with Expert Writers


In conclusion, Tom Buchanan’s unpleasantness stems from his vast sense of superiority and wealth, which has created a moral void in his life. Tom characterises the decadence of the upper classes, and uses his social status to enable him to carry out his misdeeds, uncommitted to any code of ethics. Tom’s concerns for the decline of civilisation are somewhat ironic, as his own actions can be seen as the measure of the decline itself. Fitzgerald suggests that American society was far from egalitarian, and instead, people like the Buchanans continued to live “safe and proud; above the hot struggles of the poor”.

Remember! This is just a sample.

You can get your custom paper by one of our expert writers.

Get custom essay

121 writers online

The Unpleasant Character of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby Essay
This Essay is Graded More About Grading
Essay grade:
review Expert Review
minus plus
Overall, the essay provides a clear and organized analysis of Tom Buchanan's character and his role in The Great Gatsby. The focus of the essay is on Tom's representation of the moral and emotional decadence of the era and how his actions contrast with Gatsby's romantic readiness. The sentence structure is generally clear and easy to follow, but some sentences could benefit from editing for clarity. The voice of the essay is objective and analytical, providing a thorough analysis of Tom's character and his impact on the story. The essay's overall organization is strong, with a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion that summarizes the main points.
More About Grading

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

experts 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help you just now

delivery Starting from 3 hours delivery

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

The Unpleasant Character Of Tom Buchanan In The Great Gatsby. (2018, April 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 4, 2023, from
“The Unpleasant Character Of Tom Buchanan In The Great Gatsby.” GradesFixer, 20 Apr. 2018,
The Unpleasant Character Of Tom Buchanan In The Great Gatsby. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 4 Jun. 2023].
The Unpleasant Character Of Tom Buchanan In The Great Gatsby [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Apr 20 [cited 2023 Jun 4]. Available from:
copy to clipboard

Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!


    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!

    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now