The Unpleasant Character of Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby

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About this sample


Words: 755 |

Pages: 1.5|

4 min read

Published: Jun 29, 2018

Essay grade:
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Words: 755|Pages: 1.5|4 min read

Published: Jun 29, 2018

Essay grade:
arrow downward Read Review

Introduction: 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. Background: 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. Thesis statement: Thus, Fitzgerald ensures that the readers’ sympathies lie with the tragic hero of the novel – Gatsby.

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Topic sentence: 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. Evidence & citing: Fitzgerald’s lexical choice of “aggressively”, “dominance” and “power” repulse the reader by portraying him as overassertive, forceful and conceited.

Topic sentence: 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. Commentary: 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.

Topic sentence: Tom is made particularly repulsive by his blindness to the truth about himself. Evidence & citing: 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. Commentary: 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.

Topic sentence: Tom’s sense of self-righteousness is once again demonstrated in his attitude towards Gatsby. Evidence & citing: 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.

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Conclusion paragraph: 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”.

Introduction close-button

Should follow an “upside down” triangle format, meaning, the writer should start off broad and introduce the text and author or topic being discussed, and then get more specific to the thesis statement.

Background close-button

Provides a foundational overview, outlining the historical context and introducing key information that will be further explored in the essay, setting the stage for the argument to follow.

Thesis statement close-button

Cornerstone of the essay, presenting the central argument that will be elaborated upon and supported with evidence and analysis throughout the rest of the paper.

Topic sentence close-button

The topic sentence serves as the main point or focus of a paragraph in an essay, summarizing the key idea that will be discussed in that paragraph.

Evidence & citing close-button

The body of each paragraph builds an argument in support of the topic sentence, citing information from sources as evidence.


After each piece of evidence is provided, the author should explain HOW and WHY the evidence supports the claim.

Conclusion paragraph close-button

Should follow a right side up triangle format, meaning, specifics should be mentioned first such as restating the thesis, and then get more broad about the topic at hand. Lastly, leave the reader with something to think about and ponder once they are done reading.

“The Great Gatsby” Essay: Hook Examples

  • An Enigmatic Millionaire: Enter the enigmatic world of Jay Gatsby, where wealth and mystery intersect, and explore the complexities of his character.
  • The Roaring Twenties: Transport yourself back to the extravagance and excess of the 1920s, as depicted in Fitzgerald’s masterpiece, and consider its relevance in today’s society.
  • Illusion vs. Reality: Examine the theme of illusion versus reality in The Great Gatsby, where appearances often deceive, and delve into its broader implications.
  • The American Dream: Discuss the pursuit of the American Dream as portrayed in the novel, and analyze how it has evolved or remained consistent in contemporary America.
  • Love and Obsession: Explore the themes of love and obsession in the relationships of the characters, especially the ill-fated love between Gatsby and Daisy.

Works Cited

  1. Berliner, D. C. (2013). Effects of inequality and poverty vs. teachers and schooling on America’s youth. Teachers College Record, 115(080303).
  2. Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York: Continuum.
  3. Hirst, P. H. (1965). Education and the development of reason. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
  4. Jones, P. E., & Brown, K. C. (1991). Reading and learning strategies: Recommendations for the twenty-first century. College Reading Association Yearbook, 12, 105-120.
  5. Kohn, A. (1999). The schools our children deserve: Moving beyond traditional classrooms and “tougher standards”. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
  6. Lickona, T. (1991). Educating for character: How our schools can teach respect and responsibility. Bantam.
  7. Noddings, N. (1992). The challenge to care in schools: An alternative approach to education. Teachers College Press.
  8. Peters, R. S. (1973). The philosophy of education. Oxford University Press.
  9. Spring, J. (2015). American education. McGraw-Hill Education.
  10. Wolk, R. (2008). Schools that work: America’s most innovative public education programs. Jossey-Bass.
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Expert Review
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.

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The Unpleasant Character Of Tom Buchanan In The Great Gatsby. (2018, April 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 24, 2024, from
“The Unpleasant Character Of Tom Buchanan In The Great Gatsby.” GradesFixer, 20 Apr. 2018,
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