How Does Myrtle Behave As The Party Progresses in Chapter 2 of The Great Gatsby?

Updated 28 August, 2023
In Chapter 2 of "The Great Gatsby," Myrtle's behavior evolves from initial restraint to exuberance as the party unfolds. Fueled by alcohol, she becomes more animated, engaging in conversations and even boldly shouting Daisy's name. This transformation reflects her desire for social elevation and her aspiration to escape her working-class background. Her affair with Tom Buchanan symbolizes her attempt to immerse herself in the world of the wealthy. As Myrtle's behavior becomes increasingly audacious, it highlights her willingness to take risks to transform her life, ultimately leading her on a tragic path of dissatisfaction and disillusionment.
Detailed answer:

In Chapter 2 of F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby," Myrtle Wilson's behavior undergoes a transformation as the party progresses. Initially introduced as the wife of George Wilson, a mechanic in the Valley of Ashes, Myrtle exhibits a sense of discontentment with her working-class life and aspirations for upward mobility.

As the party unfolds, Myrtle's behavior shifts from a reserved demeanor to one of increasing animation and audacity, driven by the liberating effects of alcohol. At the party in Tom Buchanan's New York apartment, Myrtle's excitement and desire for self-expression become more pronounced. She becomes more talkative and uninhibited, exemplified by her lively participation in conversations and her bold statement that "Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!" is a "beautiful name."

Myrtle's behavior also reflects her desire for social elevation. Her affair with Tom Buchanan is a manifestation of her ambition to escape her lower socioeconomic status and immerse herself in the world of the wealthy elite. Myrtle's interactions with Tom, including her insistence on using his name, highlight her aspiration to transcend her own identity and adopt a more glamorous persona.

The party setting serves as a backdrop for Myrtle's attempts to assimilate into the upper echelons of society, an aspiration that eventually leads her to make choices that further distance her from her husband and reality. Her behavior becomes increasingly bold and defiant, particularly when she openly speaks about Daisy, Tom's wife, which eventually prompts Tom to strike her.

In conclusion, Myrtle Wilson's behavior in Chapter 2 of "The Great Gatsby" transforms from initial reservation to uninhibited animation as the party unfolds. Her desire for social ascent, driven by her relationship with Tom Buchanan, is evident in her interactions and bold statements. This chapter serves as a microcosm of Myrtle's yearning for a different life and her willingness to take risks to achieve it, ultimately leading her down a tragic path.


  1. 1. Fitzgerald, F. S. (2004). The Great Gatsby. Scribner.
    2. Kuehn, J. (2008). “A Human Maelstrom”: The Dynamics of Myrtle Wilson's Desires in The Great Gatsby. Studies in the Novel, 40(3), 261-281. doi:10.1353/sdn.0.0008
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