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Literary theories provide limitless perspectives on the way individuals read the text making each interpretation unique. Through different literary criticisms, individuals appreciate Fitzgerald’s portrayal of a theme, event, or character in The Great Gatsby. The Marxist theory analyzes the amount of power in numerous socioeconomic classes, the consequences of these power differences, and the interactions between characters from different classes. Psychological criticism examines the character’s state of mind and feelings which can reveal the author’s psychological conflicts. These literary theories help me acknowledge a different perspective of Tom Buchanan. Tom Buchanan is perceived as a dominant character; however, through the use of the Marxist and psychological lens, I discovered Tom to be insecure throughout the novel which leads him to exercise power negatively.

Through Marxist criticism, Tom Buchanan undeniably objectifies women surrounding him through his high socioeconomic class to improve his self-confidence. First, Tom Buchanan treats Daisy as a mere possession instead of a human. Individuals throughout the novel characterize Daisy Buchanan to be this “golden girl” (Fitzgerald, 138) whom only wealthy individuals can marry. In The Great Gatsby, “the entire society is organized around the consumption and display of commodities through which individuals gain prestige, identity, and standing. In this system, the more prestigious one’s commodities (houses, cars, clothes, and so on), the higher one’s standing in the realm of sign value” (Kellner, par.9). In the novel, Daisy is seen as the most prestigious commodity. Consequently, Tom Buchanan purchases Daisy’s high status in exchange for a string of pearls valued at $ 350,000. Despite Tom inheriting his money, he feels insecure that he will lose his position in the old money class. To remain in this socioeconomic class, he needs to marry Daisy to gain social status. Moreover, Tom Buchanan treats Myrtle Wilson as a sex object. Tom purchases Myrtle’s curvaceous body in exchange for a dog, an apartment in New York City, and multiple other goods.

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Tom Buchanan does not keep his affair with Myrtle private instead, Tom publicizes his affair especially when Tom brings Myrtle to popular restaurants and introduces her to Nick Carraway immediately after their reunion. This public affair with Myrtle constantly reminds him and everyone else that he has the wealth to act carefree without any consequences. As a result, Tom constantly flaunts his power because he is afraid that individuals will overlook his power. Likewise, Tom Buchanan’s persistent choice of working-class women is so predominant that Daisy surprisingly offers Tom a golden pencil to write women’s phone numbers. Tom sells his superior class to purchase desperate working-class women, which underlines Tom Buchanan’s flaunting of his power. However, this purchase of lower-class women can also be seen as a desperate attempt to maintain the ideology of the ruling class. Tom Buchanan wants to keep a close eye on any social climbers. Working-class women believe they can climb the social ladder by having an affair with Tom; however, in reality, Tom is providing a false sense of hope and making sure these working-class women are not climbing the social ladder. Therefore, Tom Buchanan undoubtedly treats women as mere objects to improve his sense of security.

Through Marxist criticism, even though Tom Buchanan is part of the old rich class, he is consistently insecure about the other minority classes ascending to power. First, this is evident in his feud with Jay Gatsby, who lives in the West Egg. From Tom Buchanan’s perspective, the affair between Daisy and Gatsby is evidence of disruption in socioeconomic classes. Tom seems more irritated that Gatsby is attempting to steal his most prestigious commodity to be considered old money than Daisy’s unfaithfulness. Hence, Tom Buchanan maintains these distinct socioeconomic classes by humiliating Gatsby as a massive bootlegger and ruining his chances of entering the old rich class by marrying Daisy. Tom Buchanan persistently tries to find information on Gatsby highlighting his insecurity about lower-class individuals ascending to power. Also, Tom Buchanan will t Despite humiliating Gatsby, Tom is still insecure that Gatsby will soar to power. As a result, Tom Buchanan accuses Gatsby of the murderer of Myrtle, causing George Wilson to avenge her death by killing Gatsby.

Unlike the working class, Tom and Daisy can “[smash] up things and creatures and then [retreat] back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together and let other people clean the mess they had made” (Fitzgerald, 191). Tom’s money insulates him from tarnishing his reputation, which reveals Tom’s insecurity of accepting fault. Moreover, Tom’s racist attitudes reveal Tom Buchanan’s insecurity of losing power. At the dinner table, Tom Buchanan said, “Well, it’s a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is as if we don’t look out the white race will be —will be utterly submerged. It’s all scientific stuff; it’s been proved” (Fitzgerald,16). Tom Buchanan manifests this idea that Caucasians are considered more powerful than other races. From Tom Buchanan’s perspective, the rise of power from other races is an indication of the decline of civilization. Therefore, from a Marxist perspective, Tom Buchanan has a fear that his power will be taken away from social climbers. Through the psychological lens, Tom Buchanan’s experience illustrates why Tom is extremely insecure. Nick Carraway believes “Tom would drift on forever seeking, a little wistfully, for the dramatic turbulence of some irrecoverable football game”(Fitzgerald, 8). Tom Buchanan is trying to relive his glorious football career when he was twenty-one similar to Jay Gatsby recapturing his past with Daisy. Not only Tom is desperately attempting to recapture his past, but Tom is also repressing his life after his football career. Tom Buchanan’s repressed thoughts “comprise mental processes that are inaccessible to consciousness but that influence judgments, feelings, or behavior”(Mcleod, par.6). Tom’s unconscious thoughts especially influence his aggressive behavior. For instance, when Myrtle is taunting Tom by repetitively yelling Daisy’s name, Tom Buchanan punches her nose without any hesitation. Tom’s aggressive impulse is seen as a defense against learning his dissatisfied and less powerful life.

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