In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s seminal work The Great Gatsby, the character Tom Buchanan demonstrates just how easily avarice demolishes morality. Tom’s hulking figure, selfish nature, and egotistical sense of ethics are used as a conduit to meet his bitter and ruthless ends.
Tom is a barbarian. His immense size and stature add an extremely intimidating element to his already fearsome pigeonhole in society. Having been a pro footballer in college, Tom had stretched his frame to its limit. Nick describes Tom as “one of the most powerful ends that ever played football at New Haven – a national figure in a way, one of those men who reach such an acute limited excellence at twenty-one that everything afterward savours of anticlimax” (6). Tom knows that he has long reached his prime, so he uses whatever leverage he has within his grasp to attain his selfish goals. His pretense goes largely unnoticed. Or perhaps it is simply overlooked. After all, it is a fickle thing, the culture of those with wealth. Daisy acknowledges Tom’s size the best: “That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great, big, hulking specimen…” (10). Put simply, Tom is an animal. His persona drips of condescension and well-hidden self loathing. He has nothing to lose (or at least, that’s how it seems to him), and acts accordingly. He intimidates George Wilson by dangling the thought of a car sale in front of him, like a carrot on a stick. It’s not until Daisy--one of his possessions—is threatened, that he feels any sense of fear or apprehension.
To add insult to injury, Tom’s “old money” background leaves him untouchable by people of any other lower caste of society. Power and control over people is something that Tom considers important in guiding his life. Throughout the novel he has shown, time and time again that he is the type of person who likes to control others and what they do. Sometimes he is nothing more than a bully and other times he taunts...