In one’s life, there are many pathways and changes that can occur; only one thing for certain– death. As quotidian as birth, the death of one physical soma is inevitable, and though morbid and woeful, it is used as an important concept in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. In the work of fiction, Fitzgerald uses death throughout the text to demonstrate how subconscious desires manifest certain realities in times of despair. In the several scenes which death occurs, readers are actively hinted with the foreshadowing of certain incidents.
For instance, Myrtle’s death. When readers witness the killing of Tom’s girlfriend, it comes to a shock at first. However, when reflecting on the actions of the characters and thinking deeper, the death of Myrtle can be vaticinated. Daisy had always known of the ‘mistress in Manhattan’, and it is obvious to close readers how she feels towards the idea of someone having the same intimacy with her husband.
Therefore, it is easy to infer that her discomfort was met by her hatred of this unknown character in her perspective. Predating the scene of Myrtle dying, Tom and Daisy were in a state of conflict. With the active public displays of affection between Daisy and Gatsby, Tom was furious. We see this in chapter 7: “she had told him that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw. He was astounded. His mouth opened a little, and he looked at Gatsby, and then back at Daisy as if he had just recognized her as someone he knew a long time ago.
” Daisy senses Tom’s anger and exemplifies this emotion in response subconsciously. Daisy as a character has always felt a sense of right, Tom has a mistress, and should not be angry with her for having an affair with someone whom she loves. With Tom’s hinted disapproval and anger at the dinner in the scene before Myrtle’s death, it is understandably interpreted as Daisy’s subconscious sense of Tom not having a right to be happy with his mistress if she can not be happy with Gatsby.
Eventually, we see how these subconscious desires seek a reality to match them, and how they manifest themselves in order to become a conscious reality. The Great Gatsby is a novel that spends over one-hundred pages demonstrating the exercise of manifestation, so it is no surprise how Fitzgerald uses this death scene to illuminate the elucidation of the book’s entirety. When closely analyzing the scene of Myrtle’s death, the irony and depths to it are uncanny. “Well, I tried to swing the wheel ——” He broke off, and suddenly I guessed at the truth. “Was Daisy driving?” “Yes,” […] “It all happened in a minute, but it seemed to me that she wanted to speak to us, thought we were somebody she knew –Well, first Daisy turned away from the woman toward the other car, and then she lost her nerve and turned back. The second my hand reached the wheel I felt the shock — it must have killed her instantly”. Out of all the possibilities for a character to use in a traumatic end, Fitzgerald uses Myrtle.
He uses the mistress of the husband, who was angry at his wife, who was in love with another man, to be killed. The ambiguity of this text really allows the audience to witness and understand how subconscious desires are directly related to the reality people create for themselves, and Fitzgerald uses death as an extreme example of this idea. The author of this complex text expresses the multiple layers of the human psyche and how they relate to our surroundings, making the world truly what we make it. Death plays into the novel in multiple ways, nonetheless in the development of salient themes. This is most definitely the case in The Great Gatsby, with Myrtle’s poignant death being the key to disclosing this phenomenon of subconscious manifestations of which enhance the meaning of the work as a whole.