The Past as a Theme in The Great Gatsby
Many works of literature use characters pasts to define their future. In the novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the characters pasts of the characters define their whole lives in many ways. Whether they change how people view them or emotionally alter their lives, they cannot hide their past from anyone.
Daisy and Gatsby’s past together plays a huge role throughout the whole novel. Their relationship in the past changes Daisy’s feelings about her current marriage with Tom. Although Gatsby is here now she cannot forget her love for Tom. “’Oh you want too much!’ she cried to Gatsby. ‘I love you now- isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past.’ She began to sob helplessly. ‘I did love him once- but I loved you too.’” Although she would ...view middle of the document...
That is why she married Tom Buchanan. Yet, now that Gatsby is back, Daisy’s feelings for him return and she finds herself having to dig deep to find what she wants. “’Even that’s a lie,’ said Tom savagely. ‘She didn’t know you were alive. Why- there’s things between Daisy and me that you’ll never know, things that neither of us can ever forget.’” (page 132 chapter 7). When Daisy tries to tell Tom she never loved him, he reminds her of there past together and she admits that there is no way she can deny that she once loved Tom. No matter what she says, she will always have a past with Tom and she can never get rid of it.
Daisy is not the only person in the novel who is hiding things, a very important aspect of the novel is trying to figure out what Gatsby’s past is. He has a number of stories that he has told people and they are starting to wonder how they all fit together. One of those people is Tom and when him, Daisy, Jordan, Nick and Tom are in the hotel room together, Tom calls out Gatsby on what his real past was, the things that he was trying to cover up. “’I found out what your ‘drug-stores’ were.’ He turned to us and spoke rapidly. ‘He and this Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores here and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter. That’s one of his little stunts. I picked him for a bootlegger the first time I saw him, and I wasn’t far wrong.’” (page 133 chapter 7). Tom found out what Gatsby’s real past was despite Gatsby’s efforts to cover it up.
The past plays a huge role in The Great Gatsby. All of the characters in the novel have a past that they try to cover up with lies but it always comes back to haunt them. Multiple times in the book there are examples of the past repeating itself such as Daisy and Gatsby falling in love again. All of the characters in the novel are defined by their pasts.