Exploring What Does Tom Buchanan Symbolize in The Great Gatsby

Tom Buchanan is a character that has fascinated readers since F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” was first released in 1925. He is a symbol of everything that is wrong with the American society of the 1920s. Tom is wealthy, powerful, and entitled, but his wealth and power come at the cost of his humanity. He is a man who believes that he deserves everything because of his wealth and social status. In this article, we will explore what Tom Buchanan symbolizes and what his character tells us about the culture of the 1920s.

Tom Buchanan is a symbol of excess and moral decay. He is a man who has everything, but he is never satisfied. He is a symbol of the rotten core of the American Dream, where wealth and power are everything, and morality is an afterthought. Tom’s arrogance and lack of empathy make him the perfect representation of the American elite of the 1920s. He is a man who has everything, but he is never happy. His character represents the dark side of the American Dream, where wealth and power corrupt the soul.

Tom Buchanan is also a symbol of masculinity in crisis. He is a man who is struggling to come to terms with his own identity. He is a symbol of the crisis of masculinity that was occurring in the 1920s. Men were struggling to find their place in a changing society, and Tom is a manifestation of this struggle. He is a man who is trying to hold on to the old ways of masculinity, the ways that his father and grandfather would have understood. However, the world is changing, and Tom is left behind. His character represents the conflicted and confused sense of masculinity that was prevalent in the 1920s.

Tom Buchanan’s Wealth and Privilege

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby,” Tom Buchanan is depicted as a wealthy and privileged man who represents the upper-class of society during the 1920s. His character embodies the excess and decadence of the era, but also highlights the corrupting influence of wealth and power.

Below are some key points that illustrate the extent of Tom’s wealth and privilege:

  • Tom comes from a wealthy family and inherited a great deal of money. He uses his wealth to live a luxurious lifestyle and indulge in his various vices.
  • He is highly educated, having attended Yale University, but uses his education to uphold social hierarchies rather than to bring about positive change.
  • Tom is involved in various business ventures that allow him to increase his wealth and influence, further perpetuating his sense of entitlement and superiority.

To illustrate the extent of Tom’s wealth and privilege, let’s take a closer look at some of the specific examples from the novel:

Throughout the novel, Tom’s wealth is emphasized through his possessions and the extravagances he indulges in. He has a large estate in East Egg, expensive cars, and a string of mistresses that he can easily afford to keep.

Tom’s PossessionsDescription
East Egg EstateA large and luxurious estate in a wealthy Long Island community.
CarsTom owns a number of expensive cars, including a “circus wagon” that he drives recklessly.
MistressesTom has a mistress named Myrtle, whom he visits regularly in the city. He is also implied to have had other affairs throughout his marriage to Daisy.

However, Tom’s privilege extends beyond his possessions. He is able to use his wealth to control the people around him, including his wife Daisy and his mistress Myrtle. He is able to use his connections and influence to get away with his actions, even when they are morally reprehensible.

Overall, Tom Buchanan is a symbol of the corrupting influence of wealth and power in “The Great Gatsby.” His character represents the excess and decadence of the upper-class of society during the 1920s, but also highlights the dangers of unchecked privilege and entitlement.

Tom Buchanan’s Dominant and Controlling Personality

Tom Buchanan, one of the central characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, is described by the author as having a “hard mouth and a supercilious manner.” He comes from a wealthy family and exudes an air of superiority that is difficult to ignore. Tom’s personality traits include dominance and control, and he often uses his wealth and physical strength to assert them.

  • Tom’s Dominant Behavior
  • Tom is portrayed as a character who likes to assert his dominance over others, whether it is his friends, family, or even his wife, Daisy. He frequently interrupts people mid-sentence, makes decisions without consulting others, and speaks in a loud and authoritative voice. Tom’s dominant behavior is also evident in his extramarital affairs. He feels entitled to have affairs because of his social position and the power that comes with it.

  • Tom’s Controlling Nature
  • In addition to his dominant behavior, Tom is also extremely controlling. He tries to control every aspect of Daisy’s life, including her thoughts and emotions. He insists on knowing where she is at all times and what she is doing. When Daisy starts getting emotionally involved with Gatsby, Tom tries to convince her that Gatsby is not the right man for her. He also tries to control Gatsby, warning him to stay away from Daisy and threatening him with violence.

  • The Effects of Tom’s Personality
  • Tom’s dominant and controlling personality has a profound effect on those around him. His wife, Daisy, feels trapped in her marriage and often seems unhappy. His mistress, Myrtle, is physically abused by him. Even his friends seem to be afraid of him and unwilling to stand up to him. Tom’s personality is a reflection of the moral decay of the society in which he lives, where wealth and power are valued above all else.

The Comparison Table of Tom with Other Characters in The Great Gatsby

CharacterPersonality Traits
Tom BuchananDominant, Controlling, Entitled
Jay GatsbyObsessive, Naive, Idealistic
Daisy BuchananShallow, Indecisive, Trapped
Nick CarrawayObservant, Moral, Honest

By comparing Tom with other characters in The Great Gatsby, it becomes clear that his personality traits are unique. While Gatsby is obsessive and idealistic, Daisy is shallow and indecisive, and Nick is observant and moral, Tom is dominant and controlling, with a sense of entitlement that sets him apart from the others. His personality is a major driver of the plot, and it ultimately leads to tragedy and heartbreak for all involved.

Tom Buchanan’s Infidelity and Misogyny

Tom Buchanan, one of the main characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” is the embodiment of infidelity and misogyny. His behavior and actions throughout the novel depict his lack of respect for women and his belief in male dominance.

One of the most striking examples of Tom’s misogyny is his affair with Myrtle Wilson. Tom sees Myrtle as nothing more than a object of desire, a woman to be used for his pleasure. He has no regard for her feelings or well-being and employs her solely as a means of satisfying his own desires. Tom’s affair with Myrtle also shows his disregard for his own wife, Daisy. He is willing to cheat on her without hesitation, further emphasizing his lack of respect for women.

  • Tom sees women as inferior beings
  • He objectifies and uses women for his own pleasure
  • He is willing to cheat on his wife without remorse

Additionally, Tom’s infidelity is tied to his belief in male dominance. He believes that as a man, he is entitled to do as he pleases and that his wife and other women should submit to his will. This belief is exemplified in his treatment of Daisy, whom he sees as a possession rather than a partner. Tom expects her to be obedient and subservient to him, and when she does act independently, he becomes angry and violent.

The table below outlines Tom Buchanan’s actions and beliefs regarding women:

Actions/BeliefsDescription
Adultery with Myrtle WilsonTom sees Myrtle as an object to be used for his own pleasure, without regard for her well-being or feelings. He is willing to cheat on his wife without remorse.
Belief in male dominanceTom believes that as a man, he is entitled to do as he pleases and that women should submit to his will. He expects his wife to be obedient and subservient to him.
Physical violence towards womenWhen Daisy acts independently or challenges Tom, he becomes angry and physically violent towards her.

In conclusion, Tom Buchanan symbolizes the worst aspects of masculinity – infidelity and misogyny. His actions and beliefs regarding women are deplorable, and his character serves to highlight the gender inequalities and power imbalances that were prevalent in the 1920s. Tom’s behavior towards women is a reminder that even in modern times, these issues persist and continue to be a crucial concern for women’s rights activists.

Tom Buchanan’s Racism and White Supremacy

Tom Buchanan, a wealthy and arrogant character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” is known for his racism and white supremacist ideologies. Buchanan epitomizes the attitudes and beliefs of the upper-class elite of the time, who believed in the superiority of the white American race. In this article, we will delve into Tom Buchanan’s racist behavior and his loyalty to white supremacy.

  • The Old Money Mentality: Buchanan comes from old money and has been brought up in an environment that reinforces racist beliefs and attitudes. His family history and status give him a sense of superiority that he extends to other white people and, primarily, to people of color. His belief in the natural order which follows that whites are superior by birthright, is ingrained in his psyche.
  • The Character Trait that Dehumanizes: Buchanan is a character that dehumanizes people of color, he refers to people of color in the novel as “these people” which shows a sense of detachment and indifference towards them. Furthermore, he uses slurs such as “colored” when referring to them. This behavior is a way for him to maintain his superiority, making it easier for him to demean them and justify his actions.
  • The Superiority Complex: He believes that he is above people of color and treats them with contempt. Buchanan indulges himself with the thought of white supremacy, which allows him to dehumanize people of color, treating them as inferior. Specifically, he views African Americans as uncivilized, intellectually inferior, and not worthy of associating with. Buchanan’s superiority complex prevents him from seeing people of color as equals and blinds him to their humanity.

It is worth noticing that F. Scott Fitzgerald, while portraying Tom Buchanan as the epitome of racism and white supremacy, also shows the moral downfall of such ideology. Troubled in his marriage, he becomes increasingly desperate and seeks out other women, eventually getting his mistress, Myrtle, killed in a car accident.

Moreover, Fitzgerald uses Buchanan’s character to critique the wealthy class as a whole and particularly their isolation from those of a different class, distinguishing them based on race. Buchanan’s racism and white supremacy represent the larger societal issue that existed in the early 20th century. It is a reminder of the ugly past and issues that still continue to exist today.

In conclusion, Tom Buchanan stands as a symbol of racism and white supremacy, with his superior mindset and belief in the natural order of things. He serves as a cautionary tale against perpetrating the false ideal of white superiority, which could lead to a moral decay and disgustingly inhumane behavior towards those considered inferior.

Tom Buchanan’s Physical Appearance and Athletic Prowess

One of the first things we notice about Tom Buchanan in The Great Gatsby is his physical appearance. Tom is described as a “huge, hulking specimen” with a “cruel body”. He is a man of immense physical strength and endurance, which he uses to dominate and control those around him.

But more than just being physically intimidating, Tom’s appearance is also a symbol of his wealth and privilege. He dresses in expensive clothing, wears a polo outfit to the first gathering at Gatsby’s mansion, and is always perfectly groomed. For Tom, his appearance is not just about looking good; it’s about showing off his status and power.

  • Tom’s muscular build and athletic prowess are also significant symbols in the novel.
  • His body represents his dominance over others, particularly women and minorities.
  • Tom’s physical strength is often used to reinforce his sense of superiority and entitlement, as he uses his body to intimidate and belittle those who challenge him.

This symbolism becomes even clearer when we look at Tom’s extramarital affairs. He uses his physical prowess to assert his dominance over Myrtle Wilson, his mistress, and even goes so far as to break her nose when she talks back to him. In this way, Tom’s body becomes a symbol of his ability to control and manipulate others, both physically and emotionally.

Lastly, we can see the symbolism of Tom’s physical appearance and athletic prowess reflected in the sport of polo. Polo is a game that requires great skill and physical strength, and it is traditionally played by the elite. Tom’s passion for the game is a way of asserting his privileged position in society, and it also serves as a symbol of his dominance over his opponents.

SymbolismDescription
Physical strength and sizeTom’s body is a symbol of his dominance over others, particularly women and minorities.
Dress and groomingTom’s expensive clothing and perfect grooming signify his wealth and privilege.
PoloThe sport of polo serves as a symbol of Tom’s dominance over his opponents and his privileged position in society.

In conclusion, Tom Buchanan’s physical appearance and athletic prowess are significant symbols in The Great Gatsby. His body represents his dominance and control over others, his clothing and grooming showcase his wealth and privilege, and his passion for polo serves as a symbol of his power and entitlement.

Tom Buchanan’s Obsession with Maintaining His Social Status

Tom Buchanan, one of the main characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” is a wealthy and arrogant man who is obsessed with maintaining his social status. Throughout the novel, Tom’s actions and behavior indicate that he values his social status above everything else, including personal relationships and morals.

  • Tom’s affair with Myrtle Wilson
  • Tom’s treatment of his wife, Daisy
  • Tom’s racism and classism

One of the clearest examples of Tom’s obsession with maintaining his social status is his affair with Myrtle Wilson. Myrtle is a lower-class woman who is married to a mechanic and lives in a small apartment in the valley of ashes. Tom takes advantage of Myrtle’s admiration for his wealth and power and has an affair with her, despite being married to Daisy. Tom sees Myrtle as a disposable object, and when she becomes too clingy and needy, he sends her away without a second thought.

Tom’s treatment of Daisy also reveals his obsession with maintaining his social status. Although Tom claims to love Daisy, he also treats her as a possession and a status symbol. When Daisy expresses her unhappiness and desire to leave him for Gatsby, Tom manipulates her into staying with him by reminding her of their social position and the importance of maintaining appearances.

Tom’s racism and classism also demonstrate his obsession with social status. He sees himself as superior to those who are not born into wealth and status, and he uses his privilege to mistreat and discriminate against others. Tom’s mockery of Gatsby’s “new money” and his casual use of racist slurs show that he values social status and power above all else.

Examples of Tom’s obsession with maintaining his social status:
Having an affair with Myrtle Wilson
Treating Daisy as a possession and status symbol
Mistreating and discriminating against those lower in social status

Overall, Tom Buchanan’s obsession with maintaining his social status is a central theme in “The Great Gatsby.” His actions and behavior serve as a warning about the dangers of valuing wealth and power above personal relationships and morals.

Tom Buchanan’s Elitism and Disdain for the Working Class

Tom Buchanan is one of the main characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. He is a wealthy socialite who symbolizes the elitism and disdain for the working class that was prevalent during the Roaring Twenties. This period was marked by economic prosperity and social upheaval, which gave rise to a new class of wealthy individuals who looked down upon those who were less fortunate.

  • Tom’s Wealth: Tom is highly wealthy and enjoys flaunting his social status. He believes that his wealth gives him the right to behave in a certain way and that those who are not as affluent as him are inferior. He is often seen throwing lavish parties and spending money extravagantly.
  • Tom’s Attitude: Tom’s attitude towards the working class is dismissive and contemptuous. He believes that they are not as intelligent as the wealthy and are only good for servitude. He views them as less-than-human, and his arrogance is reflective of the entitlement that comes with his wealth.
  • Tom’s Interactions: Tom’s interactions with the working class are often hostile and degrading. He berates his wife Daisy’s friend, Myrtle, who is married to a lowly gas station owner. He treats her as a mere plaything and an object of his lust. This demonstrates his complete disregard for others’ feelings and his belief that the working class is not deserving of respect.

Tom Buchanan represents the worst of the elite class’s attitudes towards those who are not as fortunate as they are. He symbolizes the selfishness and greed that characterized the pursuit of wealth during the Roaring Twenties. His disdain for the working class is reflective of the broader societal trends of his time and a dark reminder of how class tensions can divide a society.

It is important to note that Fitzgerald’s portrayal of Tom Buchanan is not a condemnation of all wealthy individuals. Instead, it is a critique of the arrogance and entitlement that can come with great wealth. It is a warning against becoming too enamored with money and status at the expense of one’s humanity and empathy for others.

Tom Buchanan’s Elitism and Disdain for the Working Class
Tom’s WealthTom is highly wealthy and enjoys flaunting his social status. He believes that his wealth gives him the right to behave in a certain way and that those who are not as affluent as him are inferior.
Tom’s AttitudeTom’s attitude towards the working class is dismissive and contemptuous. He believes that they are not as intelligent as the wealthy and are only good for servitude.
Tom’s InteractionsTom’s interactions with the working class are often hostile and degrading. He berates his wife Daisy’s friend, Myrtle, who is married to a lowly gas station owner.

Overall, Tom Buchanan symbolizes the dark side of the American Dream and the dangers of wealth and power. His elitism and disdain for the working class serve as a warning against the excesses and vices that can thrive in a society where social mobility is possible but not guaranteed for all.

Tom Buchanan’s entitlement and sense of entitlement

Tom Buchanan, as a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, represents the epitome of entitlement. He embodies the extravagant, careless, and arrogant life of the wealthy elite in the 1920s. Here are some key subtopics and analysis of Tom Buchanan’s sense of entitlement:

1. Tom’s wealth and social status

Tom is a wealthy man from “old money” and comes from a high-status family in the East Coast. He considers himself superior to others because of his wealth and pedigree. He believes that he has earned his place in society due to his family and financial background. He flaunts his wealth and status, as shown by his luxurious mansion, expensive cars, and opulent lifestyle. To Tom, money and status are the ultimate symbols of success and power.

  • Tom sees himself as an important figure in high society, deserving of respect and social recognition.
  • He behaves arrogantly and dismissively towards those who he deems beneath him, such as Gatsby and Wilson.
  • Tom uses his wealth and status to control and manipulate those around him, including his wife and mistress.

2. Tom’s lack of accountability and responsibility

Tom feels entitled to act irresponsibly and to avoid the consequences of his actions. He believes that his wealth and status give him the freedom to act as he pleases without any accountability. Tom’s selfishness and lack of empathy contribute to his abusive behavior towards his wife and others. He believes that his actions are justified because he is entitled to pursue his desires and needs, regardless of who gets hurt.

3. Tom’s sense of entitlement and masculinity

Tom’s toxic masculinity is another manifestation of his entitlement. He believes that as a wealthy white man, he is entitled to dominate and control those around him, especially women. Tom sees himself as a protector of traditional masculine values, such as physical strength, dominance, and sexual prowess. He feels threatened by men who challenge his sense of superiority and masculinity, such as Gatsby.

4. Tom’s entitlement and racism

Tom’s sense of entitlement extends beyond his wealth and masculinity. He is also a racist who believes in the superiority of the white race. He sees black people as inferior and has no qualms about using racist slurs or supporting racist policies. Tom’s racist beliefs are a reflection of his sense of entitlement and his desire to protect his privilege and power.

In conclusion, Tom Buchanan is a symbol of entitlement and all that is wrong with the wealthy elite of the 1920s. His sense of entitlement is driven by his wealth, status, toxic masculinity, and racism. Tom’s character serves as a warning against the dangers of unchecked privilege and entitlement.

Tom Buchanan’s Lack of Morals and Values

Tom Buchanan, as a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby,” symbolizes the immorality and lack of values often associated with the wealthy elite of the time period. Throughout the novel, Tom exhibits several characteristics that showcase his lack of moral compass and his disregard for the well-being of others.

  • Infidelity: Tom is married to Daisy Buchanan, but he has multiple extramarital affairs throughout the novel. He carries on an openly physical relationship with Myrtle Wilson, the wife of a working-class man.
  • Racism and classism: Tom is shown to be racist and classist, believing that the white, wealthy, and elite are superior to those of different races or lower economic classes. He continually dismisses people of color and lower classes, and he uses his wealth and status to justify his beliefs.
  • Violence: Tom is physically abusive towards both women in his life, Daisy and Myrtle. He breaks Myrtle’s nose when she speaks out of turn, and he hits Daisy in the face when she suggests leaving him for Gatsby.

Tom’s lack of morals and values is further exemplified by his actions towards Gatsby, the main character of the novel. Tom sees Gatsby as a threat to his marriage and his social status, and he goes to great lengths to discredit and dismantle him.

Tom’s Actions Towards GatsbyExplanation
Lies about Gatsby’s pastTom tells Daisy and others that Gatsby is a criminal and a bootlegger, tarnishing his reputation and making him appear unworthy of Daisy’s love.
Publicly humiliates GatsbyDuring a party at his house, Tom exposes Gatsby’s criminal activities to all the guests, causing Gatsby to leave in embarrassment.
Takes advantage of Gatsby’s deathAfter Gatsby is killed, Tom takes his car and his belongings without any remorse or consideration for Gatsby’s family or friends.

Overall, Tom Buchanan represents the moral decay and lack of values prevalent in the upper class during the 1920s. His actions towards others, particularly towards Gatsby, highlight the selfishness and callousness that often accompanies great wealth and power.

Tom Buchanan’s societal role as a representation of the decline of the American Dream.

Tom Buchanan, one of the main characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” represents the decline of the American Dream in several ways. As a wealthy, privileged member of the upper class, Tom embodies the values and behaviors that have contributed to the erosion of the American Dream. Here are some of the ways in which Tom symbolizes this decline:

  • Consumption and excess: Tom is a consummate consumer, indulging in excessive food, drink, and material possessions. He represents the idea that, in order to achieve the American Dream, one must accumulate as much wealth and material possessions as possible, regardless of the social and environmental costs.
  • Racial and social inequality: Tom is openly racist and sexist, displaying a sense of entitlement and superiority over those he deems beneath him. He represents the idea that the American Dream is only accessible to those who are white, male, and born into wealth and privilege.
  • Unethical behavior: Tom engages in numerous unethical behaviors throughout the novel, including adultery, physical violence, and bribery. He represents the idea that achieving the American Dream requires a lack of moral and ethical principles.

Overall, Tom’s societal role in “The Great Gatsby” serves as a powerful commentary on the decline of the American Dream. His character embodies the values and behaviors that have led to an erosion of the Dream, such as greed, inequality, and a lack of ethics. His example serves as a warning against the dangers of pursuing the Dream at all costs.

But what do you think? Is Tom Buchanan a symbol of the decline of the American Dream, or is he something else entirely?

What Does Tom Buchanan Symbolize? FAQs

1. Who is Tom Buchanan?
Tom Buchanan is a character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. He is a wealthy and arrogant man who is married to Daisy Buchanan, one of the main characters in the novel.

2. What does Tom Buchanan symbolize in The Great Gatsby?
Tom Buchanan symbolizes the old money aristocracy and the corruption that comes with it. He is an example of the wealthy elite who use their power and privilege to manipulate and control others.

3. How does Tom Buchanan treat women?
Tom Buchanan treats women as objects and possessions to be used and discarded at his leisure. He is emotionally abusive to his wife, Daisy, and has a string of mistresses whom he treats with disrespect.

4. What is Tom Buchanan’s attitude towards race?
Tom Buchanan is a racist and believes in the superiority of the white race. He shows his prejudice throughout the novel, particularly in his treatment of characters like Myrtle Wilson and George Wilson.

5. What is Tom Buchanan’s role in the novel?
Tom Buchanan is one of the main antagonists in the novel. His actions and attitudes create conflict and tension with the other characters, particularly Jay Gatsby.

6. What is the significance of Tom Buchanan’s affair with Myrtle Wilson?
Tom Buchanan’s affair with Myrtle Wilson represents the way in which the wealthy elite use their power to exploit and control those who are less fortunate. Tom treats Myrtle as a creature of convenience and ultimately contributes to her tragic end.

7. How does Tom Buchanan represent the decline of the American Dream?
Tom Buchanan represents the corruption and decay that comes with the pursuit of wealth and power. His attitudes and actions show how the American Dream has been lost to greed and self-interest.

Closing Thoughts on What Does Tom Buchanan Symbolize?

In conclusion, Tom Buchanan is a complex and controversial character in The Great Gatsby. He symbolizes the old money aristocracy and all the corruption and decay that comes with it. He treats women as objects, holds racist beliefs, and uses his power to manipulate those around him. His character represents the decline of the American Dream and the loss of hope for a better future. Thank you for reading about what does Tom Buchanan symbolize. Make sure to visit us again for more interesting topics.