The Great Gatsby/ Chicago Analysis
Part I- Character Analysis
Daisy & Roxie-
Daisy Buchanan and Roxie Hart are very careless women who think only of themselves. They trample all over other people without giving a second glance behind them, and they are selfish women who never think or care about anyone else. Their only differences are in the different ways that they are selfish. Roxie pursues her selfish endeavors by trying to become a big star, getting the spotlight on her and doing everything she can to keep it on her. First Roxie steals Velma Kelly’s place in the magazines; then when another girl starts attracting attention, Roxie faints and it “slips out” that she hopes the fall didn’t hurt the baby. The director develops Roxie through using dim, soft lighting on her when she is unknown to everyone and then using bright light and flashy clothes on Roxie when she becomes famous. Roxie also has a very sassy, uncaring attitude on screen which helps develop her character into a selfish girl who thinks only of herself. Daisy pursues her selfish needs by leading on both Tom and Gatsby—while in reality she doesn’t love either of them, staying with Tom simply because he has money and having a fling with Gatsby only because he was something new and interesting at the time, plus a way to get back at Tom. Daisy leads Gatsby on the entire book and then runs back to Tom, not even bothering to show up at poor Gatsby’s funeral or even sending her condolences: “I could only remember, without resentment, that Daisy hadn’t sent a message or a flower.” Fitzgerald develops Daisy’s character as a selfish girl who doesn’t care about anyone else very simply in one sentence near the end of the book that stands out above all the rest: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy—they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made.”
Tom & Fred-
F. Scott Fitzgerald notably introduced Tom Buchanan as an intimidating yet superior man in every sense of the word, initially describing with vivid imagery how “he’d brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake Forest. It was hard to realize that a man... was wealthy enough to do that…. he was a sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide the enormous power of that body—he seemed to fill those glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage—a cruel body” (page 8). While Fitzgerald brings Tom's character to the stage with a light of admiration, this attitude is changed when Nick notices how poorly Tom treated his wife, Daisy, for Tom had been openly having an affair with a woman named Myrtle for an extensive period of time. In Chicago, however, the director introduced Fred Casely as a very crude character just moments before his death. Although it seemed as though Roxie was only using him as a means to an end, Casely ended up being the one using her, for he was never actually going to help her career as a performer take off. While imagery was used to describe the character of Tom Buchanan, the director of Chicago had used filmographic techniques to pain a similar picture of Fred Casely. The characters were similar in the sense that neither of them were loyal to their wives, and all they cared about was their own selfish desires.
Mr. Wilson & Amos-
Amos Hart and Mr. Wilson are similar in the fact that both their wives cheated on them and they are ignored by their wives. Their wives don’t care about them and each is heartbroken when he finds out what his wife has been doing behind his back. Myrtle cheated on Wilson with Tom for weeks while Roxie cheated on Amos just in attempt to get into the spotlight. The men are different, however, in the way that they deal with their hurt. Amos lashes out at Roxie in anger when he is hurt, but then quickly forgives her because he really does love her and then continually supports her throughout the movie until she shuns him in the end. The director paints Amos as a faithful man who just wants his wife back by giving him a constant “halo” of warm light, symbolizing that he means well and would easily forgive. He also sings a song talking about how he can’t understand why Roxie seems to just look right through him as if he isn’t there, and this adds a lot to his character by letting the audience know his character is hurt by Roxie and all he wants is for him to notice her and come back to him. Wilson is ignored by his wife every time Tom rolls around: "[Myrtle] smiled slowly and, walking through her husband as though he were a ghost, shook hands with Tom, looking him flush in the eye." Wilson also reacts differently than Amos by becoming physically sick when he finds out Myrtle has another life without him, his health declining rapidly. His character is developed by the narrator’s description of Wilson when they see him after he has found out Myrtle is cheating on him: “With an effort Wilson left the shade and support of the doorway and, breathing hard, unscrewed the cap of the tank. In the sunlight, his face was green.” Wilson later turns to revenge when he is hurt all over again by Myrtle’s death, going into shock and killing Gatsby and himself at the end of the book. Fitzgerald develops Wilson’s homicidal and suicidal character near the end of the book by having Wilson be morbid and show all the signs of shock: “The effort of answering broke the rhythm of his rocking—for a moment he was silent. Then the same half-knowing, half-bewildered look came back into his eyes.”
Nick & "Mama"-
Nick Carraway and "Mama" Morton are similar in the fact that they are very well aware of everything going on around them, and are in on all the secrets and affairs.
Part II- Major Themes
Selfishness is one of the most dominant themes in The Great Gatsby and Chicago. In The Great Gatsby, Daisy and Tom are very selfish people. Fitzgerald shows this theme through the characters' actions. Daisy wants a secure and steady income, which she gets through Tom; and she wants a lot of attention, which she gets from Gatsby. She doesn’t care about either of the men; she only cares about what they give her. When it all starts falling apart in the apartment in New York, she has two choices: money or love. She chooses money and run back to Tom. Tom is very selfish because he wants both the rich, gorgeous trophy wife and the feisty, sensuous woman on the side. In the scene in the New York apartment, when he loses both his wife and his woman, he tries to maintain a hold on his wife and goes on about how he can’t understand why people don’t care about families these days…even though he leaves his family often to go meet his woman. In Chicago, Roxie is very selfish because all she cares about is herself and she doesn’t care about any of the other girls or her own husband. All she wants is fame and fortune and she tramples over everyone who cares about her, all just to get her fleeting moment of fame. The director develops Roxie's selfish character through attitude and dialogue, and Roxie will say things that reveal she only cares about herself. She only needs her husband, Amos, when he’ s convenient to have around; and when she doesn’t need him anymore she throws him to the side even though after all she’s done he would have taken her back and he still loves her. In the end when she has been decided “not guilty” and all the newspapermen leave for the next big story, Amos stands waiting with open arms to take Roxie back home, but she rejects him cruelly and without feeling. She is a selfish woman who only keeps number one in mind, and nobody else is important to her unless they can do something for her.
The Great Gatsby and Chicago are full of cheaters. Characters cheat left and right in both of the stories; they just all do it in different ways. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald creates the “cheating” theme through his character’s actions and attitudes. Jordan cheats in golf, and she doesn’t feel guilty about it at all. Daisy cheats Gatsby of love when she cheaps him out and reveals that she never actually loved him. Tom cheats on Daisy with Myrtle and isn’t sorry until he loses both of them; then he’s spitting out excuses and apologies just to retain his claim on Daisy. Gatsby cheats in the way he makes his money; we don’t know exactly what he does, but we know it’s not exactly legal, either. In Chicago, the director creates this theme of cheating through the dishonest and bad choices that the characters make. Roxie cheats Velma of her claim to fame and cheats Amos of their marriage and their loyalty to each other, the man Roxie slept with cheats her of her dreams by saying he’ll get her on Broadway but then not going through with his promise, and “Mama” Morton cheats the system by giving the prisoners anything they want as long as she gets enough cash from them for it. There are even more examples to use for the theme of cheating in The Great Gatsby and Chicago, because cheating is rampant throughout each story. Cheating is definitely a big theme in both the book and the movie.