Tom Buchanan, a wealthy and self-absorbed socialite, seeks to attain complete superiority by immersing himself in his wealth and possessions and exerting control over every aspect of his life and the lives of others. This is most apparent in his relationships with Myrtle Wilson. While he gifts her perfume, a magazine, and a dog, these gestures are simply tools to maintain possession over her. By ensuring she remains present, he can dictate her actions, satisfying his desire for dominance.
This superiority is further demonstrated when Nick tries to leave Tom and Myrtle in New York. Instead of Tom inquiring about his departure, he asserts that Nick isn’t going anywhere. He effectively orders Nick to stay, and by complying with his demand, Nick (like Myrtle) reinforces Tom’s dominance and authority over those in his life. Myrtle Wilson, a lower-class flapper, possesses a single, unwavering aspiration: to ascend to the social status of the upper class.
Aside from fantasizing about having a sexual relationship with Tom Buchanan, she thinks that by emulating the looks and qualities of the upper-class socialites, she will be welcomed into their circle. This is demonstrated when Myrtle transforms her appearance wearing a brown muslin dress, which is a type of affordable fabric designed to give the illusion of a higher quality. Myrtle wears this dress as a disguise to elevate her social status. Additionally, she acquires a small bottle of perfume, which is actually bought by Tom, but serves as another attempt to enhance her image.
Perfume is commonly utilized to mask or conceal odors. However, in this particular situation, it is being employed to create the illusion that Myrtle possesses the means to afford an extravagant luxury item. This facade supports her motive to seamlessly blend in with the rest of the aristocracy. Additionally, Myrtle intentionally dismisses four taxi cabs before finally choosing a new one that happens to be lavender-colored. This pretentious display of being demanding showcases Myrtle’s attempt to feel superior and mimic the behavior she perceives as characteristic of the upper class – accepting only what meets their standards of perfection.
In the end, despite all of Myrtle’s efforts to attain a higher social status, she will never be able to achieve it. She is too artificial and desperate for acceptance from the upper class. They can perceive her insincerity, as she is clearly fabricating her true social identity in her attempts to fit in. Consequently, they view her as an imposter who aspires to be part of the genuine elite. Overall, Fitzgerald’s main objective in unveiling these characters’ desires and traits is to demonstrate that although one can adopt a false persona, one’s true nature cannot be altered.