Who Are the Characters in The Great Gatsby?

Last Updated: October 25th, 2023 by Kerry Wisby (Teacher-BA English Literature, 1920s & Great Gatsby Expert)

Whether you’re a student who just doesn’t have time to read the entire novel, or you simply need a refresher on who is who, you’ll find that the characters in The Great Gatsby are complex and interact in unexpected ways.

Characters in the Great Gatsby novel

From Nick Carraway to Jay Gatsby, Tom Buchanan to Myrtle Wilson, we will discuss all the characters and explain their relationship to one another.

Oh yes, and who is “the boarder” anyway? Who refused to come to Gatsby’s funeral but asked for their shoes to be mailed to them?

I have the answers you need and more.

The Main Characters in The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby characters are as varied and interesting as the novel itself.

Nick Carraway

Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway in the 2013 movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby

Narrator of the novel, Nick describes everything that happened on the prosperous Long Island, New York in the summer of 1922. He is telling the tale two years afterward. He is Daisy Buchanan’s cousin and an old college buddy of Daisy’s husband Tom Buchanan. He lives next door to Gatsby’s mansion in West Egg, while Daisy and Tom’s mansion is in the old-moneyed part of East Egg.

Jay Gatsby

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in the 2013 movie version of The Great Gatsby

Incredibly wealthy bootlegger Jay Gatsby, whose real name is James Gatz, met Daisy at her debutante party. They fell in love, but Gatsby was poor at the time. He went to war; meanwhile, Daisy married Tom Buchanan. He spent the next 5 years earning enough money to win back Daisy. Gatsby and Daisy meet again, but what Gatsby doesn’t seem to realize is that he can’t go back and recreate the past. In the end, he pays the ultimate price for loving Daisy.

Daisy Buchanan

Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan in the 2013 movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby

Cousin to Nick Carraway and wife of Tom Buchanan. Her parents’ prodding, Gatsby’s delayed return, and her own indecision made Daisy marry Tom Buchanan. She has a three-year-old daughter named Pammy. She is disillusioned in her marriage to Tom since he cheats on her constantly. Daisy claims to be in love with Gatsby and has an affair with him, but is unable to leave her comfortable life with Tom. After accidentally killing Myrtle Wilson with Gatsby’s car, Daisy uses her money to hide from her responsibilities and doesn’t even send flowers to Gatsby’s funeral.

Tom Buchanan

Joel Edgerton as Tom Buchanan in the 2013 movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby

Husband to Daisy Buchanan and father of their daughter, Pammy. Tom and Nick attended Yale together. Tom is a racist, bigoted, and violent man who feels that his money and social status can protect him from anything. He ends up keeping Daisy only after exposing Gatsby for being a criminal and a bootlegger.

Myrtle Wilson

Isla Fisher as Myrtle Wilson in the 2013 movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby

Wife of garage and gas station owner George Wilson. Myrtle is Tom’s mistress. She dreams of the day Tom will divorce Daisy and marry her, not realizing that this will never happen. When George discovers she is having an affair, he locks her in their apartment and tries to find money to move away. Myrtle sees the big yellow car that she saw Tom driving earlier in the day and runs out in the street to talk to him. Daisy is driving, and she hits and kills Myrtle, then drives away.

Jordan Baker

Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker in 2013 movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby

Lifelong friend of Daisy Buchanan, Jordan is a professional golfer who would like nothing more than to find a wealthy husband. She dates Nick Carraway that summer and attends Gatsby’s parties with him, but her indifference to Myrtle’s death turns Nick’s blood cold, and he ends their relationship.

George Wilson

Jason Clarke as George Wilson in the 2013 movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby

Husband of Myrtle Wilson, George appears to be the only married person honoring his vows. He works very hard but doesn’t earn nearly enough money for his wife. When George discovers Myrtle is having an affair, he doesn’t know who it is, but decides that a move out West would break off the relationship. He is devastated when Myrtle is killed. He demands at gunpoint that Tom tell him who owns the yellow car that killed her. Tom tells George where to find Gatsby, knowing that he will shoot him. George shoots and kills Gatsby, possibly believing he was the man Myrtle was having an affair with, and then shoots himself.

Minor Characters in The Great Gatsby

Meyer Wolfsheim

Meyer Wolfsheim in The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby’s business partner, he claims that he fixed the 1919 World Series. He wears human molars as cufflinks and tie clips. Although Wolfsheim states that he “made” Gatsby, he refuses to attend Gatsby’s funeral. He does, however, send men to collect everything of value from Gatsby’s mansion.

Owl Eyes

Owl Eyes in The Great Gatsby

We never learn his real name, only the nickname that Nick gives him due to his enormous spectacles. Owl Eyes is an older gentleman who seems perpetually drunk and is surprised that Gatsby’s library is filled with genuine books. He is one of the few people to attend Gatsby’s funeral.

Ewing Klipspringer

Ewing Klipspringer in The Great Gatsby

In modern literature, he would be called a leech. He stays at Gatsby’s so much that he is frequently called The Border. He claims to be related to Beethoven and plays the organ and piano. He disappears when Gatsby is murdered. When Klipspringer finally calls Gatsby’s mansion, he says he won’t come to the funeral, but he wants to know if Nick could mail him a pair of tennis shoes that he left at the house. Nick hangs up on him.

Mr. Henry Gatz

Mr. Henry Gatz in The Great Gatsby

Jay Gatsby’s father. He reads about his son’s murder in the newspapers and shows up at the West Egg mansion. Mr. Gatz is not surprised at his son’s wealth, he says he always knew the boy was destined for greatness.

The McKees

Mr. Mckee in The Great Gatsby

Mr. and Mrs. McKee live downstairs in the apartment building where Tom keeps an apartment for his trysts with Myrtle. Mr. McKee is a photographer.


Catherine in The Great Gatsby

Catherine, no last name given, is Myrtle’s sister. She lives in New York and frequently goes to the apartment when Myrtle and Tom are there.


Michaelis in The Great Gatsby

The Greek restaurant owner next door to George and Myrtle Wilson. He doesn’t know that Tom is Myrtle’s mistress, but he does see Myrtle hit by the car firsthand. Michaelis tries to comfort George and stays up with him all night. However, after sleeping for a few hours, he finds that George is gone.

Pammy Buchanan

Pammy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby

Pammy is the three-year-old daughter of Daisy and Tom Buchanan.

F. Scott Fitzgerald tells the story of The Great Gatsby almost entirely through the eyes of Nick, with small portions told by Jordan and Michaelis.

Who Is the Most Important Character in The Great Gatsby and Why?

The most important character in The Great Gatsby would have to be Jay Gatsby. He is the protagonist of the novel, and his story is the one that drives the plot.

Gatsby is initially a mysterious figure who has made a fortune through bootlegging and other illegal activities. He lives in a huge, beautiful mansion and throws lavish parties every weekend in hopes that Daisy will attend.

Jay Gatsby of “The Great Gatsby”: An Enigmatic Blend of Reality and Fantasy

Gatsby, however, is ultimately a lonely man who is obsessed with Daisy Buchanan, a woman he met and fell in love with five years earlier. Gatsby’s quest to win Daisy back is ultimately doomed, but his story is a cautionary tale about the dangers of pursuing the American dream.

Gatsby represents the American dream. He is a self-made man who has achieved great success, but he is also a flawed individual who is ultimately destroyed by his own ambition. Gatsby’s story is a warning about the dangers of pursuing the American dream at all costs.

jay gatsby

Here are some of the reasons why Jay Gatsby is the most important character in The Great Gatsby:

  • He is the protagonist of the novel. The story is told about his past life and his ongoing quest to win back Daisy Buchanan.
  • He is a complex and fascinating character. He is a self-made man but also a flawed individual who is ultimately destroyed by his unrealistic ambition and demands. He is in love with an illusion.
  • He is a reminder that the American dream can be both alluring and dangerous.

Gatsby is a tragic figure in a cautionary tale, reminding the readers that despite our best efforts, we cannot recreate the past. We should remember the past, live in the present, and work on the future.

Who Is the Most Interesting Character in The Great Gatsby?

The most interesting character in The Great Gatsby is more a matter of opinion or preference, but it appears that most people find Daisy Buchanan to be an interesting, if perplexing character.

Daisy, who met Gatsby before her husband Tom, promised Gatsby (at that time, an officer in the war) that she would wait forever.

Daisy Buchanan: A Flapper, a Socialite, and the Focal Point of Gatsby’s Love

Forever turned out to be about two years. Daisy most likely believed that Gatsby was a wealthy man so when the war ended, she couldn’t understand why he didn’t come back to her.

Readers should also consider the social standards of the times. Women past the age of 25 were considered old maids who would never marry. Daisy was surely not interested in being an old maid, and when the very distinguished and wealthy Tom Buchanan proposed, it only made sense to accept. Who knew if Gatsby would ever return?

Gatsby did write a letter that Daisy received on the eve of her wedding. She could have called off the wedding, but bowing to pressure from her mother, she went through with it.

Now a seasoned mother and wife, Daisy meets Gatsby once more. She claims to be in love with him still. Daisy also tells Gatsby that she will leave Tom.

Daisy starts an affair with Gatsby, most likely with a tit-for-tat revenge motive rather than true love because once pressed by Gatsby to tell Tom that she never loved him, she can’t do it.

After hitting Myrtle with Gatsby’s car, she doesn’t take refuge in Gatsby’s arms. She doesn’t tell Gatsby that this is their chance to run away together. Instead, she takes comfort in Tom’s embrace.

Now whether Daisy knows about Gatsby’s death is unclear. She may not have known, but either way, Daisy abandons Gatsby and her responsibility for Myrtle’s death by leaving town with her husband.

Daisy Buchanan is a fascinating person who, despite being Nick Carraway’s cousin, doesn’t confide much in him, not even telling him when she leaves town.

Did Daisy Really Love Gatsby?

the great gatsby - jay gatsby and daisy buchanan dancing at a party

Whether or not Daisy Buchanan really loved Jay Gatsby is a matter of debate. Some readers believe that she did love him but was ultimately unable to leave her comfortable life with Tom Buchanan. Others believe that she never really loved Gatsby and was only using him to escape her own unhappiness.

There is evidence to support both sides of this argument. On the one hand, Daisy does seem to have genuine feelings for Gatsby. She is drawn to his wealth and status, but she is also drawn to his charm and idealism. She tells him that she has “always loved him,” and she even considers leaving Tom for him.

On the other hand, Daisy also seems to be aware of the limitations of Gatsby’s world. She knows that he is not a real aristocrat, and she knows that his wealth is based on illegal activities. She also knows that Tom is a powerful man, and she is afraid of what he might do if she leaves him.

Ultimately, it is up to the reader to decide whether or not Daisy really loved Gatsby. There is no easy answer, and the novel leaves the question open-ended. This question is one of the reasons why The Great Gatsby is still such a powerful and enduring work of literature, even 100 years later.

Daisy Goes to Gatsby's House for the First Time

Here are some of the pieces of evidence that support the argument that Daisy did love Gatsby:

  • Daisy tells Gatsby that she has “always loved him.”
  • Daisy considers leaving Tom for Gatsby.
  • Daisy defends Gatsby against Tom’s accusations.

Here are some of the pieces of evidence that support the argument that Daisy did not love Gatsby:

  • Daisy is only drawn to Gatsby’s wealth and wouldn’t have had anything to do with him if he had been poor.
  • Once Daisy discovers that Gatsby is not a real aristocrat, she is horrified and seems as if she will stay with Tom.
  • Daisy knows that Gatsby’s wealth is based on illegal activities, something she has a problem dealing with.
  • Daisy is afraid of what divorce might do to her social status.

The evidence is inconclusive, and it is up to the reader to decide whether or not Daisy really loved Gatsby.

On a personal note, I believe she did love Gatsby but was too weak to make decisive actions that were required of her to live a life with Gatsby.

Which Character Changed the Most in The Great Gatsby?

Hands down, of all the Great Gatsby characters, this has to be Nick Carraway.

At the beginning of the novel, Nick is a young man who is full of idealism and optimism. He believes in the American dream and is excited to start a new life in New York. However, as the novel progresses, Nick becomes disillusioned with the world of the wealthy and the privileged. He sees how they live their lives without regard for others, and he realizes that the American dream, or at least what he believes is the American dream, is not what it seems.

Unveiling the Authentic Nick Carraway: Unexpected Parallels with F. Scott Fitzgerald

Nick’s change is evident in his relationship with Gatsby. At first, Nick is fascinated by Gatsby and his lifestyle. He sees Gatsby as a symbol of the American dream, and he believes that Gatsby can achieve anything he sets his mind to.

However, as Nick gets to know Gatsby better, he realizes that Gatsby is not as perfect as he seems. Gatsby is obsessed with Daisy and willing to do anything to win her back. This obsession ultimately leads to Gatsby’s downfall. Nick knows that you cannot repeat the past, but Gatsby is too blinded by his obsession to realize this.

Nick’s change is also evident in his relationship with Daisy. At first, Nick is sympathetic to Daisy. He believes that she is trapped in a loveless marriage, and he wants to help her escape. However, as Nick gets to know Daisy better, he realizes that she is not as innocent as she seems. Daisy is willing to sacrifice almost anything in order to protect her own.

Nick’s change is a reminder that the American dream is not always what it seems. The pursuit of wealth and material possessions can lead to corruption and moral decay. The Great Gatsby is a cautionary tale about the dangers of the American dream.

nick carraway wearing a suit and with lights in the background

Here are some of the specific ways in which Nick changes throughout the novel:

  • He starts out as a young man who is full of idealism and optimism.
  • He becomes disillusioned with the world of the wealthy and the privileged.
  • He realizes that the American dream is not what it seems.
  • He becomes more cynical and world-weary.
  • He learns to accept the world as it is rather than as he would like it to be. However, he can’t live with the memories of what happened, so he returns home to the Midwest.

Of all the Great Gatsby’s characters, Nick’s change is a journey that many readers can relate to. It is a reminder that we all change as we grow older and experience more of the world, sometimes for the good, sometimes not.

Final Thoughts on the Gatsby Characters

While some of the Great Gatsby characters play a larger part than others, what would this novel be without Great Gatsby characters such as Owl Eyes or even Klipspringer?

Nearly everyone can identify with at least one character from this novel, and many understand the difficult position that Nick Carraway was in. As Tom’s friend, he knew that Tom was cheating. Later, he became an accomplice to Daisy’s cheating, and near the end, he learned that Daisy killed Myrtle.

This complicated tale is still relevant today and is what keeps The Great Gatsby on reading lists throughout America.

Who Are the Characters in The Great Gatsby?
Who Are the Characters in The Great Gatsby?
Nearly every character in The Great Gatsby plays an important role, even if some characters are mentioned less than others. Discover all the characters you must learn about.  
Gatsby Flapper Girl