In this article, the author Cari Romm explores the question if lying by omission is as bad as telling outright lies. Romm says that research shows that people are much more likely and even willing to lie by omission than they are to tell a “regular” lie. In a series experiments, researchers found that those telling the lies feel it is more ethical. They feel that what they are doing is somewhere between the truth and a lie. Lying by omission is found in The Great Gatsby with the character of Nick Carraway. Throughout the whole book, Nick knows information that some of the other characters don’t. Instead of telling the characters what he knows, Nick keeps it all to himself. For example, Nick and Tom go to New York to visit Tom’s mistress, Myrtle. Nick knows who Myrtle is, yet when he gets back home he holds onto the information and doesn’t tell Daisy. There are several more examples of Nick withholding information like this all throughout the novel. In chapter three Nick says, “Everyone suspects himself of at least one of the cardinal virtues, and this is mine: I am one of the few honest people that I have ever known” (59). Nick claims he is truthful, but really he’s just as dishonest as the other characters spreading rumors and telling outright lies.
In this article by Matthew Hutson, the author discusses the topic of lying to deceive ourselves to make ourselves seem better to other people. The article says that people create a different version of themselves to present to the public in order to make themselves look better socially and to feel better about themselves. I think this very clearly relates to Gatsby. Gatsby’s entire life as we know it is a lie. Even his name isn’t real, he was actually born James Gatz, to a family of poor farmers. However Gatsby says that he was born into a wealthy family, and both his parents are dead. At one point he says that he got all his money from his family, and at another time he claims he made his money from the drugstore business. In reality, Gatsby didn’t get any money from his parents, and he made his money from bootlegging. Gatsby often talks about being a war hero, which is partly true, he was in the army, but most likely not the extent he likes the say. However, even though almost everything Gatsby says is a lie, he’s managed to convince himself that this is all the truth. Gatsby truly feels that he is Jay Gatsby and not James Gatz. In chapter six Nick comments on Gatsby’s lies about his identity, “ I suppose he'd had the name ready for a long time, even then. His parents were shiftless and unsuccessful farm people--his imagination had never really accepted them as his parents at all. The truth was that Jay Gatsby of West Egg, Long Island, sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He was a son of God--a phrase which, if it means anything, means just that--and he must be about His Father's business, the service of a vast, vulgar, and meretricious beauty. So he invented just the sort of Jay Gatsby that a seventeen-year-old boy would be likely to invent, and to this conception, he was faithful to the end" (98). All of Gatsby’s dishonesty ended up making him hard to trust and made people very wary of him. Which led to him to being lonely and longing for more for the rest of his life.
In a poem by Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the topic of lying to oneself is analyzed again. I think this still relates to Gatsby, but it also relates to Daisy and Myrtle. Both of these women play a key part in Tom’s affair, and both of them know about each other. Daisy knows that Tom is having an affair, though she doesn’t know with whom. Even though Daisy knows this she acts like she doesn’t know what’s going on, where Tom is going, or who is calling the house during dinner time. She lies to herself about what is going on and turns a blind eye to the affair. Daisy even says herself that purposely being ignorant is better. In chapter one Daisy says, "'All right,' I said, 'I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a fool-- that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool' (17)." However, this mentality doesn't end up working in Daisy's favor. This results not only in her being extremely unhappy but ultimately Myrtle’s death.
In the article “Why We Lie and How to Stop” by Lisa Firestone, it is stated that we are lied to 10-200 times a day. Lying is something we experience constantly and may or may not know it, but we do know that lying can hurt us a lot in the end. Almost every character in The Great Gatsby lies. However, one specific type of lying I want to discuss is spreading rumors. There are an incredible amount of rumors told about Gatsby, some of which may have been true. Rumors like, Gatsby has killed a man, or Gatsby was a German spy, etc. Gatsby didn’t seem to pay much attention to the rumors about him, but it did create the sense that he was hiding something, something dangerous. This made it so no one wanted to become, or was at all, close with Gatsby. When he died only a very small amount of people came to his funeral, despite “all of New York” coming to the parties he threw every weekend. The author states that “Another problem is that gossip breeds cynicism and destroys compassion. It’s a nasty way of indirectly dealing with real observations or competitive feelings”. One symbol in The Great Gatsby is the Dr. T.J Eckleburg eyes. The character’s values seem to only be to get whatever they want for themselves in any way you can. None of the characters have a moral compass. The only motivator for the characters are the eyes of TJ Eckleburg. It makes them consider how bad their actions and the lies they tell. The eyes make them uncomfortable, and finally get them to realize, at least a little bit, that the lies they tell will eventually be found out.
The song Lie by Jimin is originally sung in Korean, but when translated to English relates very well to the theme of deceit in The Great Gatsby. The first few lines of the song say, “Tell me/With your sweet smile/Tell me like you’re whispering in my ear/Don’t be like a prey/(Be) Smooth like a snake”. I feel that these lines relate to Daisy and Gatsby’s relationship. When Daisy and Gatsby meet again after not seeing each other for years, Daisy tells Gatsby she is going to leave her husband, Tom, and that she never really loved Tom. However, it is clear to everyone (except for Gatsby) that Daisy is lying. When she’s finally confronted by both Gatsby and her husband, Daisy finally breaks down and reveals the truth, “Oh you want too much! I love you now--isn’t that enough? I can’t help what’s past. I did love him once--but I loved you too.” Daisy was just telling Gatsby what he wanted to hear, which is basically what the song is asking. For someone to tell them lies that they want to hear. Another line from the song that also describes Daisy is, “It continues even when I run away/I am caught in a lie”. After Gatsby dies, Daisy and Tom move back to Chicago. Instead of fixing the mess they made Daisy and Tom just leave everything behind, but you can’t just leave a situation like that without having lasting issues. The audience isn’t shown what problems Daisy and Tom are left with, but the pearl necklace Nick sees Tom buy shows that their lives are just like they were back in New York.
I feel that this piece of art relates to every character in The Great Gatsby. Every character lies to either themselves or to others just to make their lives more enjoyable. Gatsby lies about his identity to make himself more acceptable socially, Nick withholds important information, and then still tells himself that he is the only honest person. Tom lies to both Daisy and Myrtle. He tells Myrtle he can’t divorce Daisy because she is Catholic, and he pretends that he is faithful to Daisy. Daisy lies to herself about her husband's affair and acts like the whole ordeal isn’t even happening. In the end, all of these lies (and more) combine to create what unfortunately happens, the death of Myrtle, George Wilson, and Gatsby. Gatsby lies about killing Myrtle to protect Daisy, and it only ends up killing him. All of these characters were lying because they thought it would make them enjoy their lives, or it would help other characters enjoy their lives more. Sadly, in the end, all of the characters end up unhappy. Lying ultimately only harmed them.