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How did Isla Fisher’s Myrtle die in The Great Gatsby and who was responsible? Like the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald novel on which it’s based, director Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby is set on the wealthy north shore of New York’s Long Island during the summer of 1922. The film tells the tragic tale of Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a nouveau riche millionaire obsessed with reuniting with his former flame Daisy Buchanan (Carey Mulligan). To that end, Gatsby enlists the help of his neighbor and Daisy’s cousin Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) to win back her affections and the two embark on an affair. The trouble is that Daisy is married to Tom (Joel Edgerton), an arrogant socialite who comes from old money.
Tom isn’t exactly a great spouse to Daisy either. He’s having an affair himself with Myrtle Wilson (played by Isla Fisher), a working-class social climber who Tom rents an apartment for in Manhattan for their trysts. Myrtle is married herself; she’s the wife of mechanic George Wilson (Jason Clarke) who runs a garage in a depressing industrial area of Queens Tom often stops at for gas.
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Things inevitably come to a head on a sweltering day during The Great Gatsby’s third act when Daisy and Gatsby intend to tell Tom of their affair. When Daisy gets cold feet, she suggests a trip into the city with Tom insisting he drive Gatsby’s gaudy yellow Duesenberg car while Gatsby drives Tom’s tasteful blue Coupe. On the way to Manhattan, Tom stops by George’s garage and learns he and Myrtle plan to move away because he suspects she’s having an affair. The group ends up at the Plaza Hotel where Tom reveals he knows of Daisy and Gatsby’s affair and wears Daisy down into staying with him by ridiculing Gatsby’s low social standing. Condescendingly, Tom orders Gatsby to drive Daisy home in his gaudy car knowing she won’t rekindle the affair.
On the way back to Long Island, Daisy and Gatsby pass by George’s garage where he’s beating on his wife. Myrtle, thinking that Tom is still driving Gatsby’s car, runs out to meet him but is struck and killed by the car. At that point, it seems Gatsby is driving when Myrtle is hit as he’s seen attempting to steer out of her path. However, The Great Gatsby soon reveals that Daisy was behind the wheel and therefore responsible for Myrtle’s death but Gatsby intends to take the blame.
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The death of Isla Fisher’s Myrtle is the trigger for yet more tragic events. Tom leads a distraught George to believe Gatsby struck Myrtle, so George takes revenge by shooting Gatsby dead before turning the gun on himself. The Great Gatsby ends on a rather depressing note as the media makes a spectacle of Gatsby’s death while painting him as the man who had an affair with Myrtle and was responsible for the hit-and-run that killed her, while Daisy (the real perpetrator) and Tom (who definitely played a part in Myrtle, Gatsby and George’s deaths) get off scot-free.