Guid Essay

Guid Essay

Women in The Great Gatsby – Free Essay Example

The Great Gatsby written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in April of 1924, demonstrates close resemblance to the history of the 1920s. The 1920s commonly referred to as the “Roaring Twenties,” is most popular for its wild parties, dancing, and illegal drinking to its post-war prosperity and its new freedoms for women (Southern). All of these components and more can easily be identified in Fitzgerald’s award-winning novel. The Great Gatsby represents the history of the 1920s by expressing changes in women’s rights, illegal drinking, and economics.

Women’s rights were a prominent issue in the 1900s and still are to this day. Women have always been taught that their main purpose is to cook, clean, and take care of a family. Yet, during the 1920s women began stepping out of their comfort zone and exploring all of the possibilities that life offers. This revolution began with the 19th Amendment passed in 1919, which gave women the right to vote. This great accomplishment empowered many women to fight for equal rights. As World War I continued, more women began to work to make up for the men fighting abroad (Wulik). This gave women more power and a larger role in society. The term “flapper” was used to describe women who would wear much less restricting clothing and go out drinking and dancing (Wulik). The Great Gatsby shows the advancement of the “flapper” through the development of the character Jordan Baker. She is athletic, single, and goes out with various men (Pruitt). Jordan is also known to lie and cheat. The narrator states, “at her first big golf tournament there was a row that nearly reached the newspapers- a suggestion that she had moved the ball from a bad lie in the semi-final round (Fitzgerald 62). This is just one example of how “impure and unladylike” Jordan is. There is also another scandal where Jordan was borrowing someone’s car, left the top down in the rain, and lied about the event. Jordan is a great example of how Fitzgerald integrated the advancement of women into The Great Gatsby. Another character that defies traditional roles is Myrtle Wilson. Throughout the novel, Myrtle is having an affair with Tom Buchanan, Daisy Buchanan’s husband. Myrtle herself is married to George Wilson. Myrtle’s affair is elaborate, scandalous, and vile. The 1920s brought out a more experimental and wild side of women and Fitzgerald communicates that through the development of female characters.

Additionally, the division between genders and the different roles they played in society are evident throughout the Great Gatsby. The role of women during the time period the Great Gatsby is set, which is the 1920s, as expressed by Daisy, the only strength women had in society was to look beautiful and be married off to a richer man, she said “That’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful fool”. Women were also seen as just objects and possessions of men. Daisy’s worth increased in Gatsby’s eyes when it became obvious that many other men were fond of her, so she then became a prize to be won, other than being seen as an actual person, “It excited him too that many men had already loved Daisy- it increased her value in his eyes”. Furthermore, the way in which Tom Buchanan dominates his wife, Daisy, and Myrtle, shows that women were treated just as possessions in men’s eyes. Men were allowed to discipline their women as they saw fit if they did something wrong in their eyes. This is evident when “Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand”. How both the genders were also characterized is evident in the roles they played in society. Tom was represented as the stereotypical figure; a modern prototype of the ancient patriarch presiding over his family and property. At the time, males were supposed to be the alphas in society and the dominant figure in relationships who exerted power and control over other women and their families. Women were meant to be obedient to their husbands and even though the flapper was meant to represent the liberated woman which is what Daisy was, she is still extremely subservient and submissive to Tom. In summary, when reading the Great Gatsby through a gender stereotypical lens, the power that men hold over women is significantly represented throughout the text.

To summarize, F. Scott Fitzgerald can be said to have captured the rollicking, tumultuous decade known as the Roaring Twenties (Pruitt). The Great Gatsby represents the history of the 1920s in several aspects including changes in women’s rights, illegal drinking, and economics.

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