Gender Roles in The Great Gatsby
Gender Roles in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the 1920s, is considered to be one of the most important books of the Jazz Age. The novel analyzes the interactions between a small number of persons who lived on Long Island, New York, in Queens, New York, and Manhattan, New York, in a diverse range of socioeconomic circumstances. The novel is frequently read in terms of the income disparity that exists among the characters during the years when America was experiencing a financial boom, which is true. However, the novel takes place during a time when much was changing in society. When compared to prior generations, women appeared to have gained a significant deal of independence. The novel, on the other hand, demonstrates that women were living in a changing environment in terms of gender norms. Myrtle was still clearly under the control of men, whereas Jordan had gained more freedom. Daisy was a symbol of the evolution of women. She exhibited greater rebelliousness and was more willing to indulge in extramarital affairs; nonetheless, she acknowledged that women still faced limits. Men surrounded these women, maintaining traditional gender roles and attempting to exert authority over the women.
As the women attempted to break free from their customary roles, the males compelled them to revert to their previous positions. The story is about Jay Gatsby’s secret love for Daisy Buchanan, which is revealed in the novel. Daisy, Jordan Baker, and Myrtle Wilson are the story’s three primary female characters. Daisy is the protagonist of the tale. Jordan Baker exemplifies the “new woman” in all her glory. As her name implies, she is a woman of androgynous appearance. She is also a woman who is athletic rather than feminine in appearance. She is a professional golfer who competes in tournaments across the world. Nick, the narrator of the story, is the first person she meets and falls in love with. According to Nick, she is “a slim, small-breasted girl with an upright carriage that she enhanced by thrusting her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet” (Fitzgerald 26). This is a description of a woman that is far from being feminine. She is also confident in her ability to steer guys in the direction she desires. Jordan insists on leaving the party and exploring Gatsby’s house after she and Nick are invited to one of his parties. She does not pause to await the man’s instructions. She is self-sufficient, and she even drives her own automobile. As a woman who allows men to take the lead in the relationship, this is incompatible with her values. Nick eventually calls it quits on their romance. Nick reverted to the old gender roles, in which a male would be in charge of making choices.
Myrtle Wilson, on the other hand, is the polar opposite. She is completely reliant on the males in her life for everything. Myrtle is the wife of a poor mechanic who has a business in Queens, and they have two children. She battles with the bleakness of her existence and makes use of the one thing she has that is of any value to her: her sexuality. Daisy’s husband, Tom Buchanan, discovers that she is having an affair with him. She plainly does this in order to get away from her bleak existence in the Valley of the Ashes, which she despises. As a result of his financial predicament, her husband feels a sense of inferiority. He is at the mercy of the wealthier and more powerful guys in his life. Myrtle is one of the victims of this predicament. She makes numerous attempts to exert control over her spouse, but he eventually rejects the connection. “Why don’t you go get some seats, why don’t you?” she says to her husband as Tom and Nick arrive at their stores (Fitzgerald 37). She is also overtly sexual, in contrast to Jordan’s androgynous appearance. Despite the fact that she was not attractive, “her body [was] always smoldering…she wet her lips” (Fitzgerald 37). She is also far from being slender, but rather has the natural curves of a woman, which her outfits emphasized even more. She is, unfortunately, taking use of her sexuality in order to get away from her existence in the Valley of the Ashes. While George Wilson appears to be unconcerned with the apparent, he eventually insisted on having Myrtle’s wife as his mistress. Wilson has come to terms with the fact that his wife has been unfaithful. He answers by putting her in a room and telling her that “she’ll be there till the day after tomorrow, and then we’ll be moving away” (Fitzgerald 120). Myrtle attempted to break free from her life; unfortunately, she was compelled to accomplish so through the use of her sexuality. Tom was only interested in having a cheap affair with her, and he was willing to take advantage of her. It’s possible that her husband had feelings for her. He, on the other hand, is adamant about maintaining power over her in the end.
Daisy’s character is not as reliant on others as Myrtle, but she is also not as assertively self-sufficient as Jordan. She has an affair with Gatsby, which he finds amusing. Tom subscribed to the notion that men might have affairs but that women should not do so. He was upset that his wife was indulging in the same type of activity that he was. Daisy did not first appear to be the independent and free-spirited woman of the Roaring Twenties in her early appearances. In his remarks about her, Gatsby stated that she was the “first “decent” female he had ever met (Fitzgerald 130). The use of italics on the word “lovely” indicates that she was most likely a virgin who did not engage in sexual encounters with anybody other than her husband outside of their marriage. Daisy, on the other hand, was only property in Gatsby’s eyes. Historically, women were seen as property, which is a sad state of affairs. As described by Gatsby, the attention shown in Daisy by other gentlemen has “raised [Daisy’s] value in his eyes” (Fitzgerald 130). Daisy comes to the realization that women are solely valued for their appearance and frivolity. When it comes to her own daughter, she expresses her desire that she “become a fool” because she believes that “being a beautiful little fool is the best thing a girl can be in this world” (Fitzgerald 30). Daisy is confident that her daughter’s beauty will provide her with stability, and she hopes that she will be too dumb to question her place in the world. Daisy comes to the realization that she is living in a society dominated by males who are wealthy and powerful. Tom Buchanan is abusive to her, and she is unable to leave him because he has these possessions in his possession. In the novel, Tom and Gatsby both represent the men who will be in charge of their respective worlds, even if doing so requires deception. Sadly, George Wilson has little control over the world, as he is poor. He still does try to control his wife though. Even Nick, the most logical character in the narrative, is adamant about not allowing Jordan to gain an advantage in the hand.
The men in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby make an effort to maintain traditional gender norms, which includes exerting control over their wives and girlfriends. They do not believe that women should behave in the same manner as males. To a certain extent, all of the female characters in the novel make an effort to be self-sufficient. They are not permitted to carry out this action. Unfortunately, many utilize their attractiveness and sexuality as a means of escaping. Jordan is the most self-sufficient and non-sexual of the three female characters. However, none of these options allows the women to achieve their desired level of freedom.
F. Scott Fitzgerald is a fictional character created by American author F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby is a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Scribner, 1925.