Gender Roles in the Roaring 1920s: An Examination of the Women of The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby is often referred to as the great American novel; a timeless commentary on the American Dream. A dream that defines success, power, love, social status, and recreation for the American public. It should be mentioned that this novel was published in 1925, which is a time when the American public had recently experienced some significant changes, including women’s suffrage, which had only taken place 6 years prior to the publication of this novel May of 1919. The women of this era had recently acquired a voice in politics, however, the social world does not always take the same pace as the political world. F. Scott Fitzgerald developed female characters that represented both women in their typical gender roles and their modern counterparts. I will be analyzing gender roles within the context of this novel, comparing and contrasting Myrtle Wilson, Jordan Baker, and Daisy Buchanan alongside one another, as well as comparing and contrasting their interactions with the men in the novel.
In Leland S. Pearson, Jr.’s essay “Herstory” and Daisy Buchanan,” Pearson explains why Daisy’s character is incomplete in the novel. Particularly in this paragraph:
“Despite Nick’s Judgement of her carelessness and “basic insincerity,” her conspiratorial relationship with Tom, Daisy is victimized by a male tendency to project a self-satisfying, yet ultimately dehumanizing, image on woman. If Gatsby had “wanted to recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy” (p. III); if Nick had nearly recovered a “fragment of lost words” through the inspiring magic of her voice, then Daisy’s potential selfhood is finally betrayed by the world of the novel. Hers remains a “lost voice,” and its words...

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...roviders. One thing is clear, although it may have been frowned upon, the women of the time were undergoing a change through breaking social norms, going to parties on their own or with other women, drinking, smoking like men- although frowned upon, these acts were bold, they were new to the women of the era. They were the beginning of a woman’s more expansive and self-defined place in the modern world.

Works Cited

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York, NY: Scribner, 1996. Print.
Person, Leland S., Jr. ""Herstory" and Daisy Buchanan." American Literature 50.2 (1978): 250-57. JSTOR. Web. 17 May 2014. .
Pottorf, Michael. "The Great Gatsby: Myrtle's Dog And Its Relation To The Dog--God Or Pound And Eliot." American Notes & Queries 14.6 (1976): 88. Academic Search Complete. Web. 17 May 2014.

In this essay, the author

  • Opines that something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving daisy.
  • Analyzes how daisy's potential selfhood is finally betrayed by the world of the novel.
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