Theme Of Patriarchy In The Great Gatsby

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The 1920’s was an unethical period that saw the neglect of numerous social groups. Whilst we often associate 20th century America with the iniquities of segregation imposed by the Jim Crow laws, it is also the case that women were subjected to a second class role. Fitzgerald effectively presents the detrimental patriarchy in The Great Gatsby through the use of various techniques, his crafting of male characters being physically dominant, enables the reader to conclude that the 1920’s was a period of injustice. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye provides further support to this argument by presenting a corresponding rejection of female equality two decades later.

Fitzgerald presents verbal dominance, as a trait of male characters to develop
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“This is the idea that we’re Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and…” following an infinitesimal hesitation he includes Daisy with a slight nod. Tom appears as a caricature of patriarchy. It would seem that Daisy’s limited involvement is a result of fright and worry, although, it could be argued that in Fitzgerald’s fiction wealth leads to the infantilisation of women: Daisy has such a love for material goods that she comes across as a fully dependent child where both Tom and Gatsby are more a father figure as opposed to a lover. Nick is mystified in chapter two to learn from the McKee’s; Tom’s view that Daisy is “keeping them apart, she’s a Catholic and they don’t believe in divorce.” He confirms “Daisy was not a Catholic” raising question over Tom’s reasoning in his prolonged affair with Myrtle as it appears inconsistent. Daisy offers in…show more content…
Gatsby depicts the ‘new man’: coming from a humble background, he goes to extensive measures in order to win Daisy over and has dedicated manhood to making her satisfied, rather than the archetypal objectification of women associated with the era. Holden Caulfield is perhaps the first teenager in popular literature; he for large parts of The Catcher in the Rye treats women as equal. He admits to wanting to get to “know” Jane Gallagher despite having already achieved the optimum of being “intimate” with her, signifying the decline of gender based inequalities and the emergence of an evolutionary new empathetic breed of the male gender. This is perhaps a theory developed by Salinger and Fitzgerald to show Buchanan and Stradlater as men of a previous age symbolised by their continuation for destruction during peacetime. Gatsby, however, had “one of those rare smiles” and his affection towards female characters is recognised by Nick in chapter five where he states “Gatsby didn’t know me at all now” for he was so taken by his romance with Daisy; that he “literally glowed”. On the other hand, Holden’s inability to establish a relationship with Sally or Jane and Gatsby’s failure to achieve his ultimate ambition perhaps shows that women are unintentionally exploiting themselves as a result of their farcical
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