The men they are influenced by and, often, married to, and the circumstances in which they live and work dictate the women’s characters and personalities. In ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’, Daisy and Blanche suffer degeneration in terms of their mentality and their morals due to the behaviour and actions of the men in their lives. The male characters act as catalysts in implementing this change, as they alter the lives of others yet are not themselves changed. However, it cannot be said that men are entirely responsible for this degeneration- to a certain extent, the fate of the women rests in their own hands. A comparison between the two texts, considering both the male characters’ responsibility, and the women’s own responsibility for themselves, will be decisive in determining how and why the women degenerate and the consequences of this deterioration.
Men are an extremely dominant force within both ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘A Streetcar Named Desire’. The marriages in each text display a microcosm view of the text as a whole, in that they are a small representation of a larger context. The men in each marriage are dominant- Tom, for example, is ambiguous because a reader knows he is violent from his behaviour to Myrtle- ‘Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with an open hand…high over the confusion a long broken wail of pain.’ However, he does not act violently that we know of towards Daisy. This could be a direct result of the two women’s class. Daisy is described by Jordan as being, ‘ “By far the most popular of all the young girls in Louiseville”’ whose wealth and class could be measured by ‘...
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...ever had any real compassion or love for her. Their decision to move away comes despite his earlier assumption that, ‘ “I’ll stay in the East, don’t you worry…I’d be a God damned fool to live anywhere else.”’ Gatsby himself is more ambiguous, as his obsession with Daisy creates his situation. He degenerates in terms of his morals, yet it seems that he has always been amoral when it comes to business and ‘gonnegtions’ as well.
Ultimately, the men only change subtly and almost imperceptibly as a result of their actions towards the women, yet the women themselves change irreversibly. Each change that occurs within the women is significant not just to the characters themselves, but also to those surrounding them and the dynamics of the plot. The conclusion to each text has been determined by the actions of the men and the result that they have on the women.
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