The Great Gatsby through the Lens of Feminist Criticism
Feminist Criticism examines the ways in which literature has been shaped according to the issues of gender. It directs its attention to the cultural and economic disparities in a “patriarchal” society that has hindered women from realizing their creative possibilities. Feminist critics argue that women are often identified as negative or passive “Objects” while men are defined as dominating “Subjects.” There are several assumptions and concepts held in common by most feminist critics: • Our civilization is pervasively patriarchal.
• The concept of “gender” is largely, if not entirely, a cultural construct that has resulted from the omnipresent patriarchal biases of our civilization. • This patriarchal ideology also pervades those writings that have been considered great literature. Such works lack autonomous female role models and are implicitly addressed to a male reader, making the woman reader feel like an outsider or else asking her to identify against herself by assuming male values and ways of perceiving, feeling, and acting. Feminist criticism focuses on the power relationships between the genders. Using the lens of feminist criticism, we can examine the patterns of thought, behavior, values, and power in relations between the sexes. For example, we might notice the lack of strong or significant female characters in Huck Finn and Twain’s seemingly patronizing depiction of the female characters that do exist.
When Daisy Buchanan learned that the child that she had just given birth to was a girl, she wept and then said, “All right. I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool—that the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (21). Explain what Daisy means by this. What is she saying about “this world”?
On page 67, Nick describes some of the regular attendees at Gatsby’s parties: “Benny McClenahan arrived always with four girls. They...
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