Explore the presentation of women in the novels. Use “The Catcher in the Rye” to illuminate your understanding of the core text.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” was first published in 1925 where attitudes towards women were changing as they were getting more jobs and freedom; their behaviours were becoming more rebellious due to the new American Dream. In “The Great Gatsby” women are presented as decorative figures. They are shown to be seemingly fragile but are often vain, ruthless, destructive and commonly described as “careless”. Fitzgerald through his work and presentation of women appears to be a misogynist. This is also highlighted in J.D. Salinger’s “The Catcher in the Rye” which was first published in 1951. J.D. Salinger often presents women in a negative way which he expresses through Holden Cauldfield as he often describes them “phony”. In “The Great Gatsby” women can be portrayed in two different roles; a sterotypical well mannered and prim woman like Daisy who has been inferior in her Relationship with Tom Buchanan for many years but now due to the new rebellion breaks away from that to commit an affair with Gatsby himself. On the other hand they are presented as foolish and out of control gossipers, much like Mertyl who Tom is using for a thrill but never intends to have a serious relationship with her; we can see this when Tom and Nick are at Mertyls appartment and Mertyl keeps repeating “Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!” and Tom quite carelessly breaks “her nose with his open hand” suggesting his lack of respect for this woman. Foolishness is also portrayed through many of the women at Gatsbys parties, who become so intoxicated they can barely walk. This can be seen when Nick and Daisy are at a table with a woman whos had “five or six cocktails…always starts screaming like that” which shows their vulgar behaviour and reckless attitudes.
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