Female Role in Great Gatsby

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In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the reader dives into the essence of

the early 1920’s: lavish parties, intimidating men, beautiful women, and the strive to

capture the “American dream.” The role of women in The Great Gatsby is paradoxical;

although they appear independent, and at times daring in their romantic lives, the women

of The Great Gatsby are vulnerable and driven purely by their economic situations. In the

novel, three seemingly diverse characters, Myrtle, Daisy, and Jordan, each represent

unique female roles. Although presented as dissimilar beings, the women of The

Great Gatsby possess one undeniable connection: the effect of money.

In the first chapter of the novel, the reader is introduced to Daisy Buchanan. A

beautiful yet seemingly mindless creature, Daisy represents the paragon of traditional

femininity and vulnerability. Although Daisy appears superficial and materialistic, the

reader learns that at one point in Daisy’s life, she was driven by love and emotion instead

of by wealth and status. As a young woman, Daisy promised the destitute soldier, Jay

Gatsby, that she would wait for him after the war. However, Daisy grows impatient and

finds affluence and prosperity through her marriage to the violent and misogynistic, Tom

Buchanan. “‘Tom’s getting very profound,’ said Daisy with an expression of

unthoughtful sadness. ‘He reads deep books with long words in them’” (13). Although

Daisy knows that she is not a fool, to her, the ideal woman is unintelligent and

subservient to her male counterpart. While Daisy at times acknowledges the distorted values of her generation, she fails to challenge them, and instead finds herself at the heart

of their error.

Tom’s married mistress, Myrtle, views Tom as her escape from poverty and

mediocrity. Although Myrtle is viewed as selfish and hurtful, she is no worse than Tom

or Gatsby; she is simply trying to

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