The Role of Women in the 1920s and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s the Great Gatsby

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The Roaring Twenties: a time when women broke out of their shells of modesty and were not afraid to bare a little skin or wear a bit of makeup; when women finally gained some control; when jazz music, drinking and partying were what society lived for; when flappers danced the night away. The 1920s was an era of great change in society’s attitude toward many different aspects of life. For instance, what was considered acceptable behavior for women and the way men treated their wives drastically changed. During World War I, women had to take up many responsibilities of the men fighting in war such as earning money for the family, leaving women no choice other than to get a job alongside of single-handedly raising their families. With men being gone and nobody to control their lives, women took advantage of their new-found freedom. Women now became a part of the night scene, partying and drinking more as well as dressing and acting more promiscuously. When the men came back from war, they had the same mindset about women as they did when they left, but were taken by surprise when they saw the drastic changes. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a novel set in the 1920s that exposes the dark layers of the twenties’ glamour. Throughout The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald depicts the known and hidden lives and roles of women in the 1920s. Men always expected women to be under their control, doing only what they were told to do. “… [Women] had been expected to remain behind the scenes, caring for homes and children and allowing men to take charge of society.” (Howes 19). In a man’s eyes, the only thing a woman was good for was to be a good house wife. It would be thought of as absurd and socially unacceptable for a woman to go outside of society’s
N Selim 2 social norms by disobeying her husband’s word. Even getting a job would be unthinkable, until it was a necessity. Women were estimated to, in essence, worship their husbands. “… [Women] were expected to



Cited: "A Changing Society." Roaring Twenties Reference Library. Ed. Kelly Howes. Vol. 1. Detroit: U*X*L, 2006. 19 pp. 2 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Scotch Plains Fanwood High School. 20 May 2009 . "Roaring Twenties: 1919–29." Fashion, Costume, and Culture: Clothing, Headwear, Body Decorations, and Footwear through the Ages. Eds. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4: Modern World Part I: 1900- 1945. Detroit: U*X*L, 2004. 4 pp. 5 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Scotch Plains Fanwood High School. 20 May 2009 . "Roaring Twenties." U*X*L Encyclopedia of U.S. History. Ed. Lawrence Baker. Vol. 7. Detroit: UXL, 2009. 5 pp. 8 vols. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Gale. Scotch Plains Fanwood High School. 20 May 2009 .

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