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The Subordinate Role of Women in The Great Gatsby

By Rayleigh-Staba Dec 05, 2014 545 Words
Rayleigh Staba
Professor Cohen
Reading Literature 121
October 12, 2014
The Subordinate Role of Women in The Great Gatsby
“I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool – that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” This is from when Daisy and Nick are having a redundant conversation. It demonstrates one of the key elements of the novel: a classic inferior role for women in the Roaring Twenties. Daisy’s quote suggests an awareness of some superb emerging obstacle, and a following impression of submission.  Daisy feels individually persecuted by the world she lives in; there is damaged aspiration inside her, resulting from some type of failure. It also proposes that Daisy is very conscious of her own feminism, and the place that femininity holds in the particular historical situation. Daisy seems to have unenthusiastically allowed herself to have the lifestyle she has been given, yet there is a slight longing gleam of hope in her heart.  Although she appears shallow at times, the hidden intelligence of her character should not be forgotten.  In many ways, this quotation is autobiographical, although Daisy is talking about her future daughter. There are a plethora of other examples other than Daisy’s quote that characterizes women as a “second sex.” Scott Fitzgerald constructs a clear point of implementing gender roles in his writing.  The women in The Great Gatsby are well mannered and elegant, usually found wearing cream or white dresses.  They ensue an implied, established social code that requires conformity and leaves many female characters replicas of one another.  On page 63, we see that Benny McClenahan “arrives always with four girls” to Gatsby’s parties who are “never quite the same ones in physical person, so identical one with another that it inevitably seemed they had been there before.”  This certain observation by Nick implies that there is a strict principle for women in Gatsby’s era; the social code is superior beyond physical being and makes these women into duplicates of one another. Tom and Daisy’s relationship is obviously strained.  The reader sees this in almost every single interaction the couple has with each other, from the denunciatory comments about an awkward phone that won’t stop ringing during dinner to bruised knuckles.  Beneath the excessive, aristocracy lifestyle, there are domestic problems that no money or alcohol would be able to solve; that is one of the critical themes of the novel.  On pages 12-13, Tom is telling Nick about this work of educational and profound anti-feminist literature he had read.  Daisy, in a defeated tone, attempts to pitch in, but Tom rudely speaks over her.  Her next comment is a bland racist statement about “beating them down,” which is influenced either by sarcasm or ignorance. Language in Feminist Criticism is important. The male-dominated society in The Great Gatsby makes a woman have to choose between accepting “phallocentric” language or simply remaining silent. Daisy, and the other women in this novel, have been marginalized.  However, she is carefully conscious of it: “… that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.”  She has seen her own marginalization, in contrast to the other female characters in The Great Gatsby.

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