Topic: Women’s intentions towards men in The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald.
In The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald, women’s intentions towards men play a significant role in the development of the novel. While Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker are the archetypal temptresses who use sex to indiscriminately destroy the men who step into their lives, Myrtle sees men as a means to quench her thirst for sex and social ambition. Daisy and Jordan use sexuality to lure the men, Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway, away from their lives of productivity and prosperity. Under their hypnotic spell, both men begin to unravel and disorder creeps into their lives. Because the women do not let themselves get emotionally and sentimentally attached throughout the novel, they become superior to the men, who, sick with love, are left acutely vulnerable and pitifully weak. Fitzgerald’s vivid portrayal suggests that there is something malicious in a woman’s nature that forces them to consume consciously or unconsciously the men in their lives, while simultaneously and paradoxically allowing them to thrive. Women use their attributes to control men in the novel. At first sight women in The Great Gatsby may seem overwhelmingly dominated by men. But on closer inspection, women in fact slyly control men in order to get as many advantages as they can from them. Daisy, who is often described as a passive woman, a trophy to be won by her suitors, wields in fact tremendous power over men and aspires to manipulate and dominate them as much as she can. Glenn Settle’s essay, ‘Fitzgerald’s Daisy: The Siren Voice’, appeared in the American Literature in March 1985. In this highly feminist and interpretative article, Settle’s vivid language portrays Daisy as a powerful character. Drawing on Greek mythology, Settle compares Daisy to a classical Siren . Sirens were dangerous creatures, portrayed as seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island Sirenum scopuli . Glenn describes how many critics have insisted on the fact that Daisy’s voice is ‘full of money’ and have argued that this is an essential element in her physical and moral characterisation. Settle believes Daisy’s alluring and attractive voice illustrates her classical role and shows how Nick Carraway’s narrative presents Jay Gatsby, as Odysseus, an epic hero on a quest thereby fueling Daisy as siren. Settle further argues Daisy as classical Siren by demonstrating her relationship to the archetypal femme fatale. An interesting argument that bears out the femme fatale theory stems from Daisy’s voice. It is described as persuasive, performed, enchanting, romantic, and beautiful. In particular, Settle stresses the persuasive quality of Daisy’s ‘performed’ speeches hinting at her role as actress. Daisy performs each speech, Nick suggests in his commentary, ‘as creative musical production, arranging, composing her inspiration in such a way that one has the feeling, in listening, of being an audience of one, spellbound in a performance that shall never be heard again’  […] later within the scene Nick also says ‘her voice compelled me forward’ and again, it ‘led my attention’ Daisy’s voice and mannerisms demonstrate how each action she undertakes was precisely performed and well-thought-out for a particular audience. Using the sensuality and even the sexuality of her voice, Daisy aspires to wield considerable influence over men. Her voice embodies her material wealth and all that allegedly comes with it, class, beauty, assurance, comfort and power. Daisy’s powerful role within the text is suggested through her sexuality and involvement in dangerous acts. Daisy as sexual female is first defined by her voice. Daisy’s voice not only illustrates her energy, but also suggests her involvement in ‘exciting things’: ‘but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget:...
References: 1- Settle, Glenn. “Fitzgerald’s Daisy: The Siren Voice”. American Literature, 57, (March 1985) 115-124.
2- Fetterley, Judith (1978): The Resisting Reader: A Feminist Approach to American Fiction.
2nd ed., Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
3- Websites: Wikipedia.
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