Theme Of Patriarchy In The Great Gatsby

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Constructing Women: Analyzing The Great Gatsby through the Lens of Gender
Dr.Munejah Khan,Assistant Professor,Department of English Language & Literature,Islamic University of Science& Technology,Awantipora ,Pulwama,Jammu & Kashmir ,India.email: munejah_k@rediffmail.com Abstract
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925) is often referred to as one of the best exemplification of the Jazz Age or the Roaring Twenties. The wealthy Gatsby is the American dream incarnate and his parties exhibit the enthusiasm of the 1920’s. The Roaring Twenties also propagated the feminine ideal of the “new woman” who could defy the norms of patriarchy. Even with the concept of the “new woman”
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The novel also throws light on the power of the American Dream which held a promise of upward mobility and happiness, regardless of where one was placed on the social ladder. The American Dream motivated people to succeed through Machiavellian means.
A turning point in American history around the time when Fitzgerald wrote and published The Great Gatsby was the grant of suffrage to American women (1920) and this led to several changes. Before the war, standard dress for women included long skirts, tightly laced corsets, high-buttoned shoes, and long hair demurely swept up onto the head. A few years after the war says Lois Tyson “skirts became shorter, laced corsets began to disappear , modern footwear frequently replaced high-buttoned shoes, and “bobbed” hair became the fashion for young women.”(Tyson
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This paper seeks to analyse The Great Gatsby to illustrate that Fitzgerald unfolds a plot dominated by patriarchy. The male characters are staunch patriarchs and the female characters are defined, represented and act out roles determined by patriarchal discourse. To substantiate my arguments I will be relying on feminist approach and exhibit how the events in the novel unravel patriarchal suppression of women and how women are categorised either as “Madonna” or “whore based on their submission to or rebellion against patriarchal norms. For the theoretical framework I draw heavily from Simone de Beaviuor’s The Second Sex. I also acknowledge theoretical references from Lois Tyson’s book Critical Theory
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