Gatsby Gender Roles

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The Portrayal of Female Characters in ‘The Great Gatsby’
By Miss Sophie Vásárhelyi, NC92YJ

The novel, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, explores multiple themes. One specific theme, however, that stands out can be considered the gender roles portrayed throughout the novel. In some respects, Fitzgerald represents gender roles in his novel in quite a traditional manner. In the novel, men are responsible for earning money, so that they can then care for the women. Men are dominant over women, especially in the case of Tom, who constantly emphasizes his physical strength in order to subdue them. The only hint of a role reversal is in the pair of Nick and Jordan. Jordan 's unisex name and style masculinize her more than any other predominant
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Exploiting the ideologies of feminist criticism, it could be reasoned that The Great Gatsby promotes an obscured masculine agenda. Through Fitzgerald’s treatment of the fundamental female characters in The Great Gatsby, the novel seems to uphold and corroborate with the traditional gender roles, neglecting any positive alternative view in the process. Fitzgerald himself is said to have been greatly affected by an affair his wife Zelda is supposed to have had, during the time the novel was written. Thus it is somewhat understandable he would write with contempt towards certain female characters and their portrayal (Bruccoli,1994). The author’s unwillingness to change his outlook and worldview seems to indicate he, himself, has become a slave to the established male dominated society. Therefore, by not saying anything against it, Fitzgerald unintentionally spoke in favor of what was considered conventional for the era. While the novel itself marked a striking advance in Fitzgerald’s technique, utilizing a complex structure and a controlled narrative point of view (Bruccoli,1994), Fitzgerald still had chosen rather to conform, and represent his characters as such what society would approve of, in contrast with his forward moving writing
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