Gender Roles In The Great Gatsby And Ethan Frome By Edith Wharton

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Gender roles are a socially constructed concept created by men that have punished women for centuries. However, as society progresses further along people have begun to break free from confining gender roles. Most protests are apparent in literary works that demonstrate gender inequality. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the readers follow Nick Carraway as he shares the story of Jay Gatsby, and his pursuit for wealth and Daisy Buchanan. In comparison, Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome focuses on Ethan Frome, a poor farmer, and his life in Starkfield, MA. Ethan has an affair with the cousin (Mattie Silver) of his wife, Zenobia Frome. Both novels, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton portray societal oppression …show more content…

Within Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, the marriage between Tom and Daisy Buchannan is toxic and abusive. Fitzgerald purposefully puts women into socially constructed gender roles as a form of oppression that illustrates the need for feminism in society. In fact, author Frances Kerr points out how “The Great Gatsby is the product of Fitzgerald’s self-assertion at the point in his life when he sensed his creative potential most clearly; at the same time, his purposeful “attempt at form” bears the imprint of a personal struggle with the gender-inflected standards of modernism” (427). Fitzgerald created the women in his novel as a reflection of his own views on them. Thus, readers only view the novel as sexist when not analyzing close enough, and without viewing Fitzgerald’s own turmoil in his life. Therefore, before Daisy’s wedding she cries out, “‘Take ‘em down-stairs and give ‘em back to whoever they belong to. Tell ‘em Daisy’s change’ her mine. Say: ‘Daisy’s change’ her mine!’ She began to cry-she cried and cried” (Fitzgerald 76). From the moment Daisy married Tom, she is under his control and confined from developing her own self. Daisy shouts that she’s “change’ her mine” demonstrating, for the first time in the novel, a clear opinion and view of something. Fitzgerald juxtaposes Daisy’s independence and emotional range before marrying Tom, to afterwards when “she didn’t say another word” (76). Daisy getting married to Tom illustrates how difficult it is for women to defy patriarchal values in society. Moreover, Edith Wharton portrays the struggle of marriage for women in her writing. Zeena is stuck in her loveless marriage with Ethan due to societal pressures. Wharton writes, “He was a poor man, the husband of a sickly woman, whom his desertion would leave alone and destitute” (124). Zeena becomes dependent on her husband, and

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