What Is Gender Roles In The Great Gatsby

Better Essays
The novel, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, explores multiple themes. One specific theme, however, that stands out can be considered the way in which female characters are 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 boyish, promiscuous, style masculinize her more than any other predominant female character. However, in the end, Nick does…show more content…
Emotionally, Daisy, Jordan, and Myrtle are obviously quite different from each other. However, it can be said that there is a side to every story, and in the end all these stories intertwine, supporting one another whilst being vastly different at the same time. Daisy is portrayed as a classic southern beauty, or debutante, who uses distinct sex appeal to gather some amount of control over her surroundings. This is further corroborated by Ivan Štrba who states, “Throughout most of the novel all the major motifs created by imagery of summer, flowers, moon, stars, sunshine and birdsong cohere around Gatsby’s dream of Daisy, the idealized girl, but contrary images of gold, money and cars also identify her.” (Štrba, date unknown). This suggests that while along with Gatsby’s idealization of feminine beauty concerning Daisy, there is once again the materialistic element that Tom also identifies Daisy with. This essentially can be considered an example of just how Fitzgerald is constantly referring to the accepted norms of reality, whence writing his novel. Furthermore, as an athlete, Jordan can be considered the furthest to stray from a typical gender role, Štrba explores this further in his text, stating, “She, too, as an independent young woman, wonders Gatsby’s gardens during the parties alone and even wears her evening dresses like sports…show more content…
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
Get Access