The Great Gatsby': Feminist Critical Line

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“The Great Gatsby” is a novel by Scott Fitzgerald that outlines the impossibility of recapturing the past and altering one’s future. It further emphasizes the unachievable ideology of the American Dream during the 1920s through a man named Jay Gatsby, from the viewpoint of salesman Nick Carraway. Besides this, the novel depicts a significant disparity in the representation of female figures throughout history up until contemporary society. There is the evident assumption of gender roles in the social, economic and political setting which will be discussed throughout this text from a feminist critical perspective.

In this novel, Scott Fitzgerald addresses gender as a determining factor for one’s lifestyle including their values, power and roles in society. The ‘Roaring Twenties’ was the era of a female breakthrough in which women were granted more freedom and life opportunities. This came about due to the changing attitudes towards women in society, opening doors for such possibilities. Over time, there has been an evident progression in the expectations of a woman such that they gradually draw closer to those of the men in society. In the 1920s, such changes occurred due to the concept of the American Dream, which was a set of ideals in which freedom, equality and prosperity were believed to be possible in America. Despite this, women were still portrayed as subsidiary to men, who were often presented as the predominant gender in society. Throughout this novel, there is a strong aspect of traditional gender stereotype based on the portrayal of both men and women. While men are seen as strong, dominant and powerful characters, the women are characterized as weak objects simply enjoying their newly granted freedoms. Based on the novel, characters such as Daisy and Myrtle are portrayed as jealous, swindling and naive females, fully dependent on their husband’s resources.

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The roaring twenties was an era for the drastic leap in the fixed expectations of a woman. During this time, women learnt to value their individuality above the needs of others which later encouraged their personal freedom. However, a woman in power was rarely seen during this period as such duties were still entirely dependent on the men in society. There remained the existence of gender roles which limited the idea of women in power, as they were expected to enjoy their newly granted freedoms in silence. According to the novel, there was still unequal distribution of economics and labour whereby the women were heavily reliant on the efforts and resources provided by the men. However, Jordan Baker is considered a strong woman in literature as she was entirely self-sufficient and was not reliant on any man including Nick Carraway. Based on the novel, she was the only female character that was close to any sort of power due to her independence and self-confidence. Fitzgerald further portrays most male and female interactions as romantic rather than professional relationships. This conveys that unfortunately, women were disregarded and underestimated in the professional field and instead expected to accessorise the men.

Throughout history, women have encountered different experiences during different periods in time. In some societies, women were warriors, some were powerful priestesses while others were strong political leaders. However, they have faced perpetual expectations that automatically represent them as inferior to men. Surprisingly, women in ancient times have been recorded as strong female figures such as Cleopatra and Boudicca who are admired in the present day. Moreover, a priestess from the Sumerian civilisation composed the first-ever poem - a prayer to a female deity named Innana, making her the first known author of all history. However, during the late 1500s, a woman’s role became more defined as a homemaker and subject to her husband. Later on after World War II, most women were reluctant to return to their previous lifestyles as they discovered a new era of purpose and productivity due to labour in the factories. The twentieth century has been recorded as the period of a great revolution in gender equality which lowered certain expectations and eradicated the idea of the fixed roles of a female. This proves that over time, women have finally had the chance to make a choice on who they would want to be which has undoubtedly continued to encourage equality of the genders.

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The Great Gatsby’: Feminist Critical Line. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 14, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-great-gatsby-feminist-critical-line/
“The Great Gatsby’: Feminist Critical Line.” Edubirdie, 15 Sept. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-great-gatsby-feminist-critical-line/
The Great Gatsby’: Feminist Critical Line. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-great-gatsby-feminist-critical-line/> [Accessed 14 Apr. 2024].
The Great Gatsby’: Feminist Critical Line [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 15 [cited 2024 Apr 14]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-great-gatsby-feminist-critical-line/
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