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Feminism in The Great Gatsby

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Hannah Zavodney

on 20 May 2015

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Transcript of Feminism in The Great Gatsby

Looking Through the Lens of Feminism:
The Great Gatsby

Women in the 1920's
Quotes About Society
Works Cited
By Hannah, Michelle, Francesca, and Sam
"'Your wife doesn't love you,' said Gatsby. 'She's never loved you. She loves me'" (Fitzgerald 130).
“’I wouldn’t think of changing the light,’ cried Mrs. McKee. ‘I think it’s-‘” (Fitzgerald 31).
“...the dispute ended in a short struggle, and both wives were lifted, kicking, into the night” (Fitzgerald 52).
The Great Gatsby
, the novel is looked at through the Feminist Lens. Feminism or anti-feminism is shown through the characters, such as, Tom, Gatsby, Daisy, and Jordan. We studied the novel with this lens and focused on the characters, and the women in society.
Tom Buchanan
Jordan Baker
Daisy Buchanan
Jay Gatsby
“They oughtn’t to let her run around the country this way” (Fitzgerald 18).
“Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand” (Fitzgerald 37).
Fitzgerald, F. Scott.
The Great Gatsby
. New York:
Scribner, 2004. Print.
Gatsby and Tom go back in forth deciding just who Daisy loves for her.
McKee gets interrupted by her husband while giving her opinion, showing that women's thoughts are less important than men's in this time period.
What is the Feminist Theory?
"ways in which literature reinforce or undermine the economic, political, social and physiological oppression of women" (Morrell).
Morrell, Nikki. "Literary Criticism." Prezi.com.
Prezi, 30 May 2012. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.
"'I want to get one of those dogs,' she said earnestly. 'I want to get one for the apartment. They're nice to have-a dog'" (Fitzgerald 27).
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
The Feminist Lens
The theory is the study of women and their role in society.
The lens is looking at a work while considering feminism and anti-feminism.
"She was a slender, small-breasted girl, with an erect carriage, which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet. Her gray sun-strained eyes looked back at me with polite reciprocal curiosity out of a wan, charming, discontented face." (Fitzgerald 11)
- This is a comment made by Tom who is an anti-feminist and conservative thinker.
- He oppresses women and their right to be independent.
- Jordan is a female golfer, a very rare career for a woman to have during this time period.

"Besides, Nick's going to look after her, aren't you, Nick? ... I think the home influence will be very good for her" (Fitzgerald 19)
- Shows how Jordan is not a typical woman; she is a "new woman".
- Tom believes that a woman should be domesticated and stay in the house.
- Doesn't agree with how she is living her life.
- Fitzgerald purposely makes her like the "new women" of the time period to show contrast to Daisy.
"Jordan Baker instinctively avoided clever, shrewd men, and now I saw that this was because she felt safer on a plane where any divergence from a code would be thought impossible. She was incurably dishonest. She wasn't able to endure being at a disadvantage... I suppose she had begun dealing in subterfuges when she was very young in order to keep that cool, insolent smile turned to the world..." (Fitzgerald 58)
"Dishonesty in a woman is a thing you never blame deeply." (Fitzgerald 58)
- More reflection of the modern woman from this time period.
- Since she is independent she thinks for herself and places herself before others
- Very sexist statement from Nick: according to him woman are born with dishonesty and so he decided he can't be too mad at Jordan.

The New Woman
"I was looking at an elegant young roughneck, a year or two over thirty, whose elaborate formality of speech just missed being absurd. Some time before he introduced himself I’d got a strong impression that he was picking his words with care" (Fitzgerald 48)
"'Of course it matters. I’m going to take better care of you from now on.”
“You don’t understand,” said Gatsby, with a touch of panic. “You’re not going to take care of her any more.”
“I’m not?” Tom opened his eyes wide and laughed. He could afford to control himself now. “Why’s that?”
“Daisy’s leaving you'" (Fitzgerald 133).
"They oughtn't to let her run around the country this way" (Fitzgerald 18)
“Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand” (Fitzgerald 37).
“It excited him, too, that many men had already loved Daisy — it increased her value in his eyes” (Fitzgerald 149).
“‘I’ve got my wife locked in up there,' explained Wilson calmly. 'She’s going to stay there till the day after to-morrow, and then we’re going to move away’” (Fitzgerald 136).
"Tom was feeling the hot whips of panic. His wife and his mistress, until an hour ago secure and inviolate, were slipping precipitately from his control" (Fitzgerald 125).
Men were controlling over women during this time period, especially their wives. Not only did they control them, but they manhandled them. This shows how men were not only controlling their actions by words, but also by actions.
Wilson has Myrtle locked up in their house, and he said he's keeping her there until they move. This is another example of how men controlled their wives during this time period. Wilson is controlling where she is and the time and place they move.
This quote is a conversation between Tom and Gatsby arguing over who is going to take care of Daisy from now on. With no opinion from Daisy, they are deciding this decision for her. Women already did not have a lot control over their life, and now Tom and Gatsby were deciding who Daisy loves.
This finally shows Gatsby's true character. First it seemed like he was head over heels for Daisy, but now it shows how obsessive he is over her. His controlling factor really shows during this scene in the novel. He's used to having what he wants and won't take no for an answer.
Daisy is seen as an object throughout the novel. Gatsby takes part in this when we find out why he fell in love with her. He fell in love with her because of her beauty and because other men were in love with her too.
Finally, we see Gatsby treats Daisy like a prize. The reader learns Gatsby's mindset, and we see him as less of a man because of it. Gatsby has always had this controlling factor in him, but it's just more obvious now. The fact that Daisy's "value" increases because other men love her says a lot about Gatsby's personality.
"He hadn’t once ceased looking at Daisy, and I think he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes. Sometimes, too, he stared around at his possessions in a dazed way, as though in her actual and astounding presence none of it was any longer real" (Fitzgerald 91).
Gatsby has all this beautiful furniture, decoration, and etc. in his house. He fills his house with beautiful objects and that he's obsessed with. He has enough money to buy whatever he wants.
However, when he see's Daisy he reevaluates everything that's in his house. Gatsby has always been controlling by buying whatever and getting everything he wants. He see's Daisy as the more valuable "object" now. He knows that his happiness will not come from money, and that's when he begins to obsess over having her.
The Control Freak
Tom slaps Myrtle showing us that he doesn't respect women because he thinks he can do whatever he wants to his mistress.
Tom is the type of person that likes to be in control. Part of how Tom likes to feel in control is by controlling his wife and mistress. He sees them more as objects that he needs to control and less as people who can think and act for themselves.
Myrtle asks Tom to buy her a dog, and he complies. Myrtle isn't independent and requires others to care for her; in this way she is much like a puppy herself. Tom can only be satisfied in a relationship where he is in power.
Tom makes it obvious that he thinks it to be better for a woman to stay home than to go out and be independent, revealing his anti-feminist sentiments.
The Jerk
- In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment was passed giving women the right to vote
- Society began accepting young unmarried women who worked in jobs other than domestics such as working as a secretary or in a department store
- "Magazine articles and movies encouraged women to believe that their economic security and social status depended on a successful marriage"
- Cigarettes became a symbol for modern sophistication
- Stereotypical flapper: short skirts, short hair, heavy makeup, care-free attitude
- "Defied society’s expectations of proper conduct for young women"
- Women became independent to make choices in aspects of life such as education, careers, marital status, and fashion.

Benner, Louise. "Women in the 1920s in North
Carolina."Women in the 1920s. 2004. Web.
18 May 2015.

"Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered "Listen," a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour" (Fitzgerald 12).
“All right,’ I said, ‘I’m glad it’s a girl. And I hope she’ll be a fool— that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool’” (Fitzgerald 17).
Benner, Louise. "Women in the 1920s in North Carolina."Women in the 1920s. 2004. Web. 18 May 2015.
When Daisy's daughter is born this is the first thing she thinks when finding out that her newborn baby is a girl. She believes that the best thing a girl can be in this world is a beautiful fool. A fool so that the girl cannot be smart enough to realize the true tragedies in the world and the minimal rights of women at the time. Also, she wants her daughter to be beautiful because beauty is important to Daisy.
““Make us a cold drink,” cried Daisy.
As he left the room again she got up and went over to Gatsby and pulled his face down, kissing him on the mouth” (Fitzgerald 116).
At this point in the novel Daisy has become much more independent and confident with herself, showing much more of a feminist side. By ordering Tom to get her a drink and then "using" Gatsby as most men use women, she shows a very exaggerated version of a feminist. However, she only becomes this independent because of another man coming into her life (Gatsby) and once again shows her weakness as a woman.
The Weak Woman
"That’s what I get for marrying a brute of a man, a great big hulking physical specimen of a——
‘‘I hate that word hulking,’ objected Tom crossly, ‘even in kidding’" (Fitzgerald 15).
When Daisy is at dinner with Nick, Jordan and Tom, she starts to talk about the bruises on her knuckles and that Tom gave them too her. She continues to say that this is what she gets for marrying "a brute of a man", once again blaming herself for Tom's mistakes and being very weak. Also, while Daisy is in the middle of saying this, she is interrupted by Tom, and she does nothing about it, once again showing her weakness and inability to be independent.
"But she and Tom had gone away early that afternoon, and taken baggage with them" (Fitzgerald 175).

Although Daisy had become more of a feminist and more independent in the chapter before, once Gatsby dies, who had caused her to become more confident in the first place, she runs back to Tom who makes them run away. Once again Daisy is weak and dependent on Tom, just as she was in the beginning of the novel.
Overall, The Great Gatsby is a very anti-feminist book. Tom and Gatsby are the main male characters in this novel and are both anti-feminists. Although there is Jordan, who is a feminist and very confident, she does not do much for the equality of men and women, which is the Feminist Theory, she just believes that she is better than most men. Also, Daisy's weakness represents how Fitzgerald believed that society viewed women in the 1920's and how they are dependent on men for their well-being.
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