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The Great Gatsby: A Feminist Perspective

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Zipporah van Oldenbarneveld

on 14 November 2014

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Transcript of The Great Gatsby: A Feminist Perspective

A Feminist Perspective

Daisy is a young and beautiful woman from Louisville, Kentucky. She is the cousin to Nick Carraway and the centre of Gatsby’s love. By her home, Daisy fell in love with Gatsby. However, he lied to her about his upbringing, claiming to be from a wealthly family so that he felt deserving of her love. Shortly after Gatsby left for war, Daisy married Tom Buchannan who could promise her a wealthy lifestyle.
In Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” Daisy (the Golden Girl) Jordan (the Tom Boy) and Myrtle (The Gold Digger) represent different conventions of various women in the 1920s. Fitzgerald’s overall presentation of women is unflattering and callous. Daisy may seem to posses many “golden” qualities such as a “voice full of money,” however; she is exposed to be superficial, meek and ignorant.
Likewise, Jordan is similarly flawed. Despite the fact that she is more independent than Daisy or Myrtle, Jordan is hopelessly deceitful. Finally, Myrtle is simply unfaithful. Her blind pursuit of wealth and overt sexuality suggest that women are valued based on their intimate relations with men. However, they manage to come together to develop the novel and paint an accurate picture of how women were viewed in the 1920s.


By: Meagan Laszlo, Courtney Laszlo and Zipporah van Oldenbarneveld

"golden girl"
"She's got an indiscreet voice," I remarked, "It's full of -" I hesitated.
"Her voice is full of money," he said suddenly.
That it was" (Fitzgerald 120).
Daisy’s voice is described as being “full of money.” Her voice is beautiful and eloquent. The description of her voice represents her personality. On the outside she seems alluring and glamorous, but on the inside she is shallow and disloyal. In spite of this, she is affluent and speaks like the sound of success, a “golden” quality that makes her enchanting to men.
“The fact that he had one [a mistress] was insisted upon wherever he was known. His acquaintances resented the fact that he turned up in popular restaurants with her and, leaving her at a table, sauntered about, chatting with whomever he knew” (Fitzgerald 4).
Daisy is entirely dependent on Tom. Despite his infidelity, she refuses to leave him. This is because Tom possess money and power and Daisy relies on the benefits of these things, therefore, she is willing to ignore her husband’s affair. Moreover, Tom acts like a victim when he discovers the love affair between Gatsby and his wife. It is likely Daisy chooses to stay with Tom because he comes from the “old money” upper class and is unwilling to risk her secure life for a “new money” nobody such as Gatsby.
Daisy does not portray the conventional warm and nurturing mother. In fact, she is quite cold to her daughter, Pammy Buchanan.

“I got dressed before luncheon,” said the child, turning eagerly to Daisy.
“That’s because your mother wanted to show you off.” Her fence bent into the single wrinkle of a small, white neck. “You dream, you. You absolute little dream.”
“Yes,” she admitted the child calmly. “Aunt Jordan’s got on a white dress too.”
“How do you like your mother’s friends?” Daisy turned her around so that she facts Gatsby. “Do you think they’re pretty?
“Where’s Daddy?”
“She doesn’t look like her father,” explained Daisy. “She looks like me. She’s got my hair and shape of the face" (Fitzgerald 96).
During the afternoon luncheon where Pammy is introduced, Daisy views her daughter as something to control and show off. Their relationship isn’t warm, like most mother and daughter relationships, but rather impersonal. Therefore, the only thing that matters in Daisy’s life is Daisy, acknowledging her daughter only when it’s convenient.

“I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (Fitzgerald 22).

Daisy describes her hopes for her infant daughter to Nick and Jordan. She wishes such a peculiar thing for her daughter because she is born into an era that values beauty over intelligence in women. Therefore, Daisy believes the only way a woman can thrive is to be physically attractive and ignorant, similar to herself.


I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (Fitzgerald 22).
Are Daisy’s words true? Are women simply beautiful fools?

“The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a classic American novel that follows the life of a lovesick man named Jay Gatsby. The novel is told by Nick Carraway. Gatsby is a man who lives in the past and is driven by the hope of winning the love of Daisy Buchanan. Despite his efforts, he is inevitably consumed by his dream.
Through a feminist perspective, Daisy (the Golden Girl) , Jordan (the Tom Boy) and Myrtle (The Gold Digger) represent different stereotypes of various women in the 1920s. The story can be appreciated for its depiction of women, as the general narrative is enhanced and allows the reader to praise it for its literary value through feminist criticism.

In the novel, Myrtle creates a facade, as she strives to be part of the upper-class. She is Wilson’s wife and Tom’s mistress. Myrtle is the “
digger” stereotype of the three women. Her character negatively portrays women since she is materialistic and values herself upon men. She symbolizes the little freedom women had in the 1920’s, and the view Fitzgerald had on women in the lower class.
Jordan is a pro, a pro golfer who hard direct and cynical and embodies the shifting of women's attitudes in the 1920's. She is the tomboy of the novel. Her competitive and manipulative qualities are what create the front of masculinity. Fitzgerald created a character like Jordan because she is the unconventional woman of the novel. Her role portrays the subtle rebellion of women against the stereotypes of a typical female in the 1920's. By being apart of this ' new generation of women ' Jordan does what she pleases. She keeps her chin up and walks with an air of confidence. She is a liberated woman who does not need to depend on a man like Daisy and Myrtle do.
"She was something completely motionless, and with her chin raised a little, as if she were balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall" (14)
Jordan is a very independent and clever woman who does not enjoy being viewed as 'fool' and is confident in herself. The tilt in Jordan's chin reflects her confident persona.
kind of woman
"Jordan Baker instinctively avoid clever, shrewd men and now I saw that this was because she felt safer on a plane where any divergence from code would be though impossible" (63).
Jordan is portrayed differently in the way she behaves with men. Her relationship with men is distant and her intimate relationships with men are practically non-existent.
"She wasn't able to endure being at a disadvantage and,
given this unwillingness, I suppose she had begun dealing with subterfuges when she was very young in order to keep that cool, insolent smile turned to the world and yet satisfy the demands of her hard, jaunty body" (58).

Fitzgerald suggests that Jordan's dishonesty is a way to show that women cannot succeed in a man's field and are incompetent of various 'manly' tasks such as driving.
“Mrs. Wilson gathered up her dog and her other purchases, and went haughtily in (side the house)”( 31).
“With a short deft movement, Tom broke her nose”(39).
“her face contained no facet or gleam of beauty”(28)
“Her left breast was swinging loose like a flap...The mouth was wide open and ripped little at the corners” ( 131).
“The only crazy I was when I married him. I knew right away I made a mistake. He borrowed somebody’s best suit to get married in, and never even told me about it”(37).
“He had on a dress suit and patent leather shoes, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him” (38).
easy "
Myrtle is content with money rather than love. This paints women as shallow gold diggers who care more about money than their own well-being.
Myrtle is the type of woman who is attracted to the finer things in life, and believes Tom can provide her with the appearance of a wealthy woman. This quality represents women as being valued by their male partners, rather than independent themselves.
Myrtle must be flamboyant and use her sexuality to gain attention, since she does not have the beauty to compete with naturally beautiful women such as Daisy or Jordan. These are unattractive and an unforgivable qualities in a woman.
Daisy Buchanan (Zipporah)
Jordan Baker (Meagan)
Myrtle Wilson (Courtney)
Still-Life Graphic Analysis

Focuses on depiction of women
Deals with the "traditional" notion of man as the dominating "subject" who is assumed to represent humanity in general
"So we beat on, boats against the current borne back ceaselessly into the past” (172)

Men and women are constantly fighting to move on with their lives, to continue toward their futures, while simultaneously fighting to let go of the past. Despite how women were viewed in the 1920s and the flaws of Daisy, Jordan and Myrtle, readers can choose to learn from their mistakes and to never repeat the past.
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