The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel about Long Island in the 1920s, has often been read as a commentary on The American Dream and The Roaring Twenties. The story is told through Nick Carraway, an all-American man who moves next to Jay Gatsby so he can watch The Manhattan mogul’s mysterious dealings. The Great Gatsby is widely considered to be The Great American Novel, but it also has a much darker side.
The novel has been scrutinized for its portrayal of women through the eyes of men, just as The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne does. Both The Great Gatsby and The Scarlet Letter are often taught in high school English classes because they have to do with morality ideals in society, which makes them good choices for examining what The American Dream was during The Roaring Twenties. However, critics say The Great Gatsby is associated more with The American Dream instead of being inherently tied to it.
A large part of this has to do with Nick Carraway’s lackadaisical attitude toward The American Dream and The Roaring Twenties. The Great Gatsby is not The Great American Novel, but it does deal with The Great American Dream often. Women in The Great Gatsby are treated as objects by the men who interact with them most, such as Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby. The majority of women in The Great Gatsby serve no purpose other than to advance the plot or be a source of conflict between two male characters.
Some feminists argue that Daisy Buchanan, one of the main female characters in The Great Gatsby, is only viewed as a tool for capital gain and desire by both her husband and lover: Tom Buchanan owning an estate next door to Jay Gatsby allows The Manhattan mogul to see The Buchanan’s constantly and even interact with The Buchanans. The most prominent example of Daisy being a tool is when The Manhattan mogul brings The Southern belle up North, presumably for an affair but The Buchanans never show interest in what Jay Gatsby has to say.
This is very similiar to The Scarlet Letter, in which The Reverend Dimmesdale is constantly looking at Hester Prynne with lustful eyes. The argument can be made that The Great Gatsby would not have been the same story if it were written from a female perspective instead of Nick Carraway’s narrative. If told by The Fitzgerald himself or any other male writer, The Great Gatsby might not receive as much negative attention for portraying The American Dream through male eyes. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is about The Roaring Twenties, but it also shows The American Dream as a man’s dream, not much unlike The Scarlet Letter.
The protagonist of The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby, and another character in the novel, Tom Buchanan, are both sexist. The Great Gatsby is a tragic love story between two 1920s lovers: Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby. The romance develops amidst social classes. The Buchanans are upper-class while Jay Gatsby is middle-class or lower-class because he made his money illegally before moving to West Egg. The ultimate irony of The Great Gatsby happens when Daisy ruins her life with a divorce from her husband to be with Jay only for the thrill of it all.
This crushes him as she goes back to her husband Tom until she realizes that she really loves Jay after all. The Buchanans together are sexist because Jay is not good enough for Daisy because he is just too poor, making him unworthy of her love. The Buchanans also represent the old-fashioned way of thinking that women should be married and only if they are older than 30 years old can they do whatever they want. The Buchanans’ sexism had caused Jay’s death. Another character in The Great Gatsby who is also sexist is Tom Buchanan.
The patriarchy was strong during Fitzgerald’s time, which meant that men were considered superior to women. The whole point of The Great Gatsby would fall apart if Tom was not a man because there would be no conflict between him and Jay; Daisy would marry Jay without having to worry about her husband or even giving him a second thought. The Buchanans together are sexist because the great lengths they go to keep Daisy from having any fun shows how dominant and oppressive men were in that era.
The Great Gatsby would not be possible if it weren’t for sexism. The Great Gatsby remains one of Fitzgerald’s most famous works, was made into films three times (1926, 1949 and 2013). The novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald won” The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction “in 1921 and is currently ranked third on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels as well as fifth on Time Magazine’s list of the top 100 novels written since 1923. The novel got a lot of criticism at first for its portrayal of a woman who acts like a child and is selfish.
The Great Gatsby was also criticized as being elitist because it only showed the lives of the rich and nothing else. The Great Gatsby is still taught in school today to show students how great literature should be written. The sexism present in The Great Gatsby shows that women were treated unfairly during F. Scott Fitzgerald’s time but this has changed over the years where men are considered equal to women, which means America has come far since 1922 when The Great Gatsby was published.
The book The Great Gatsby involves sexism in many ways. Jay Gatsby is sexist because he only shows attraction toward women who are glamorous and wealthy, Daisy is cheated on by her husband, Tom Buchanan because of his sexist behavior towards Myrtle. Jay Gatsby is very attracted to wealth and women, which alludes to the idea that men wanted rich beautiful wives in The Great Gatsby. The novel The Great Gatsby was set in the 1920’s where gender roles were vastly different than they are today.
The American public has shown admiration for women with large amounts of money since the 19th century when upper-class Americans would bring British fashion to America (Larson). During this time, powerful Englishwomen were considered “wanton and domineering,” (Larson). The 1920’s had the same idea of women in The Great Gatsby. The Roaring 20’s was an era that supported men who were wealthy and successful; Jay Gatsby is handsome, young, and rich which makes him attractive to many people.
Even though he is a representation of how sexist our society used to be, he still represents some sexism towards women. The character Daisy Buchanan is materialistic and vain which means she has no moral compass or ethics. At one point in The Great Gatsby, Nick explains how Daisy can try on various dresses while never making any decisions about them – “She looked at the all too numerous dresses without touching them, and again her expression became tragic, as if each dress brought out some devastating memory” (Larson 240).
The language Nick uses to describe Daisy is sexist because it gives the impression that women have nothing better to do than look at clothes. The novel The Great Gatsby shows how women were given more freedom during this time period but still represented characteristics of a stereotypical woman from a long time ago. The Roaring 20’s reflects a man’s world where men are powerful and wealthy while women are weak and make poor decisions. The Great Gatsby also represents the mistreatment of women by men throughout history.