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The Great Gatsby in relation to Society

Uploaded by bron on Jun 29, 2001

In the novel The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald is criticising American society of the 1920s. He uses the characters to demonstrate the power than men had over women during these times, as well as their mindless, self-indulgent actions, where consequence was only an afterthought. The attitude towards and the role of women is shown throughout the novel. Fitzgerald also shows how many people in America during this time were delusional and had meaningless existences.

Fitzgerald has used Tom in The Great Gatsby, to demonstrate the power that men had during the 1920s. In order to understand Tom’s purpose in the book, it must be known that he has been purposely set up as a character the reader does not like. Fitzgerald has done this, as he does not like men whose lives mirror Tom’s. Tom is a violent man, who is completely in control of the women in his life. He shows how disrespectful some men were to women. For example, he breaks his mistress Myrtle’s nose.

Making a short, deft movement, Tom Buchanan
broke her nose with his open hand

Another example showing the disrespect for women is the fact that Tom is cheating on Daisy quite openly. She knows that he is having an affair, but there is nothing that she can do about it. Fitzgerald comments on this power and disrespect that men had for women because he disagrees with it himself. He believes that men should not do these terrible things. Tom never once expresses his guilt for his actions, and never considers Daisy’s feelings. His life is full of selfish actions which lead him nowhere.

Fitzgerald comments on the changing role and attitudes of women of the 1920s in America. He shows this through the characters Daisy and Jordan. Daisy and Jordan both drink, smoke and drive, and associate freely with men. Daisy’s flirtatiousness is an example of this, along with her drunken state in the first chapter when she says ‘I’m p-paralysed with happiness’. Daisy also shows the attitude Fitzgerald felt was common in this society, when talking about her daughter.

‘I’m glad it’s a girl. I hope she’ll be a fool –that’s the
best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.’

This demonstrates that during the 1920s, women were not regarded as equals, and had little chance of making something of their lives. The best they could hope for was to find a rich husband and settle...

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Uploaded by:   bron

Date:   06/29/2001

Category:   The Great Gatsby

Length:   4 pages (831 words)

Views:   3219

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