Women Oppression and Social Class in the Great Gatsby
Daisy; though actually not a fool, was the stigma of foolish women from the upper class whose views and ideals were molded by society’s expectations. She burned down her hopes and dreams to dedicate her life to household duties in exchange for luxury and social status. She was also the representation of the amoral values that the East Eggers seemed to have and was the embodiment of women transitioning towards empowerment. Similarly, Myrtle and Daisy were both unhappy in their relationship but Myrtle, coming from lower social class, was a materialistic opportunist, willing to do anything to climb into the higher social class. Because of her burning desire, she got involved in an affair with Tom Buchanan in exchange for materialistic gifts as a way out of poverty. To Tom, Myrtle was merely a sex object kept on a leash of luxurious bestowments and Myrtle was foolish enough to think that Tom actually loved her and that he would leave Daisy for her. On the other hand, Jordan was the symbolization of revolutionary, self-sufficient women who was arrogant, unemotional and irresponsible. Her character challenged the idea of ‘damsel in distress’, which was very popular and common in 1920.
It was also evident from the relationship of Tom and Daisy, Tom and Myrtle and George and Myrtle that in 1920s, women were often dependent, powerless and submissive to men. Tom was described to be a brute towards women; and although Tom did not use any physical dominance on Daisy, he flaunted that Daisy won’t ever leave him for Gatsby and he even exhibited his dominance and power to Gatsby by allowing Daisy to accept Gatsby’s invitation to his mansion, even though he was aware of their adultery. On the other hand, unlike Daisy, Myrtle experienced physical abuse both from Tom and George. Tom was mentioned to have punched Myrtle in her face and broke her nose for mentioning Daisy’s name too much during their affair party in the apartment. Whilst, at the moment George found out that his wife was having an affair, he locked Myrtle in her room. George did not dare to confront Tom himself as he stands a bigger power and so he unleashed his anger on Myrtle instead.
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In conclusion, due to the nature of the male dominated world, women were in no doubt, oppressed. This novel came out strong and challenged this idea in the beginning, but at the end, inequality was still very much evident. These women were presented in such ways to visualize different transition challenges experienced and although it might be unfulfilling to admit, gender roles are rooted deep into our tradition. Furthermore, even though women in the 1920s are starting to adopt a more independent lifestyle, this novel manifest that women of the era are still in many ways powerless.