Rosie the Riveter, star of the American World War II poster who sports the iconic workers’ jumpsuit and red bandanna, was a symbol for modern, emancipated women in the 1950s, before becoming a mere representation of vintage artwork. The independence that this character models is represented by Scott Fitzgerald’s Daisy, in The Great Gatsby, who at first glance seems to oppose this. Her innocence and purity, however, can be easily deconstructed, because she both supports the traditional image of women, and challenges it, fitting perfectly into the context of ideological transformation of the 1920s.
A more superficial interpretation of Daisy would argue that she is the ultimate “golden girl”: an innocent, idealized and flawless object of desire. This is due to the “ardor of [her] pursuers”, who, as Keats argues, are responsible for creating her value (Keats 148). Already in the novel’s first pages the reader realizes that she represents a patriarchal society’s concept of the ideal woman, and is encouraged to observe this standard by the men who surround and idealize her as such. The way Nick describes her voice, which Gatsby later states “‘is full of money’”, helps to portray her as nothing more than an embodiment of charm and of man's greatest desires - love and wealth (Fitzgerald 120). Daisy is illustrated as graceful and a “beautiful little fool”, as she states, whose only purpose is to look pretty and observe traditional roles assigned to women, such as being an exemplary wife and mother (Fitzgerald 17).
Color, and aspects of Daisy’s appearance, further contribute to the creation of this idealized, perfect image. The color white suggests innocence, ingenuousness and chastity, and is, therefore, used to describe her. The allusion to her “‘white girlhood’” supports this, as it establishes a relationship between the color white and purity by linking it to childhood, a period of naiveté and virtue (Fitzgerald 17). It creates a softness around her character, which is, perhaps, best illustrated in the 2013 film adaptation of Fitzgerald’s work. Her blonde hair, ideal looks and pastel-colored wardrobe, contrast with the red that is sported by Myrtle (Luhrman, The Great Gatsby). This contrast reinforces Daisy’s traditional role, because it emphasizes the disregard with which Myrtle treats customs, primarily by cheating on her husband. The “red” mischief of her actions antithesizes the righteousness and “whiteness” of Daisy.
Yet, completing Keats’s thoughts, while Daisy’s value is derived from Gatsby’s pursuit of her, she is “in itself a nothing” (Keats 148). The “various interpretations (...) the text seems to offer” makes her depiction as faultless debatable, because she constantly challenges the stereotype she should represent (Tyson 259). The reader first realizes this as Nick narrates her teenage years. Upon meeting and sharing a short romance with young Jay Gatsby, it is expected that she remains faithful to him, and continues to express...