English 220; section 33
Research Essay Assignment (Essay #3) Prompt 1: Intro-Thesis Outline
May 19, 2014
The gender issues in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby adhere to the traditional gender roles of a male-dominant society where women are sexually objectified and made inferior, while men are portrayed as the dominant gender. The narrator’s relationship with the female characters of the novel and their character traits reveal not only the established patriarchal society in the novel, but the chauvinistic attitude of the author as well. While feminine conformity to the ideal standards of women in a male-dominant society is reflected through characters such as Daisy Buchanan and Myrtle Wilson, male characters such as Tom Buchanan and George Wilson appear to represent the traditional man, thus satisfying the ideal gender roles of a male-dominant society. Though it appears that Nick Carraway’s admiration for masculinity allows him to suffer from his potential anxieties about his own masculinity, Carraway’s male chauvinistic mentality is certain because of his enforcement of traditional gender roles that exerts dominance over women in the novel. Carraway’s attraction to Jordan Baker’s masculine traits and his fascination of the socioeconomic status of men, such as of Jay Gatsby’s and of Tom Buchanan’s, display his conformity to the ideal, traditional standards of gender roles in a male-dominant society that explain his admiration for masculinity.
Prior to the 1970s when the theme of gender issues was still quite foreign, the societal norm forced female conformity to male determined standards because “this is a man’s world” (Kerr 406). The patriarchal society painted the image of both men and women accordingly to man’s approach of societal standards that include the defining features of manhood that consist of “gentility-taste, manners, culture, -as much as inherited wealth” which appear in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (Kerr 420). Kerr notes that a “powerful man maintains his social position by denying his own emotional interior while penetrating the emotional secrets of other men” which also appears in The Great Gatsby (Kerr 420). Contrastingly, women were portrayed with an image of weakness, emotional passiveness, dependency, and sexual objects thus leading to the paranoia of being feminine because of its unfavorable depiction. Kerr indicates, “To be feminine in The Great Gatsby is to be either emotionally weak…or lavishly sentimental and tasteless, like Myrtle and the women at her party,” therefore indicating that female tendencies are undesirable and that it should be shunned (Kerr 413).
This paranoia of femininity appears through Nick Carraway, the narrator of The Great Gatsby. His relationships and descriptions of the characters of the novel reveal Carraway’s male-chauvinistic mentality. His upbringing consists of a prominent and financially stable Mid-western family that plays a strong role in...