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How Women Are Portrayed In The Great Gatsby

2049 words - 9 pages

In the Great Gatsby hedonism, consumerism and materialism plays a huge part in the portrayal of women. Alongside with this comes the American Dream. Before the 1920’s the American dream was based on equality, however a different dream was developed during the 1920’s that contradicted this idea of equality as instead they strived to be rich. Fitzgerald presents women to be victims of this dream and channels this through Myrtle. She is a key character as she shows who suffers from the American dream the most, as she is shallow and fixated with materialistic goods. The way she views her husband exhibits this ‘I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t the fit to lick my shoe’. Myrtle is in denial with the life that she has been given; this is symbolic of the fact that she is unable to attain her dream of having glamour, money and beauty. The different forms of the American dreams have an elusive force, which is constantly changing as human desires change. The materialistic craving, which consumes Myrtle as a character, is rooted in her crisis of identity, which is indicative of the woman within the 1920's society. Woman can only be defined when related to society in terms of material possessions. The more possessions a woman has the more she is accepted within society. Tom Buchanan gave Daisy pearls before their wedding ‘pulled out the string of pearls’. Yet as is demonstrated with Daisy, the material wealth only gives superficial acceptance. Therefore it may be inferred that the more one puts into their possession's and material wealth, the greater the loss of personal identity. As a result of this both Daisy and Myrtle are focused on reaching and having a taste in the money and the glamour that comes with Tom Buchanan. Tom is a manifestation of both Myrtles and Daisy’s dream, but Myrtle uses him to get closer to hers. Also we are introduced to Myrtle through Tom, which shows how Tom defines her. Myrtle, as a result of her affair with Tom, conveys how Fitzgerald presents women as being victims of not only the dream but also their relationships with men.

Daisy is a complete contrast to myrtle but they both are victims and sufferers of the American dream Daisy is described as beautiful, soft and glamorous, where as Myrtle is describe with ‘not a touch of beauty’. Myrtle can be seen as a literal, physical embodiment of the distortion and disfigurement the American dream has on the human condition. Myrtle throughout the novel is trying to achieve the life she doesn’t have, ‘The apartment was on the top floor- a small living room, a small dinning room, a small bed and bath’ This is the flat in which Tom brought Myrtle and portrays how Myrtle is idolizing her life have and exhibits the materialism Myrtle has. Oscar Wilde depicts myrtle's attitude towards her life and the wider attitude, which is inherent within the capitalistic nature of the American dream "we know the price of everything yet the value of nothing". Myrtles attitude is...

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