The Declaration of Independence states that all men are created equal. According to the United States Census Bureau in 2012, women earned approximately 77 cents for every dollar that a man made (Bassett 2013). Since its independence, all of America’s leaders have been male. What do all of these statements have in common? Male superiority. Since its foundation, the United States of America has been a male dominated society. Masculinity and male superiority have been demonstrated in various aspects of this nation’s culture. Such areas include literature and history. Male dominance can be exemplified in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and Tennessee ...view middle of the document...
If women failed to think a certain way, men created false images of these women in order to turn society against them, in fear of the possibility that they will lose their masculinity and power. The plot of this novel displays how male dominance has contributed to the tainted view of women.
In chapter 1 of The Awakening, Chopin writes “You are burnt beyond recognition”... looking at his wife as one looks at a valuable piece of personal property which has suffered some damage.” This quote is very significant in a way that provides an accurate depiction of how men viewed themselves and how they viewed women. Just like almost every other male during that time frame, Edna’s husband, Monsieur Pontellier, viewed Edna as a prize that was used to reflect his reputation, wealth, and prominence. Monsieur Pontellier did not care much about his marriage, instead, he cared for how his marriage looked to other people.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a popular American novel that takes place during the Roaring Twenties. In the novel, a young man named Nick Carraway moves into West Egg. He lives next door to Jay Gatsby, a wealthy man who throws lavish parties in his mansion every night. Jay Gatsby is in love with Nick Carraway’s cousin, Daisy. However, Daisy is a married to a wealthy man that Nick attended Yale with, Tom Buchanan. Nick Carraway describes Tom as a:
… sturdy, straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner. Two shining, arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face, and gave him the appearance of always leaning aggressively forward … you could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of enormous leverage—a cruel body. (11)
Tom is a character that epitomizes the alpha male personality in this book. Tom’s wealth was passed down to him by his family and it shows his high social class. With this reputation, wealth, and physique, Tom embodies a sense of superiority. Tom is also having an affair with a married woman named Myrtle and almost everyone is aware except Daisy. However, no one seems to object Tom’s affair and it makes him seem more powerful for being able to control both women. If Daisy had an affair, then everyone would criticize her and look at her with disgust because she is a woman. When Nick and Tom were in an apartment in New York City, Myrtle kept bringing up Daisy’s name and Tom became very angry. He made a “short deft movement” and “broke her nose with an open hand”(37). Tom’s violent actions symbolizes the power he has over his mistress.
Another piece of literature that displays the theme of male dominance is Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire. After losing a family plantation and her job, a 30 year old woman named Blanche DuBois moves in with her sister, Stella. Stanley, Stella’s husband, is very suspicious of Blanche’s reason to stay with them and dislikes her. This play primarily focuses on gender roles...