Reflecting Upon Oppression In The Great Gatsby

1670 words - 7 pages

Mirrors never lie. They reveal each and every intricate feature of a person, which otherwise would not be visible to him/her. Mirrors reflect how one looks on the outside. However, what sheds light on one’s innermost appearance? For centuries, literature has served as rearview mirror for our society reflecting the culture, morals, and beliefs of our past. Literature shows us who we were, who we are, and who we could be. This feature is reflected through the use of both themes and literary devices. For example, the theme of oppression is displayed in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; this shows us some of the real-life attitudes displayed toward women, lower social classes, and non-white races.
One of the reflections Fitzgerald reveals to us is the oppression of women. He accomplishes this by exposing the injustices that they had to encounter. After World War I, women had gained not only new jobs, but also the right to vote. This gave the women of the 1920s freedom and independence (Hanson 55). However, in The Great Gatsby, women are depicted as objects (Affroni) that are weak, impure (Tunc 74), and mostly dependent on men (Affroni). Contrary to the modern woman, most of the women in the novel were reliant on men to satisfy their financial needs because they did not have jobs (Affroni). This bounded them to their husbands and limited their freedom in a time of endless possibilities for women. Nonetheless, not only did this restrict their freedom, but it also kept them from reaching their full potential as members of the society (Affroni). One of these women could have had a unique talent that could be beneficial to the workforce. However, because they did not have to support themselves through a job, they were never able to explore the career options that were offered to them. This adds to the depiction that women were weak and needed men in order to survive. Nonetheless, not only are women depicted as weak in the novel, but also they are objectified. For example, when Myrtle, Tom’s mistress, tries to say Daisy’s name, then Tom beats her (Fitzgerald 58). This creates the reflection that Myrtle is Tom’s toy. He uses her and has fun with her for a certain period of time; however, he then abuses her and pushes her to the side like an arrogant child. Not only does this show Myrtle as Tom’s object, but it also reveals Myrtle as weak because she was willing to give in to Tom’s dominance over her. Nonetheless, weakness does not make these women completely innocent, for many of them had their faults. For example, Jordan cheats while playing golf (Tunc 74-75). In addition to this, Daisy and Myrtle cheat on their husbands, and Dan Cody’s mistress takes Gatsby’s inheritance (Fitzgerald). It almost seems that nearly every woman in the novel is deceptive. This creates the image that nearly all women were cheaters and liars; however, not all women are like this. Thus, Fitzgerald shows us the worst of all women — the weak, the cheaters, the liars, and the...

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