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The Presentation Of Women In ‘The Great Gatsby’, And In Cormac Mc Carthy’s ‘No Country For Old Men’

1856 words - 7 pages

In a novel set in 1920s patriarchal society dominated by the obsession of wealth, power, chasing dreams and an enigmatic narrator just how independent can a woman really be? This is the reality of the characters in ‘The Great Gatsby’ where in the aftershock of a world war there is celebration and the incarnation of the women left at home into ‘flappers’, but just how much scope are they given to really change? For Jordan this is an exciting transition but Tom will cling to the traditional past. When a threatening situation looms over them will they run and hide or confront the problem head on, the only way they know, as in ‘No Country for Old Men’?

Both novels deal with times of women’s liberation and an introduction to a new era. In the ‘roaring twenties’, women were expected to be housewives and mothers before making careers for themselves, however Jordan Baker defies this image. But the rise of new fashion, shorter, more daring hairstyles and skirts, was an introduction to the new age woman - the ‘flapper’ girl. With women’s suffrage just achieved and with society only just accepting the power and strength women could offer, how big an impact could they actually make? Daisy is a perfect example of this new age woman; perhaps mirroring Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda Sayre, detached from her homely duties, her child and her marriage. Sayre was quoted saying “I don't want to live -- I want to love first, and live incidentally”; this links to the plot of ‘The Great Gatsby’ and morality, mortality and Daisy’s flyaway ways.

The use of colour throughout the novel depicts Daisy as a woman of white and gold, innocence and wealth; “white…dresses…rippling and fluttering”. The use of the verb “fluttering” emphasizes her carefree, runaway attitude. This gives Daisy her character and air of sexual vitality, which is key, aiding her to build relationships with both Gatsby and Tom. As a result of her portrayed delicacy Gatsby claims he was driving the car which resulted in the death of Myrtle; “of course I’ll say it was me”. This not only highlights Daisy’s personality but Gatsby’s too, with his decision to take the blame for Daisy’s crime simply down to the product of his desire to fill a chivalrous male role.

Although set later, the idea of women’s political power and movement is continued in ‘No Country for Old Men’, with the first woman being appointed to the Supreme Court in 1981. This is extremely important and could have links to morality and Sherriff Bell and Nick being used as the moral compasses of the novels. The teenage hitchhiker in ‘No Country for Old Men’ could be McCarthy’s portrayal of new found female freedom and perhaps offers a feminist perspective. However the stereotyped, traditional female caring role is continued by Carla Jean who mothers Llewellyn, when she demands to “see that cut” on his head. However, conflicting again, the use of the imperative shows Carla Jean’s influence over her husband. Fitzgerald also draws attention to...

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