Powerful or Powerless: the Women of Gatsby

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In F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, the female characters represent the changing role and status of women during this era of emerging women's rights. In these characters, Fitzgerald may be giving voice to what was wrong with this era. While trying to find their voice Jordan Baker, Myrtle Wilson, and Daisy Buchanan bring disorder, manipulation, and an unraveling to the lives of the men in their path through their words, actions, and female wiles. In the following lines I will demonstrate and emphasize how the women of the novel make powerful, although subvert at times, effort to move outside the social norms of their class and the destruction that follows. First, let us look at how Jordan Baker represents the changing role and status of women. At the end of the dinner party at the Buchanan residence Jordan is reading the newspaper to Tom when Nick notices "a flutter of muscles in her arms" (22). Here are two instances of a blur in the role of women in this era, reading the news and having muscles. Jordan's occupation as a professional golfer is the prime example of a change in status for a woman as a sports figure with more androgynous features. "She wore her evening dress, all her dresses, like sports clothes-there was a jauntiness about her movements as if she had first learned to walk upon golf courses on clean crisp mornings" (55). At the same party we have an abrupt differences in the female sexual image where the party girls are drunk and resort to fighting with their husbands and after "the dispute ended in a short struggle and both wives were lifted kicking into the night" (57). The actions of the women at the party scenes in the novel give us a feel for the disorder caused by their experimenting with "new freedoms" and the unraveling of decency and decorum of the traditional role of women. Nick is also

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