Women in Great Gatsby Essay

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Both ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Mrs Dalloway’ show women as weak and powerless in spite of society’s emancipation. Discuss. ‘The Great Gatsby’ and ‘Mrs Dalloway’ were both written in 1925, 7 years after the end of the First World War. Set in the ‘Roaring Twenties’ as a result of the post war economic boom, this era marked a time of cultural, artistic and social developments. Before this time, a woman’s role in society was distinctly separate from that of her husband; domesticated and inferior. However due to millions of young men being drafted into the war effort, many women found themselves called up to carry out these ‘male jobs,’ proving themselves just as capable if not more so, and even gaining the right to vote for the first time in 1920. In spite of this, there are still many instances where women are presented as vulnerable or inferior. For example, ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a book titled by its own author as a ‘man’s book’ containing ‘no important female characters.’ It presents a male dominated society in which both the protagonist and narrator are male whilst the women almost act as props for these characters. Although ‘Mrs Dalloway’ is not so gender orientated, it too portrays women as the generally weaker sex. The social developments of the time period, known as the Jazz Age, also brought with it alterations in the way females dressed and behaved. Flappers, as they were called, became the new generation of young Western women in the 1920’s. They wore short skirts and excessive makeup, bobbed their hair, drove cars, smoked and drank; challenging traditional gender roles in any way possible. In ‘The Great Gatsby,’ Jordan Baker is representative of a flapper. Her occupation as a professional golfer defies conventional gender expectations in itself, as do smaller points such as reading the news which illustrates her independence. Her masculine appearance, ‘An
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