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Can We Sympathise with Women in ‘the Great Gatsby’

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One of the women characters to who may show sympathy towards is Daisy. Daisy throughout the novel is oblivious to the fact that Tom, her husband, has an intimate relationship with the character Myrtle in a very public way. This is one of the ways in which we, the reader, sympathise towards Daisy, not only because of the fact that Tom is cheating on her with other characters but, the public way in which this affair is being carried out with everyone aware of Tom and Myrtles relations, other than Daisy yet saying very little to her about it.

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We further sympathise with Daisy over this case as the ever growing contrast between the personalities of the character Tom and Daisy are brought to light, with Daisy seeming to be an angelic, pure character, in a relationship with a less caring and vulgar man. We are reminded of this, when Tom and Nick are arguing over whom Daisy loves more. Tom openly admits around the table that he has cheated on Daisy “multiple times” however, she doesn’t care and that they pull through this.

Here as a modern day audience we sympathise with Daisy, thinking of the emotions she would must have felt being cheated on multiple times by the man she is married to, and being in a relationship with a character who seems so horrid in the way he addresses the relationship and openly goes about doing so, making the reading infer that she is so in love with Tom, that she is willing to stay with him not matter how much she is hurt.

Further sympathy is shown towards Daisy during this section as we learn more about how she is torn between love with both Tom and Gatsby, a damsel in distress unsure of whether she should remain with her long term husband, or whether she should re-live the past and love Gatsby as she used to. Daisy is put into a sympathetic situation which becomes even more sympathetic when emotions are shed by Daisy in the traumatic situation. A final reason for which we may feel sympathetic towards Daisy is the fact that she is a woman, and how this has affected her outlook on life, seeing her sex as being a burden.

In chapter 1, Daisy cries to Nick and Jordan saying to them “I hope she’ll be a fool” referring to her daughter. While as a modern day audience we may not see a reason to sympathise towards this quote, there’s greater meaning in this quote than first appears. This remark is somewhat sardonic, referring to the social values of her era during the time, a product of social environment, to a great extent, that does not value the intelligence of women. However the question still remains, to how far this sympathy may be shown towards Daisy.

In reference to Daisy being cheated on by Tom, it feels very difficult to show Daisy any sympathy towards the case due to how open the relationship is, and the reaction of the surrounding characters who know about the situation. The lack of character emotion from Jordan and Nick surrounding the issue and how public the relationship is doesn’t really create a very emotional feel surrounding the problem, and so it becomes hard to sympathise towards Daisy.

Also, due to how early on Fitzgerald introduces that Daisy is being cheated on; the reader has very little emotions towards Daisy in order to show sympathy as there has been little character development at the point where this has been introduced. Furthermore little sympathy can be shown towards Daisy surrounding the issue of love for several reasons, one being that we are not entirely convinced that she is in fact in love with Gatsby or Tom.

Leading up to the situation around the table, we are growing increasingly aware that Daisy “talks money” and is forever jumping from person to person that poses the greatest wealth, leading to little sympathy being shown at her “damsel in distress” scenario. Also, to an audience of the time, the fact that Daisy “ditches” her husband for a new man while still married would have received very little emotion due to the social issue of marriage and divorce during the time, with marriage seen as the vow never to leave your partner, clearly broken by Daisy.

Another character to whom we may show sympathy towards is Myrtle Wilson. Myrtle can be shown sympathy for a number of factors, again concerning Tom. Firstly Myrtle even though aware of Daisy, seems to almost believe that she may still have a relationship with Tom. This may be shown sympathy as Myrtle seems throughout the novel as if she has been misguided into believing that one day Tom may leave his wife for her, and that if she clings on and plays the waiting game, this one day shall happen for her, and she can live the glamorous life that Mr Wilson is unable to provide for her.

Furthermore Myrtle is mistreated by Tom and in fact is brutally murdered all due to Tom being the root problem. During an exchange of words between Tom and Myrtle in which Daisy’s name is mentioned, Tom strikes Myrtle leaving her nose broken. As a modern day audience, sympathy is shown due to how negatively society looks upon domestic violence; however this may have been a more common scenario during this period of time where women were regarded more as property of men, than individuals.

Again, although we see these multiple reasons for which sympathy should be shown towards Myrtle, it seems very hard to actually express an emotion towards her situation. In regards to the situation with Tom, it doesn’t seem feasible to show Myrtle any sympathy knowing that she herself is fully aware of Daisy, and that Myrtle herself is the reason for Tom committing an adultery act. Also she herself is playing the role of a deceitful character, going behind the back of her husband in order to have a relationship with Tom, leaving her innocent seeming husband distraught at the news of the affair.

These factors alone make it difficult for any sympathy to be shown towards Myrtle and her death, as she was the cause of her own death, created by her lust for the wealthy life with Tom. The final women character that appears within Great Gatsby is Jordan, who overall lacks sympathy being shown towards her. Jordan’s character seems to come across as too “snobby” for there to be any sympathy to be shown towards her, as she appears in the final section of the novel. Towards the end of the novel, Nick ends a relationship between him and Jordan.

Sympathy may have been shown towards Jordan if she had responded to the break up possibly by crying and being upset, however Fitzgerald doesn’t which to make her respond in that way. On the contrary to how you’d usually expect someone to react, Jordan snarls back that she is already engaged anyways, and this takes away from any sympathy that Jordan may have received. To conclude while there may be numerous events that may conventionally have created sympathy towards the women in the novel, sympathy towards the characters seems a long way off.

The way in which Fitzgerald has structured the novel so that we are very quickly introduced to the events of characters before we grow emotions with the characters creates a less sympathetic feel towards any of the characters within the novel. Along with this, the further into the novel we delve the less feasible it seems to the characters any sympathy when it seems they themselves have caused the incidents which sympathy may have been shown towards.

Cite this Can We Sympathise with Women in ‘the Great Gatsby’

Can We Sympathise with Women in ‘the Great Gatsby’. (2016, Sep 27). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/can-we-sympathise-with-women-in-the-great-gatsby/

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