Over the last decades, the role of women has dramatically changed through taking on responsibilities outside the home, improving social, economic, and health issues, which was once only presented as a man’s job. In the novel, The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald idealized women through stereotypes perceived in the roaring 1920s. By including the female characters, Daisy Buchanan, Myrtle Wilson, and Jordan Baker, Fitzgerald detailed three completely different stereotypes of his belief about feminine power. Grant, Daisy, Myrtle, and Jordan are all characterized as different stereotypes from the 1920’s; their appearance, social status, personal desire, and personality are unique to the role they play in The Great Gatsby.
Daisy Buchanan is known as the “golden girl”. Throughout the novel, Daisy is “dressed in white”(Fitzgerald 79). The color of white symbolizes Daisy’s innocence. When she was younger, Daisy unconcerned with wealth and materialism; in addition, she was in love with Gatsby. Fitzgerald implies how Daisy is pure. Daisy had “bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth”, which gave her an innocent look (Fitzgerald 9).
Her face is often described as white; the color white symbolizes purity and innocence. In the 1920s, the fashion trend was to have pale skin. In addition, Daisy is illustrated as a captivating, young woman who uses her beauty to achieve her glamorous lifestyle. She was born in Louisville, Kentucky; this was where the idea of a traditional southern lifestyle became her dream. Daisy’s voice was “full of money” (Fitzgerald 120). Since Daisy grew up in an upper-class family; she then married a rich man, Tom, and moved into East Egg. Daisy and Myrtle were both materialistic in the terms of wanting expensives. Daisy is wealthy and speaks as a successful young women and is a person who men desire in the roaring twenties. When Daisy found out the gender of her baby: “I’m glad it’s a girl.
And I hope she’ll be a fool-that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool” (Fitzgerald 17). Her life as a trophy wife does not fulfill her; Daisy had hoped for many things, but she ended up not finding a happily ever after. She has high hopes for her daughter will find true love: unlike herself when she married Tom Buchanan. Daisy later finds out Tom is having an affair; however, she chooses to ignore it, because she knows she will get hurt in the end. Daisy decides to stay with Tom Buchanan because of her dream of his money. Furthermore, Daisy chooses to cherish his money more than her true love. On the contrary, Daisy begins an affair with Gatsby based from love; while Tom is with Myrtle to feel needed. Daisy wants the best of both worlds with money and true love; “she had told him that she loved him, and Tom Buchanan saw” (Fitzgerald 119). Her manipulative side is shown when she is in the same room as Gatsby and Tom and refused to choose one man. By loving Gatsby now but once loving Tom, she is confused with her true feelings. Instead of choosing one side, Daisy allows Gatsby to believe she wants to be with him but not telling Tom her feelings for Gatsby. Through manipulation, Daisy is selfish by getting everything she wants regardless of who gets hurt; however due to her extremely charming, many men fall for her.
Despite Daisy wearing white, Fitzgerald illustrates Myrtle “ in the middle thirties, and faintly stout, but carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can” (25). Daisy and Jordan are portrayed as beautiful women; however, Myrtle is illustrated with having some flaws, which all men might not desire. In addition to her curvaceous body, her loud personality is shown through her appearance: “a spotted dress of dark crepe de-chine…” (Fitzgerald 25). Since Daisy was wore white, Myrtle wore vibrant colors depicting characteristics of a bold, robust person. Due to her energetic manner, she attracts Tom as an exuberant women. Tom Buchanan falls for Myrtle, which enables her to live the double life that she had always wished. When Myrtle went to New York, “she let four taxicabs drive away before she selected a new one, lavender- colored with gray upholstery” (Fitzgerald 35). When Myrtle Wilson has an affair with Tom Buchanan, Tom bought her an apartment in New York, a puppy, and a pearl necklace. He spoiled her with these luxurious gifts, since he had money. On the contrary, the Wilsons have nothing; they live in the Valley of Ashes. Fitzgerald depicts Myrtle Wilson as the “gold digger”. She relies on her looks to draw the attention of wealthy men; not to mention, she is a materialistic women chasing her personal dreams. Myrtle describes Tom’s appearance wearing “a dress suit and patent leather shoes, and I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him” (Fitzgerald 38). She’s the type of woman who wants superior things in life. Myrtle’s character is a vulgar attempt to emulate the lifestyle of the rich. For example, she was unhappy with her marriage to George Wilson; Myrtle then regrets ever marrying George, since she believes he is in an even lower class than her. In addition, she longs to be a trophy wife, which shows her desire for a powerful, rich man. By having an affair with Tom, she was able to think of herself in wealth and higher social class. In the end, Tom physically abuses Myrtle due to her hope for riches.
Lastly, Jordan Baker is described as the “tomboy”. Similar to Daisy, Jordan is portrayed to be wearing white. In the beginning of the novel, Nick perceives Jordan as pure; however throughout the novel, the color white develops into corruption. According to The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald wrote, “Jordan’s fingers powdered white over their tan…”(122). During the roaring twenties, the perception of pale skin was trending. Since Jordan was a golfer, she was very tan from being out, so she would put on white powder to seem paler. Since she tries covering up her tan skin, readers can infer she wants to cover up her true self. Instead of being different, she was to portray herself as a typical, innocent woman. In reality, Jordan is “a slender, small breasted girl, with erect carriage…Her gray sun-strained eyes looked back at me with polite reciprocal curiosity out of a wan, charming, discontented face” (Fitzgerald 16). She carries herself in a confident manner that enhances her charm. In addition to confidence, she has a mysterious factor, which causes people to want to know more about her. Unlike Daisy’s appearance, Jordan is very athletic, tan, and dark-haired. Jordan was born into a wealthy family unlike Myrtle. She focused on her career as a golfer, so Jordan never found a man. After becoming famous athlete, Jordan had a very social lifestyle.
Most people perceive Jordan as wealthy and famous; Nick said: “at first, I was flattered to go places with her, because she was a golf champion, and everyone knew her name” (Fitzgerald 59). Jordan is a popular person in society due to her career. She lived the live she wanted and not what society had told her women should live. This meant instead of living a traditional life of marrying high class man, she chose her career over a family. Jordan believes “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall” (Fitzgerald 118). In other words, life is a consent cycle. The carefree actions presented by Daisy and Jordan will soon shift back to reality. She portrays the seasons, which will ultimately always change. Daisy, however, doesn’t see life the same way. In addition to Daisy’s opposite personal desire, Jordan is representing the “new woman” of the 1920s. Due to her independence of men and having created success through her career of golf, she is known as a flapper. Jordan was a party girl who attended Gatsby’s parties. After getting to know Jordan from Gatsby’s party, Nick Carraway describes Jordan Baker is “incurably dishonest” (Fitzgerald 58). Jordan is intelligent, but like Daisy, she is careless. Similar to both Myrtle and Daisy, she is very cynical. Through her cleverness, she lives exactly how she personally wants. Equally important, Jordan surrounds herself with foolish people who she can manipulate to raise her social status. In addition, Jordan is a liar and a cheater. For example, she cheated to win the golf tournament. Lastly, her wealth and success from golf has made her care for nothing but her own personal self. Due to her independence, Jordan is extremely self-sufficient.
In conclusion, Daisy Buchanan, Myrtle Wilson, and Jordan Baker are each described as a different stereotype depicted in the 1920s. Through their appearance, social status, personal desire, and personality, the three women are idiosyncratic of each other. Furthermore, Fitzgerald’s imagination of the different women in the roaring twenties has now changed to women in the twenty-first century.
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