Monday, 29 February 2016

The Great Gatsby: Women and Liberty

Lynne Franks (businesswoman and social commentator)

The theme "women and liberty" is clearly present throughout the novel The Great Gatsby and when comparing ideas on women's liberty within the book to what that means today shows a clear contrast and change throughout the two periods in history. The video that I have linked shows Lynne Franks discussing the role of women in the 21st century and how the world is changing and shifting to becoming more understanding and cooperative of the "feminine way". During the time of the Great Gatsby, characters such as Myrtle and Daisy represent very different ideas on women's liberty during the 1920s. Myrtle is a very interesting character in the novel as she represents the awakening of pre-marital sex and adultery. During the 20s, sex was plastered throughout the media, in films and magazine etc. Women would be dressed up in revealing clothing and some would have multiple love affairs with men, for example the character of Myrtle fits this description. Myrtle does not act like a traditional "lady" as the early 1900s description of a woman who is respectable and formally dressed. Could I go as far to say that Myrtle acts in a very masculine way due to her infidelity and harsh words and behaviour? Franks might say that Myrtle was showing signs of competing with men by having an affair with Tom and wanting to find her own liberty through him.

Daisy is also a very interesting character within the novel. Franks discusses how men in the 21st century are sharing parenting duties with their wives or partners and are getting involved in parenting far more than any other generation of men have. When comparing this behaviour to that of the behaviour in Great Gatsby, there is a clear contrast. Daisy is mainly in charge of her and Tom's daughters upbringing and does not ask Tom to perform any of the parenting duties herself or the child's nanny does. Men did not play a huge role in their child's lives during this period in history, it was considered the woman's job to bring up the child well. This begs the question as to whether or not women during this time had any liberty whatsoever. Of course they began to dress and act differently. there were more opportunities for women such as Jordan who was a professional golfer, but were any of them actually respected in society and by men? Were any of them respected by their fellow women? Franks makes a point in the video about how women should strengthen other women and that this is happening in the 21st century. By helping each other, women can accomplish many things. Myrtle and Daisy, in the book, show no signs of coming together and realising they were being fooled and hurt by the same man and there is no sign of a real friendship between Daisy and Jordan. Although women achieved forms of liberty during the 20s, such as the 19th amendment and the social freedom, many were still heavily oppressed due to society's ideals of what a woman should be and how women were treated by both men and women.

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