The Main Characters In The Great Gatsby English Literature Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

In the 'Great Gatsby' women are portrayed by F. Scott Fitzgerald using countless techniques to encompass many themes and ideas. The significance of social class and hierarchy, relationships and their sincerity, hedonism, unrestrained materialism and idealism, and the decadence of society are all depicted through women during such a pivotal point in history. L. P. Hartley's themes of trust, friendship and betrayal are all portrayed through one antagonistic character, Marian. In both novel's, there are female connotations during the most memorable and explicit events, though these connotations are tainted by the narrator's bias, for both narrators are male - Leo Colston and Nick Caraway. It is questionable whether the narrator's opinions and observations reflect the author's own feelings, or whether they represent more controversial views, like Tom Buchanan's undeniable support for white supremacy.

The opening chapter to 'The Great Gatsby' includes Nick Caraways' first impression of Daisy and Jordan, regardless of his alleged objective "reserved judgement". The descriptions of Tom's brutish appearance and mannerisms contrast with the two young women who were "buoyed up as though upon an anchored balloon", as if tethered. The tranquillity of the scene is soon interrupted with a "boom as Tom Buchanan shuts the rear window". This juxtaposition of Tom's manner and the 'anchored' women could either be to display the position of women in society during the 1920s or not only displaying Tom's superiority over his wife, but the foreseeable - that Daisy won't stay 'tethered' forever, and that she will exercise her future liberty with Jay Gatsby. Fitzgerald grants us access to knowledge about Daisy through Nick's eyes. It's not soon after their meeting that Daisy's daughter is introduced, she tells Nick her first words said at her birth. "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". This is said in the perspective of a woman who is not a fool herself, but is part of a society where women's intelligence has no value. It appears that the Fitzgerald's focus in the novel is of the younger generation of this era, where females don't display such docility, and are more impulsive and hedonistic. Daisy's quote from her child's birth appears sardonic, for while she indicates to the expected female values, she alludes that it is best not to challenge them, thus resulting in dissatisfaction and problematic desires. According to Daisy, it is advisable that girls live contented if they are rapturous, wide-eyed and therefore virtuous. This suggests Fitzgerald has created a façade of character; Daisy is not as she appears - naïve, but far more incredulous and only conforms to principals in order to evade the horror of being in a loveless marriage.

Similarly in 'The Go-Between' Hartley's character Marian is in a state of discontent due to her pressured engagement to Lord Trimingham, serving the purpose of advancing up the social hierarchy. During the beginning of the 20th century the rigidity of social classes and their divisions is undoubtable, rationalising Mrs Maudsley's overwhelming outrage at the discovery of Marian's explicit relationship with Ted Burges. However there is one vast difference between Marian and Daisy - Marian is wealthy and Ted is far lower in social status. Therefore her desire for Ted must be genuine and purely intrinsic. Her decisions are entirely void of any pressure from social standards and therefore she acts on lust. "Darling, darling, darling. Same place, same time, this evening". However, this suggests that Hartley was also accurately portraying women of the era, using the character Marian to embody a more resilient, seemingly defiant female stereotype that was going to inevitably replace those the previous generation.

It is possible that Fitzgerald implies women serve one sole purpose in the novel. They are used and mistreated throughout; the manner Tom treats Myrtle in is a perfect example of this. Myrtle seems to simply be a character destined for a short life of discontent and misfortune, which is finished abruptly. She always believes that she will receive a substantial relationship from Tom, for she claims her current husband "isn't fit to lick my shoe". Her naivety is displayed by her inability to learn, and her definite weaknesses - to allow Tom to return to her whenever he pleases.

The females in 'The Great Gatsby's behaviour seems to be related directly to the 'American Dream'. The women appear to attempt to meet unachievable standards demanded by the American Dream. This recklessness, defiance and foolishness are clearly depicted in the novel.

Myrtle Wilson resides in the Valley of Ashes with her husband George, "a blonde, spiritless man, anaemic and faintly handsome". Fitzgerald uses these detailed, suggestive descriptions to imply forthcoming events and thus add irony. George has absolute trust in his seemingly flawless wife, though to Nick she appears an estranged woman in her middle thirties and noticeably stout. This delusion in appearances reflects the entire era - a time when beauty and money were a necessity, though this era's time is limited, for it is preceded by the Second World War.

Depicted by as lives as defined by the men they partner. The direction their lives take depend on whom they marry - for example, Daisy, despite her love for Gatsby, wanted to be wealthy, so married Tom Buchanan as a young woman. Myrtle longs for a glamorous and exciting life, but her fate is defined by her marriage to a pump attendant/mechanic, so she'll never be anything but a wife, and never be able to make the life she wants.

In contrast, the men shape the lives they want to. Nick is just messing around a bit - trying out a career, not really sure who he wants to be. Tom has the self assuredness that men from wealthy backgrounds do, and J Gatsby has the opportunity to make his life what he wants it to be - to be a success, to accumulate wealth.

Jordan is a bit different to the other women. She has a career (as a golfer) and contrasts well with the neediness and dependence on men that Daisy and Myrtle have. - END OF CHECK

Fitzgerald conveys opinions of women predominantly through the eyes of Nick, but Tom and Gatsby also. The party at Tom and Myrtle's apartment in chapter two illiterates the possibility that women are beginning to exercise a new position in society. As the women begin to disassociate themselves from their punctilious expectations there are new stereotypes created. Women's liberal expression and behaviour is undoubtedly detailed in the apartment. There are many who consume alcohol even during the Prohibition Act and display in such a way that they appear far more foolish and bold than the men. "'Crazy about him!' cried Myrtle incredulously. 'Who said I was crazy about him?'" - Myrtle appears tactless and outspoken, influencing Tom to cease her shouting about Daisy with a "short deft movement", breaking her nose so she bleeds "fluently"; as fluent as her tongue's unreserved opinions earlier in the evening. Though there are many examples of the two sexes contrasting, the unfaithfulness of males and females in the novel establishes similarities - "neither can stand the person they're married to". Daisy symbolises a woman seeking fulfilment due to being continuously degraded by Tom who commits his own misdeeds. However, Daisy's affair with Gatsby reflects Tom's own actions. In contrast, Hartley explores the fragility of a child on the threshold of adolescence and the influence of a more mature woman. He is not as passive as Nick - a bystander - and views women with the upmost respect. Our narrator in 'The Go-Between' is a child who displays both a state of awe and wonderment to those who're upper class and relates to those of a lower class, and therefore highly regards Ted. Though would this be so if Leo himself was a resident in Brandham Hall? The descriptions we are given of women are truly subjective; for Leo's emotional attachment to Marian is substantial. "Now what's the matter? Somebody's been upsetting you - a woman, I shouldn't wonder". Leo is of an age where his control on events is minimal, and the tragedy of Ted's death leaves him with a sense of failure that lasts throughout his life. Hartley appears to afford us a psychological explanation for why a man might decide to live a solitary life, unmarried; the resultants of a broken heart.