The Victorian Women and American Dream in The Great Gatsby and ‘Desiree’s Baby’ Free Essay Example

April 13, 2022 by Essay Writer

The American Dream was believed to be the concept of the new life that one would wish to have, it was known as the right of the individual to have freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Women were affected by the role of men and their position in the American society during the 19th and early 20th century. They were oppressed in society and home due to their gender, race, class, and appearance. Men believed to be superior in all aspects of life, while women did not have many rights, they were not allowed to get education and their only role is to get married.

The patriarchal society did not allow women to have the same privilege as men, which stopped them from living the American Dream. Women believed that they have the opportunity to play a major rule in changing their lives and roles in the society. This research tackles the portrayal of the Victorian women in the two literary works of The Great Gatsby and ‘Desiree’s Baby’.

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The Great Gatsby is a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald during the roaring twenties, published in 1952. It describes the ideal women from men’s perspective. This novel was written in an era known as the Jazz Era which was a period of many changes in the society, especially for women. Women started to have some freedom, they started to get education as well as having the right to change their dress code.

While Kate Chopin’s short story ‘Desiree’s Baby’ was written in 1893.

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It is a short story about a woman who did have a good life and stable marriage until her husband suspects that the child is not originally white, and he abuses her by suppressing his love. It shows that women suffered from oppression due to their race, gender, originals, and class. In these two novels, women suffered from inequality, discrimination, and objectification. They seemed to be excluded from the American Dream as they didn’t have the right for liberty, freedom, or happiness. Due to the humiliating behaviors and actions toward women, their idea about the ideal American Dream failed because they were not allowed to have their freedom and pursuit their happiness as reflected in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Chopin’s ‘Desiree’s Baby’. The position of women had been studied in many works of literature. According to the book Victorian People and Ideals by Richard Altick, it wasn’t acceptable for women to get educated as they were seen as inferior to men, and they should not have the same knowledge as they do. Another research shows that once women were forced into a working position, they could not really see much hope or achievements. They were unaccepted by the high nor the low class society as they were viewed as a threat to their marriage and household (Barret 20).

Women who had to work to survive were putten into the worst working conditions, they were the one who suffers at the end of each day, because women from their class would avoid them and make their lives difficult on the daily basis (Barret 48). Starting with the women characters in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby. Women suffered from discrimination and objectification due to their gender and class. Daisy’s character is introduced in the novel as a woman who is not happy in her marriage, but pretends to be happy. She realizes that women are valued only for their looks and foolishness. This was shown when she hopes for her daughter to be a “beautiful little fool” (Fitzgerald 20). This also shows that Daisy is criticizing the world she lives in, as women at that time had to be stupid and beautiful in order to have a good life. In this novel men attempt to control over their wives, they believe that women should not act in the same manner as they do. Tom believed in the idea that men are free to have an affair but women are not. He objected that his wife is engaging in the same behavior that he did, he objects that Daisy is having an affair with Gatsby while he is doing the same thing with Myrtle.

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