Women In The 1920s
The first radio station, the Prohibition, and women gaining suffrage were all a part of the new emerging era – the roaring twenties. Many of these changes brought a new ideas about the female role in society allowing women to wear shorter skirts, cut their hair into bobs, and began driving. Women even began to enter the work force in small numbers with about a twenty five percent increase in fields such as teaching, social working, and nursing as a result of world war one.
During the twenties just a few of the new female roles were being athletes, upper class charmers, and women who exploited men for money as represented in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Although Daisy, Jordan, and Myrtle were all progressive females in the twenties, Daisy is wealthily, charming and tradition holding as, Jordan is an athlete, flapper and independent woman, as Myrtle is lower class, searching for wealth, and is sensual.
Daisy Buchanan is a perfect example of upper class women in the 1920s as she is extremely charming, wealthily, and holds aristocratic values. A key example of Daisy`s wealth is when Nick is talking to Gatsby and Nick says It was full of money that was the inexhaustible charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals` song of it. High in a white palace the kings daughter, the golden girl..[ pg. 120] Nick is almost telling Gatsby that Daisy already has money and simply having large amounts of money is important to Daisy, but is not extremely impressive as her entire life she has lived in an old money family, inheriting their social status. He uses a white palace to show the money she had because in old European fashion and society if you had white clothes it was a symbol of royalty as the clothes could easily become dirty. This comments that she is living with desirable upper class family situation that would allow her the finer things in life and an extremely high social status that many women had to marry to gain.
During the 1920s being from a wealthy family or gaining wealth was extremely desirable to the American Population making Daisy not only in the top one percent of the population but extremely charming to other characters in the book. An example of this charm is when Nick first describes Daisy as Her face was sad and lovely with bright things in it, bright eyes and a bright passionate mouth, but there was an excitement in her voice that men who cared for her found difficult to forget: [pg 9] Daisy very much plays into this desire, of men, in the 1920s because she doesn’t work causing her to stay home, she is extremely beautiful, and she holds traditions of old money appealing to wealthy men. During the 1920s and eras before many families wanted to keep old money in the family causing men, from old money, to marry women from old money to maintain their wealth status and keep old money with old money. Daisy Buchanan overall was a rendition of the 1920s American dream that included traits like charm, wealth, and values of money.
Jordan Baker is a new emerging kind of 1920s women that were becoming independent, athletes, and flappers. An example of her being an flapper is She was incurably dishonest. She wasn’t able to endure being at a disadvantage and, given this unwillingness.. [pg 58] Jordan embodies this new idea of the flapper in a few ways.Women who were seen as flappers were seen as party girls which is the only reason that Jordan knows Gatsby, as we learned form the original meeting of Nick and her. Flappers brought the fresh new idea that women could lie and cheat like men to get ahead in life. An example of Jordans independence is When I had finished she told me she was engaged to another man.[pg177] Jordan has moved on from nick and potentially found a new man, even though Nick believes this isn’t true.
This comment shows that Jordan didn’t need to be married or codependent on someone because if she needed that she would have just married some wealthy man to just to be a wife. She is different than other women of her time, she is a trailblazer for a new era of independent women that don’t have the overwhelming feeling that the end goal in life is to marry a rich man and play house wife their entire lives. An example of Jordan being an athlete is At her first big Golf tournament there was a row that nearly reached the newspapers – a suggestion that she had moved her ball from a bad lie in the semi-final round.[pg 57] Nick specially remembers this story while thinking about who Jordan was as an athlete and a person. In the early 1900s women began to choose being professional athletes like, Margaret Abott who in 1900 was the first woman to win a Gold metal. This began a key idea in later feminist movements that women didn’t have to be teachers or librarians they could be anything including athletes. Jordan baker overall is a groundbreaking and new kind a women we see in the 1920s.
Myrtle Wilson is very different from Jordan and Daisy because she is not only lower class but she uses men intentionally of rather money and she is described in a sensual way. An example of her use of men for money is when myrtle says I married him because I thought he was a gentleman. I thought he knew something about breeding, but he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe. [pg 34] Myrtle originally only marries her husband under the assumption that he is extremely wealthy and she later realizes that he was poor. Myrtle saying he wasn’t fit to lick my shoe shows that she finds out he is beneath her in society and possibly lead her to believe that there was more money.
Myrtle is like many women in the 1920s who are forced to move up the social latter by marrying a wealthy man and unfortunate for myrtle she married the wrong man. An example of myrtles sensual features is when she is hit by the car and it says her left breast was winging loose like a flap and there was no need to listen for a heart beat[pg 137] Myrtles main feature was her sexuality as when she died it was figuratively, and literally, ripped away from her taking her life away. She could have been killed in anyway but she was killed in a way that took away the one thing that was her fault and caused her to cheat with Tom. You could even say that Myrtles sexuality being ripped from her in the end was a way for God to punish her as he has seen all the lying and cheating she has done behind her husbands back. Myrtle Wilson has many attributes that contribute to her character but in the end her greed for wealth and sensualness that end up killing her.
Myrtle, Jordan, and Daisy are all very different characters in nature and personalities but they have many things in common. One thing they have in common is the idea that they all represent new ideas of what women in the 1920s began to change into. Also all three women at some point are involved with a man that doesn’t stay in their life. Daisy was involved with Gatsby, Jordan with Nick, and Myrtle with Tom. Finally all three women are extremely careless and are willing to lie not only to themselves but too others in order to maintain their relationship and wealth status in the book. Even though the gender roles began to change in the 1920s women still cheated and lied their way out of many situations.
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