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Are women treated like objects in The Great Gatsby?I want to know whether they are...

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chocmad1 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 1, 2012 at 4:21 AM via web

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Are women treated like objects in The Great Gatsby?

I want to know whether they are treated badly by men, or whether they use the men for the money.

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slcollins | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

Posted March 1, 2012 at 4:49 AM (Answer #2)

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Absolutely. Women are another symbol of the materialist society in the 1920's. For Tom, Daisy is a trophy: a rich, lovely, unassuming wife who looks the other way in regards to his adultery. The fact that Daisy has stayed with Tom, in a very comfortable life, is Fitzgerald's way of commenting on what was important to this very elite society in the 20s: wealth and appearance. Myrtle is also a good example of this. Tom uses her when he needs her and then breaks her nose when she angers him. The fact that neither relationship revolves around love suggests that Tom sees both of these women as objects to be used as he sees fit.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 1, 2012 at 6:25 AM (Answer #3)

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I agree that the women seem to get the brunt of it in Gatsby excess. When I think of all those fancy parties that lasted for days, I can't help but also think about loose women. For some reason, women are always blamed when there is amoral sexual behavior.
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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 1, 2012 at 6:38 AM (Answer #4)

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Is it really necessary to put this as an either-or choice?  It seems very possible to me that both dynamics are at play.  You might perhaps argue that, when women are made into objects, they have little choice but to try to protect themselves by getting what money they can from their relationships.  That would be a good way to look at Daisy, for example.  She is objectified by both Tom and Gatsby and yet she is clearly interested in Tom largely for the money and position that he can give her.

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e-martin | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 1, 2012 at 7:39 AM (Answer #5)

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The cultural expectations on women expressed in The Great Gatsby certainly seem to work against empowering women. Even the relatively independent Jordan Baker is unable to escape from the culturally defined image of a woman as dependent.

However, this dependency is part of a wider view of success. To be a success a person must be married, must have a mate, and must prove in this most formal, marital way that he/she is a morally acceptable and attractive person.

The men suffer from the same equation as the women [without marriage there is no social success].

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stolperia | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 1, 2012 at 12:55 PM (Answer #6)

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One of the points of the book was to illustrate how carelessly all relationships were approached. Women were treated like objects by the men in the story, but Daisy certainly enjoyed playing with all the army officers without any intention of becoming involved with any of them. (I don't think she would have really married Gatsby if they had reunited sooner. She would have found some reason to string him along...)

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 1, 2012 at 1:00 PM (Answer #7)

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Since the 1920s were a time in which women began to exercise independence, Fitzgerald's portrayal of women as objects would be somewhat inaccurate.  While the chauvanistic Tom Buchanan does, indeed, show no respect for the opposite gender, Daisy chooses to act as a fool on her own.  In fact, she says of her daughter,

And I hope she'll be a fool—that's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.

Daisy loves living the life of the wealthy, so after she hits and kills Mrytle, she hides behing Tom and his wealth, as a fool, but it is her choice.

Likewise, Jordan Baker is on her own amoral path to having fun. A very independent young woman, she uses and misuses people for her enjoyment.  Rather than being treated as a sex object, Jorday mistreats many herself.  She disposses of people and possesses an immorality about her.

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darshika25 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted September 11, 2012 at 6:14 AM (Answer #8)

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In some part of the story we can certainly notice that women are treated like objects.

Women are treated like objects by Tom Buchanan:

The way he treats Daisy:By keeping a mistress in his life,he shows that Daisy does not matter to him.

The fact that Tom keeps a mistress shows that Myrtle represents an object for him that is he uses her whenever he wants.

The way he behaves with Myrtle at the party;he broke her nose and this clearly shows that Myrtle is like an object to him.

However we can also notice that women have value throughout the story:

The way Gatsby behaves with Daisy,the love he has for her and the respect that he shows towards her.

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