Themes and Meanings

(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is a mixture of satire and farce. Many of Lorelei’s adventures are presented for their humor alone. Other incidents, however, are clearly satirical and ridicule either Lorelei’s own materialistic focus or the snobbery of the upper classes. The novel thus has many similarities to the Jeeves stories of P. G. Wodehouse. Both Wodehouse and Loos use foolish and naïve narrators who are unaware of how silly their remarks may sound. Though their works are intended primarily as comedy, both authors venture into the realm of satire by ridiculing the pretensions of the wealthy.

While the reader is intended to find Lorelei’s materialism ridiculous, nearly everyone she meets turns out to be as shallow as she is. Lorelei’s self-deception contains at least some element of charm. Other characters, however, condemn liquor, immorality, or vulgarity while quickly succumbing to these same temptations. These characters fail at their endeavors while Lorelei, through ignorance and blind luck, succeeds. By the end of the novel, only the blunt-spoken Dorothy seems to know precisely who she is and what she wants out of life.