Can the female characters of The Great Gatsby be considered as victims of a patriarchal (male dominated)society?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one could argue that while the women in Fitzgerald's book might not be pure victims, they are controlled by the patriarchal elements present.  It is difficult to find a woman who is able to assert her own sense of identity in the novel.  The construction of women in the novel is one where they are a part of the social configuration that has confused wealth and value into the same element.  Daisy, for example, might have some inclinations to break away from the existence, but the reality is that she is a part of it and, to a certain, extent controlled by it.  Jordan is an extension of this system and has little in way of an identity outside of this system where gossip, parties, and lavish homes are the basis of reality.  These women are not crushed underneath this system, but rather have been conditioned to not go against it, and to not stress anything outside of it.  They have been victimized by the predicament of being unable to bite the hand that has fed them.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With the exception of Jordan Baker, I think that you can say that the female characters are victims of patriarchy.

If you look at Myrtle Wilson, for example, she is clearly a victim.  She is treated like property both by her husband and by her lover.  Tom breaks her nose because she dares to say his wife's name.  George locks her up in a room when he finds out about her affair.

Daisy is also something of a victim.  She can only function as the wife of a rich man.  She is not capable of being her own person because she has been dominated by the men in her life.

ivana | Student

Daisy in my view never fitted the victim profile . She just too calculating and snobbish. It was always suspicious to me how Daisy feels nothing after running down and killing Myrtle. I sometimes think she did it on purpose knowing that Gatsby would take responsibility for it. It seems to me that she resolved to leave Gatsby the minute that Tom confronted her with his criminal past. It wasn't a secret who Tom an affair with, so it may be possible that Daisy just found the way how to stop Tom's womanizing.

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The Great Gatsby

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