Compare the similarities and difference between Daisy and Jordan in "The Great Gatsby".

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Daisy and Jordan can be compared and contrasted in some interesting ways. They knew each other as friends, growing up in Louisville together. Both are young, beautiful, and wealthy, having come from prominent families. Both are dishonest and self-centered, very much accustomed to doing what they want to do at the expense of others. Daisy cheats in her marriage; Jordan cheats at golf, her only pursuit. Both women bore easily, having nothing much to do of any importance, and both have raised flirting to an art form.

The contrast between the two is also strong. Daisy is a passive personality who observes conventional manners, but deals in subterfuge and insincerity. Rather than deal directly with Tom or Gatsby, Daisy lies to them both, avoiding conflict until it is unavoidable. She is not faithful in her marriage, but she enjoys the social and financial security of being married, even though she is well aware that Tom is carrying on an affair of his own.

Jordan is Fitzgerald's flapper. She is unmarried, but feels no compunction to behave as a "proper" woman would be expected to behave. She leaves her family home to spend the summer alone in New York, which Tom Buchanan, of all people, sees as "inappropriate" behavior. Jordan is blunt and direct, not caring what she says. In fact, Jordan frequently enjoys saying that which shocks. Jordan is in no way passive; she is quite aggressive. For example, consider the conversation when Nick goes to see her, as a gentleman would, to say goodbye because their relationship is over. Jordan first lies, saying that she is engaged to another man. She then attacks:

Nevertheless, you did throw me over . . . You threw me over on the telephone. I don't give a damn about you now but it was a new experience for me and I felt a little dizzy for a while.

Nick shakes her hand, without comment, but Jordan isn't through:

I mean it was careless of me to make such a wrong guess. I thought you were rather an honest, straightforward person. I thought it was your secret pride.

Thus, Jordan ends her part of their relationship by accusing Nick of lying to her and deceiving her--hardly passive behavior.

sullymonster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The language that Fitzgerald uses to describe each woman makes them foils, or opposites. Daisy is described in a very feminine way. Nick's describes her face as "lovely," saying her eyes are "bright" and "passionate." Her voice is described as flirtatious and seductive, with "an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget." The descriptions of Daisy always have her in white, a symbol of innocence. Her name is the name of a flower, also a mark of femininity. Her movements are always described as graceful.

Jordan, on the other hand, is described in more masculine terms. Rather than graceful movements, hers are more abrupt and athletic. Instead of lovely and bright, Nick says she is "clean" and "hard." She is "slender" and "small-breasted." Besides the physical description, her position in life is unusual for a woman. She is a professional athlete, unmarried, and very independent in her actions.

Even though they seem like opposites, both women represent the limited rights of women in Fitzgerald's time period. Daisy may make bad decisions, but she does suffer from a lack of freedom. Her family pushes her away from the unfitting, young solider Gatsby and toward the wealthy Tom. Once married, Tom cheats on her repeatedly, and she has no way to fight against that. She actually cries when she gives birth to a girl because women are so oppressed.

Jordan may act more independently, but Fitzgerald still shows she is a victim. Nick takes advantage of her and she is the victim of that relationship. He is cheating on a girl from back home with Jordan, although she doesn't know that. Also, he deserts her in the end. She claims in their last meeting to be engaged, suggesting that all women in this time must eventually get married.

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The Great Gatsby

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