The Great Gatsby "And I hope she'll be a fool- that's the best thing a girl can be in the world, a beautiful little fool.". The novel presents a world in which women are dominated by men. Discuss

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Women of the upper realm of American society found themselves bound to husbands despite the Coverture laws (in which a woman's property became that of her husband's) having been substantially modified by late 19th century. For, social status depended upon marriage, and marriage to a man of position, as well. Thus, while their finances may have been unleashed, such women were yet dependent upon their husbands for their social standing and comforts.

The backdrop of the early twentieth century and its materialism is somewhat incongruous for the romantic tale of the "great Gatsby," the man of extraordinary hope in his blue dreams and green lights. Gatsby transforms himself in order to attain the charm of money, that "deathless song" of Daisy's voice, because he believes in the 

promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy's wing

and possesses an energy and hope that Daisy does not. Instead, she has always known that she could not have risen in society or maintained a position without Tom Buchanan's money. This is why she accepted through her inebriated tears Tom's exorbitant gift of a $350,000.00 pearl necklace. "A silly fool," she has sold herself to the life of the "careless people" of wealth, colored custom-made shirts, large automobiles, and New York apartments. Daisy enjoys some of the new freedoms of the flappers of the Roaring Twenties, but she remains the property of Tom, and when Gatsby wants her to assert her love for him before Tom, she cries,

"Oh, you want too much!....I love you now--isn't that enough? I can't help what's past." 

So, while the flappers of the 1920's attained a new freedom in behavior and dress as well as obtaining voting rights with the Nineteenth Amendment, the upper class remained stodgy in their social circles with traditional standards. For example, when Daisy learns the source of Gatsby's money, she rejects his love. Thus, Daisy allows herself to be controlled by social conventions while Gatsby lives in a world of illusory ideals. Were she more of "a silly fool," Daisy may have been happier.

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