How does the sexuality of the characters in The Great Gatsby prove destructive, especially in regard to the women?It's not just about how the hedonistic lifestyle of debauchery in the roaring...

How does the sexuality of the characters in The Great Gatsby prove destructive, especially in regard to the women?

It's not just about how the hedonistic lifestyle of debauchery in the roaring twenties but how it relates to sex...

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missy575's profile pic

missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In most cases of women flagrantly using their sexuality as a tool to get something they want or think they want, self-depreciation occurs. Each of the women demonstrate this differently.

Jordan Baker appears unscathed. From the beginning of the novel she has an arrogant way about her and is untouchable. We see throughout the novel the attempt of a relationship with Nick, but she won't really let him in. I think this means Jordan has been hurt. She's in it for fun for the here and now, but she's not about to give her heart.

I think Daisy wants the full package in a relationship, but can't get it. She wanted to have it legitimately, but marriage is tough and it can get rote if romance is not worked at after years and years of togetherness. Gatsby provided that spark for a few weeks, or maybe only days. Now she has had an affair that robbed her of having an unstained marriage from her perspective.

Myrtle Wilson may have legitimately loved her own husband at one point, but I don't think so. She was likely a girl who married late and had few choices because of her appearance or social status. She uses sex, being with Tom, to elevate her to a level of society and worth that she wishes she had. This did take her life ultimately, but more so it took her self-respect.

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The way I would answer this is by pointing at what happens to Daisy and Myrtle.  The other female character, Jordan Baker, does not seem to be too badly hurt by her sexuality.  Maybe it's because she is not married.

But both Daisy and Myrtle are married women whose sexuality (and perhaps other things) has driven them into affairs with men other than their husbands.  This proves to be literally destructive for Myrtle given that she dies because of it.  As for Daisy, it's not so bad.  Her marriage is jeopardized and her happiness reduced, but I don't think she comes out too badly.

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