Compare and contrast the female characters (Daisy Buchanan, Jordan Baker, and Myrtle Wilson) in "The Great Gatsby?"

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hgarey71 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel The Great Gatsby, Myrtle Wilson, Jordan Baker, and Daisy Buchanan are all very different women, so it's easier to contrast them than it is to compare them. However, they all do share at least some commonalities. They are all cynical, they're all gossips, and they are all carried away by their own desires. 

Daisy Buchanan is the only one of the three women who is a mother. She has a three-year-old daughter, which readers learn about in chapter one. She seems like a careless mother though, as there are only two mentions of the child throughout the whole novel. When Nick asks Daisy about her daughter, here is how she responds: 

Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl, and so I turned my head away and wept. 'all right,' I said, 'I'm glad it's a girl. And I hope she'll be a foolthat's the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.'

Daisy is wealthy and married into "old money." She's the only one who admits to being cynical. She says she's been everywhere and done everything, and she thinks everything is pretty terrible. She's a classic example of someone who has everything money can buy and still isn't happy. 

Jordan Baker is the quintessential flapper. This was a term used to denote women in the 1920s who bucked societal norms. Jordan is self-sufficient and has a career as a professional sportswoman -- unusual for the time period. 

Myrtle Wilson is married but having an affair with Tom Buchanan. She is different than the other two women because she is from the wrong side of the tracks. Because of her socioeconomic status, she is more coarse and raw than Daisy and Jordan. 

The evidence that all three women are gossips is in the conversation at Daisy's house in chapter one, and the scandal-driven magazines at Myrtle's apartment. The evidence that they are all cynical is found in Daisy's own admission, Myrtle's comments in chapter two about "fellas who will cheat you every time," and Jordan's comments about the people at Gatsby's parties. 

Myrtle is carried away by her own desires for Tom and for this reason, she runs out in front of the car. Daisy is carried away by her desires for both Tom and Gatsby, and this causes her to drive erratically, killing Myrtle. And Jordan is carried away by the lifestyle she enjoys at Gatsby's parties. 

ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Daisy is beautiful and Jordan is also attractive.  Myrtle is described as sensual.  All three women are appealing to men in a physical sense.  All three women are used by men in different ways.  Daisy is abused by Tom, Myrtle is also abused by Tom, Jordan is an example of someone who is the "eye-candy" many men want on their arm at extravagant parties.  All three women are vapid.  They only want material things. They want money, power, and looks.  They don't always succeed.  Myrtle is from the wrong side of the tracks; she is married to the local mechanic. Myrtle lives over a car garage with her husband, but is having an affair with Tom Buchanan. Myrtle wants Tom to leave Daisy and take her away, but that's never going to happen.  Myrtle becomes a victim of her desire for Tom because she is killed running out to his car. Myrtle is a tragic figure and Jordan is shallow  She uses people to achieve her goals. She is beautiful, but empty of empathy or sympathy. "There is an amoral aura about her, and her world revolves around herself and false material values. Jordan is distinguished from Daisy by her hard, unsentimental view of romance."

Daisy is "one of the true 'Golden Girls' of Fitzgerald's stories, the wealthy, hard-to-get debutante, a romantic dreamer.  Her whole careless world revolves around this illusion: that money makes everything beautiful, even if it is not." 

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All three of these women -- Daisy, Myrtle, and Jordan -- are liars, and they all seem to use men.  Daisy lies to her husband, Tom, when she engages in an affair with Jay Gatsby.  She used Tom when she was younger because she couldn't wait for Gatsby to get home from the war any longer; she needed her life to be decided and so she chose Tom because he's who everyone expected her to marry.  Myrtle lies to her husband, George, when she engages in an affair with Tom Buchanan, Daisy's husband.  She uses Tom for his money and status; he can buy her an apartment, a dog, a diamond collar for the dog, lots of clothes, and so on.  He also seems to validate her feeling that she is worth more than her husband.  Finally, Nick calls Jordan "incurably dishonest": she famously cheated in a golf tournament, and one assumes that she or someone associated with her paid off witnesses so that they'd recant their statements.  In the end, she unconvincingly tells Nick that she is engaged to someone else, as though to make him sorry for ending their relationship.  Fitzgerald really doesn't present women in a very flattering light.

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The Great Gatsby

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