What are three things that women do or use in The Great Gatsby to get ahead in a male-dominated society?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Something women do to get ahead in the male-dominated society of this novel (and the American 1920s) is cheat. Nick remembers a scandal surrounding Jordan Baker, the golfer, from years ago; there was a witness who claimed that she picked up her ball and moved it to a better position in order to succeed in a semi-finals round. This supposedly occurred at the first big tournament she participated in. It is just a game, and she was a young player then, so there surely would have been further opportunity for her to be successful without cheating, but it seems that she did it anyway and then coerced the witness to drop his accusation.

Further, Nick describes her as "incurably dishonest" because she could not "endure being at a disadvantage."  One would assume that being at a disadvantage due to her gender would be unpalatable to her, then.  He says that she instinctively avoids smart, astute men; thus, she began to deal in "subterfuges" at a very young age.  Therefore, yet another thing women to do get ahead is lie.  If Jordan only ever permits herself to be in the company of relatively unintelligent men, then they won't realize when she's lying and she gains the advantage over them.  Consider, also, Myrtle Wilson's dishonest infidelity to her husband, George, all for the sake of a rich lover who can give her the things and, she hopes, the status that she wants.

Finally, women play by "the rules," until they don't.  Daisy, after getting super drunk and freaking out a bit, does pull it together and marry Tom, and she does a good job of convincing people, including Jordan, of her devotion to him for a while.  Then, one day, she is reunited with a very patient Gatsby, and it does not take long for her to begin an affair with him.  She keeps her options open by refusing to give one up for the other -- waiting to see which man will offer her more and better.  When she learns how Gatsby has earned his money, it does not take long for Daisy to decide that she prefers wealth and status with Tom.  She manipulates them both to her own advantage: she gets to keep her status and position with Tom but sleeps with Gatsby.

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The Great Gatsby

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