Great Gatsby Female Character Analysis

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Critical Research Paper: First Draft
The Female Characters in The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is a historical novel. The author employs a narrator, Nick Carraway, to allow insight into the upper class society of New York during the early 1920s. Socially, women enjoyed enormous changes during this era as hem lines shortened replacing long skirts and corsets, hair was bobbed to resemble a more masculine style, and women attained the right to vote. Women, predictably, responded in a variety of ways to these changes: some continued to exist only in their relation to men, and some used the changes to their own advantage. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses his three main female characters, Daisy, Jordan, and Myrtle, to reflect women
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She connects the other main characters through her propulsive nature and exposes their weaknesses. Lower class, stuck in a boring existence for lack of opportunity, Myrtle forms the stark contrast to the other two female characters. Myrtle’s physical characteristics are described as a “thickish figure of a woman…in the middle thirties” who “carried her surplus flesh sensuously as some women can” (Fitzgerald 25). Fitzgerald aptly chose the name Myrtle for this character: a myrtle is a shrub with white, star-shaped flowers, its leaves give off a fragrance, and it can grow rather tall. She forcefully breaks into the story by interrupting an upper class dinner at the Buchanans with a phone call of “shrill metallic urgency” (Fitzgerald 16). Due to the newly emerging social standards for women in the 1920s, Myrtle flaunts her sexuality openly and deliberately. For Tom Buchanan, Myrtle symbolizes temptation. Her affair with Tom is her attempt at liberation from her class and dull life. In the apartment Tom keeps for her, Myrtle acts like an upper class socialite, changing dresses repeatedly, and making a list of material objects she has to purchase. However, through Tom’s character, she remains statically anchored in her class: Tom objectifies her, remains uninterested in her as a person, and violently subordinates her when he breaks her nose for defying him. With this act, “Myrtle’s pretensions collapse suddenly” (Donaldson 110). She keeps trying to climb and, resembling the middle class, is repeatedly pushed back. Myrtle, tragically, ends up the calamity of Daisy Buchanan’s carelessness and, as Moyer reflects, in her impetuous endeavor to catch Gatsby’s automobile (Moyer 7). Myrtle desperately longs to catch the upper class, but is physically derailed in her unsuitable effort. In fact, she is “destroyed by the class...she had so fervently pursued” (Moyer

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