The Great Gatsby is the masterpiece of Fitzgerald, a modern American novelist and is also considered as one of the greatest works in American literature which has been favored by readers all over the world. This novel is written between the World War I and the economic crisis, and it shows people’s perplexed and inane living state at Jazz Age. In the society dominated by the male, it is impossible for females to be successful. Although these females in The Great Gatsby are vulnerable, hypocritical, and unable to withstand any temptation, they still strive to achieve their aspirations and struggle to realize self-value.
All in all, this thesis aims at analyzing different female images and interpreting the view of love in The Great Gatsby from the perspective of feminism. In addition, the love tragedy in The Great Gatsby has played an important role in enlightening and awakening teenagers in the choice of love.
Key words: female images; perspective of love; feminist; patriarchal society;
The Great Gatsby is superficially a tragic love story, but the theme of the novel is actually more than the love itself, and it has a more profound significance of the day. This story happening in Long Island is a meditation on American society in the 1920s, and displays people’s living state in Jazz Age. The protagonist Gatsby is such a typical example, living in the gone past and a hopeless future. The world of Gatsby is only the reconstruction of the past whenever he lives in. Gatsby refuses to acknowledge the passing of time, fantasies in an old dream that Daisy will come to him. Meanwhile, the reason why we call him “the Great Gatsby” is not only for that he is simply advocating materialism in the materialistic society, but for that he works with all the emotions and energies. The accumulation of wealth and the ultimate goal for Gatsby is attributed to not only the ideal of the spirit, and even the courage to bear the consequences of a car crash that made by Daisy for the sake of love. Unfortunately, the dream girl Daisy is a typical “golden girl”. Beneath seemingly pure appearance hides a greedy heart. Daisy is emotionally indifferent and morally degenerate. No wonder, it is far more than the representative of the last generation with romantic spirit. The tragedy of The Great Gatsby also exposes the dark society and human weaknesses. The hypocrisy of the social relationships has reached the peak at the end of the novel.
In this novel which reflects the American dream, the author vividly depicts the female images from different classes of the United States in the twentieth century. This thesis attempts to discuss love in The Great Gatsby from the perspective of feminism, which mainly includes four parts. The first part is an introduction of the author, the novel and its historical context, which provides a broad background for this paper. The second part gives a detailed analysis of the three women and the views of the narrator Nick and the author Fitzgerald on the fate of women in the patriarchal society. In the third part, it gives a deep analysis on female love and the causes of the love tragedy in The Great Gatsby. And the last part makes a brief conclusion and distillation of this thesis.
Part One The Author Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Key Fitzgerald, a modern American writer, is one of the most excellent novelists in American literature and has won a high evaluation and reputation in literature circle at home and abroad. The famous novel, The Great Gatsby has been adapted for movies for several times in the United States, which produces an extensive reading in the world. Furthermore, Fitzgerald wrote this novel in the 1920s the period of Jazz Age flowed by excessive lust. In real life the author Fitzgerald enjoyed himself with the extravagant life and the material wealth. Hence, Fitzgerald’s real life also reflects a living state of disillusionment and perplexity about the Lost Generation in depth.
1.1 The Sketch of Fitzgerald
F. Scott Key Fitzgerald, as one of the most brilliant American novelists, is an important novelist in the Lost Generation. He grew up in Minnesota, St Paul and studied at Princeton University. After the outbreak of World WarⅠ, he joined the army, but he had never been to Europe and was discharged in 1919. In 1920, Fitzgerald became distinguished and married a girl of the upper class for publishing of his first novel This Side of Paradise. Fitzgerald’s marriage gave him an opportunity to understand and experience the life of the upper class, which made a great influence on the writing of his representative work The Great Gatsby. And the publication of this novel had laid an important position for him in the history of literature. However, Fitzgerald’s fame, marriage and extravagant life made him indulge in the upper society, thus he was down and out and his health was greatly damaged. Under this sorrowful condition, the novel Tender is the Night, as well as the novel The Crack-up was written and published after his death. In order to make a living and revive his reputation, Fitzgerald moved to Hollywood and wrote script for the film company in 1937. In 1940, Fitzgerald passed away at the age of 44 because of a burst of coronary heart disease and his last novel The Last Tycoon did not been completed.
Although Fitzgerald’s writing career lasts only twenty years, he writes a total of 4 excellent novels and more than 160 short stories. His works vividly reproduce the original look of the history and truly reflect the spirit and the social character of Jazz Age and also expose the emptiness behind the glitz and the illusory nature of the “American Dream” (Wu Weiren 2011). It is popular with young people from generation to generation, and gets much attention from the literary circles of all countries. As more commentators keep eyes on the affirmation of his works, Fitzgerald has been famous as a writer again. And his works have been translated into many languages and accepted by people from different cultural backgrounds. Some of his works have been put on the Broadway stage and Hollywood movie, to promote the dissemination of these works. Some of his stories have been included in high schools’ textbook, and even become the classics in English Literature. Fitzgerald is really an outstanding writer (Wu Jianguo 2002).
1.2 About The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby told a love story about a young man named Jay Gatsby. Gatsby’s early sweetheart Daisy married a rich and arrogant man named Tom Buchanan. In order to attract the attention of Daisy and win back Daisy’s affection, Gatsby hold a grand party every night in the opposite to Daisy’s palatial mansion with the accumulation of wealth that was got by illegal business. Through the introduction of Daisy’s cousin Nick, Gatsby finally met his sweet lover Daisy again. He displayed his gorgeous mansion and wealth to Daisy to re-capture the love of Daisy and try to evoke the romantic past. However, the tragedy occurred at that time. Daisy killed Tom’s lover Myrtle who was a garage owner’s wife by chance and everything changed. Gatsby loved Daisy so deep that he did not tell anyone the truth. Unfortunately, the garage boss Wilson considered Gatsby as the murderer who killed his wife and killed Gatsby by the misleading of Tom. Nick was full of sympathy for Gatsby and held a funeral for Gatsby alone, but no one attended. Daisy and Tom also disappeared from the city. At the end of the story, Nick returned to a quiet life in Minnesota where people still respected the traditional values.
The Great Gatsby was written in the period of the Lost Generation which was one of literary schools and composed of a generation of young American writers growing up during 1920s. Most of the members had experienced the World WarⅠ, which left some wounds to their bodies and souls, so the majority of them were terribly dissatisfied with the reality of society and became an unprecedentedly lost generation in American society. The Lost Generation has a strong desire for money and the lavish profligacy of the upper class which could be seen from the gorgeous party in The Great Gatsby. During this particular epoch, Fitzgerald and Hemingway were two outstanding talented novelists in the American literature. They were the excellent leaders and outstanding representatives of the Lost Generation.
What is more, Fitzgerald referred to the period of 1920s in the United States as Jazz Age. Jazz Age was a short period in the history of the United States with the prosperous economy as the background. It was full of money, fame and huge crisis. The whole society was showing the trend of the tragedy. Fitzgerald put his experience with his wife Zelda Sayre into The Great Gatsby to restore the reality of Jazz Age which was filled with a luxury surface and the empty soul (Li Xin 78-80). With his keen observation, Fitzgerald elucidated the interactions of young people of post-World WarⅠand put forward the concept of Jazz Age for the first time.
1.3 Literature Review
According to the data collected from the Internet at present, the research of Fitzgerald in foreign countries has achieved a fairly high level and made some fruitful results whether in the scope of the study or the depth of research. However, the comments on Fitzgerald’s works are not entirely positive. The criticism of his works has also experienced the evolution from snub to hot pursuit. The rise of “the Fitzgerald Renaissance” in the 1940s and 1950s made Fitzgerald popular once again and his literary status was further improved. In the 1940s and 1970s, the foreign studies were mainly about Fitzgerald’s life or the overall analysis of his works, and emerged a large numbers of biographies of Fitzgerald. In the 1980s, it was the period of the in-depth study of Fitzgerald. The research of Fitzgerald focused on three aspects at that time: the biography of Fitzgerald, the novels written by Fitzgerald and the films adapted from Fitzgerald’s works. By 1996, on the occasion of the 100 anniversary of the birth of Fitzgerald, the study of his works reached a climax. Many critics actively analyzed Fitzgerald’s works with all kinds of new theories, including structuralism, post structuralism, postmodernism and so on, among which feminism, psychoanalysis and narrative theory were applied more frequently.
The acceptance of Fitzgerald in China has gone through a procedure from negation to acceptance and then to affirmation. There is no doubt that the process was long and difficult. In the 1980s, the field of literary translation in China did not paid enough attention to the works of Fitzgerald, which limited the translation and dissemination of his works in China. With the policy of reform and opening-up, the situation has been improved enormously. In particular, the professor Wu Ningkun translated and published Fitzgerald’s masterpiece The Great Gatsby in 1983. Generally speaking, the academic study of Fitzgerald’s works at present is not comprehensive and systematic both in depth and breadth, and far less than the research on Hemingway, Faulkner and other American writers. In addition, the focus of Fitzgerald’s works is also limited to the novel The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night. People pay less attention on his letters, autobiography and other works.
What is more, the documented cases about The Great Gatsby on the Internet have reached about 1227. However, there were only a handful of published articles in the last century. Entering the twenty-first century, the number of the studies on The Great Gatsby has been soaring. Especially after 2008, the study on The Great Gatsby is developing faster and faster, and even the annual number of papers has been more than 100 articles. And in 2013, the papers about The Great Gatsby have reached more than 370.
Nevertheless, the studies on the interpretation of female imagines and love in The Great Gatsby from the perspective of feminist have been found little in China. Most of researcher only analyze female images, or just mention the concept of love, and few people explore love from the perspective of feminist in The Great Gatsby. This thesis serves to open another window for the research of The Great Gatsby and try to bring a new light on the study of the fiction.
Part Two Female Images and Fate in The Great Gatsby
2.1 Three Female Images in the Novel
In The Great Gatsby, the author Fitzgerald vividly depicts the female images in different classes of the United States in 20th Century, such as, Daisy — upper class; Jordan — middle class; Myrtle — lower classes. There is no doubt that a lot of papers have described the three major females in The Great Gatsby as false, selfish and merciless (Chen Xuhong 2005). However, we should pay attention to the reality of females in this novel who lived under the oppression of the patriarchal society. It is hard to understand and comprehend the real love of the female, not to mention an interpretation of love from the perspective of female. As we all know, The Great Gatsby is narrated by Nick. In his point of view, Daisy is merely a superficial stupid “golden girl”. What is worse, the view of Nick greatly affects readers’ judgments on the female love. One-sided point cannot reflect the real and comprehensive images of female veritably in the 1920s in the United States.
2.1.1 The Image of Protagonist Daisy Buchanan
Daisy Buchanan is born in an illustrious family of the upper class. She is so excellent and pretty that Gatsby has refused to give up the pursuit for her. But to many people, Daisy is just a gold-digger. Fitzgerald describes it incisively and vividly when Daisy first comes to Gatsby’s mansion. She could not help doing up her hair with a gold comb in Gatsby’s bedroom. And she does nothing but cries by holding these beautiful clothes when Gatsby throws his luxurious clothes one by one. She still cannot forget Gatsby’s yacht when she appreciates his old photos. Gatsby has to admit that Daisy has a mouth which is full of money. Even her voice is filled with money and tries to attract all the people. In the fifth chapter of this novel there are some descriptions about this:
“They are such beautiful shirts,” she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. “It makes me sad because I’ve never seen such—such beautiful shirts before.” “I adore it!” exclaimed Daisy. “The pompadour! You never told me you had a pompadour—or a yacht” (Fitzgerald 2016: 186-188).
On the other hand, Daisy is an innocent woman. When she is an artless little girl, she falls in love sincerely with Gatsby and she even wants to go away with Gatsby in spite of the prejudice of the society. In addition, Daisy loves Gatsby so deep that she feels painful when she holds the wedding with another man who gives her a string of pearls. Until the day of the wedding, Daisy gropes around in a waste-basket and pulls out the string of pearls. She yells out hysterically, taking them downstairs and giving them back to anyone. She begins to cry — cry and cry. Daisy wants to change her mind and she cannot forget Gatsby. She pours in every ounce of power but cannot change it at all. In addition, Daisy is also a conservative woman. Although Tom is a playboy, Daisy just tolerates all of this and hopes her daughter to be a fool girl before she meets Gatsby again. She says that her daughter will become a beautiful little foo—that is the best thing a girl can do in this indifferent or cruel world (Wu Duanming 73-75).
To be honest, the most critical things about Daisy is that she leaves Gatsby without saying goodbye, even without participating in the funeral of Gatsby. In the mind of the reader, she has become a symbol of heartlessness and ingratitude and she does not deserve the devotion of Gatsby. Yet Daisy has no choice but to betray or to abandon her family in the patriarchal society. What is more, materialism is a deeply rooted consciousness and it has existed for thousands of years in the world. It is also beyond doubt that Daisy could not abnegate wealth and status.
2.1.2 The Image of Jordan Baker
Jordan Baker grows up in Louisville. The middle-class family background makes Jordan impossible to live a life in clover like Daisy, and she chooses a different way to go. At the age of seventeen, she participated in the League and later became a successful professional golfer whose photos appeared in the press of events from time to time. When Jordan was eighteen years old, her father died. From then on, Jordan lived with an old aunt. In a sense, it relieves the constraints of the historic patriarchal culture that most women bear in the process of growth and development. In terms of her dress, manner, temperament, and behavior, Jordan is so different from Daisy. Jordan has no intention to maintain the attitude of the lady or to try to please men as Daisy with sweet smile and voice. In the presence of Nick, she still dares to eavesdrop on Buchanan couple’s conversation.
At the prior of invitation, Daisy has never been to Gatsby’s party, but the maverick and independent Jordan has been on more than once. She is smoking, drinking, and moving around in the big hotel, club, and private house. Jordan is a light, strong, tough woman to Nick. Just as Nick describes, he is not actually in love, but he feels a sort of tender curiosity, and the bored haughty face that she turns to the world con (Wu Ningkun 1999). Although Jordan who represents new women is fresh, vigorous and gradually moves to independence, she is also very dishonest, cunning and arrogant in some situations. She leaves a borrowed hood in the rain without pulling up and makes a lie. In the first major golf championships, someone sees her ball moves from a bad position but she does not feel regretful and flee from her responsibilities by bribery. She is incurably selfish with no sense of duty, just like Tom and Daisy. Nick certainly considers that Jordan is not able to endure being at a disadvantage and always keeps cool, insolent smile to the world in order to satisfy the demands of her very jaunty body (Tian Ye 75-86). Maybe, Jordan just tries to change herself but suffers a crushing defeat in the patriarchal society.
2.1.3 The Image of Myrtle Wilson
Myrtle Wilson, one of the most tragic characters at the bottom of society, similarly plays a role of the clown in The Great Gatsby. As a poor car owner’s wife, she mocks and satirizes her husband all the time. Out of vanity psychology with Daisy’s husband Tom, Myrtle falls in love with him. In the encounter with Tom, she could not help watching him only because Tom was dressed in a suit and a pair of leather shoes. What Myrtle had crushed on is the decadent life and identity of the upper class. She tries to cling to the upper society and wants to show off herself to all over the world. However, Tom just takes her as a plaything. In the eyes of Tom, she is not eligible to mention Daisy’s name. It is described vividly in this novel.
Sometime toward midnight Tom Buchanan and Mrs. Wilson stood face to face discussing in impassioned voices whether Mrs. Wilson had any right to mention Daisy’s name. “Daisy! Daisy! Daisy!” shouted Mrs. Wilson. “I will say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Dai—— Making a short deft movement Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand” (Fitzgerald 2016: 75).
For Daisy, Myrtle only means that Tom has a woman in New York and she has no intention to know about this woman. Daisy knows that Myrtle does not pose any threats to her status. In contrast, Daisy is the biggest obstacle for Myrtle to realize her “ideal”. Myrtle could not understand that when a person is placed in the position of inferiority, the actual situation is only inferior to others in the patriarchal society, so she has to bear the tragic fate.
2.2 Image of Feminist Closely Related to Males’ Attitude
The Great Gatsby is written from the male person perspective. What’s more, the author Fitzgerald has a prejudice against women based on his own experience. To a certain extent, male attitudes deeply affect the female character and destiny. Females do not have rights and chances to pursuit love, to express love, and to enjoy love in the traditional society and the female always depends on the male. Perhaps, the females love could be re-read profoundly from the perspective of male.
2.2.1 The Narrator’s Attitudes to Women
The narrator of The Great Gatsby is Nick, and he has a relationship with almost all characters. The Narrator’s ideological reading of female has a significant impact on the images of women. It can also help us to comprehend the three female characters in the novel and the love from the perspective of female.
With the guide by Nick, Daisy is just a shallow, foolish and golden girl who is always seeking for an extravagant life style. But as a male character, Nick is deeply attracted by Daisy, especially by her charming voice. Nick says there is another kind of beauty in Daisy’s voice, so that no one will forget it. It is the kind of voice that the ear follows up and down as if each speech is an arrangement of notes that will never be played again (Fitzgerald 2009). As Nick narrates in this novel, Daisy is luscious as the youngest princess in a fairy tale. In other words, Daisy just likes a carefree, charming but irresponsible doll. The attraction of women in the masculine texts has been vital to the needs of men. But in essence, they are poisonous and malicious, attracting those kind men, with their beauty and charm beating these men seriously as soon as possible. As one critic says, the theme of The Great Gatsby is the potential tragedy of passionately idealizing an unworthy and even sinister object. Daisy is the “object” (Tian Ye 75-86).
In the eyes of the Nick, Jordan is also a con woman and a liar. In fact, Nick’s relationship with women has always been ambiguous. He denies that he is engaged to a girl in the West. And he has been writing letters once a week and signing “Love, Nick” to the girl. In New York, Nick has a brief relationship with another girl who learns accounting, but he quickly and silently breaks up with her. This kind of ambiguous commitment clarifies the relationship between him and Jordan, which makes Jordan become an imaginary object. So Jordan has to endure a spiritual hunger. She is a slave of the illusion and tries to manipulate the illusion to easily enjoy happiness in the real world.
Nick always thinks that he is one of the honest people that he has ever met. Similarly, in his eyes, Gatsby is the most sincere personal to stick to a dream, to become a model in a chaotic world. All in all, Nick is a male narrator, and in man’s eyes woman is just a beautiful vase and ignorant fool. He does not realize the potential of female consciousness and behavior pattern (Lin Yun 119-120). Nick’s ignorance of women inevitably affects the reader’s view of them.
2.2.2 The Author’s Attitudes to Women
As we all know, the author’s love experience often affects his love expression. It can be obviously seen that the tragic tendency based on Fitzgerald and influence his writing creation. Particularly, Fitzgerald has great determination in the pursuit of love and makes efforts to struggle for love. However, Fitzgerald suffers several setbacks in his real life. After meeting with his wife Zelda Sayre, he writes articles day and night to satisfy Zelda’s material desire. To a large extent, the love of Zelda may promote the success of Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald is also exhausted and despondent.
In this process, Fitzgerald realizes that love is often wrapped in many beautiful images, while the cruel reality will make love ended in tragedy (Hu Tianfu 94). Thus, the women in this novel are shallow and hypocritical. They are enthusiastic about the party, drinking and smoking which indicates the universal social values of material in Jazz Age. Specially, the image of Daisy reflects that the author seriously ponders over the mental outlook of American society in the 1920s and the author’s deep introspection of the essence of the American dream at that time form his personal experiences.
His notebooks include this description of a young woman: “She was lovely and expensive and about nineteen” (Fitzgerald 1993:133). And in his other three novels, Fitzgerald also expresses his prejudice of female. It is easy to see Fitzgerald’s contradictory attitude towards women. On the one hand, it is passionate adoration. On the other hand, it is extreme distrust. He believes that female appearance is attractive but destructive for male (Liu Yue 2010). Then, the love shown to the audience in The Great Gatsby is materialistic or idealistic, and the story will inevitably face failure and end with tragedy. The love that is in the unity of spirit and matter does not exist.
2.3 Female’s Fate Love in Patriarchal Society
In patriarchal society, female’s fate is always in the melting pot. They have never been mistress of their own fate for the chauvinism. Chauvinism is rooted in human society hardly, and even can be traced back to biblical times. In the Bible, the gender i
Daisy is one of these objectified female images. She is the victim of the American dream rather than the perpetrator. While Daisy is born in a prominent and rich family in substance, she is also unable to choose her own happiness in a patriarchal society. Her marriage life is a testament to the oppression of women in the patriarchal society. After the marriage, her husband Tom has a secret lover, but what can Daisy do? She just tolerates and keeps silent all the time. Furthermore, when Gatsby decides to tell Tom everything, he does not consider the feeling of Daisy. In other words, he wants nothing less of Daisy than that she should go to Tom and tell him: “I never loved you” (Fitzgerald 2009). In addition, Jordan must depend on deception to be successful on the golf course. This fact suggests that it is impossible for women to be successful by their own capabilities in the male-dominated field. Jordan also never gets Nick’s heart. And Nick does not explain how Jordan attracted him rather than emphasizes that Jordan is arrogant and dishonest. After the accident, Nick decides to leave New York and ends his relationship with Jordan hastily. In the end, Jordan becomes a victim of this short relationship. Myrtle is also the victim in the other aspects. Firstly, Tom just takes her as a plaything. Secondly, Myrtle’s lifeless, old and clumsy husband cannot understand her, even cannot give her a deceptive marriage. It’s reasonable for Myrtle to try to get into the supper class.
The tragic ending of the three females in the novel also represents the final destiny of female in patriarchal society. With female consciousness awakening, those females who used to chase money and pleasure frantically try to rely on their own ability to pursue dreams and realize their values in male hereditary territory.
Part Three Love in the Perspective of Feminist in The Great Gatsby
In different times, love will be marked by different political economic and cultural backgrounds. After the World WarⅠ, especially in the 1920s, the love is very different from the early traditional stories in American literature. In The Great Gatsby, people can see the different love tendency: One kind of love lends to miserable marriage or deceit while the other dies from love (Zhang Zhi 2007). This part attempts to analyze feminine consciousness and the main characters’ different attitudes towards love.
The Great Gatsby was written between the World WarⅠand the economic crisis. Until this point the social status of female was low and females had to wear a skirt and a corset. Nevertheless, the dress became shorter and the corset disappeared in the postwar years. Some anti-traditional women even did not wear underwear, and cut very short and loose hair. All the changes had become a new trend. Women also enjoyed the night bar or a private banquet provided by nobility. Wonderful nightlife and sexy dance were considered to be a self-enjoyment. That is to say, the appearance of “modern women” aroused a large number of negative reflections from the social conservatives. They believed that women’s traditional gender roles were only at home. However, by the changing of the society, modern women began to be independent and keep the competition with men in the workforce. The consciousness of feminist comes forth and makes varying degrees of influence. In The Great Gatsby, the love from the perspective of feminist also embodies the feminine consciousness.
3.1 Feminism and Types of Love in The Great Gatsby
With the development of feminine consciousness, a series of new attitude of love has changed. Love makes people full of enthusiasm, but sometimes depressed. Daisy is looking forward to longing for romantic love, but her experience and outside world influence make her selfish and unmerciful. Myrtle always aspires to the noble society and finally is killed in the society of hypocrisy and irresponsible. Yet, Jordan wants to fight against the patriarchal society and the oppression of male. All in all, Influenced by feminine consciousness, the types of love in this novel are totally different.
3.1.1 Feminist Consciousness
As a kind of social direction trend, feminist originated from the women’s liberation movement. In the latter half of the 20th century, it became a kind of concept of value and methodology of humanities and social science in the field of ideology and civilization (Selden, Raman 2004). As a matter of fact, the awareness of feminism is different enough. As for some feminist detractors, feminism is often considered to be the extreme, inflexible, deviant views held by women. The whole process of feminist gets a tough situation. For these females who are trying to cross the traditional role face all sorts of difficulties at the foot of the patriarchal culture has been set for thousands of years. However, the feminist movement is still obvious. Since the mid-20th century, feminism as a consciously study, has gradually developed into a worldwide movement. And women from all over the world have benefited from this movement.
The treatment of women in the book is with a strong sense of selfish consideration. Woman’s life is full of contempt and rejection, with no happiness and no reader’s sympathy. Woman in Fitzgerald’s novel is mostly as a siren who wants to rebel against the patriarchal society and the rule of man. In The Great Gatsby, Daisy suffers from an unhappy marriage and has also been criticized for not worthy of Gatsby’s dream. And the independent woman Jordan is dumped by Nick. Even Myrtle is killed in a car accident for violating the taboo. Nevertheless, the women are still struggling.
3.1.2 The Love of Material Women
Due to the rapid development of economy, the charm and the role of money have been implanted deeply in the human minds and seriously impacted on human’s thought and life. The traditional sense of love indicates that if a woman knows her husband has a secret lover, she should be immediately out of the confinement of marriage. However, Daisy is completely indifferent with jealous or aggressive behavior. Daisy and Tom are both born in the noble and brilliant family which belongs to the old aristocracy. By the background of rich family, they live a very lavish lifestyle and regard money as God, the feelings of human as dirt. The marriage is just an empty shell which can provide the material and financial security for Daisy (Wang Xiaohua 70-71).
As for the feeling of Daisy for Gatsby, we can see that there is true love between Gatsby and Daisy. They maintain communication for one year. Unfortunately, Daisy belongs to the upper class family while Gatsby is just a businessman without widely recognized social status and smuggles wine to get fortunes. Although Tom’s affair has hurt Daisy deeply, and the consciousness of men’s rights has suppressed her for many years, the unexpected choice of Daisy is also reasonable with the influence of the social environment. Another typical character Myrtle is always going after material love. She thinks that the only crazy thing she did is to marry a poor man Wilson. All of these will be doomed to the material love ending with tragedy and misery.
3.1.3 The Love of Independent Women
After the World WarⅠ, the status of women has been improved excessively. During the war, men went to the battlefield and brought a lot of job vacancies, which provided many opportunities for women to go out to work. With the rise of the feminist movement, American female gained the right to vote in 1920. Changes in the economic and political status make great influences on the women’s moral values and the chances of their choices. A lot of professional women with a strong sense of independence make efforts to aspire after personal happiness. To some extent, Jordan Beck represents the new female image which is gradually moving towards independence. In The Great Gatsby, Jordan impressed Nick by her independence at the first meeting. Jordan is extended full length at the end of the divan with her chin raises a little as if she is balancing something on it which is quite likely to fall (Fitzgerald 2009).
While Daisy would be a nice fool, Jordan has her own reflection and judgment about love. Jordan is skeptical of everything and she is totally different from Daisy. A decent career makes Jordan economically independent, so that she cannot rely on men or eager to get married, or bound with marriage. Facing Nick’s refusal, she quietly puts an end to this relationship instead of pleading. As Nick’s prior evaluation to her, she cannot stand at a disadvantage and always keep her arrogant attitude. Jordan notices that Nick is initiative to get rid of her until Nick gets up to leave, but she does not care. Jordan tries to fight with sex discrimination in the patriarchal society while Daisy capitulates to virtually every demand. It is different from the traditional female images, reflecting the courage and confidence of independent new women in love.
In the modern society, females are expected to be independent and to seek freedom. Independent women have more choices of love or life. They can be what they want to be and do what they want to do equally. This kind of love would be more significant.
3.2 An Analysis on the Failure of Love in The Great Gatsby
Daisy, Jordan and Myrtle are all victims of love tragedy. In the patriarchal society, they do not have the rights and courage to pursue freedom and true love. Due to the deep-rooted consciousness of chauvinism, they cannot get rid of dependence to be confident and free. The fight of new woman is too weak to win. The reason why the female love becomes tragedy is varied. This part will analyze the causes of love tragedy in The Great Gatsby from three aspects.
3.2.1 A Chasm between Wealth and Social Status
A Chasm between Wealth and Social Status has many influences on the love of The Great Gatsby. Firstly, the class gap cannot be crossed and the class status cannot be changed. Not only can the old aristocracy inherit property, but also inherit the hereditary status and fame. Although Gatsby who comes from the lower class becomes wealthier than the old aristocracy, he is still unable to achieve the same social status as the old aristocracy. Secondly, different classes lead to the inequality of love and love always favors the aristocracy. Even if Gatsby gets a lot of money, he has always been a rabble and cannot have the status of nobility. He can never go beyond his own class to merry a golden girl, let alone expect to defeat the representative of aristocratic Tom. Thirdly, the status touches off the unfairness of the destiny. The lower class always struggles for love and money, but ends up with being trampled by the nobility. The aristocracy still lives in the circle of vanity without any regret about the death. Finally, the materialized relationship of money in the same class also affects female love. In order to get more money and higher status, the aristocracy is always taking advantage of each other in marriage, just like Daisy and Tom. The marriage between them will be unhappy and pointless.
People with a lower status have to pretend to be rich and powerful for marrying the pretty girl. Daisy lives in the wealthy East Egg where there are so many mansions, while Gatsby lives in “not so fashionable” West Egg where a poor man stands next to him (Wu Duanming 72-73). Because their social statuses are significantly different, Daisy cannot live together with Gatsby again. However, in the heart of Gatsby, Daisy is not only the woman of his dream, but also his pursuit of life. Ironically, what Daisy cares is not the romantic pursuit of Gatsby, but his dazzling wealth. There is no wonder that this will cause a lot of love tragedies.
3.2.2 Weakness in Women’s Character
Women also have their own insurmountable weaknesses besides the gap between different classes. Daisy is a typical mercenary of enjoying the pursuit of money and state in Jazz Age. Living in that era, Daisy really wants to be independent, but she cannot get rid of the temptation of money. Nick says that she is the golden girl in a high white palace (Fitzgerald 2009). Gatsby just tries to pursue the romantic love by the remembrance of the past things. “Daisy, that’s all over now. Just tell him the truth—that you never loved him—and it’s all wiped out forever.” he said earnestly (Fitzgerald 2016: 268). He just wants Daisy to deny Tom’s love. The holy girl in Gatsby’s heart is merely his own fiction. In reality, Daisy cannot overcome her weaknesses to assume all responsibility and give up the reputation. While Gatsby is awaiting a hopeful call, Daisy has gone forever.
The most important reality is that Daisy is inseparable from Tom’s asylum of money and status. As soon as Daisy breaks up with Gatsby, Tom immediately points that Gatsby cannot give Daisy security with money and status. Gatsby is too puny to fight against Tom. It also reflects that if the females are against the males in the male-dominated society, they will encounter great economic obstacles. As Lu Xun said, “What will happen after Nora left? Only two ways: one way is to comeback, the other is to fall down” (Lu Xun 1997).Female has to succumb to male.
3.2.3 The Influence of Traditional American Dream
It is universally acknowledged that America is proud of chasing dream. The so-called American Dream refers to seeking personal utopian happiness by getting out of real society. It was a common epidemic of young Americans in the 1920s. After the World WarⅠ, the American economic status has been improved and its traditional values have been changed greatly. People with moral corruption and spiritual emptiness begin to daydream about becoming a millionaire or social elite overnight, instead of trying to realize their American dream by striving. They begin to lose in the luxurious life and the pursuit of satisfaction in material has spread all over the society. In The Great Gatsby, Gatsby always keeps his house full of all sorts of interested people day and night. The social reality of Jazz Age—“money worship” deeply affects people’s views on love (Huang Wenhong 2009). Love becomes the slave of money and moral. Even if someone works so hard to earn money for getting love, this love has proved that it is not worth the effort. No money, no love.
The Great Gatsby truly describes the love in Jazz Age with a unique perspective and style. In Gatsby’s short life, he has gone through different stages of the evolution of American dream. Gatsby is worthy of sympathy. Dream is his homeplace, as well as his grave (Huang Yanfang 2010). The tragedy of Gatsby reflects the contradiction between ideal and reality and reveals the inevitable disillusionment of American dream. Although the goal of American dream constantly becomes insignificant and ruthless, and even is thwarted by the harsh reality again and again, so many people in the United States still have a great variety of dreams. Therefore, the American dream is an indispensable ideal of American society, even if this ideal will never be the reality. One thing is sure and nothing is sure.
The Great Gatsby creates many negative images of the new femalse at Jazz Age under the influences of patriarchal ideology. Readers can clearly feel that the portrayal of females set by Fitzgerald is dependent and negative. The characteristic of Daisy is even more manifest. Therefore, the love tragedy between Gatsby and Daisy is not only caused by accidental incidents. The surmountable class between them, the frivolous, shallow and selfish behaviors of Daisy, as well as Gatsby on the pursuit of the American dream, and all of these would doom them to a miserable ending.
In the process of the analysis of the main imagines and the different love attitudes in this novel, we have revealed different love directions. The love of the characters in this novel goes into different directions: miserable marriage, deceit and death. Subsequently, from the author’s emotional experience, the background of the Lost Generation and other aspects of the American dream, we have explored the causes of the love tragedy and the essence and meaning of female love. By the interpretation of the love story in this novel, it shows the author’s contradictory attitudes towards love. And by the analysis of the three female images from different aspects, we can predict that women should not only be awaken in the sense of value but also be more effective to realize and prove the value in order to change a tragic fate. Last but not least, the analysis of the concept of female love is a new and pleasant revelation for us. Females should try to express their opinions rather than blindly retreat.
As we all know, the World WarⅠhas changed the moral structure of society highlighted by the patriarchy. The canonical status of men has been threatened, while women began to transform from supporters to leaders. Therefore, the new women, so-called witches, have a serious impact on the patriarchal society. They are bold and avant-garde. They claim to have the right of drinking, smoking, dancing and dating or making money. They want to hold their own career with confidence, and break some constraints that have been pressed on their mother day and night. They are eager to publicize their attitudes and be free as men. Then, with the development of feminist literary theory, it is requisite for us to interpret The Great Gatsby from a new perspective. Thus, we have strongly felt that Fitzgerald has given his great works immortal significance in the literary world and he deserves the title of “the greatest singer in the Jazz Age”. Nowadays, we still appreciate and research his works. At least, if we want to understand the literature of the 1920s, we cannot forget the great chronicler of Jazz Age.
In modern society, the development of female liberation and freedom has become a symbol of human liberation and freedom. Although females have many legal rights, female discrimination still exists here and there. In the twenty-first century, facing sexual discrimination, we should try our best to fight for female status and rights. It is certain that female future is bright and wonderful with the development of complete equality between male and female, and the progress of whole society.
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