When first thinking about Lois Tyson’s Feminist reading of The Great Gatsby, none of the harsh, condescending, or confused thoughts which have previously surface, come into my mind. While I may not fully agree with Tyson’s explanation of Feminism, I believe I have a good grasp on it, and believe that it is one of the harder theories to apply and glean information from a text. Everything that Tyson said made sense, I just often found it had little meaning.
For instance, Tyson talks about how Myrtle is seen as aggressive, sexually active, and loud. While this is an indisputable fact, I have trouble figuring out what Tyson is trying to point out. This is an issue I have with feminist theory in general, while I can identify “feminist traits,” terms and thoughts, I have trouble viewing the text from a different perspective. Anyway, if we get back to the point of Myrtle, Tyson points out that, “It is important to note that, in addition to being negatively portrayed... these transgressive women are punished by the progression of narrative events.” What Tyson is forgetting is so are the men! Tom is stuck in a loveless marriage, (just as Daisy is) Gatsby is killed, and George kills himself. I do not believe that these women were being portrayed because they were women, but because all the characters are aggressive, and end up having to “pay,” by the end of the story.
What further upset me was that Tyson went off on a tangent about herself at the end. As she begins to weave her own story into her analysis of Gatsby, it is as if she is trying to glorify her ignorance as a young woman. I don’t mean to sound cold hearted, but if she wants to tell her story, she should have told it in her explanation of feminism, not in the analysis! She says, “It should come as no surprise, therefore, that when I first read The Great Gatsby in my early twenties and found the characters- especially Myrtle- heartless, amoral and unsympathetic it didn’t occur to me that the novel had a patriarchal agenda.” I just do not understand what Tyson is trying to get across, that she has come so far, that with hard work one can improve? Do not fret Tyson, very few people would have noticed the patriarchal nature of the story, especially many years ago before works such as yours were published- it’s ok! It just seems like Tyson is trying to a tell a story about herself, just for the heck of it, even though it does relate to feminist theory. What I believe Tyson has encountered is that when the Gatsby was written, we were in an extremely patriarchal society. It just seems like she is trying to bash Fitzgerald for writing about people who are women who are mean. People are people, and sadly some are oppressed.
Throughout Tyson’s reading, it seemed like Tyson was pointing out facts, but never really gets to a point. It also seemed to be a distracting tangent when she began rambling about herself, which I found got the analysis nowhere. So do you believe that Myrtle being overtly sexually active and loud was meant to demean her as a women? Do you think that classical authors should be looked down upon for writing stories set in patriarchal society? Do you think the men of Gatsby suffered just as severe punishments for the bad acts as the women of the story?