Language Arts 11
28 November, 2012
While I believe that The Great Gatsby very easy lends itself to being analyzed through a feminist lense, I think Tyson went about her interpretation the exact wrong way. While the novel does support patriarchal gender roles to a certain extent, Tyson herself said that it’s practically impossible to think completely outside of the normal patriarchal way, so of course any writing produced in a patriarchal society will have slight patriarchal undertones. The important thing to note about the novel is Fitzgerald’s obvious attempts to create a novel that would support feminism.
The character that most represents male oppression of women is Tom Buchanan, made evident in the lines, “Making a short deft movement, Tom Buchanan broke her nose with his open hand,” (Fitzgerald, 37). While is quite obviously describing a situation of male dominance, Fitzgerald in no way condones it. Tom is a despicable character that cheats on his wife and conspires in the murdering of Gatsby. Through his alienation of Tom, the symbol of patriarchal society, Fitzgerald shows his feminist views.
The description of Myrtle Wilson, Tom’s lover, solidifies Fitzgerald’s feminist agenda, “there was an immediately perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smoldering. She smiled slowly and, walking through her husband as if he were a ghost, shook hands with Tom,” (25-26). Myrtle at this point is cheating on her husband, if this were a truly patriarchal book, her description would serve to demean her, but instead they portray her moving through her husband, demonstrating her independence from him.Honestly, I think there’s definitely a place for feminist criticism, it’s a lot more real world applicable than psychoanalysis for example, but Tyson did a sloppy job with her interpretation. Normally, when reading Tyson’s interpretations, I start out perhaps disagreeing to a certain extent, but end up completely convinced through her evidence, but this reading of Gatsby was simply not up to par.