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Women's Intentions Towards Men in the Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald

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Topic: Women's intentions towards men in The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald.

In The Great Gatsby by Francis Scott Fitzgerald, women's intentions towards men play a significant role in the development of the novel. While Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker are the archetypal temptresses who use sex to indiscriminately destroy the men who step into their lives, Myrtle sees men as a means to quench her thirst for sex and social ambition. Daisy and Jordan use sexuality to lure the men, Jay Gatsby and Nick Carraway, away from their lives of productivity and prosperity. Under their hypnotic spell, both men begin to unravel and disorder creeps into their lives. Because the women do not let themselves get emotionally and sentimentally attached throughout the novel, they become superior to the men, who, sick with love, are left acutely vulnerable and pitifully weak. Fitzgerald's vivid portrayal suggests that there is something malicious in a woman's nature that forces them to consume consciously or unconsciously the men in their lives, while simultaneously and paradoxically allowing them to thrive.

Women use their attributes to control men in the novel. At first sight women in The Great Gatsby may seem overwhelmingly dominated by men. But on closer inspection, women in fact slyly control men in order to get as many advantages as they can from them. Daisy, who is often described as a passive woman, a trophy to be won by her suitors, wields in fact tremendous power over men and aspires to manipulate and dominate them as much as she can. Glenn Settle's essay, 'Fitzgerald's Daisy: The Siren Voice', appeared in the American Literature in March 1985. In this highly feminist and interpretative article, Settle's vivid language portrays Daisy as a powerful character. Drawing on Greek mythology, Settle compares Daisy to a classical Siren [1]. Sirens were dangerous creatures, portrayed as seductresses who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island Sirenum scopuli [2]. Glenn describes how many critics have insisted on the fact that Daisy's voice is 'full of money' and have argued that this is an essential element in her physical and moral characterisation. Settle believes Daisy's alluring and attractive voice illustrates her classical role and shows how Nick Carraway's narrative presents Jay Gatsby, as Odysseus, an epic hero on a quest thereby fueling Daisy as siren. Settle further argues Daisy as classical Siren by demonstrating her relationship to the archetypal femme fatale. An interesting argument that bears out the femme fatale theory stems from Daisy's voice. It is described as persuasive, performed, enchanting, romantic, and beautiful. In particular, Settle stresses the persuasive quality of Daisy's

'performed' speeches hinting at her role as actress. Daisy performs each speech, Nick suggests in his commentary, 'as creative musical production, arranging, composing her inspiration in such a way that one has the feeling, in listening, of being an audience of one, spellbound in a performance that shall never be heard again' [1] [...] later within the scene Nick also says 'her voice compelled me forward' and again, it 'led my attention' Daisy's voice and mannerisms demonstrate how each action she undertakes was precisely performed and well-thought-out for a particular audience. Using the sensuality and even the sexuality of her voice, Daisy aspires to wield considerable influence over men. Her voice embodies her material wealth and all that allegedly comes with it, class, beauty, assurance, comfort and power.

Daisy's powerful role within the text is suggested through her sexuality and involvement in dangerous acts. Daisy as sexual female is first defined by her voice. Daisy's voice not only illustrates her energy, but also suggests her involvement in 'exciting things':

'but there was an excitement in her voice that men who had cared for her found difficult to forget: a singing compulsion, a whispered "Listen" a promise that she had done gay, exciting things just a while since and that there were gay, exciting things hovering in the next hour'. This quote suggests that Daisy can be read as dangerous and sexual, because her voice possesses the power to enchant and control men, by making them 'Listen'. Fitzgerald's use of the word 'exciting things' suggests Daisy's interest in thrilling events, which can slide from the sexual to the dangerous.

In a different way, Jordan Baker's wish to dominate men and the patriarchal system is reflected in her masculine physical description and even in her name. Jordan is described as a 'slender, small breasted girl with an erect carriage which she accentuated by throwing her body backward at the shoulders like a young cadet.' Later on, she is seen reading the Saturday Evening Post, and turning the pages with a 'flutter of slender muscles in her arms'. Her name associates her with cars, the Jordan sports car and the Baker. Moreover, throughout the novel, many elements are provided to prove that Jordan has lost a part of her femininity. Her pronounced masculinity might explain why Jordan is willing to scorn the men she meets. On her first encounter with Nick, she remarks contemptuously 'You live in the West Egg'. Jordan is obviously looking down upon Nick because he lives in the West Egg which is for the so-called 'new money.' The same day, Jordan gives a remark that makes the reader infer that Jordan is too good to date Nick. She declares 'I haven't heard a word'. Jordan gave this comment to Daisy after Daisy implied that Jordan and Nick should date. Jordan obviously thought of herself as having much more grace and dignity than Nick and also as being superior to him. Her masculine figure and her masculine activities (reading the newspaper, being a golf champion) reinforce her will to exert a strong domination over men.

She avoids meeting clever men 'Jordan Baker instinctively avoided clever, shrewd men' because she wants her domination to be without limits. Nevertheless she needs attention from the men surrounding her. Jordan basically just plays with men's feelings and is not really interested in a long-term relationship. At the end of the novel, Jordan calls Nick and tells him that she just couldn't do it anymore and that she had recently been engaged.

What strikes in The Great Gatsby is the way Daisy wants to please men by playing stereotypical roles in order to get a multitude of advantages in return. Daisy understands the role society and mostly men want her to play. Not



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