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Feminist criticism of the great gatsby english literature essay

Introduction Students of gender tend only to see gender; class analysts tend only to see social classes. The research questions are often crudely put as being questions of gender or class instead of asking how gender and class interact in the lives of historically situated social groups.

Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby was released. A reinterpreted version of the story about Jay Gatsby's endeavor to become rich, achieve status in the high-society of 1922's Long Island, New York, and get back together with the love of his life - Daisy Buchanan. Baz Luhrmann's version is one of five interpretations of the Gatsby story. Prior to it there were the 1926 silent movie, the 1949, the 1974, and the 2000 motion picture.

The latest version, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan, however, seems, without a doubt, the most exaggerated and overcharged of all - the respective time's means of producing and filming a movie factored in, of course.

Not only the cinematography and the soundtrack are unusual for a story set in the 1920s - even though they are not necessarily out of place if you consider The Great Gatsby 2013 as an artistic whole.

Even the characters show excessive traits. They are louder, stronger, more violent, more openly sexual, and dressed more revealingly. Furthermore, parties in the latest version feature five-foot-long phallic symbols disguised as champagne bottles, car engines are supercharged, and violent scenes are shot in slow motion.

  1. Masculinity, then, was rather considered unproblematic and as something innate. The last part of the chapter will address and explain the basic class-structure which will be implemented in the analysis chapter.
  2. The 1974 adaptation, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, can be seen as being more geared towards putting emphasis on the depiction of class differences.
  3. The research questions are often crudely put as being questions of gender or class instead of asking how gender and class interact in the lives of historically situated social groups. Here you can see some examples for which you can see some examples for college.
  4. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel The Great Gatsby was released.

All in all it seems like an overload of masculine symbolism, which, in a sense, transforms the movie into more of an action flick than a romantic drama film, as the 1974 version is described. Fitzgerald's novel comprises many different themes, some of which are 'the decline of the American Dream', 'the Roaring Twenties', 'the past and the future', and 'love'. With social class and gender, The Great Gatsby contains another set of major themes. The 1974 adaptation, starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow, can be seen as being more geared towards putting emphasis on the depiction of class differences.

This in turn would make the 2013 version one that is more fixated on depicting excess, lavishness and masculinity. So the former would arguably make for a reasonable object in the field of class analysis, the latter for a reasonable object in terms of gender analysis, or particularly, an analysis of masculinity.

Both fields can and have been studied on their own. If one draws on the works of Morgan and Hobbs, however, it becomes evident that firstly, these two categories of difference have to be studied together, secondly, that there needs to be done more research on specifically 'masculinity' and 'class', and thirdly, masculinity studies is a vital field when it comes to a complete understanding of gender relations.

Moreover, the concept of 'hegemonic masculinity', which was put forward by Connell, will be introduced in the course of this thesis.

Feminist criticism of the great gatsby english literature essay

This serves two purposes. On the one hand it illustrates that men, as much as women, are marginalized be it by women or other menand on the other hand, it provides a graspable tool when it comes to the interaction of masculinity and class, as well as the classification and assessment of masculinities and power. Among them are historical location, sexual orientation, education, culture and subculture, age and physique, status and lifestyle, as well as class and occupation cf.

These connections open the door for a vast spectrum of questions. How does the masculine performance of George Wilson, situated in the feminist criticism of the great gatsby english literature essay class, compare to Tom Buchanan's, who is situated at the other end of the social strata? What roles do Myrtle and Daisy play when it comes to the construction of masculinities of men from different social classes, such as Wilson, Buchanan, Carraway, or Gatsby? In view of the 'intersectionality approach', which will be explained and then serve as a basis in the course of this thesis, it is coherent to analyze gender not as a single category of difference but to also draw on other categories.

This way one can get a more comprehensive idea of gender, as well as more satisfying answers to the respective questions one poses in this field. In this thesis many of Beynon's key factors that constitute masculinity will be mentioned and discussed, while playing either major or minor roles. However, the overall focus will be, with reference to this thesis' introductory quote by Gullestad, on the interaction of masculinities and class of the historically situated social groups in the two movie adaptations of The Great Gatsby from 1974 and 2013.

This thesis will be expository in nature, and its goal will be to shed light on the above- mentioned synergy and to answer the following questions. How are forms of masculinity established and maintained in The Great Gatsby? How do the present forms of masculinity interact with 'class', or how are the subjective experiences of the present masculinities affected by 'class'?

How can the concept of 'hegemonic masculinity' be applied to The Great Gatsby? In order to answer these questions, the two movie adaptations will be closely examined, in order to be able to take advantage of more scenes, which in turn allows for a more comprehensive and meaningful application of the theoretical approaches to the story of The Great Gatsby. By taking two movies as a basis, it is also possible to take a brief look at masculinity's historical variability.

The analysis of the two movies will be implemented by means of a character analysis, and a part in which the male characters' - Feminist criticism of the great gatsby english literature essay Buchanan, Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway, and George Wilson - social interaction, both among themselves and with the female characters, will be examined.

Even though, according to many scholars in the fields of gender and masculinity studies, what is considered a masculine trait, behavior, or act of performance at a specific point in time can also be used to construct certain types of femininity. In the context of The Great Gatsby, a presumably fruitful analysis could be conducted with the character 'Jordan Baker', who, on a rather superficial level, seems to perform a fairly masculine femininity, given her self-sufficient and ambitious demeanor at that time.

This, however, will not be part of the analysis or of this thesis. The thesis will be composed of two parts. A theoretical part in which the chapters 'Gender', 'Class', 'Intersectionality', and 'Character Interaction and Interpersonal Power' provide a basis for the upcoming analysis.

These chapters will contain definitions and a basic understanding of class, as well as a general idea of gender, masculinity, and the concept of 'hegemonic masculinity'.

  1. Furthermore, Pyke's concept of 'interpersonal power', as well as Crenshaw's concept of 'intersectionality' will be introduced. In the context of The Great Gatsby, a presumably fruitful analysis could be conducted with the character 'Jordan Baker', who, on a rather superficial level, seems to perform a fairly masculine femininity, given her self-sufficient and ambitious demeanor at that time.
  2. Consequently, in addition to the most honored, dominant form s of masculinity, there are also subordinated and marginalized forms.
  3. So rather than a fact of nature, or a static division of people with complementary characteristics, and opposed desires and interests, the traditional sexes should now be seen as cultural groupings cf.

Furthermore, Pyke's concept of 'interpersonal power', as well as Crenshaw's concept of 'intersectionality' will be introduced. The subsequent analysis part will comprise a character introduction, including comments regarding the historical variability of masculinity, as well as the analysis regarding the establishing and maintaining of masculinity, and the interaction of masculinity and class among the male characters of the two movies.

The following chapter serves as introductory chapter to the theoretical part and will deal with several definitions and understandings of gender, masculinity, as well as hegemonic masculinity. Gender In order to be able to work with the two categories of difference 'masculinity' and 'class', and in order to be able to eventually conduct an analysis in the course of this paper, a theoretical foundation has to be established. This chapter's purpose is to discuss the term and superordinate category 'gender' in a general sense, 'masculinity' in a specific sense, and 'hegemonic masculinity' as a last point.

A vital consideration when it comes to gender is to differentiate between sex and gender, with sex referring to reproductive, anatomical and biological features, and gender being culturally constructed, having to do with culturally learned identities, or even certain lifestyles cf.

So rather than a fact of nature, or a static division of people with complementary characteristics, and opposed desires and interests, the traditional sexes should now be seen as cultural groupings cf. And these performative acts need to be repeated over and over again in order to establish the respective gender identity cf. It can also be said that individuals avail themselves of a certain gender, or adopt certain performances that constitute a specific gender, rather than being essentially one kind of gender or the other.

There is neither an essence nor an ideal inherent in gender cf. The nature of gender is, moreover, a shifting one which is constantly in motion and can be considered more dynamic than static cf.

Kimmel, Hearn, Connell 7. Gender identity is a constant process, always being reinvented and rearticulated in every setting, micro or macro. Gender identity is the codified aggregation of gendered interactions: Both masculinity and femininity can be considered social constructions which are interrelated, historically variable, as well as loosely defined social ascriptions to individuals with certain kinds of bodies.

These ascriptions are far from being necessary, natural, or ideal characteristics when it comes to people with similar genitals cf.

In Western culture, prior to the 1980s, men did not see masculinity as being subjected to gender relations. Masculinity, then, was rather considered unproblematic and as something innate. This again led to the field of masculinity being scrutinized cf. Consequently, and as the first of the two relevant categories of difference in this thesis, the term 'masculinity' will be attended to in the next subchapter.

This will become feminist criticism of the great gatsby english literature essay clear in the course of this subchapter. Hence, the term 'masculinities' and the concept of an array of several 'masculinities' will be used and applied throughout this thesis. The first point that should be discussed in terms of masculinity is the differentiation between biology and culture. If we draw on the general part on gender again, it is self-evident that masculinity is also not a 'presocial category' or a 'biological fact' cf.

Masculinity is rather to be seen as something that originates in a particular society at a particular point in time. These sets of ideas and demands can originate from different sources, as mentioned in the introduction, when Beynon's key factors of what constitutes masculinity in a culture were indicated.

The next point that suggests itself is the historical variability of masculinity. As Beynon notes, what have attained the status of 'facts' underpinning the 'true' nature of masculinity and, of course, femininity are really sociohistorical and cultural constructions. For example, as a result of the division of labour occasioned by the Industrial Revolution that is, men into the factories, most women consigned to the home and the resulting patriarchy based on men's economic superioritythe idea that men were innately practical, rational and competitive, unlike women, was 'naturalized'.

On the one hand, masculinity changes around an individual cf. So, whereas typical masculine characteristics in the 19th century would have been, for example, righteous behavior, physical prowess, strength, fitness, lack of laziness, courage, attitude of saving, wisdom, being reserved, and not showing emotions, a change could be witnessed as to, for example, typical forms of masculinity in the 1960s. Those tended to be, for instance, being a house-husband, showing traits that could be subsumed under the term hippy-masculinity, as well as adolescence styles, and hyper-masculinity.

These two eras definitely show a change in masculinity over time. On the other hand, Beynon continues, masculinity changes for a respective individual as they age cf. So individuals could be seen as availing themselves of different forms of masculinity when they are in elementary school age, as opposed to when they reach puberty, or retire.

As Roper and Tosh argue, and as these examples show, masculinity cannot be treated ahistorically, but rather has to be contextualized historically. It has to be studied and looked at in view of political, cultural, economic, and social circumstances cited in Morgan 59. If one considers the positioning of masculinity in time not in the sense of a 'change over the course feminist criticism of the great gatsby english literature essay many years', but in the sense of a 'change of masculinity on a general timeline', then in fact, even a third level of masculinity in time can be added.

If one recognizes the changing of masculinity 'around an individual' and 'as they age' as variation on a macro level, then the contextual changing of masculinity from situation to situation can be considered as variation on a micro level. This point will be the subject matter of the next paragraph. When it comes to understanding masculinity, the question seems to be fairly often what men are. The question, according to Morgan, should, however, be posed differently. So, as mentioned in the general subchapter on gender already, performance also plays a vital role when it comes to masculinity.

Consequently, while Butler lays her focus on female gender performance, performativity theories can also be applied to masculinity and allow us to theorize how men perform 'masculinity'. Herrmann and Erhart see masculinity, just as femininity, as 'masquerade', 'permanently enacted', and 'staged' cf.

Here the phrase 'doing gender' also comes into play. As mentioned in the introduction, masculinity can also be part of the construction of femininity.

Masculinity is not always and necessarily about men cf. Sedgwick in Beynon 8. It can be argued that women, even to the same degree as men, are consumers of masculinities, and are also producers and performers of masculinities cf. Sedgwick in Gardiner 46. It is therefore useful to view masculinities as, what Beynon calls, 'cultural space'. This space can then be inhabited by or assigned to men and women, no matter if permanently or temporarily cf.

The great gatsby literary criticism essay

However, women can not only produce their own forms of masculinity, they also play a vital part in constructing and shaping masculinities for other individuals, in this case, men. This becomes clear in Pyke's statement in which she sees literature on masculinities as rather focusing on the construction of subordinated or hegemonic masculinities specifically among men. She argues that masculinities are not only constructed among men but also in relation with women cf.