In these days, the punishments given rarely ever fit the crimes themselves. So many factors go into if someone is actually going to be punished for their crime, and that’s still the same in Gatsby as well. Specifically, the sexism at play involved with the broken marriage between Daisy and Tom.
Tom Buchanan cheats on his wife regularly, and with multiple different women. He’s never really punished for any of this, but when Tom learns that Daisy has cheated on him with Gatsby, he flies into a rage and demands things. A whole conversation is had, and Daisy is eventually sent off with Gatsby, and her driving causes Myrtle’s death.
The difference between the two is entirely shocking, as while Tom has cheated so often, when Daisy cheats, even just once, Tom not only gets very angry at her, but also seems to have no indication that he plans to stop cheating in the future even after this situation. All he seems to care about is that the women in his life are his, and he doesn’t care about them, or the others in their life, either. Myrtle is allowed to cheat, because she’s cheating with Tom, but Daisy cheats, and now it’s a problem.
“I hope she’ll be a fool—that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Daisy Buchannan says these words in Chapter One of The Great Gatsby. Her daughter is going to be a woman born into money and class, the expectations on her are going to be immense, and if she knew, if she could see all of the problems with her life and with her world, it could break her. So it’s better she’s an empty fool, just listening to her dad and her mom.
This sentiment still stays here today, in the modern world. There’s a positive outlook on girls who are pretty but stupid, just marrying into money to be a housewife. The expectation is for women to just be empty-headed and pretty. There’s always the media reacting with surprise and pride when the wives of wealthy husbands are able to do something on their own, or have some intellectual outreach. They’re expected to have charities, but rarely do those charities focus on intellectual matters.
Women of all eras have had these expectations, and Daisy puts it out in the open to be seen. “The best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” Even one hundred years later, there’s truth in that statement. It’s the easiest life to have as a girl, to just be pretty and thin and marry into money.
Women of the 20s, both 1920 and 2020 have many similarities. The feminist movement has remained strong throughout the times, and while there were some times which had stronger subjects, such as the Great Depression and WWII, women have always been ready to protest and fight for their rights. Jordan Baker is a wonderful example of a strong feminist of the 1920s, ready to stand up for her rights. While there was less active protests seen in The Great Gatsby itself, the time period of the book, and the time period Fitzgerald was living in, had many open protests.
The 1920s had protests focusing on the suffragette movement, and while women have the right to vote now, there’s still plenty of women’s rights protests that happen. A strong movement today is the pro-choice movement, focusing on allowing women the right to make their own choice regarding abortion. While only tangentially related, one women’s rights protest I was personally able to see was the Women Against Trump march which took place in my hometown, Austin. Many people were able to come together to a rally downtown in order to protest the president’s actions, and the same happened back in the 1920s in order for Women to gain the right to vote. Women marched in front of the capital most days of the year to openly demand the rights they deserved, and Jordan Baker is one such woman. The feminism of the past has not died out, remaining strong over one hundred years after The Great Gatsby.
The Great Gatsby is a book focusing on the titular character, Jay Gatsby, also known as James Gatz. While the story is narrated by Nick Carraway, Gatsby is the focus on the tale. Gatsby is a man who was born into poverty, yet we do not see that part of his story for long. Gatsby is known for his wealth which he uses liberally. Before we are told his story, he is phrased as almost a self-made man, coming up as new money, earning his keep and making his own fortune for himself. When he hear his story, however, we see that he was connected to money by his friend and he was only brought into the idea of gaining money through this connection. We see that a lot today, where some people are known for having money, they only got this money through their connections.
A very visible instance of this can be seen in Donald Trump. While he would speak of the money he made himself, he was born favorably into wealth and his company only started due to a “small loan” of one million dollars. Both he and Gatsby claim to have made their money and earned every cent, but without their connections to their father or Dan Cody they would not have been able to get their money. While Dan Cody taught Gatsby more skills rather than just giving him money outright, even though he tried, Gatsby would not have been able to get himself out of poverty without the reputation and tutelage from Cody.
Even today, money is an object earned by the rich and their friends, and is not something that comes to the poor without unlikely circumstance.