"The Great Gatsb"y - this is a SOCRATIC essay.

Essay by rachelisagomerHigh School, 11th gradeA+, November 2003

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What is the significance of the debasement of women in The Great Gatsby?

The early nineteen hundreds was a time of political reform for women. The Congressional Union for Women Suffrage was formed in 1914, the National Woman's Party was created in 1916, and the 19th Amendment, which granted women's suffrage, was ratified in 1920. Even though the crusade for women's rights was successful, the majority of the population still saw women as second-class citizens. F. Scott Fitzgerald successfully demonstrates the actual treatment of women in the 1920s in The Great Gatsby. One of the most obvious representations of the degradation of women is when Tom breaks Myrtle's nose. Mr. McKee, a witness to this act of brutality, is sleeping on the couch as the confrontation began. He is roused from his nap by Myrtle's "long broken wail of pain" and starts "in a daze toward the door."

He then turns around and stares at the "despairing figure on the couch bleeding fluently" and continues out the door (p. 41). He then proceeds to casually invite Nick to lunch any old time. This indifferent reaction to such violence exhibits the lack of respect towards women shown by many a man in that time period. Tom's deficiency of self-control was his way of exerting power over his mistress. His actions also illustrate his brutality. He is considered one of the members of high society, yet acts animalistic in his reactions to Myrtle saying the name of his wife. If he truly were "high class," wouldn't he have the decency to act like it? His contradiction of word and action reveals the overall hypocrisy of the high society in the 1920s. The next example of the debasement of women is subtle. At the commencement of chapter three, Nick discusses Gatsby's...