The Portrayal of Women in American Literature Essay

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The Portrayal of Women in American Literature


Throughout American Literature, women have been depicted in many different ways. The portrayal of women in American Literature is often influenced by an author's personal experience or a frequent societal stereotype of women and their position. Often times, male authors interpret society’s views of women in a completely different nature than a female author would. While F. Scott Fitzgerald may represent his main female character as a victim in the 1920’s, Zora Neale Hurston portrays hers as a strong, free-spirited, and independent woman only a decade later in the 1930’s.

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's, The Great Gatsby, the main female character, Daisy Buchanan, is portrayed by, Nick
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As seen in society today as well as in Fitzgerald’s time, men will have affairs outside of their marriages, and the wife, falls victim to this violation of faith. Daisy falls victim to Tom’s affair with Myrtle: “Daisy’s affection for Tom…was soon shattered by his breech of her trust” (Fryer 51). Matters take an abrupt turn in the novel however, when Daisy’s sudden insistence for honesty emerges. At the hotel in the city, when Gatsby pressures her into proclaiming that she never loved Tom she can no longer bear the anxiety. She refuses to deny her love of Tom.

Daisy’s sudden, simple respect for the truth is startling to the reader because Nick’s perceptions of her throughout the novel are so very limited to her superficial manner … her stubborn honesty … is a logical outgrowth of her inner struggle to resolve conflicting needs. It is a brief, futile attempt to declare emotional independence (Fryer 54).

Of course after this unpleasant, yet necessary upheaval, Daisy retreats into her melancholy and monotonous life of superficiality, leaving behind her lover as well as a mangled body in the streets of an unforgiving city. “[Daisy] is a victim of a complex network of needs and desires: she deserves more pity than blame” (Fryer 55). Daisy’s perplexity over her relationships with both Gatsby and Tom reflect the gender confusion in Fitzgerald’s time. Fitzgerald portrays Daisy as a victim…