The Great Gatsby Jordan Baker vs Myrtle Wilson: Different Ideals of Femininity Flashcard Example #40468

Jordan’s first description in Chapter 1:
“slender, small breasted girl”
“Throwing her body backwards at the shoulders”
“wan, charming, discontented face”

later descriptions:
“golden slender arm”
“jaunty body”

Jordan basically resembles a typical 1920s “fashion illustration” (Nick even says it at one point)
(AO3) – The ideal feminine body type at the time was the “flapper body”, very skinny, no curvy child-bearing hips, flat chests, boyish body and boyish short hair slanted shoulders (as Jordan has)
Represented the liberation of women from purely a wife or mother, progression e.g getting the vote in 1928, newly liberated by work during WW1
Jordan’s attitude is sometimes quite careless, a bit self absorbed.
a) “Tom’s got some woman in New York”
a) She sits idly by, doesn’t tell her good friend Daisy, or confront Tom. However, she does help arrange the meeting between Gatsby and Daisy to make her feel better, but this could be argued to make matters more complicated
b) At Gatsby’s party: “looking with contemptuous interest”
Scornful, Vanity, ultimately thinks she is superior to others not impressed easily (even by Gatsby’s beautiful party)
c) she is a careless driver (in essay refer to scenario no quotes needed)
she believes that it is other people’s responsibility to protect themselves from her reckless driving, shows her self centred nature and detachment from others.

Jordan has her own job as a golfer, she is an athletic modern woman.

“almost any exhibition of complete self-sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me” (Nick referring to Jordan)

Jordan poses a lot, like a fashion model, gives her a sense of other worldlyness, she becomes detached from emotional entanglement of any situation.

Jordan is very sure of herself, lots of confidence, very cool headed, a sense of independence, often intimidating to Nick

However, the reader cannot always tell what she is thinking, her true emotions are guessed by Nick as the narrator.

Myrtles first description in Chapter 2:
“thickish figure”
“carried her flesh sensuously as some women can”
“perceptible vitality”
“every nerve in her body was continuously smouldering”
“soft coarse voice” – juxtaposition of adjectives to indicate Myrtle’s raspy voice
Myrtle has the body shape of a post 1950s woman, not generally accepted at this time
Unlike Daisy and Jordan, she is not elegant or delicate but is vigorous and loud, has a lust for life despite living in the poverty stricken Valley of Ashes
daisy = a dainty white flower
myrtle = an sturdy evergreen shrub, in Greek mythology a sacred plant to the goddess of love Aphrodite

More attractive to Tom because of her sexuality rather than her pure beauty.

“they’re nice to have, a dog”
“an elaborate dress of cream coloured chiffon” (once she gets to her Manhattan apt)
Myrtle has a very materialistic nature, she only cares about the appearance of the dog, and not its value as a pet
Repetition of soft c sound emphasises the elegance Myrtle tries to convey
“elaborate” contrasts clearly from the “brown muslin” she wore in the V of A, change of scene shows change in her character, her liberation from poverty.
“she swept about the room”
“the intense vitality…converted into an impressive hauteur”
“swept about the kitchen, implying a dozen chefs awaited her.”
Myrtle kids herself, behaving as though she really is a high society hostess, appearances vs reality
“swept” =a sense of wide movement, shows her confidence, repeated use for emphasis.
“a dozen chefs” = links to the later description of Gatsby’s party with a huge amount of staff. gatsby, like Myrtle came from humble beginnings, but managed to work his way up in society to achieve the “platonic conception of himself”. For myrtle however, it is just a well put together facade
“I’ll say it whenever I want to! Daisy! Daisy!”
Myrtle’s facade shatters quickly when she screams the name of Tom’s wife; The real lady of high society with an inherited opulent home and wealth

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