Quarter 4 Portfolio Project

By Holden Balcer

Reading and Writing: Holden's Essay

How are gender roles defined? What do masculinity and femininity look like and how might this binary be problematic?

Fitzgerald's Product of Harm
By, Holden Balcer

In the Great Gatsby, gender roles are defined in a stereotypical and problematic fashion that revolves around masculine men providing and women supporting them no matter what without a say in it. This is a result of many factors outside of the context of the book but this extreme misogynistic portrayal in the book will continue to influence people for years. The time period the book was created is a large part of the misogynistic undertones represented as well as the life of the author Scott F. Fitzgerald.

The Great Gatsby was published in 1924 which obviously has a heavy effect on not only these gender roles but really the rest of the book as well. It could go without saying but the general public’s traditional stereotyping of gender roles was much more common and enforced than they are today. This linear mindset was adopted and expected around this era a lot and wouldn’t change for a long time. You could consider this to be the biggest reasoning behind the portrayal shown throughout the book. There were so many more expectations and restrictions for women, “ If you stepped out of character, you were treated unfairly.”1 In the book there are instances of people acting like women almost as some kind of object saying things like, “Tom’s got some woman in New York.”2 Like it is something to flaunt about and no one bats an eye besides Nick. These principles were also heavily inflicted by the man behind the work.

Scott F. Fitzgerald was a popular figure for his work on The Great Gatsby and many others, thus we have lots of information noted about his life which can be used to see what might have affected his views personally. He had a troubled romantic life but eventually married a superstar, Zelda Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, the two of them were not very stable and there were many drifts between them through their marriage which I presume affected Fitzgerald's view on what an ideal relationship should be and how he sought to portray it in the Great Gatsby. During the making, he was cheated on during the making and could have influenced the many dramatic portrayals of cheating in the book like Mrs. Wilson and Tom. The power dynamic between these two is very skewed and there are many remarks implying cheating like this is somewhat normal or simply par for the course, “most of these fellas will cheat you every time. All they think of is money”3

Scott F. Fitzgerald's view on the relationship between man and woman is very linear and traditional due to the aspects of his own love life and the time period the book was written in. His own marriage likely caused him to idolize these traditional easy relationships for men to put in his book. Most of the 1900s had a close-minded view on this as well, which was in media like the Great Gatsby. Despite these critiques The Great Gatsby will continue to be taught in many classes in the future as it has been for several generations, but hopeful for a different reason.


1. Hudson, Teia. “How are gender roles defined? What do masculinity and femininity look like and how might this binary be problematic?” Gatsby Discussion 7-9, SLAB. Philadelphia. 5/5/21

2. (PAGE 14) Fitzgerald, Scott, PDF, “The Great Gatsby” New York City, April 10th, 1925

3. ( PAGE 26) Fitzgerald, Scott, PDF, “The Great Gatsby” New York City, April 10th, 1925

Original Art Piece Creative Response:

Artist Statement:

I drew an open pastry to represent why critically analyzing a story can be valuable. Bread has a harder outside crust but you can also see the inside of it with a different texture completely. Anyone who has had bread can say the crust and the doughy inside taste and feel different. This is representative of a story. I view the dough as the base entertainment and message of a story and the crust as the several other meanings, stories, and thought-provoking messages that can only be found through a critical lens. Some people will enjoy bread only for the soft inside and not pay any attention to the crust, in fact, many people can go without it. For other people, the crust makes it special and the contrast of the crust and the inside makes it better for them with or without realizing it. Being able to enjoy the crust can make all of the bread a more complete and satisfying meal when you can appreciate all of it.

READING AND MAKING: Social Media of the Characters

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