The 1920s embodied an era of cynicism, not only to the gloomy downfall of the economy, but also to women and their roles and rights by bursting out of their controlled lives and not conform to society. The Great Gatsby takes place during an extremely new, exciting, but volatile time in American history. Women just receiving the right to vote, were beginning to not only work, but work in jobs that men had previously taken over, and gained new freedoms never experienced before in the United States. These changes are nowhere more apparent than within the depiction of gender roles and how the characters interact within this novel. Men are constantly depicted as powerful, physical, and dishonest, while women are shown in a terrible light that displays the majority of them as tempting, submissive, passive, and petty.In many ways, gender defines and shapes many of the events that take place in the novel, and the importance of climbing the social ladder and the means of obtaining material wealth.
Daisy Fay, mainly based on Fitzgerald's down-to-earth wife, Zelda Sayre, is hardly portrayed as the proper southern sweetheart that everyone easily fell in love with. As Fitzgerald portrays through a series of flashbacks by Nick and Gatsby, Daisy has been flirtatious, even deceiving at one point, the audience discovered she packed her bags to travel alone to New York City in order to say goodbye to a sailor that was in love with her, obviously Daisy did not have the same feelings for him. Now, her behavior does not pity her, if anything Gatsby become more infatuated with the thought of her being like this. As Nick says, "It excited him that many men had already loved Daisy it increased her value in his eyes" (Fitzgerald 149). On one level, Daisy appears to be free-spirited, doing the opposite of what the "norms" of what the twenties would have considered proper female behavior.