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Stereotypes and Stereotyping of Characters of The Great Gatsby

The Stereotypical Characters of The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald is well known for being an excellent writer, for expertly describing the Jazz Age, and for having a drinking problem. However, he is not so well known for creating deep and intriguing characters. In The Great Gatsby, the majority of the characters remain one-dimensional and unchanging throughout the novel. They are simply known from the viewpoint of Nick Carraway, the participating narrator. Some insight is given into characters in the form of their dialogue with Nick, however, they never really become deep characters that are ‘known’ and can be identified with. While all of the participants in the novel aren’t completely flat, most of the main characters are simply stereotypes of 1920’s people from the southern, western, and eastern parts of America.

“Proper Southern Belles 1. Never blow their noses in public, 2. Never chase after a man- they connive a man into chasing them, 3. Always get what they want, 4. Are extraordinary hostesses, 5. Always look their best, 6. Are always a bit mysterious, and 7. Are witty and charming.” (Suney) In short, a typical Southern Belle is lovely, well mannered, and above all, wealthy. Daisy Buchanan is lovely, well mannered, and above all, wealthy. She was known as the most beautiful girl in Louisville, and her family was very rich. Daisy, being the most popular girl amongst the soldiers, could pick any man she liked to ‘connive’ into chasing her. When Jay Gatsby came around, she fell in love with his lie of being rich and from a good family. But after he went away to war, she became impatient and couldn’t wait for the man she thought she loved. When she met Rich Easterner Jock, Tom, she marrie…

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…nts of conversation with Nick, the characters remain on the levels of small talk and public knowledge. The only insight given to their lives is that they can easily be defined by a stereotype. Daisy is the Southern Belle/Easterner: rich, proper, and reckless. Gatsby is a Western Pioneer: continuously working toward his dreams. Tom is the Rich Easterner Jock: large, hypocritical, and ignorant. Fitzgerald used these common 1920’s stereotypes to create the one-dimensional characters in this very multi-dimensional story, The Great Gatsby.

Works Cited and Consulted

F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1925.

F. Scott Fitzgerald. (1934) Columbia Quotations. [Online]. Available:

Suney. (1999) Proper Southern Belles. Personal Website. [Online]. Available:

Essay on Toni Morrison’s Beloved – Misuse of Language

The Misuse of Language in Beloved

In Toni Morrison’s Beloved many negative methods of communication used by the white people are effectively hijacked by the black people. The black people create a completely new message and a positive form of communication. These forms of communication, in turn, empower the oppressed black people, providing channels for the expression of ideas, thoughts, and memories.

Such was the case in the American culture of the mid 1800’s as depicted in Beloved because of the gap in the social status and power of black versus white Americans. The language of the whites was not able to effectively communicate the thoughts of all and was used many times as a method of coercion. Largely, I am referring to oral and written communication. Oral communication done by whites in the book tends to be in the manner of orders, or to demean, dismiss, or condemn. This gives standard oral communication a somewhat negative air. Written communication is also tainted by the white people who abuse it. For example, on pages 155-6, as Paul D is reading the newspaper clipping given to him by Stamp Paid about Sethe, he is filled with a sense of foreboding.

“A whip of fear broke through the heart chambers as soon as one saw a Negro’s face in a paper, since the face was not there because the person had a healthy baby, or outran a street mob. Nor was it there because the person had been killed, or maimed or caught or burned or jailed or whipped or evicted or stomped or raped or cheated, since that would hardly qualify as news in a newspaper. It would have to be something out of the ordinary–something white people would find interesting, truly different, worth a few minutes of teeth sucking if …

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…y subvert this message of dehumanization. Instead, they choose to make their scars work for them in ways other options of communication may fail. Scars prove themselves to be something solid, physical, unchanging to which people may depend on when written and spoken words may fail them. In this way, scars function as a viable alternative form of communication, acting as a medium for storytelling, identification, and shared bond between people. Scars empower those otherwise oppressed. This disproves the assumption that “definitions belong to the definers, not to the defined” in the context that whites make the definitions and rule over blacks. Instead it changed the meaning in that the black people in the book are also definers, breaking away from the rule of the oppressor’s language by developing their own interpretations and means of communication.

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