While F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel “The Great Gatsby” encapsulates the spirit, excitement, and violence of ‘the Jazz Age’ and Robert Browning’s poem “My Last Duchess” reveals the political, social and domestic power wielded by Ferrara (the Duke), it is apparent by juxtaposing the characters of Tom Buchanan and Ferrara that even decades apart there has been very negligible changes in the behaviour of men in a patriarchal society. Despite the fact that Tom and Ferrara are from different time, they share similar characters, as for evidence, both are male chauvinist toward the women in their life, are supremacist about own self and finally both of them are insecure and self-centered.
Ferrara is a powerful duke, who likes exercising his authority over everyone around him, especially his wife (the Duchess). He thinks that the time he spends with her is equal to the time he spends observing a piece of art. In fact, he even considers the duchess as one of his a valuable possession. Even when he looks at his dead wife’s painting he talks as if she herself is standing there as a mere object, “Looking as if she were alive. I call/ That piece a wonder, now; Fra Pandolf’s hands/ Worked busily a day, and there she stands” (Browning 2-4). She is like a piece of art to him, a valuable object which he wants to manipulate. He considers her to be inferior and disapproves her behaviour and attitudes which he does not like. When describing what he likes about her he only talks about her breasts. Her presence, personality, behaviour nothing matters to him, “Sir, ‘t was all one! My favour at her breast,/ The dropping of the daylight in the West,” (Browning 25-26). The duchess was a pleasant woman, thanked anyone and smiled at everyone which the Duke did …
Tom and Ferrara are two common examples of antagonist people in the male dominated society. Not only they behave badly with women, but also do not restrain from hitting them. Tom and Ferrara presume themselves to be superior despite their unruly inferior thinking. Mentally they are so much crippled with their self-centered that unethical fatal decisions do not shake their core. By the character of Tom and Ferrara, both Fitzgerald and Robert Browning conveyed a message that this type of antagonist, unethical and unruly people will be present in any generation and any society.
Browning, Robert. “My Last Duchess.” Immortal Poems of English Language.1st Ed. Ed. Oscar Williams. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc. 1952.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. “The Great Gatsby.” 1st Ed. Ed. Ruth Prigozy. New York:Oxford University Press. 1998. Print.