The New Woman in Cather, Fitzgerald, Hemingway

Essay, 2003

11 Pages, Grade: 1.0 (A)

Abstract or Introduction

The New Woman came into existence in the second half of the nineteenth
century, but remained nameless until 1894, when Ouida and Sarah Grand used the term
for the first time in two North American Review articles. Today, the New Woman is
generally seen as the manifestation of changing gender norms at the fin de siècle. Critics
such as Sally Ledger and Caroll Smith-Rosenberg differentiate between ‘first and
second- generation New Women: the first living and writing in the 1880s and 1890s, the
second in the 1920s and 1930s’ (Ledger 1). As this quotation shows, the label is mostly
applied to female authors. However, it can also be used to describe fictional characters
such as Lena Lingard in Willa Cather’s novel My Ántonia, Jordan Baker in Fitzgerald’s
The Great Gatsby, and Lady Brett Ashley in ‘Fiesta’ (The Sun Also Rises) by Ernest
Hemingway. This essay will, first of all, explain what was ‘new’ about women in the
late nineteenth and early twentieth century and thus attempt to define the term New
Woman. It will determine a number of characteristics that are considered typical of the
New Woman in fiction, and use these as criteria to examine whether the characters
mentioned above can be called New Women. Finally, the essay will compare the
manner in which Cather, Fitzgerald and Hemingway present the characters.
To begin with, the New Woman can generally be seen as a challenge to
conventional gender roles. There are three main areas in which the New Woman differs
from her predecessors: lifestyle, work and sexuality. That is, her attitude towards these
topics bears little or no resemblance to the attitude of the early nineteenth-century


The New Woman in Cather, Fitzgerald, Hemingway
University of Kent  (School of English)
American Modernism
1.0 (A)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
465 KB
An excellent analysis of the New Woman in turn-of-the-century America. Distinguishes between first- and second-generation New Women, defines the term and applies it to Lena Lingard (from Cather's My Ántonia), Jordan Baker (Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby) and Lady Brett Ashley (Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises).
Woman, Cather, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, American, Modernism
Quote paper
Nina Dietrich (Author), 2003, The New Woman in Cather, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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