Essay, Research Paper: Great Gatsby And Jazz Times

Literature: The Great Gatsby

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In his Jazz Age novel, The Great Gatsby, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald portrays
society as snobs who bask in the wealth of the age. The novel was written in the
heart of the Jazz Age and depicts it flawlessly. After World War I, many
companies that had been making war supplies returned to creating their unique
products. (ELCO) “The Jazz Age was a time of prosperity, but also a time of
many downfalls. It was an era of change … a time when people began to do what
they wanted to do instead of following social norms.” (ELCO) This caused
industry to "boom", and the economy accelerated with frightening
speed. Some people became very wealthy, and in Fitzgerald's novel, these are the
people of the "eggs", especially East Egg. However, some people,
although not poor, were certainly what they would have considered middle class,
and there was a huge gap between the two classes. (UWAC) One of the main causes
of extreme wealth in the Jazz Age was the accessibility of credit. During the
war people saved every penny. After the war was over, and the economy rushed
into a higher level, everyone started spending extravagantly. Credit was
convenient, accessible, and widely used. (UWAC) Fitzgerald's main example of
extreme wealth was Gatsby himself. The reader sees that much of Gatsby's wealth,
like the rest of the worldly community, is spent frivolously. Income disparity
was a characteristic that followed closely with extreme wealth. The difference
between the classes at this time was significant. As Daisy realizes the
difference between herself and Gatsby, her former lover, she is overwhelmed with
grief. Although she, as well as Nick, was of the middle class, her outpouring of
emotion displays to the reader the differences in the wealth of the two classes.
Gatsby, who believed that he was comfortable, felt uneasiness at the sight of
Daisy's tears. Despite the fact that many people believe that money can make you
happy, Gatsby realizes that his fortune will not win Daisy’s hand. He begins
to re-evaluate all of his possessions by the amount of importance that his true
love puts on them. (http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/1148/index.html)
Income disparity as well as extreme wealth was common in the Jazz Age. After
World War I, the economy grew and the people, in general, prospered. Primarily
Gatsby displays extreme wealth. Income disparity is shown through Gatsby's
relationships with Nick and Daisy. (ELCO) Another aspect in which the novel
depicts the Jazz Age is the reference to the American Dream. “Gatsby, like Tom
and Daisy, "goes East" to pursue his dream, perhaps the American Dream
but, unlike them, becomes a victim and fails in his vision.” (UWAC) “His
dream, the novel suggests, is also that of America, with its emphasis on the
inherent goodness within nature, on healthy living, youth, vitality, romance, a
magnanimous openness to life itself, a dream of the East which has been dreamed
up in the West.” (UWAC) Gatsby pursues the green light, the want for natural
possessions, and eventually is destroyed. Daisy is the one who lures Gatsby into
this drive for material. This can be seen as the possible future for America
herself, which is depicted, through the actions of Gatsby. Gatsby is the perfect
example of America in the jazz age. America just like Gatsby failed to look at
their westward destiny and focused on the limelight of the east.
Bibliography
UWAC (University of Wales Associate College) http://io.newi.ac.uk/rdover/between/gatsby.htm
Numerous pages from this site including Art, Literature, Movies, Fashion http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Forum/1148/index.html
ELCO (Eastern Lebanon County School) http://www.iu13.k12.pa.us/elco/Academics/Social_Studies/Care/ITTP_2/roaring.html
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