From an economic boom to flappers emerging to prohibition, The Great Gatsby represented the roaring 20’s- and anticipated the misfortune that would arrive next.
Born into poverty, “James Gatz” was determined to become successful. Chasing after the lifestyles of the rich, James changed his name to “Jay Gatsby”. Soon the millionaire upheld the behavior of 1920’s wealth and indulgence. Gatsby dedicates his existence to earning money and opposes earlier social values. There was a nationwide ban on alcohol and women began to reject their conservative ways. Jay throws drunken, wild parties for social climbers and money-hungry spectators. Many come to his parties but Gatsby’s only concern is Daisy’s a woman whom he adored attendance. Wealth began to double and the divide between ‘old money’ and ‘new money’ defines the economy.
America’s economy skyrocketed 42 percent in the 1920s. A distinct gap between the two upper social classes was created the old aristocracy and the newly rich. Daisy was affiliated with the old and Gatsby with the new. There was an important contrast between the two. The old aristocracy was of higher value. The newly rich depended on criminal activity to gain wealth, as Gatsby partook in. The climb to a new social status, due to the economic boom allowed Jay Gatsby to throw magnificent parties and have a decadent lifestyle. His wealth was not earned ethically and Daisy was “offended because it wasn’t a gesture, but an emotion.” (Fitzgerald 115) For the newly rich, money meant everything. It embodied them.
The 18th Amendment, which banned the sale and manufacturing of alcohol was enforced by the government in the early 1920s. This did not stop the consumption of alcohol, instead speakeasies illegal drinking clubs were made. Bootleggers such as Gatsby became wealthy overnight due to the prohibition. Gatsby’s parties included bars “set up, and stocked with gins and liquors and cordials so long forgotten that most of his female guests were too young to know one from another.” (Fitzgerald 44) Due to people excess drinking and partying, the government wanted to get rid of the sale of liquor. The 1920s was one of the most drunken time periods in history.
Flappers were emerging in the ’20s. Rather than conforming to gender roles and staying at home, waiting to be married, and spending their lives tending to the family, they lived wildly and for the moment. Society did not expect this type of behavior from young women. They danced, drank, smoked, and spoke for themselves. Jordan Baker is one of the most liberated characters in The Great Gatsby. She acted against the restrictions compelling women. Jordan does what she wishes. She goes out with various men, which society is not too welcoming. When men saw her a “sort of apology arose to (their) lips. Almost any exhibition of complete self-sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from (them). (Fitzgerald 32) Men were intimidated as well as intrigued by this behavior. The Great Gatsby plays a part of expressing the anxiety and celebration of redefining womanhood.
The plan to win Daisy over ended in defeat, just as America’s period of success would soon end. The stock market crash of 1929 destroyed the economy. America lost the equivalent of $396 billion today. The market decreased in value this was a consequence of America’s materialism and indulgence. The 1920s would not last forever and eventually end in disappointment. The time period is crucial and assists many aspects of this novel. The story would be lost if not for this specific time period. The roaring ’20s show The Great Gatsby and all its “glory”.
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