Prohibition In The Great Gatsby Essay

1585 words - 6 pages

The 1920s were greatly influenced by prohibition. The prohibition law restricted the manufacturing, consumption, transportation, and sale of alcohol. The law was put into effect to lower the crime and corruption rates in the United States in the 1920s. It was also said to reduce social problems and lower taxes. In The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald examines the negative repercussions of prohibition on the economy, characters in the Great Gatsby, and on the different social classes of the 1920s.
Prohibition was passed to eradicate the demand for liquor but had the inadvertent effect to raise the crime rates in American. Robert Scott stated, “Prohibition was supposed to lower crime and corruption, reduce social problems, lower taxes needed to support prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America” (Scott 2). As the demand for alcohol increased, people began to find new methods to mask the production and consumption of liquor. It became easier to break the rules. Organized crime blossomed and many law-abiding citizens turned into criminals. Court and prisons systems became over run and the drinking habits of American's changed for the worse.
Prohibition had the most effect on The Great Gatsby's most notable charachter, Jay Gatsby. Bob Batchelor states in his book Gatsby: The Cultural History of the Great American Novel, “Gatsby is a deeply flawed hero” (Batchelor 250). Gatsby is a hero because he was able to achieve the American dream by working hard to get to the top. Gatsby, however, was flawed because his dreams revolved around impressing and winning back Daisy. He was so blinded by his love for Daisy that he was not willing to achieve his actual dream. In the Great Gatsby, it is heavily inferred that Gatsby's success and wealth is earned through bootlegging.
Gatsby became known as a mysterious, wealthy man. Gatsby created an image for himself. No one knew anything about him but he was still famous amongst all of New York. Bob Batchelor says, “It would be difficult to find someone who did not immediately have an image or impression pop into his or her mind when hearing the word ‘Gatsby’” (Batchelor 251). It is implied throughout the novel that Gatsby's fortune is credited to Meyer Wolfshiem and their chain of drug stores that they sold illegal alcohol out of. This explains why Gatsby can throw his lavish parties filled with people ready to indulge themselves in illegal alcohol consumption. This is the main reason why Gatsby's parties we're such a success. His parties provided a place for people to enjoy themselves with a bottomless supply of alcohol.
The demand for alcohol increased and so did Gatsby's need for wealth. Bootlegging became very popular in the 1920s along with organized crime. An article by the History channel stated, “The increase of the illegal production and sale of liquor (known as “bootlegging”), the proliferation of speakeasies (illegal drinking spots) and the accompanying rise in gang violence...

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