The Great Gatsby: America In The 1920s

3018 words - 12 pages

Considered as the defining work of the 1920s, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was published in 1925, when America was just coming out of one of the most violent wars in the nation’s history. World War 1 had taken the lives of many young people who fought and sacrificed for our country on another continent. The war left many families without fathers, sons, and husbands. The 1920s is an era filled with rich and dazzling history, where Americans experienced changes in lifestyle from music to rebellion against the United States government. Those that are born into that era grew up in a more carefree, extravagant environment that would affect their interactions with others as well as their attitudes about themselves and societal expectations. In this novel, symbols are used to represent the changing times and create a picture of this era for generations to come. The history, settings, characters, and symbols embedded in The Great Gatsby exemplify life in America during the 1920s.
Also known as the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties, the American people felt that they deserved to have some fun in order to forget the emotional toll and social scars left from the war. The Jazz Age was appropriately named due to the illegal activities and good times, which included music, parties, and flapper girls. Jazz was a new style of music that originated out of the New Orleans area, where one of the greatest jazz musicians of all time – Louis Armstrong – began his career. The energy of jazz was a very new and almost uncomfortable style for the very traditional, rigid family of the 1920s. Young people in particular seemed to enjoy this new music the most, as it made them feel carefree. The energy of jazz was symbolic of the era’s transition from a more traditional feel to a more provocative and carefree nature (Epstein 9). Some of the most popular dance styles to come out of the Jazz Era include the Charleston, the cake walk, the black bottom, and the flea hop (History.com). This was also a time of optimism and desire. Money was a major foundation of society in America. Seeing as the decade was fixated on beauty, power, and wealth, people felt they could forget about their pasts and could become anyone they wanted, as though they could become an elite member of economic or social power. Flapper girls were also a new development of lifestyle during this era. Flappers were a new image for women, ditching the old and traditional lifestyle for a new, outlandish one. Being able to cut their hair short, wear short skirts, go out dancing and drinking without a man with them, and begin to speak their minds was a huge thing. From a world where the man is the one in the house that works and the woman stays home and takes care of the home and children to partying and making more carefree and promiscuous choices in their personal lives, this was a fascinating and empowering experience for some women. Though most women certainly did not adapt the extreme...

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