‘The Great Gatsby’ was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in, and set, in America during the 1920’s. Like all literature, this novel reflects the time period in which it was written; that is, the American Dream and its decline, social classes and the difference between them, along with World War I. The Elizabeth Browning Sonnets were written during the Romantic era. This was a period of great change and emancipation, which is unmistakably evident in E. Browning’s sonnets. Both Fitzgerald and E. Browning use a multitude of techniques throughout their texts. These techniques have an effect, whether similar or different, on the reader.
The American Dream has no strict definition, however in the twentieth century and in many ways still today, it has become the term which describes an inherent faith in the promise of the new world. It was an age of capitalism and materialism. In the post war period America became an incredibly affluent country, which rapidly industrialized and developed the quality of life. The American dream, through the eyes of Fitzgerald, was originally about discovery, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness. Yet the 1920’s are depicted in the novel, as a time of decayed social and moral values, corrupting this dream, evident in its overreaching cynicism, greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure. This is epitomized in the lavish parties that Gatsby throws every Saturday night. As the unrestrained desire for money and pleasure surpass more noble goals the American Dream reaches its ultimate corruption.
In America during the 1920’s, anyone from any social background could potentially make a fortune. However the American aristocracy, that is the families of old wealth, scorned the newly rich. The novel represents the clash between the social classes, of ‘old money’ and ‘new money’ in its use of symbolic geography; with East Egg symbolizes the established aristocracy and West Egg the self-made rich. Along with this the Prohibition act, which banned the sale of alcohol, created a thriving underworld, designed to satisfy the massive demand for bootleg liquor among the rich and poor alike. The result of which is represented in Meyer Wolfish and Gatsby’s fortune.
As ‘The Great Gatsby’ is set in the 1920’s, the topic of the Great War (WWI) is unavoidable. After the chaos and shock that was the Great War, America was left in a state of shock, and the generation that fought this war turned to wild and extravagant living to compensate. This is closely linked with the decline of the American Dream, and Gatsby’s opulent parties are a clear example of both. The war also provided Gatsby with further opportunities to see the world, and make some money in the service of a millionaire. However, upon returning to America he is unable to convince anyone that he is truly upper-class, and so finds himself unable to break into East Egg society.
The principle cause of the Romantic Movement was the realisation that had spread across the...