The 1920s in America, known as the "Roaring Twenties", was a time of celebration after a devastating war. It was a period of time in America characterised by prosperity and optimism. There was a general feeling of discontinuity associated with modernity and a break with traditions.
New technologies, like automobiles (left), movies and radios, spread the idea of modernity to a large part of the population. There were also new ideas
and theories that clashed with old traditions or religion.
In 1925, a teacher named John T Scopes was arrested for teaching the Theory of Evolution as this contradicted religion and their beliefs that God created the world.
The 1920's was a time of great economic prosperity and many people became rich and wealthy. Some people inherited "old money" and some obtained "new money". However, there was the other side of prosperity and many people also suffered the nightmare of being poor. In the novel eThe Great Gatsby
f, Jay Gatsby is portrayed as a wealthy character who lives in a mansion. However, Nick Carraway, the protagonist of the novel and next door neighbour of Jay Gatsby, is an average man who does not have the fortunes that Gatsby has. He is gtoo poorh. Nick Carraway is part of the middle class in society while Gatsby is in the upper class
Along with large sums of money, whether old or new, came lots spending, amusement, fun, pleasure and big, fancy and elaborate parties.
In the 1920fs, because of the separation of the rich and the poor, there were separate social classes and with that came conflict between the classes.
The upper class developed the eElite American Culturef which gave them the view that they were superior to the others around them. They also developed a bad view of lower class people as they did not mix with them.
The upper class represented themselves with rich, opulent and luxurious surroundings. They had large mansions, fast cars and modern technology which they showed off at large, elaborate parties.
During this time, there was the emergence of the eflapperf(left) in American Culture. The eflapperf was a figure that women looked to be. She was a powerful individual with sexual allure, who saw herself liberated from the old Victorian ways. She had bright red lipstick and bobbed hair. She wore fashionable clothes, smoked cigarettes and consumed alcohol. She didnft have to listen to anyone and could do what she felt like. As many women looked best fit the description, they became quite rude and snobbish. They had added their part to the eElite American Culturef. By 1926, the eflapperf became a universal figure and young women everywhere wanted to emulate her.
When the war ended, people were very optimistic. They looked to put the devastation of the war behind and looked to follow their dreams, find new fortunes and build a life of pleasure. Thus, eThe Great American Dreamf was born. It was the dream to live in luxury and own whatever you desire, the dream to have a successful family with children and the partner of your wildest fantasies. This dream was rampant throughout American society in all social classes. People would do anything to try and realise this dream. Some people made an honest living and worked hard to reach their goal. Other people saw greater opportunity obtaining money by other means whether it was legal or not.
In eThe Great Gatsbyf, Jay Gatsby obtains his wealth from a chain of drug stores that he owns in the Unites States of America. However, he has not fulfilled the American Dream. Although he has the wealth, he does not have any family of his own and this creates an empty void in his heart. He seeks to marry Daisy as she was his lover before the war, but they were torn apart as he had to go and fight in the war. He tries to get her back but she stays with her present husband Tom Buchanan.
Al Capone (left) is another example of someone who found their fortunes through illegal money.
At the start of the 1920fs the government put in place a Prohibition Act and beer became a high demand. This created an opening for bootleggers to earn lots of money. Al Capone took this opportunity to become a successful bootlegger and earn lots of money. He became to be known throughout America as a notorious mobster.
The eRoaring Twentiesf witnessed the development of hedonism and the extremes of wealth and want for pleasure. Men looked to have multiple partners and women looked to marry to put themselves in a better social and financial position than marry for love.
In eThe Great Gatsbyf, Tom Buchanan, Daisyfs husband, has multiple affairs going on with different women. gTomfs got some woman in New Yorkh. However, Daisy is aware of this but decides to stay with Tom as this puts her in a more favourable position financially and socially than with Jay Gatsby. This is shown when Tomfs partner in New York calls at dinner and Daisy is more annoyed that she called at dinner than at some other time. gShe might have the decency not to telephone him at dinner timeh. Daisy is still willing to be with Tom for the money and social positioning.
The 1920fs was an exciting period of time with great change. There was extreme economic prosperity along with large amounts of spending. There was the emergence of new technology and modernity as well as new ideas that clashed with old traditions. However, this period of partying and pleasure had its consequences, because of the uneducated spending of money, the stock market crashed and the Great Depression began.