It had made the USA law-less, the police were corrupt and the gangsters were rich and powerful. When the Wall Street crash followed by the great depression the economy was helpless. People were out of jobs businesses went bankrupt and the country suffered. However, by repealing prohibition it would create jobs, raise the taxes, and free the impossible task of enforcing prohibition. This would help bring money back into America.
A person from any social background could, potentially, make a fortune. Additionally, the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919, which banned the sale of alcohol, created a booming illegal industry designed to satisfy the massive demand for bootleg liquor among the rich and poor. Fitzgerald positions the characters of The Great Gatsby as symbols of these social trends. Nick and Gatsby, both of whom fought in World War I, exhibit the newfound cultural diversity and skepticism that resulted from the war. The various social climbers and ambitious speculators who attend Gatsby’s parties illustrate the greedy scramble for wealth.
The Hamartia of Greed: The Flaw of the 1920s and The Great Gatsby Hamartia is a fatal flaw leading to a person’s downfall. The desire for wealth rose greatly during the 1920s after World War I. The standard of living increased in the twenties due to new technology that allowed a greater ability to manufacture and distribute goods (Amidon Lusted). During this time America experienced “the greatest economic expansion in its history” (Gross). Mass production was possible through the assembly line, which allowed for products to be produced faster and more efficiently (Amidon Lusted).
The black market increased the crime rate related to the making and selling of alcohol. “Prohibition creates new profit opportunities for both criminals and non-criminals,” especially for those previously involved in criminal activities (Thornton, “Failure” 116–117). During National Prohibition in the 1920’s and early 1930’s—crime rate continued to raise as less and less people were willing to quit drinking or to respect the ideas of prohibition, as shown by the raise in fines given for Prohibition violations through its time. Crime quickly became “organized” for the first time, running activities contrary to Prohibition on a never before seen scale (Thornton, “Failure” 70). In fact, by the end of Prohibition, speakeasies had actually outnumbered the saloons of pre-Prohibition years, spreading the influence of alcohol over a much wider range (Thornton, “Failure” 72).
The dizzying rise of the social market in the aftermath of the war led to a sudden, sustained increase in the national wealth and a newfound materialism, as people began to spend and consume at unprecedented levels. A person from any social background could, Potentially, make a fortune, but the American aristocracy-families with old wealth-scorned the newly rich industrialists and speculators. Additionally, the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919,which banned the sale of alcohol, created a thriving underworld designed to satisfy the massive demand of bootleg liquor among rich and poor alike.
Year’s ago, mention of this widening gap between the privileged and the struggling was considered “Marxist”, but now the facts are too evident to be blamed on a belief. The richer continue to get richer and the poorer get poorer; due to the fact that, the wealthy pay the labor working majority unfair wages. Ironically, this “supreme” group makes their fortune because of these under paid people. For example, Walmart a low paying corporation owned by the wealthiest family in America. As previously stated, the success of the upper class is at the expense of the lower class and we see this in more ways then one: late fees and rates are collected by the rich, Realestate is bought up by them, and they have control of politics.
The consumerism in the 1920s paved the way for a changing life style and attitude over money and spending in America. Many Americans acknowledge that we, as a society, spend too much money, but this does not stop us from wasting millions of dollars on products and services that we never use. It is true that consumerism has some positive effects, such as improving the economy, creating more employment opportunities and increasing the standard of living. However, the over spending and excessive wasting associated with consumerism result in an unhealthy craving for goods, decreased value of spiritual and moral values and excessive greed; all of which plague American society. The end of World War I ushered in a new era of prosperity and steady economic growth in the United States.
America is a place where the old caste system is abandoned and freedom to do anything and be anyone is taken to a new extreme. In the 1920’s those who were born into wealth looked down on those who had just acquired it. The old rich had high-class traditions, which the new rich lacked. The old rich also did not trust the new rich made evident as Tom says to Nick “ a lot of these newly rich people are just big bootlegger, you know.”(Fit.114). Old rich people were educated and polite while the new rich were just looking for a good time.
We were growing richer by the second, and everyone seemed to be making it big in the cities. Because of that cockiness, average people went broke as the roaring twenties quickly faded in the Great Depression, and “the dust-blown interior of the United States was full of families... whom poverty had forced off their land and into a life of wandering. Their poverty was total; they had nothing”
In ‘The Great Gatsby’ Fitzgerald criticises the increase of consumerism in the 1920s and the abandonment of the original American Dream , highlighting that the increased focus on wealth and the social class associated with it has negative effects on relationships and the poorest sections of society. The concept of wealth being used as a measure of success and worth is also explored by Plath in ‘The Bell Jar’. Similarly, she draws attention to the superficial nature of this material American Dream which has extended into the 1960s, but highlights that gender determines people’s worth in society as well as class. Fitzgerald uses setting to criticise society’s loss of morality and the growth of consumerism after the Great War. The rise of the stock market in the 1920s enabled business to prosper in America.