The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby: A timeless classic

The Great Gatsby is a movie by F. Scott Fitzergald and is set in the 1920’s. On the outside, The Great Gatsby is a story of the disillusioned love between a man and a woman. However, the main theme of the novel comprises a much larger and less romantic extent. Though all of its events take place over a measly few months during the summer of 1922 and is set in a limited geographical area in the area of Long Island, New York, The Great Gatsby is a highly symbolic reflection of the 1920s American life as a whole. The storyline illustrates the dissolution of the American dream in an era of unparalleled prosperity and material intemperance.

Fitzgerald portrays the 1920s as an era of decayed social and moral values, shown in the films cynicism, greed, and empty pursuit of pleasure. The recklessness that led to decadent parties and wild jazz music, shown in The Great Gatsby by the lavish parties that Gatsby throws every Saturday night, resulted ultimately in the corruption of the American dream, as the uninhibited desire for money and pleasure exceeded more noble goals. The dizzying rise of the stock 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. 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. Meyer Wolfshiem and Gatsby’s fortune symbolize the rise of organized crime and bootlegging.

As Fitzgerald saw it the American dream was originally about discovery, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness. In the 1920s, however, as depicted in the novel, easy money and laid-back social values have spoiled this dream, especially on the East Coast. The main plotline of the novel reflects this judgment, as Gatsby’s dream of loving Daisy is ruined by the difference in their own social places, his resorting to crime to make enough money to make an impression on her, and the raging materialism that distinguishes her existence.

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