1920's in The Great Gatsby Essay example

1920's in The Great Gatsby Essay example

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Written during and regarding the 1920s, ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald is both a representation of this distinctive social and historical context, and a construction of the composer’s experience of this era. Beliefs and practises of the present also play a crucial role in shaping the text, in particular changing the way in which literary techniques are interpreted. The present-day responder is powerfully influenced by their personal experiences, some of which essentially strengthen Fitzgerald’s themes, while others compete, establishing contemporary interpretations of the novel.

Dubbed the ‘roaring 20s’, because of the massive rise in America’s economy, this social and historical context is widely remembered for its impressive parties and sensationalist attitude. However, Fitzgerald also conveys a more sinister side to this culture through numerous affairs, poverty and a rampage of organised crime. By exposing this moral downfall, Fitzgerald reveals to the responder his value of the American dream and his belief of its decline. As a writer, Fitzgerald was always very much concerned with the present times, consequently, his writing style and plot reflects his own experiences of this era. So similar were the lives of Fitzgerald’s characters to his own that he once commented, “sometimes I don't know whether Zelda (his wife) and I are real or whether we are characters in one of my novels”. In 1924, Fitzgerald was affected by Zelda’s brief affair with a young French pilot, provoking him to lock her in their house. A construction of this experience can be seen in the way Fitzgerald depicts the 1290s context. For example in ‘The Great Gatsby’, there are numerous affairs and at one point, Mr Wilson locks up his wife to pre...


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...der an intense image of the pretence that he believed the upper-class felt during the 1920s. In literature, the rose is usually a symbol of beauty and love, however Fitzgerald makes the comment that in reality, the 1920s are not entirely the wonderful era they are portrayed to be. While the issue of materialism is still very relevant in a modern-day context, the force behind it is quite different. Materialism is less a result of society’s search for love and happiness in an unethical culture, rather, high wages and relatively inexpensive commodities mean that modern, upper-class society obliges to the world of consumerism simply because it can.

Through his remarkable use of techniques and style, Fitzgerald has created a realistic construction of his experience of the 1920s which is also heavily shaped by the present-day responder’s own beliefs and practices.

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