F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and the Jazz Age

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and the Jazz Age

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The Great Gatsby The Jazz Age

In 1920, F. Scott Fitzgerald said that “An author ought to write for the youth of his generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmasters of ever afterwards.” Fitzgerald wrote about what he saw during the 1920’s, which he dubbed “The Jazz Age,” and The Great Gatsby is considered a correct depiction of that era.

After World War I, many Americans felt a distrust toward foreigners and radicals because they held them responsible for the war. These beliefs led to a revival of the Ku Klux Klan, a racist, anti-Catholic, and anti-Semitic group. This general distrust of liberal movements and foreigners lasted throughout the decade.

In 1920, Harding won in a landslide victory under the campaign promises of returning to “normalcy.” People wanted peace and prosperity and Harding tried to give it to them by returning the United States to its prewar conditions. He established probusiness policies and went against labor unions. He pushed peace by urging disarmament. The Congress passed bills to restrict the number of immigrants coming into the country. Harding was very popular because he returned the U.S. to prosperity, after his death in 1923 it became apparent that his administration was one of the most corrupt in U.S. history. Calvin Coolidge took over and followed Harding’s policies and the prosperity continued.

Young people, disillusioned by their experiences in World War I, rebelled against prewar attitudes and conventions. Women refused to give up the independence they had gained from the jobs the got during the war. In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment gave them the right to vote, and they demanded to be
recognized as equals. Women adopted a masculine look: they bobbed their hair, were more open about sex, quit wearing corsets, and smoked and drank in public. Most Americans were brought up to at least a modest level of comfort. They worked fewer hours and were making more money, so the development of leisure activities became important. Prohibition, enacted by the Eighteenth Amendment in 1919, attempted to get rid of alcohol. Instead of ending the use of alcohol, Prohibition prompted the growth of organized crime.

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The Roaring Twenties was a time of flappers, gangsters, and prosperity. Unfortunately, when the stock market crashed in October 1929, all of this came to a stop. The Depression followed which ended all the celebration.  


Bruccoli, Matthew J. Preface. The Great Gatsby. By F. Scott Fitzgerald. New York: Scribner Paperback Fiction, 1992. vii-xvi

“United States of America: The United States from 1920 to 1945.” Britannica Online. Online. 18 Feb 1998.
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