Földy Vanda Szathmári Judit English major 30 April 2009
The symbols of the “Roaring Twenties” in The Great Gatsby
Everything that happened in history was revealed somehow in literary works. It is certainly also true for American literature. The “Roaring Twenties”, or in other words the “Jazz Age” began after the First World War and lasted until The Great Depression. Its name came from the attitude of the society. This age had a great social and economical impression. The economy was flourishing: the United States turned its economy from war-centered to peacetime. During the war the production of weapons was the most important, but later on it became unnecessary. It was a peaceful period, while people were well-off, so they used their money for such purposes as inventions and building roads. Henry Ford invented Model T and the mass production of cars began. In addition, radio gathered also a huge popularity; by the 1920s almost every family had one. However, there was the other side of the coin, too. Soldiers went home from the war and they wanted to forget what they experienced during the war. They tried to enjoy life, therefore people had huge parties, drank alcoholic beverages, danced, listened jazz music, and they bought huge and beautiful cars. As I have just mentioned, alcohol consumption was an everyday matter, but it should not be. According to the Constitution of the United States “Section 1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation
If it were not enough. To sum up. For me three things are the most telling in the novel in the context of the Jazz age: flappers. or in other words smuggling alcohol illegally. they
. Scott Fitzgerald. as it was not acceptable by the society. on contemporary photographs you can hardly see a woman without cigar or cigarette. Young women started to wear for example shorter skirts and dresses in order to make dancing more comfortable. materialism was present in the beginning of the twentieth century because of two causes. They were generally young women. Before the 1920’s a girl could not drink alcoholic drinks and could not smoke. who adopted the behavior of men. They started a kind of movement which succeeded to shock people. forgetting the awful happenings of the war was much easier this way. cars and Gatsby’s house. On the other hand. In addition hairdressers had also much to do as thousands of girls had their hair cut and wore “Bob” hairstyle. This new “prototype” of women paid no attention to what they were expected to do by their mothers. was a popular way of earning money. Instead. The image of sophisticated women wearing ankle-deep dress and long hair were disappearing.” That is why bootlegging. like their ancestors. Despite this. in contempt of the fact that trousers were only for men. Girls wore the so-called cloche hat. women of the age did not emphasize the importance of intelligence and learning. more and more women wore trousers. In general. which name came from the French word “bell”. The behavior of the flappers was different from their ancestors’. On the one hand the already mentioned peacetime economy brought about the materialistic attitude.thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited. One of the most important symbols of the materialism and moral emptiness of the age were the so-called “flappers”. The previously mentioned peculiarities are graphically represented in The Great Gatsby written by F.
Her appearance is beautiful and she likes tennis. drinking Gatsby’s drinks. She symbolizes the sophisticated. Other not detailed flapper characters also appear in the novel. enjoying the meals he managed them. As she laughed. She has no real emotions.” In Fitzgerald’s work the two best example for a flapper are Daisy Buchanan and Jordan Baker. as she is funny and brash. She is good at small talk. She is a pretty girl at first sight.that’s the best thing a girl can be in this world. to be able to smatter and like parties where they danced and were a good companion. listened to the jazz band which was paid also by the master of the house no matter if they ever met him or not. Other important symbols of the age are huge cars and huge houses. (Love and Death in the American Novel.
. As it is said in The Great Gatsby: “I hope she’ll be a fool. But later on it turns out that she cheated in order to win her first tennis competition.highlighted the significance of an economically good marriage. According to Leslie Fiedler he sees her as “the first ‘nice’ girl he had ever known”. Nick Carraway watches women (and men) dancing. The problem was that at that time Gatsby had no money. when Fitzgerald portrays the huge parties held by Jay Gatsby. 303) The other main “flapper-prototype” in The Great Gatsby is Jordan Baker. The image of her is very well represented in the novel. She comprehends the emotional emptiness. charming lady for Gatsby. how she dressed. She is Daisy’s friend in the novel. About nineteen years ago women were expected to be beautiful. where she lived. Daisy Buchanan is a married lady who was in love with Jay Gatsby before she got married. a beautiful little fool. In this novel it is especially Jay Gatsby’s car and house. Daisy promised him that she will be waiting for him. She met Tom Buchanan and she became this wealthy man’ wife. but money was stronger than her patience. The romantic relationship with Nick Carraway is also just for fun. But I would say that her personality is not so charming.
We can truly empathize the story and get to know closer to almost all of his characters. ex-soldiers. which has two major districts: the East Egg and West Egg. It also implies that Gatsby has money but he does not care how much he spends from it and for what. This beautiful car was bought also from black money. The city where the novel takes place is New York. Through the location of the house anyone and also Gatsby can always remember where he came from and how did he achieve it. But I would say that even if it is a kind of asylum where he can at least see who he is longing for. The car occurs several times in the novel. It is a status symbol. but it has another message. It resulted from the change of the economy. Everyone could buy that at the age of the first wave of mass-production of cars. and for me yellow is for grudge. through which he wants to get back Daisy’s heart. East Egg is the place of the old aristocracy. as I have already mentioned it.
. Jay Gatsby’s car is beautiful. yellow-colored Rolls Royce with nickel decoration. It is the place where she holds the parties. The mansion is a representation of wealth. In contrast. always for implying material wealth. flappers. but just to a given amount. which is the home of the newly rich. It also tells something about Gatsby’s excessiveness. For me the novel very interestingly told the story about the age of bootleggers. In my personal opinion Fitzgerald succeeded to create an imperishable novel which will also be enjoyable numerous generations later. All in all. It is the outcome of the 1920s’ mass-production. several features tell us many things about the “Roaring Twenties”. For instance it is quite cheap in comparison with Gatsby’s. which also has to do somewhat with wealth. so it also symbolizes it. But Gatsby lives in the West Egg. It stands for wealth.The house of Gatsby is a huge mansion. expensive. We can infer that he is well-off. The car is yellow. parties. Tom Buchanan’s car is a blue coupe which implies many things. power and reputation.
com/pages/h1564.htm http://en.about. Scott.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eighteenth_Amendment_to_the_Unit ed_States_Constitution
ttp://www.u-s-history. Penguin books. 1986.
Fiedler. The Literature of the United States. The Great Gatsby http://history1900s.html
Cunliffe. F.angelfire. Leslie A.com/od/1920s/a/flappers. Marcus. 1998.com/co/pscst/flapper.
http://www. Dalkey Archive Press.html Fitzgerald. Love and Death in the American Novel.