Gatsby Jazz Age Disillusionment in the Great Essay
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Jazz Age Disillusionment in the Great Gatsby
The 1920s saw the United States undergo one of its most dramatic periods of cultural and social evolution in its young history to that point. With the end of hostilities in World War I and the focus on its own internal growth now taking center stage, the emergence of a distinctly American kind of wealth began to achieve prominence. Even as this measure of wealth would become yet more prominent in America, the disillusionment thereby associated would also become ever greater a presence. So is this well-demonstrated in the primary characters populated F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 Jazz Age masterpiece, The Great Gatsby. Using the occasionally objective Nick as a lens, Fitzgerald views the characters of Tom, Daisy and Gatsby himself with an unflinching criticism that seems to scold America for its burgeoning materialism.
Among them, Tom is perhaps the most unflinchingly archetypal character in the story, representing the standards and pretensions of 'old money,'
not just through his wealth but through the casualness of his ostentation. As Nick reports upon our first meeting Tom, "his family were enormously wealthy -- even in college his freedom with money was a matter for reproach -- but now he'd left Chicago and come East in a fashion that rather took your breath away; for instance, he'd brought down a string of polo ponies from Lake forest. It was hard to realize that a man in my own generation was wealthy enough to do that." (p. 6) As Nick compares this type of behavior to his own slightly more modest (though still comparatively comfortable) means, Tom is shown as a shallow figure highly reflective of the increasing cultural emphasis on the demonstration of one's affluence.
As for Daisy, her demonstration of affluence is almost more unconscious. In Nick's descriptions of her, Daisy is imbued almost witlessly…
Sources Used in Documents:
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. (1925). The Great Gatsby. The Scribner Classic Library.
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