From new money come consumer society to lavish parties, F. Scott Fitzgerald"s 1925 novel depicted the heyday of the 1920s—and foreshadowed the death that would follow.

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From new money come consumer society to lavish parties, F. Scott Fitzgerald"s 1925 novel depicted the heyday the the 1920s—and foreshadowed the doom that would certainly follow.

More than any other author, F. Scott Fitzgerald have the right to be claimed to have caught the rollicking, tumultuous decade known as the Roaring Twenties, indigenous its wild parties, dancing and illegal drinking to the post-war prosperity and also its brand-new freedoms because that women.

Above all, Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel The great Gatsby has been hailed together the quintessential portrait that Jazz age America, motivating Hollywood adaptations inhabited by dashing bootleggers and also glamorous flappers in short, fringed dresses.

But between that decade of newfound prosperity and also economic growth, Fitzgerald—like various other writers that the so-called “Lost Generation”—wondered if America had actually lost its moral compass in the sirloin to embrace post-war materialism and also consumer culture. When The an excellent Gatsby captures the exuberance the the 1920s, it’s ultimately a portrayal of the darker next of the era, and a pointed criticism that the corruption and immorality lurking in ~ the glitz and glamour.

World war I echoes in the 1920s.

Set in 1922, 4 years ~ the end of the great War, together it to be then known, Fitzgerald’s novel shows the means in i m sorry that dispute had revolutionized American society. The war left Europe devastated, and significant the appearance of the United claims as the preeminent strength in the world. Indigenous 1920 to 1929, America enjoyed an economic boom, v a steady rise in earnings levels, business growth, construction and also trading top top the share market.

In The good Gatsby, both Nick Carraway, the narrator, and Jay Gatsby himself space veterans of world War I, and also it is Gatsby’s war company that kicks off his climb from a “Mr. Nobody native Nowhere” (in the words of his romantic rival, Tom Buchanan) come the fabulously affluent owner that a mansion ~ above West Egg, lengthy Island.


The Marlborough House, a speakeasy haven because that drinking socialites during prohibition.

Margaret Bourke-White/The LIFE photos Collection/Getty Images

Speakeasies thrived when prohibition failed.

Beginning in early on 1920, the U.S. Government started enforcing the 18th Amendment, i beg your pardon banned the sale and manufacture of “intoxicating liquors.” but banning alcohol didn’t stop people from drinking; instead, speakeasies and other illegal drinking establishments flourished, and also people prefer the Fitzgeralds made “bathtub gin” come fuel their liquor-soaked parties.

“The whole plot The good Gatsby> is really thrust by barred in an important way,” says Sarah Churchwell, professor of humanities at the university of London’s institution of advanced Study and also author that Careless People: Murder, Mayhem and also the invention of The great Gatsby (2014). “The only means in i m sorry Jay Gatsby becomes well-off overnight is due to the fact that Prohibition created a black color market,” allowing bootleggers like Gatsby and also his partners to amass staggering amounts of money in a brief time.

Prohibition creates a ‘new money’ class.

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As their wealth grew, numerous Americans of the 1920s damaged down the traditional barriers of society. This, in turn, furious anxiety amongst upper-class plutocrats (represented in the novel by Tom Buchanan). In The great Gatsby, Prohibition finances Gatsby’s increase to a brand-new social status, wherein he can court his lost love, Daisy Buchanan, who voice (as Gatsby famously speak Nick in the novel) is “full of money.”

“One the the numerous unintended results of barred was that it produced this increased upward society mobility,” Churchwell explains. “Fitzgerald is showing a preoccupation at the moment that there were these upstart—as they would have actually said—these nouveau riche people who came indigenous dubious backgrounds and also then suddenly had all this money the they were splashing around.”


The flapper to be emerging.

By 1925, when Fitzgerald published The good Gatsby, flappers were out in full force, finish with bobbed hair, shorter skirts and also cigarettes dangling from their mouths as they danced the Charleston. But while later Hollywood version of Gatsby channeled flapper style, the novel itself actually captures a comparatively conservative moment, together 1922 could be considered closer come 1918 than to the heyday of the Roaring Twenties later in the decade. For one thing, the Charleston didn’t even arise until 1923. Also, Churchwell says, “skirts in the novel room a lot longer than we think lock are. We all snapshot them in knee-length dresses. However dresses in 1922 to be ankle-length.”