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What are the themes of The Great Gatsby? Show more Show less

F. Scott Fitzgerald's beloved novel The Great Gatsby is required reading for most high schools. It shows New York City during the 1920s: a time of youth, wealth, and prohibition. What exactly are the themes of the novel, and how are the characters influenced by the values of the era?

The Great Gatsby is about the American dream Show more Show less

All of The Great Gatsby's characters are chasing their ideal version of the American Dream.
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The Roaring Twenties

The Roaring Twenties was a time of wealth, glamour, and having a high social status.
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The Great Gatsby book education literature reading

Context

The Argument

The US during the 1920s was a time of social and economic prosperity, often being referred to as the roaring twenties or the jazz age. Many women felt comfortable being more expressive by wearing short flapper dresses. This was also during prohibition, which led to many speakeasies and bootleggers, like Jay Gatsby.[1] The ideal American Dream during this time is to become vastly wealthy and have a high social status due to the economic boom. People experienced more personal freedom with their growing wealth. The Roaring Twenties brought new ideals and morals, changing the concept of the American dream. Success was measured by superficial means such as money and a high social class.

Counter arguments

The 1920s was also full of corruption and crime. Due to the prohibition, illegal speakeasies and bootleggers became popular. In The Great Gatsby, the character Meyer Wolfsheim is based on Arnold Rothstein, a famous gangster that is speculated to have fixed the World Series in 1919. The novel also highlights the immorality of the characters, especially regarding adultery. Every character has either cheated on their spouse or have encouraged it. Gatsby is indifferent about Daisy being married and still attempts to pursue her. Nick Carraway and Jordan Baker both help bring Gatsby and Daisy together. Tom Buchanan cheated on his wife with multiple women.

Framing

Premises

[P1] There was economic and social growth during the 1920s. [P2] Achieving the American dream meant becoming wealthy and popular. [P3] Morals and ideas changed during the 1920s, becoming more superficial.

Rejecting the premises

[Rejecting P1] The 1920s also had a rise in crime.

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.history.com/news/great-gatsby-roaring-twenties-fitzgerald-dark-side

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This page was last edited on Thursday, 26 Mar 2020 at 19:06 UTC