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Prohibition in the Great Gatsby

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Carly Ralston

on 4 May 2011

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Transcript of Prohibition in the Great Gatsby

Prohibition in the Great Gatsby Background Relating to the Text The story takes place during the early 1920s when Prohibition was occurring. Gatsby's wealth is allegedly due to bootlegging, the illegal sale of alchohol. Alchohol is also suspiciously readily available to Gatsby and all of the other characters throughout the novel. With the alchohol being so easily available to those characters in the novel, this suggests that Prohibition had no effect on the wealthy. Prohibition was a law that banned the production, sales, and consumption of alchohol. This law took effect in the early 1920s, which was right after World War I ended. This idea had been around since the 1800s, but it took until the end of the Progressive Era for the idea to be put into law. Once the Stock Market Crash of 1929 hit, the government began to think about repealing Prohibition. By repealing this law, the government would be able to raise funds, which in turn would stimulate the economy. The Great Gatsby was set in the early 1920s just as the Prohibition Movement was turned into law. This meant that the manufacturing, sale, and consumption of alchoholic beverages was illegal. This relates to the Great Gastby because Gastby's wealth was from bootlegging, which meant that he illegally sold alcohol to people. Alcohol is also seen throughout the entire novel even though it is outlawed. Ultimately this shows that the wealthy are superior to the law because they are able to avoid the law and recieve no punishment for breaking it. The government finally passed the 21st amendment in 1933, which means the prohibition ammendment was officially repealed. The 21st ammendment was passes under FDR who promised this with his election. Also, this idea was a democratic idea, or a liberal idea. The United States was not the only country to try prohibition. There were many European countries that tried this idea too. Ultimately they all failed, but the United states was one of the first to prove its ineffectiveness. Prohibition was so ineffective because with it also came other crimes which unbalanced its effectivness. One of the biggest problems it brought about was organized crime. One form of this was speakeasies, these are underground bars where people could go drink alcohol. One of the greatest leaders in organized crime was Al Capone. He was said to have employed 700 gunmen and thousands of people to work for him in Chicago. Historical Significance Prohibition began with organized crime and this was even more dangerous than alchohol itself. The public's response showed that Prohibition was impossible. Prohibition was the first and only amendment to be repealed by the United States government. Since women mostly led the Temperence Movement it gave them more respect. THis amendment proved that the law did not apply to the wealthy people of America which created resentment towards them from middle and lower class people.
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