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The American Dream during the 1920's
Transcript of The American Dream during the 1920's
How the American Dream began...
The American Dream is believed to have started around the time America was settled. It continued to be manifested in the Declaration of Independence through the expression of
a sense of hope... “all man are created equal and that
they are endowed with certain unalienable rights,
among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”
Transition in the Twenties
The American Dream during the 1920's transitioned from being all about hope to being all about money. Many people started to focus more on materialistic goals (such as who could have the biggest party, who could own the best car, and who could get the most women/men) rather than moral values (such as hope, peace, the pursuit of happiness, etc.). F. Scott Fitzgerald portrays this change in American values in "The Great Gatsby." This new view of American morals would eventually unravel and fail (which can also be seen in the novel).
During the twenties, people started to want to break out of the norm. They wanted to live life, tempt the laws, and be free. Leisure activities, such as dances, sports, and movies rose by about 300%. Gambling became very popular, and many people invested extra cash into the stock market. The Great Gatsby reveals some of these new trends. In the beginning of the novel, Gatsby is only known to many because of his lively parties and his willingness to have a good time - Gatsby was placed on a societal pedestal because of such parties.
During the twenties, anyone and everyone wanted to be in the high-class and to be at the top of the economic pyramid. The enjoyment of prosperity blinded people from seeing downfalls of their actions, such as the economic depression that would follow this time period. In the Great Gatsby, many characters seek to be at the top of the social rank. For example, Myrtle (Wilson's wife) wants to be at high-class woman more than anything. By having an affair with Tom (who is extremely wealthy), Myrtle feels as if she has been among the rich and therefore believes she belongs there.
- Discussed in The Great Gatsby Chapter 2
AP Eng. 3
Rise of Consumerism
In order to uphold a high-class reputation, one needed the best of the best when it came to products and consumer goods. Whether it was about wine glasses, makeup, clothes, or kitchen appliances - everyone had to have the newest and freshest products. But this urge to buy new products did not just effect the high-class Americans of the twenties. Middle-class as well as lower-class citizens could even buy new products with the new credit/buyer oppurtunities presented by many companies and suppliers.
Character Analysis of Jay Gatsby
Jay Gatsby sought to have a better life than the one he grew up in. Through illegal securities and stolen alcohol Gatsby rose to the top of the upper class. Gatsby seems to have an "extraordinary sense of hope" (Pg 6 - line 10), especially when it comes to winning Daisy back.
Character Analysis of Nick Carraway
Nick doesn't exactly share the same Dream as many of the other Characters in the Great Gatsby. Nick Carraway hopes to find himself and helps to develop more tolerance, emotional strength, and responsibility. Nick does share the hope of being rich and moving up in class also, just like some of the other characters in the novel - but his dream is more personal, mental, and emotional.
Fall of the 1920-1930 American Dream as portrayed in The Great Gatsby
Even though the "New American Dream" is shown in the Great Gatsby, you can also see the downfall and failing of this vision through analysis of the characters. Wilson's dream fails when his wife is killed - this is the event that causes Wilson to live life numbly and without permanent care. Gatsby, even though he worked his way to the top, and worked his way to financial success, his life still ended without true impact on anything.
The new technologies of radio and movies began to standardize American culture. With that in mind, many various singers / musicians as well as actors / actresses became extremely popular. Not only were radio and motion-picture efficient for entertainment, they also provided outlets and opportunities for advertising. Also, Professional baseball and college football provided leisurely outlets for thousands of Americans during the twenties. (Mass entertainment further materialized the American Dream envisioned in the twenties)
"The American Dream:." The American Dream. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2014.
"The Great Gatsby." , by F. Scott Fitzgerald : Chapter 1. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 May 2014.
N.p., n.d. Web.