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Great Gatsby: The Jazz Age
Transcript of Great Gatsby: The Jazz Age
The Jazz Age represented a newly found style of music that connected society and demonstrated an increasing awareness of freedom, illustrated by F. Scott Fitzgerald through the characters, setting, and songs in his novel
The Great Gatsby.
The Jazz Age
In the Great Gatsby
By: Kimiya Banai, Serena Kim,
Lucy Bowers, Jacqueline Zhang
"Women run around too much these days" (Fitzgerald 103).
Jazz music developed in New Orleans in the 1800's, but became popular in the 1920's.
Its earthy rhythms, fast beat, and improvisational style symbolized the decade's spirit of
New dance styles arose, involving spontaneous bodily movements and closer physical contact between partners.
"'In the morning,
In the evening,
Ain't we got fun-'
...It was the hour of a profound human change, and excitement
was generating on the air
'One thing's sure and nothing's surer
The rich get rich and the poor get-children
In the meantime,
In between time-'"
What is Jazz Music?
Instruments of Jazz
Jazz shifted from mainly vocal to mainly instrumental-based in the 1920's.
Clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, drums and trombones were highly used, but some primitive instruments like washboards or wood blocks also accompanied.
Albert Kersey's Solo Band, a jazz ensemble
1926 Cover of
Magazine, showing a flapper and man dancing to jazz music.
"Suddenly one of these gypsies [moves] her hands like Frisco and dances out alone on the canvas platform [as] the orchestra leader varies his rhythm obligingly for her" (Fitzgerald 41).
Gatsby's orchestra during his lavish parties plays jazz that swings the attendees into an indescribable dancing mood.
The woman described above dances like Joe Frisco, a former American jazz dancer, as she expresses the spirit of freedom and independence by dancing alone on stage.
Her actions reflect the increase of women rights and independence, especially after the 19th Amendment.
Effects of World War I
Tom describes the increase in sexual freedom for women in the 1920's, as they began to spend more time with men in a casual manner.
Dance styles s
The music and the dancing of the 1920's gave the people an opportunity to release pent up emotions created by the restricted lifestyles forced on the public by the war effort.
The fast paced and energetic music led to dance styles such as the Lindy Hop, which involved close physical contact with males and females and the Shimmy and the Foxtrot, both involving reckless dancing.
Fitzgerald demonstrates these characteristics of Jazz through Daisy, as she tries to run away from the reality of her marriage with Tom and utilizes her sexual freedom to spend time with Gatsby.
18th & 19th Amendments
Bootleggers sold alcohol in bars known as speakeasies in the 1920's even after the 18th Amendment.
Speakeasies consisted of illegally sold alcohol and flappers that danced on their free will.
Fitzgerald reveals the chaos and dangers of speakeasies through Wolfsheim's personal experiences. However, the lively music and the flappers attracted many Americans to unleash their freedom here.
"[Gatsby] and Wolfsheim bought up a lot of side-street drug-stores [in New York] and in Chicago and sold grain alcohol over the counter" (Fitzgerald 133).
Even though the 18th Amendment was passed in 1919, many people acquired wealth during the Roaring Twenties as bootleggers, just as Gatsby himself.
Although illegal, Gatsby's success as a bootlegger represents the freedom of the people during the time period and the rebellious lifestyle of many.
Both jazz and bootlegging was unsteady and improvisational, because jazz depended heavily on the instruments and reaction of the people, while bootlegging depended on the alcohol and the connections within the business.
"The music is sensuous, the female is only half dressed and the motions may not be described in a family newspaper."
-The Catholic Telegraph
“The horror of it all kept me awake for weeks, nor has the awfulness of it all deserted me, but at first it seemed a horrid dream.”
-American soldier during WWI
U.S. Casualties in WWI
Diseases & Accidents
The Lost Generation
"All Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken."
- F. Scott Fitzgerald (This Side of Paradise)
The generation of men and women who came of age during or immediately following World War I: viewed, as a result of their war experiences and the social upheaval of the time, as cynical, disillusioned, and without cultural or emotional stability (Dictionary.com)
guarantees all American women the right to vote (1920).
*Jazz allowed the disillusioned Americans to forget about the horrors of the war
prohibited the manufacture, sale, transport, import, or export of alcoholic beverages (1919).
*The free spirit of Jazz caused many people to act against prohibition and become bootleggers and open speakeasies.
*The fast paced and excitement of Jazz created rebellious ideas and actions of women. Many dressed differently and became flappers.
The lyrics represent the careless mindset of the 1920's, and the tendency to forget about problems temporarily, such as the negative results of World War I.
As the rich got richer, their carelessness grew deeper, just as we see Daisy use Gatsby as a temporary escape from her failing marriage with Tom.
Jazz reflected the common issues of the decade such as the wide gap between social classes and the nonchalance of the rich.
"The old Metropole [is] filled with faces dead and gone. Filled with friends gone now forever. I can't forget so long as I live the night they shot Rosy Rosenthal there" (Fitzgerald 70).
Jazz in the 1920's
“I'm the sheik of Araby.
Your love belongs to me.
At night where you're asleep
Into your tent I'll creep”
The Sheik of Araby is known to be a man held to be masterful and irresistibly charming to women, which represents Gatsby in the novel.
Fitzgerald uses this song to show the sexual freedom and the casualness of dating of Americans during the 1920's.
The upbeat and fast rhythm of the song correlates to the rash decisions of Gatsby and Daisy as they does not think about how their affair will affect their future.
Ain't We Got Fun
Sheik Of Araby
Through the characters, settings, and the excerpts of the songs used in The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald portrays the Jazz Age and its catchy rhythm, beat, and spontaneous style, which symbolizes the freedom of the 1920's.
Daisy and Gatsby both represent the sexual freedom of the decade, while the speakeasies and Gatsby's parties demonstrate the rebellious mindset against prohibition.
Jazz continued to burgeon in America even after the Roaring Twenties, onto the Great Depression, when many people turned to Jazz music during such time of despair.