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F. Scott Fitzgerald & the 1920’s. Written in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is often referred to as "The Great American Novel," and as the quintessential work which captures the mood of the "Jazz Age.". Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in Saint Paul, Minnesota

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F. Scott Fitzgerald & the 1920’s

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

& the 1920’s


Written in 1925, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby is often referred to as "The Great American Novel," and as the quintessential work which captures the mood of the "Jazz Age."

  • Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • Educated at Princeton, although he dropped out to join the army before he completed his degree
Later married Zelda Sayre, a high-strung woman from a family more prominent than his own
  • He was a handsome and gregarious man who became famous with his first novel, This Side of Paradise, published in 1920.
  • Among the first author to draw attention to the new post WWI sophistication, esp. such phenomena as petting parties and youthful love affairs
the 1920 s
The 1920’s
  • Known as the Roaring Twenty's because the economy at the time was through the roof and people were partying all over the place
  • . At the time there was a legal ban on the manufacture and sale of intoxicating drink called prohibition
  • Organized criminals catered to the needs of the drinking public by illegally supplying them with liquor and made a fortune doing it
  • . Even with all the crime in the Jazz Age though, it will still be remembered for its glittering lights and unbridled romance
the great gatsby
The Great Gatsby
  • The Great Gatsby was first published in 1925.
  • The novel would prove to be Fitzgerald's most accomplished novel, and was an immediate critical success. *
  • Despite the favorable reviews, the sales for the novel were disappointing.
  • Nick Carraway: the narrator & moral voice of the novel
  • Tom Buchanon: represents brutality and moral carelessness of the established rich
  • Daisy Buchanon: Nick’s distant cousin and Tom’s wife.
  • Jay Gatsby: rackateer and romantic idealist who devotes his life to amassing wealth
characters continued
Characters continued
  • Jordan Baker: An attractive young woman golfer who becomes involved with the narrator; also a compulsive liar.
  • George Wilson: Owns the shabby garage in “the valley of ashes”. His wife is Tom’s mistress
  • Myrtle Wilson: Has an animal vitality which attracts men, including Tom.
based on real life
Based on real life?
  • Many of the characters in his novels are based on people from his life.
  • Within the characters of Nick Carraway and Jay Gatsby we can see the dueling parts of Fitzgerald's own personality.
  • Gatsby and Fitzgerald are alike by both being self-made men who have achieved financial success.
  • Similarly, they both achieved their financial success for the love of a woman.
  • In 1917 he was drafted into the army, but he never saw active service abroad. >
plot questions copy and answer during movie
Plot questions: copy and answer during movie
  • In what year and season does our story begin?
  • What is the name of the community in which Nick lives?
  • Why does Tom ask Nick to come with him on a drive?
  • Why does Catherine say Tom and Daisy can’t get a divorce?
  • Why did Myrtle Wilson marry George?
plot questions continued
Plot questions continued…
  • What activity occurs at Gatsby’s mansion almost every weekend?
  • True or False. Gatsby always greets his guests personally.
  • According to Gatsby, how did he acquire his wealth? What is the rumor?
  • What are Meyer Wolfschiem’s cufflinks made of?
yes there are a few more questions
Yes, there are a few more questions…
  • Who says “old sport”?
  • Who sells bonds for a living?
  • Who drives the yellow car during the accident?
  • Who is symbolic of the American Dream?
  • Who reaches across the bay toward the green light?
  • Who is arrogant, racist and rich?
the beginning of the end
The beginning of the end
  • The bubble burst in the 1930s when Zelda became increasingly troubled by mental illness.
  • Tender is the Night (1934), the story of Dick Diver and his schizophrenic wife Nicole, goes some way to show the pain that Fitzgerald felt.
  • The book was not well received in America and he turned to script-writing in Hollywood for the final three years of his life.
  • He died in 1940 of a heart attack with $700 to his name and a wife in an institution too ill to attend the funeral.
  • The Last Tycoon, though unfinished was considered to be his best work
In 1936 Fitzgerald wrote a series of confessional articles for Esquire, collectively called "The Crack-Up" stories.
  • They describe his "emotional bankruptcy" and explore his feelings of failure.
  • Ernest Hemingway, Fitzgerald's friend and literary rival, was also a major contributor to Esquire & in his story "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" (Esquire, August 1936) Hemingway comments that "poor Scott Fitzgerald" was "wrecked" by his "romantic awe" of the rich.
the american dream
The American Dream
  • Through the novel, Fitzgerald puts across the idea that the American dream has been corrupted by the desire for materialism.
  • We see that Gatsby had a pure dream, but became corrupt in his quest towards that dream
critical commentary
Critical commentary
  • I reread this one immediately after seeing the list, because I couldn't believe it was #2, a classic American novel sure, but number 2?
  • It is undeniably well written, but the story still leaves me unmoved. 
  • The underlying assumption is that  the American Dream consists of nothing more than gaining great wealth. 
  • We've surely seen that man is motivated by a dream of Freedom, not a lust for wealth.
  • Thus, the real tragedy of Gatsby is not that he is destroyed pursuing the American Dream, rather it is that he pursues an empty dream.
works cited
Works Cited
  • Lavender, Catherine. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925). The College of Staten Island. 3/24/25.
  • Hudson Gevaert. The Great Gatsby: A Beginner’s Guide. Geocities. 3/24/05
  • “F. Scott Fitzgerald.” The Literature Network. 3/24/05.
  • Facts about Fitzgerald. University of South Carolina. 3/24/05.URL
  • Flapper Culture & Style. Louise Brooks Society. 3/30/00.