The Great Gatsby F. Scott Fitzgerald The roaring 20’s
TheAmericanDream • The American Dream is the idea held by many in the United States of America that through hard work, courage, and determination one can achieve financial and personal success. These were values held by many early European settlers, and have been passed down to subsequent generations. • What the American dream has become is a question under constant discussion, and some believe that it has led to an emphasis on material wealth as a measure of success and/or happiness. • The American dream is a concept for all Americans despite racial, religious, and socio-economic diversity. This dream also serves to connect Americans to the nation’s historical past as well as to the generations of the future.
The decade of the twenties is often referred to as the “ Jazz Age’. However, the term has much as much to do with the jazzy atmosphere of the time as with the music!
Financial prosperity • 106,521,537 people in the United States • 2,132,000 unemployed, Unemployment 5.2% • Life expectancy: Male 53.6, Female 54.6 • 343.000 in military (down from 1,172,601 in 1919) • Average annual earnings $1236; Teacher's salary $970 • Dow Jones High 100 Low 67 • Illiteracy rate reached a new low of 6% of the population. • Gangland crime included murder, swindles, racketeering • It took 13 days to reach California from New York There were 387,000 miles of paved road.
Financial prosperity • Boom in consumer goods (cars, radios, phones, refrigerators, etc.) • People were encouraged through advertising to buy these goods, and could now afford to • Mass production methods made products more affordable • A car in 1908 cost $850 & in 1925 cost $290 • Because of assembly lines, one Model T car was produced every 10 seconds • Money was available to more people
Jazzy Sounds • Prohibition brought many jazz musicians north from New Orleans to Chicago and New York • Joe “King” Oliver” was one of the best • Jazz became the soundtrack of rebellion for a younger generation
Jazzy Sounds • George Gershwin wrote both classical and popular music • He was the first composer to combine jazz and classical music with Rhapsody in Blue in1924
Jazzy Duds • Flappers were typical young girls of the twenties, usually with bobbed hair, short skirts, rolled stockings, and powdered knees! • They danced the night away doing the Charleston and the Black Bottom.
No more Victorian Values • Flappers • Collegiate Students • Independent women • Gaiety • Increasing wealth • Social mobility • Alcohol consumption
EveningDress—1920s The Charleston dress—embroidered with glass beads
“The Flapper”by Dorothy Parker The playful flapper here we see, The fairest of the fair. She’s not what Grandma used to be,-- You might say, au contraire. Her girlish ways may make a stir, Her manners cause a scene But there is no more harm in her Than in a submarine. She nightly knocks for many a goal The usual dancing men. Her speed is great, but her control Is something else again All spotlights focus on her pranks. All tongues her prowess herald For which she well may render thanks To God and Scott Fitzgerald. Her golden rule is plain enough-- Just get them young and treat them rough
Entertainment • “Speakeasies”—secret, illegal bars • Vaudeville acts—singers, jazz artists, and dancers performed at music halls • Number of radio stations grew • “Age of the Cinema” Black and white silent films Charlie Chaplin—very famous actor from 1920’s By the end of the 1920s, sound and color were added on a small scale
Gambling • Perhaps the worst scandal involving gambling was the so-called Black Sox Scandal of 1919, in which eight members of the Chicago White Sox were indicted for accepting bribes to throw baseball’s World Series.
The Modernist Era • Rejection of Romanticism and the advent of moral uncertainty • the catastrophe of World War I • (the wasteland and valley of ashes) • Embracing the new i.e. mechanization and industrialization • (Gatsby’s car) • new (replaceable) fashions • mass entertainment • Using new means of Representation • the development of cinema, • the mass media and advertising
Fitzgerald and Modernism • Modernists mistrusted the possibility of absolute truth and idealism. In modernist literature “loose ends” were embraced rather resolved clearly. What does this suggest about the truth?
Point of View Point of View • Nick Carraway narrates the book both in first and third person • He presents only what he himself observes • Nick alternates sections where he presents events objectively, as they appeared to him at the time, with sections where he gives his own interpretations of the story’s meaning and of the motivations of the other characters
Setting “The Gilded Age” 1865-1901 industrialists and financiers such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Flagler, and J.P. Morgan. Their critics called them "robber barons", referring to their use of overpowering and sometimes unethical financial manipulations
Setting Roaring 1920’s “The Jazz Age” T I M E L I N E A L E R T
OLD MONEY/NEW MONEY INNER CIRCLE
Setting 3. WEST EGG is like Gatsby, full of garish extravagance; symbolizing the new rich springing up outside the established aristocracy of the '20s.
Setting 4. EAST EGGis like the Buchanans, wealthy, possessing high social status, and powerful, symbolizing the old upper class that continued to dominate the American social landscape
Setting 5. VALLEY OF ASHES is like George Wilson, desolate, desperate and utterly without hope, symbolizing the moral decay hidden by the glittering surface of upper-class society. grotesque symbol – represents the consequences of unbridled greed, materialism, industrialization
Setting • 6. NEW YORK CITY is simply chaos, an abundant swell of variety and life, most perfectly associated with that "quality of distortion" Nick perceives in the East. New York – acts as a magnet to both social classes, those possessing established wealth and those eagerly in pursuit of it
Conflicts • East vs. West • Reality vs. Illusion • Haves vs. Have-nots • Urban vs. Rural • Knowledge vs. Ignorance • Apathy vs. Action
Characters 1. JAY GATSBY (James Gatz):Born James Gatz in North Dakota, from an early age he is dedicated to moving up in society and becoming wealthy and respectable. He changes his name to Jay Gatsby after meeting Dan Cody, a wealthy older man who mentors him. Before going to Europe for the Great War, Gatsby meets Daisy Fay, with whom he becomes infatuated, for she represents the genteel society he wishes to join. After the war, Gatsby builds his fortune partially through illegal activities, yet dedicates his life to attaining Daisy. His devotion to her is his major flaw: he is attentive to her at the expense of any concern for others
Characters 2. NICK CARRAWAY:The narrator of the story, who comes from a well-to-do mid-western family and comes to New York to enter the bond business, and becomes involved with the affair between Gatsby and the Buchanans. Although seemingly responsible, honest and fair, Nick Carraway, nevertheless, shares some of the less desirable traits of his acquaintances. He can be equally careless with others' emotions. Yet,among the characters he is the only one who realizes the greatness of Gatsby compared to his contemporaries.
Characters 3. TOM BUCHANAN:A brutal, hulking man, and is a former Yale football player who, like Nick and Daisy, comes from an elite mid-western family. Despite his physical stature and his high status, Tom is an insecure and paranoid man, perpetually is concerned with what he sees as the downfall of society and the loss of his own high status. He is a thorough hypocrite, condemning his wife and Gatsby for their affair while having no qualms about his own infidelity.
Characters 4. DAISY FAY BUCHANAN:Born Daisy Fay, she is a cousin of Nick. During her youth, she fell in love with Jay Gatsby, but broke off her attachment with him during the Great War because he was poor. She subsequently became the symbol of everything Gatsby desires; yet, she is little more than a symbol. Daisy is insubstantial and vapid, a careless woman who uses her frail demeanor as an excuse for immaturity.
Characters 5. JORDAN BAKER:A longtime friend of Daisy, Jordan Baker is a professional golfer whose reputation has been tarnished by accusations of cheating. Her cynical, icy demeanor draws the attention of Nick Carraway, who becomes momentarily infatuated with her. Yet, she rejects him when she believes that he is as corrupt and decadent as she is.
Characters 6.Myrtle Wilson:An earthy, vital and voluptuous woman, Myrtle is the wife of George Wilson, a mechanic whom she does not love. She has been having a long-term affair with Tom Buchanan, and is incredibly jealous of Daisy 7.George B. Wilson: The husband of Myrtle Wilson, he is a glum, impoverished man content in his existence until he suspects that his wife is having an affair.
Characters 8. Meyer Wolfsheim:A notorious underworld figure involved in organized crime. Wolfsheim is a business associate of Gatsby 9. Catherine:The sister of Myrtle Wilson who lives in New York City.
Symbols 1. THE GREEN LIGHT to Gatsby it becomes the embodiment of his dream for the future, and it beckons to him in the night like a vision of everything he has ever wanted.
Symbols 2. The eyes of Dr. T.J. EckleburgGeorge Wilson decides they are the eyes of God, representing a moral imperative on which he must act. They are simply an unsettling, unexplained image, as they stare down on the valley of ashes. They tend to make observers feel as though they are the ones being scrutinized. They seem to stare down at the world without the need for meaning that drives the human characters of the novel
Symbols • 3. CLOCKES highlight the importance of time in the novel. Gatsby believes he can turn back time with money and re-create himself.
Symbols Motifs • 4. Geography—places and settings epitomize aspects of the 1920s American society • 5. Weather—the weather in the novel matches the emotional and narrative tone of the story; Rain (melancholy), sun (love reawakens), hottest day (confrontation)
Symbols • 6. Cars • Industrialization, status symbol, carelessness, recklessness • Cars provided transportation, but also a symbol of modernity, wealth, social status, and social mobility. They allow for self expression, but can also conceal identities.
Symbols 7. Colors • blue: dreams grey: industrialization, dreary, bleak, lifeless death, lifelessness (people &land) • green: hope, new life • lavender: indulgence • pink: dream colliding with reality (red)
Symbols 7. Colors Red: brutal reality beneath dream; abuse, violence, destruction variety of colors: wealth • white: For Gatsby, innocence; For others, implies corruption under the surface • yellow: imitation of gold
Theme • corruption of the American dream • Gatsby appears to be the embodiment of this dream – he has risen from being a poor farm boy with no prospects, to being rich, having a big house, servants, and a large social circle attending his numerous functions. He has achieved all this in only a few short years, having returned from the war penniless. • Gatsby is never truly one of the elite – his dream is just a façade. • Fitzgerald explores much more than the failure of the American dream – he is more deeply concerned with its total corruption. Gatsby has not achieved his wealth through honest hard work, but through bootlegging and crime. His money is not simply ‘new’ money – it is dirty money, earned through dishonesty and crime. His wealthy lifestyle is little more than a façade, as is the whole person Jay Gatsby. • The society in which the novel takes place is one of moral decadence. Whether their money is inherited or earned, its inhabitant are morally decadent, living life in quest of cheap thrills and with no seeming moral purpose to their lives. Any person who attempts to move up through the social classes becomes corrupt in the process.
Theme • Sight and Insight (Many images of blindness/No one seems to see what is really going on) • The meaning of the past (holds something for Gatsby and Nick; a simpler, nobler time; when people believed in the importance of the family and church)
Themes • discrepancy between Gatsby's dream vision and reality • the cultural rift between East and West • clash between new and old money as symbolized in the geography of the novel • East Egg represents the established aristocracy • West Egg consists of the self-made rich • Gatsby’s fortune relates to that of organized crime and bootlegging
Theme • The Hollowness of the Upper Class • The Education of a Young Man • The Great Gatsby, a story of Nick’s initiation into life • Trip East gives him the education he needs to grow up • He hits 30, he realizes his youth is over, and he needs to reevaluate his choices • Nick, writes The Great Gatsby to show what he learned
Theme • Is The Great Gatsby a period piece, or does the novel step outside its time and address universal themes?
General Comments 1. Fitzgerald concludes the novel with a final note on Gatsby's beliefs. It is this particular aspect of his character his optimistic belief in achievement and the ability to attain one's dreams that defines Gatsby, in contrast to the compromising cynicism of his peers.
General Comments Yet the final symbol contradicts and deflates the grand optimism that Gatsby held. Fitzgerald ends the book with the sentence "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past," which contradicts Gatsby's fervent belief that one can escape his origins and rewrite his past.What is the literary technique of the quote?
Words of the 1920's 1.Flapper - A stylish, brash young woman with short skirts and shorter 2. Flat Tire - a dull, boring person 3. Hoofer -Dancer 4. Swanky -Ritzy 5. Talkie - A movie with sound 6. Whoopee - Boisterous; convivial fun
Words of the 1920's 7. cat's meow- Something splendid or stylish 8. heebie-Jeebies- The jitters. 9. hotsy-Totsy- Pleasing 10. kisser - Mouth 11. ritzy -Elegant 12. sheba- A woman with sex appeal 13. sheik -A man with sex appeal.
Words of the 1920's Jazzy Talk -Twenties Slang • 14. All Wet - wrong • 15. Bee’s Knees - a superb person • 16. Big Cheese -an important person • 17. Bump Off - to murder • 18. Dumb Dora - a stupid girl • 19. Gam - a girls leg • 20. Hooch - bootleg liquor • 21. Torpedo - a hired gunman