The Great Gatsby as a Social Commentary
After the First World War, American society enjoyed prosperity as the economy soared. At the same time, Prohibition created millionaires out of bootleggers. Consequently, materialism and superficiality immediately filled America. F. Scott Fitzgerald, a witness of people’s spiritually empty lives, wrote “The Great Gatsby” which gave him literary importance even today to reflect this ill society. As one of the greatest Modernism work, “The Great Gatsby” successfully incorporated many representative characteristics during the Modernist Movement.
Many Modernists view the world as a spiritually empty place. Fitzgerald strongly connects his novel with this general idea during Modernism. “I thought they’d be a nice durable cardboard” (45). Mr. Owl-eyes, a middle-aged guy who gets drunk in the party initially thinks that all books in Gatsby’s library are fake because most people only put durable cardboards on their bookcases to pretend to be knowledgeable. From Mr. Owl-eyes’ view, it is common to see fake books in libraries, and that Gatsby owns real books even seems to be surprised to him. Without real books, people gain no knowledge, lack of moral education and only care about being rich and having fun. Fitzgerald’s analogy between books and knowledge from Mr. Owl-eyes’ eyes tells us the spiritual empty in people’s minds. Fitzgerald illustrates abandoning the idea of God through Tom and Doctor T.J. Eckleburg. When talking with Gatsby, Tom says, “By God, I may be old-fashioned in my ideas, but women run around too much these days to suit me” (103). Having an affair with Mrytle, Tom even feels somewhat proud of his attraction to women, instead of a little bit shame. Even though starting his words with “By God”, his lack of morals and faith has abandoned the idea of God. The eyes on the billboard are a metaphor for God because they are all-seeing and omnipresent. As Nick says, “They look out of no face, but, instead, from a...
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