The Great Gatsby a Criticism of the Twenties (Grade 11 Essay)

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The Roaring Twenties is considered to be a time of excessive celebration and immense corruption. The novel, The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a criticism of American society and its values during this era of history. This criticism is first apparent in the people who go to Gatsby's parties. They get absurdly drunk, do not know who their host is and are rude by excessively gossiping about him. This commentary is also shown in the corruption of the police. Gatsby is able to pay off the police so that the activities going on at his home will go unnoticed and so that he may behave as he wishes. This criticism is finally shown in the corruption of friendship and love, the simple fact being that there is none. People use Gatsby and then throw him away. Fitzgerald's criticism of American society and its values during this time period is first shown in the behaviour of people at Gatsby's parties.

The people who go to Gatsby's house on Saturday night only go to have a good time. The guests get drunk, get into fights, and act like complete idiots. This behaviour is apparent when Nick goes to one of Gatsby's parties for the first time. Nick says,

The large room was full of people. One of the girls in yellow was

playing the piano, and beside her stood a tall, red-haired young lady...

engaged in song. She had drunk a quantity of champagne...she was

not only singing she was weeping too...Most of the remaining

women were having fights with men said to be their husbands...

One of the men was talking with curious intensity to a young

actress, and his wife...resorted to flank attacks...(52)

The people at the party are so drunk that they are barely aware of what they are doing. As they become more drunk, they become more absurd. The woman singing a happy song bursts into tears for no reason. Men become more friendly to women other than their wives, and wives become more violent in dealing with the situations facing them. The people are also so intoxicated that they have almost no clue of what is going on around them. This excessiveness is shown when Nick leaves the party and observes a car accident in the front drive. Nick says,

Then, very gradually, part by part, a pale, dangling individual

stepped out of the wreck, pawing tentatively at the ground with

a large uncertain dancing shoe...

‘Wha's matter?' he inquired calmly. ‘Did we run outa gas?'

Half a dozen fingers pointed at the amputated wheel - he

stared at it for a moment, and then looked upward as though

he suspected it had dropped from the sky...At least a dozen men,

some of them a little better off than he was, explained that wheel

and car were no longer joined by any physical bond. (55-56)

This man in the car is so drunk he does not even realize that the car has stopped moving; furthermore, he even fails to recognize that the wheel is no longer a part of the car. The people behave carelessly and rudely at Gatsby's parties. They only go to his house for a good time and to have plenty of drinks. Fitzgerald's criticism of American society in the 1920's is also shown in the corruption of the police.

The police in this era when people need extra discipline are corrupt. The police are easily paid off by money and allow people to go on with their crude behaviour. This corruption of the police, the force which protects men from itself, is shown when Nick is driving to town with Gatsby. Gatsby is explaining to Nick his history, and does not notice that he is speeding; they are stopped by the police, but nothing happens. Nick says,

...I heard the familiar ‘jug-jug-spat!' of a motorcycle, and

a frantic policeman rode alongside.

‘All right, old sport,' called Gatsby. We slowed down. Taking

a white card from his wallet, he waved it before the man's eyes.

‘Right you are,' agreed the policeman, tipping his cap. ‘Know

you next...
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