Jazz Music in The Great Gatsby
In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby, the reader sees a common theme of corruption of the American Dream. In the 1920’s, the times are changing in America and morals are becoming looser and the lifestyle of the wealthy is more careless. New fashion, attitude, and music is what nicknamed this era the “Jazz Age,” greatly influencing Fitzgerald’s writing. He created similarities between many things in pop culture and the journey his characters Gatsby, Daisy, Tom, and Myrtle are taking to achieve the American dream. Through the use of the lively, yet scandalous, jazz music from the 1920’s, Fitzgerald reflects the attitudes of the characters in The Great Gatsby at the end of innocence and prevalence of carelessness within the elite of New York’s society.
Jazz music was created by African Americans during the turn of the century in New Orleans. The new, upbeat music quickly became popular as it moved north to New York City. The music became especially popular with the young and wealthy, along with the “risqué” dances that went along with the new music. The jazz movement took off in the 1920s when big names like Louis Armstrong emerged, nicknaming this era the “Jazz Age.” Jazz itself represented the American Dream. Poverty stricken and socially last African Americans started climbing the social ladder to fame, wealth, and respect from the white upper class. Just like the story of The Great Gatsby, this American Dream was also seen as corrupt. Beyond the racial issue of white people listening to “black” music, activities associated with jazz were not respected by society. Jazz music was constantly associated with parties with went hand in hand with illegal drinking, shorter dresses, intimacy, and dancing. All of these things were frequent at Gatsby’s parties, but without his elaborate jazz band, the mood would not be set. When Nick Carraway is conveying the image of one of Gatsby’s parties he describes, “A whole pitful of oboes...
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