The Zeitgeist of the 1920’s
By Mitchell Peerless
The Roaring 20’s were a decade with a definite Zeitgeist and “The Great Gatsby” captures this Zeitgeist for all future generations to examine and study. In The Great Gatsby we the readers can easily see the Zeitgeist of the 1920’s reflected back to us in three major ways. The wealthy flaunt their wealth, Social tolerance of race and sexual tendencies rise, and women are becoming more independent. The wealthy of the novel and of the 1920’s flaunt their wealth in numerous ways. The enormous and lavish parties of the novel held by Mr. Gatsby himself demonstrate this, and as we know from history the wealthy of the 20’s loved to do the same. Another good way for the rich to appear even richer is to wear the most expensive and fancy clothes all the time, and we know from Mr. Gatsby’s wardrobe that he himself had many expensive and fashionable shirts as I’m sure all of the wealthy do. Finally, it is easy enough to see that the alcohol consumed and distributed at any social gathering greatly mirrors the 20’s, and even the life and times of Mr. Fitzgerald.
In the novel as in the 20’s themselves the attitude towards other races and sexual tendencies is much higher than you would expect, when reviewing the decades surrounding it. For example in on page 18 of the novel Tom makes numerous comments regarding a book he was reading which is very biased towards other races, the attitude towards these comments is not warm and friendly whatsoever, I would even say that Nick is slightly disgusted or angry with Tom. The other condition, which leads in this direction, is that fact that, the setting of the parties described in the novel makes it seem as though homosexuals and even coloured people may have been welcome. Unfortunately there are no direct examples of this in the text, but the feeling is certainly evident.
Many of the women of the 1920’s, and in the novel are regarded by men as inconsequential, but express a want to...
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