This is an essay I wrote on the novel whilst studying literature at university. I also did a presetation on the novel.
“ One concludes, after examining the evidence, that when it came to his art he was a master ; when it came to the conduct of his life, he was a failure” (1). F.Scott.Fitzgerald lived in one of the most turbulent times in American history. It was a time when, as Fitzgerald himself said, “there were very few people left at the sober table” (2). He also commented that it was “an age of miracles, it was an age of art, it was an age of excess, and it was an age of satire”(3) . Fitzgerald lived in a time when wealth and indulgence prospered in the cities, when the ‘upper class’ looked down apon all other sectors of society as being inferior and inconsequential. The author lived in this ‘privileged’ sector of society yet, ironically, his most well known work, The Great Gatsby, seems to be a satire about this entire existence. Written in 1925, “The Great Gatsby is as much a part of its age as a brilliant dramatization of the social and economic corruption of the Jazz Age, marked by Prohibition, gangsterism ... and uprootedness. American morality was marked by questionable business ethics, commercial criteria for success, and ultraconservatism in social and political thinking” (4). One may argue that The Great Gatsby is the most accurate portrayal of American Society in the 1920’s and that it is because of this accuracy and meticulous attention to detail, that this novel has become one of the most popular and successful pieces of literature ever written. We can also ask several questions about The Great Gatsby, including what are its themes? and what comment is being made about American Society?.
1. Hindus, M, F.Scott.Fitzgerald - An Introduction and Interpretation, New York, Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1986. - p9.
2. Fitzgerald.F.Scott, The Crack-Up - with other pieces and stories, Middlesex, Penguin, 1988. - p 14.
3.Op. Cit.2. - p10.
4. French, W, Twentieth Century American Literature, London, Macmillan, 1980. - p 211.
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(all work on this site is copyright to Bernadette Sheedy, 1998)