The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald

Historical and Cultural Context

In the Roaring Twenties, the United States experienced an economic surge unlike any before. Cities buzzed with newfound affluence, the stock market flourished, and a consumerist culture took root. This was an age of jazz music, embodying the era's vivacity, and new forms of entertainment, from dance clubs to films, captivated the masses. Yet, behind the glamour, traditional norms were shifting. Women, now with the right to vote, embraced the liberated flapper image, dancing, drinking, and openly challenging societal conventions.

Dubbed the Jazz Age by Fitzgerald himself, the 1920s was a period of both exuberance and excess. Jazz, with its dynamic rhythms and bold improvisations, echoed the pulse of the era. But it wasn't just music that exemplified this rebellious spirit. Flapper culture redefined femininity with short dresses, bobbed hair, and a penchant for nightlife. Meanwhile, the Prohibition era paradoxically led to a surge in speakeasies and organised crime, as the ban on alcohol fuelled a clandestine world of indulgence.

But beneath the glittering surface lay a profound sense of disillusionment. The once coveted American Dream, the belief that success was within everyone's reach, was now under scrutiny. Many, including Fitzgerald and his contemporaries, felt that the era's materialistic values were superficial. They were part of the "Lost Generation", a group of writers and intellectuals disenchanted with the promise of prosperity. This sentiment was further deepened by the scars left behind by World War I, which made many question established values and search for deeper meanings in a seemingly chaotic world.

It's within this intricate tapestry that F. Scott Fitzgerald penned The Great Gatsby. Drawing from his personal experiences, Fitzgerald wove a tale that not only mirrored his own ups and downs but also critiqued the moral decay of the American elite. Despite its initial mixed reception, the novel stands today as an iconic reflection of its age, portraying the glamour, excesses, and underlying tragedies of the 1920s.

A. The Golden Fifties

B. The Roaring Twenties

C. The Fabulous Forties

D. The Swinging Sixties

2. Which musical genre was symbolic of the 1920s?

A. Classical

B. Rock 'n' Roll

C. Country

D. Jazz

3. What did flapper women notably wear?

A. Long Victorian gowns

B. Short dresses and bobbed hair

C. Tight-fitted jeans

D. Hippie outfits

4. Due to the prohibition in the 1920s, what illegal bars emerged?

A. Pubs

B. Inns

C. Speakeasies

D. Taverns

DISCUSSION:  Considering the lavish parties and wealthy lifestyles depicted in The Great Gatsby, do you think Jay Gatsby's pursuit of the American Dream brought him happiness? Why or why not?"

Further reading