Cultural Report: Prohibition

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Cultural Report: Prohibition - “The Noble Experiment” The 1920s was an era brimming with changes in the social order and culture in the United States, and these changes evidently brought about anxiety and confusion over the evolving concept of “Americanness”. Prohibition, officially enacted on January 17, 1920, is viewed retrospectively as a lunging effort on the part of the “old money” European American population to impose their ideals, values, control and power in the face of drastic social changes that threatened their hold on power and influence in society. As new money began to roll into society with the boom of big business, small towns dramatically became urban centers for glamour, glitz and the celebration of…show more content…
At the same time, the crime problem was not dramatic enough for most Americans to respond strongly, and evidence shows that the unemployment was soon absorbed by other industries. In 1933, the 21st Amendment was ratified, nullifying the 18th Amendment and officially ending Prohibition. Many considered prohibition a “success” because it resulted in higher productivity and general prosperity among the population. Evidence also suggests that the Prohibition was effective in significantly decreasing the amount of alcohol imbibed by Americans and that the level of intoxication rose to pre-Prohibition levels very gradually. Mostly, the failures of Prohibition and its limits can be traced to the difficulties of enforcing the new law because of the nature of the beast. It was impossible for law enforcement to track down every violation of Prohibition when home manufacturing and smuggling and speakeasies allowed Americans to drink rather easily and without detection. Fitzgerald displays many of these social anxieties that plagued American society during the 1920s in the Great Gatsby. The preoccupation with money, wealth and lavishness, the theme of losing purpose in one’s life and wandering aimlessly, the infusion of racial issues, and the discussion of sinful lifestyles (drinking, partying, leading affairs, sex) can all be traced back to the era of the Prohibition. Works Cited Cadman, S. Parkes. American
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