Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby and the 20s Essay

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Fitzgerald's Great Gatsby and the 20s

After a time of prosperity, the roaring 1920’s became a decade of social decay and declining moral values. The forces this erosion of ethics can be explained by a variety of theories. However, F. Scott Fitzgerald paints a convincing portrait of waning social virtue in his novel, The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald portrays the nefarious effects of materialism created by the wealth-driven culture of the time. This was an era where societal values made wealth and material possessions a defining element of one’s character. The implications of the wealthy mindset and its effects on humanity are at the source of the conflict in The Great Gatsby, offering a glimpse into the despair of the 20’s. During a time
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Expressions such as these only distance Tom from benign human tendencies, leaving him less worthy of receiving any compassion from his audience. By creating a character like Tom, Fitzgerald leaves the reader with the impression that one born into and consumed by wealth will become the most unappealing and bland character of all. In this way the author leaves a sense of emptiness associated with Tom and continues to sew the thread of emptiness in all other characters consumed by wealth in his story.

Daisy, Tom’s wife and the object of Gatsby’s romantic quest, for example, possesses a voice “full of money,” (144) which blatantly associates her character with wealth. Fitzgerald makes Daisy seem desirable, but never describes her physical features, which is odd considering she is the force behind the profound obsession of Jay Gatsby. Perhaps Fitzgerald chooses to ignore Daisy’s physical description to purposefully display her as a bare character. In essence, he dehumanizes her to better reveal her shallowness. One of the few times a physical description of Daisy appears comes in conjunction with Miss Baker, another character under the spell of wealth, when Nick comments on their white dresses with “their impersonal eyes in the absence of all desire” (17). With
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