preview

Theme Of Alcohol In The Great Gatsby

Decent Essays
In 1920 the 18th amendment to the U.S. constitution went into effect, banning alcohol and beginning prohibition in America. Its supporters vilified alcohol; they claimed that alcohol was an ineffective way to escape pain, that drinkers were slaves to the drink, and that alcohol causes men to revert back to a brutish state. Fitzgerald, however, uses The Great Gatsby as an argument against prohibition. It defends alcohol, condemns the institutions which support prohibition, and encourages those who are willing to break the law.
Fitzgerald’s portrayal alcohol as a shield from pain and suffering serves as a counterpoint to the prohibitionist argument that alcohol is an ineffective way to escape the troubles of life. When Nick arrives at Gatsby’s party he asks several guests about Gatsby’s whereabouts. He realizes that this is, at Gatsby’s party, an embarrassing faux pas. His first reaction to this humiliation is “to get roaring drunk from sheer embarrassment” (Fitzgerald, 42). Fitzgerald repeatedly shows us that, in response to any sort of embarrassment or loss, drunkenness can be a default option for coping. Alcohol, in The Great Gatsby, can help ward off the troubles of life. When Myrtle is hit and killed, Catherine, her sister, decides to break her rule against drinking. When Daisy receives a deeply upsetting letter (presumably from Gatsby) before her wedding, she turns to liquor to shield her from the pain. “‘Gratulate me,’ she muttered. ‘Never had a drink before, but oh
Get Access