F. Scott Fitzgerald in his novel, The Great Gatsby (1925), suggests that wealth and dissatisfaction in the 1920s were a constant thing. The author shows dissatisfaction in the novel through the characters in order to show that during the Roaring Twenties, many people were dissatisfied with their lives, even though they were equipped with all they could ask for. During this period, people were starting to overspend money that they did not have, which resulted in the stock market to crash. With that, people became very discouraged with their life. Fitzgerald was not exactly happy with his life along with others; therefore he wrote a book showing the failure in his American Dream. He supports this claim by showcasing that the characters are unsatisfied during the stock market crash, throughout duration of the novel and through critics view of the novel.
The Roaring Twenties’ brought a lot of “rich” people up out of nowhere but also ended up ruining a lot of people’s lives. During this time, Americans were going wild with all their parties and the girls getting a little riskier with their actions. The first reason that people were “wealthy” in the twenties is how the concept of credit, money you don’t have but have to pay off later, came out, “Construction starts were also beginning to decline, as was consumer demand for some products, such as automobiles, while people maintained their carefree approach to buying on credit” (The Business of America). In the midst of the twenties, credit became an option, which meant people could spend the banks money that the consumer does not actually have. The community started to buy expensive, nice and impressive things, however they did not contain the right amount of money required for these expensive things. In the earlier parts of the decade, there were plenty of new technological advances that everyone desired for, “Which eventually caused the stock market to crash forcing a ton of people into depression. Ford (1863–1947) had improved his assembly-line techniques to produce a Model T every ten seconds by 1925. Automobiles were more affordable than ever: Some models sold for as little as $50” (1920s: The Way We Lived). Americans wanted to be the richest out of them all, and have the nicest things. With the price of cars dropping everybody wanted to buy them because they wanted to have the most economical influence. People figured that The Great Depression would just make them need to budget better, “Because so many business leaders perceived the Depression as part of a natural business cycle, they offered traditional solutions to the problem—solutions that only made the Depression worse” (The Crash and the Great Depression). The Community thought that this would just be a minor set-back to the economy, so they were looking at this in their positive viewpoint, which resulted in hurting the market even more, causing people to get even more depressed with their life during the Twenties. Overall, people during The Roaring Twenties and the characters of The Great Gatsby connect by the wealthy being dissatisfied with their idolized belongings.
Fitzgerald displays how people during the 20s were overall not content with their lives. He portrays this theme through the characters that were written in his novel. For example, he shows dissatisfaction through the main character Jay Gatsby. Jay Gatsby is an irrelevant but known man in the plot. People only visit Gatsby’s house for the extravagant parties but no one actually cared to make an effort to know him (Fitzgerald 29). Everyone that goes to the parties are not actually invited, for Gatsby hosts open invite parties in order to get his love, Daisy Buchanan, to show up. He longs for his life to go back to when he was happy, with Daisy. Fitzgerald also shows wealth and dissatisfaction through his character Tom Buchanan. Tom Buchanan is a very wealthy guy, who is from the West Egg who has everything a man could want, including a beautiful wife, Daisy (Fitzgerald 23-38) However, it also shows that he is very insecure about his life because he is always out with another girl, Myrtle. He has a wife already and she is beautiful, but he is always out fooling with other girls. The Great Gatsby shows wealth, selfishness and dissatisfaction through Daisy Buchanan, Tom Buchanan’s wife. She is fooling around with another guy but doesn’t like how he fools around Myrtle. (Fitzgerald 113-147). She is just a classic flapper from the Jazz Age that messes around with rich guys. It is all about who can give you what you want right now. Overall, The Great Gatsby, is a novel that shows how people in The Roaring Twenties were wealthy but desired for more because no one is happy with what they are presented with.
The Great Gatsby shows that throughout the novel wealth is a big problem in the ‘20s. Suzanne del Gizzo thinks that money is a very enabling idea in the novel, she states that ‘Money and wealth are thus enchanting and dangerous, empowering and corrupting” (Gizzo). Money is a very corrupting concept in the novel. The characters that had too much money thought that they deserved everything they wanted. They thought that the money gave them power. Another analyst, Dan McCall, shows how wealth is also a great thing but is bad in the long run “Wealth is beauty; it has been brought from all over the world” (McCall) He says that wealth is a beautiful thing in this world. It brings great joy to people, however it can also bring great despair to people’s lives. Like Jay Gatsby, his money allowed him to keep holding on to this girl that he already lost. He kept trying to bring her back by buying that house and throwing those parties, but it was just making it more miserable for him. He was just happy in the moment that he got her back not when it was all backfiring. The characters did not have to be wealthy with that gold digging girl just to be happy, as Heims states “It is not wealth but behavior that matters in this world, and her behavior diminishes her personal value” (Heims). Money does not make you a good person, it is your actions that make you a delightful person, and daisy does not have good actions at all. So, the critics think that money in the novel is indeed not a good thing, that only shows evil in the end.
Wealth is a concept that is just thrown around in the novel, and people are not happy with their lives even though they have all the material things they could want. People always want more than they have and are never satisfied. In today’s society it is still the same way. Now a days, it is the age of materialism. If you have that lamborghini or million dollar house that everyone wants, you automatically are considered to have social influence. People think you are successful, so they come to you since you are “successful” in life. The Great Gatsby portrays that you can live a good life, like nick, without being beyond rich.
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