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3. The Golden Age -- Fitzgerald writes about the period of time in which he lived – the 1920‟s – often called “The Golden Age,” or “The Jazz Age.” It is a time when a certain type of American people enjoyed great wealth, and the music of jazz, with its emotional abandon, best expressed the unconventional spirit of the American boom era following World War I. (Fitzgerald may have coined the term; his work Tales from the Jazz Age, was published in 1922.) Jazz, the music which filled the air of the time, induced and encouraged people to embrace life with an exuberance which lasted until the Great Depression, a period of severe hardship during the 1930s. The Golden Age is the time of the Flappers, women who rolled down their stockings, shortened their skirt hems, and in a word, danced. Flappers and other bold women such as the Suffragettes thumbed their noses to the moral conventions of the recent past which stated that women did not share the same freedoms and rights as men; over time and with great courage these women broke down barriers that today‟s women do not even know exist. It is the time of Prohibition (1920-1933), when it was illegal to manufacture, sell, transport or possess alcoholic beverages in the United States, but those with the money and the contacts could easily attain it. In The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald portrays Gatsby‟s lavish parties and the Buchanans‟ stunning mansion with exquisite prose and a romantic flare, yet he is not seduced by their wealth, choosing instead to expose the moral depravity and barren nature of wealthy people like Jordan Baker and the Buchanans.
E.S. Bakalian; firstname.lastname@example.org 31 Addendum, 2/11 The Great Gatsby and popular culture Classroom Activity: Ask you class to find examples of the main themes of the Gatsby in popular culture – movies, other books, songs.
Example: (from page 18 of this Guide): Gatsby longs to recall the past, and he is incredulous when Nick tells him he cannot.
The past is gone, yet Gatsby does not believe it. He is determined to “fix everything just the way it was before,” and “recover something, some idea of himself perhaps, that had gone into loving Daisy” (117).
Of course no one can turn back the hands of Time, yet this longing is something that is constantly echoed in popular songs such as “Back to December,” by Taylor Swife (2010). Ms. Swift sings longingly of going “back to December [to] make it all right,” and of loving her boyfriend “right this time.” Students will find many songs which echo this longing, as well as other songs that