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The roaring twenties refers to 1920’s in the United States which was a period characterized by distinctive cultural edge in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles as well as other major cities in the world during a period of sustained economic prosperity. The roaring twenties can be said to be a decade of economic growth, and widespread prosperity that was driven by the recovery from wartime devastation and there was a boom in the consumer economy. The economies of the different countries were able to successful transition from a wartime economy to a peacetime one. This paper is going to examine how the roaring 20’s affected depression and how it shown in the Great Gatsby.
The setting of the Great Gatsby novel is in the Roaring Twenties; therefore, the subject of the First World War is unavoidable (Fitzgerald 85). This war was critical to the development of Gatsby, and provided a succinct period of societal mobility, which Scott Fitzgerald asserts, rapidly closed after the World war. The only reason that Gatsby met Daisy, a young, classy debutante is because, in the war, he was a soldier. Additionally, no single person could prove that he did not belong to the upper echelons (Fitzgerald 90).
This war gave him with more opportunities to view the world, and make money while serving a millionaire (Fitzgerald 92). However, the opportunities of Gatsby ended after World War, when he discovered that upon his return to America that the American social structure was as rigid as that of Europe. Gatsby is unable to fit into East egg society as he is not able to prove to anyone that he is from the upper-class (Fitzgerald 105).
On the exterior, The Great Gatsby portrays the disenchanted love that exists between a woman and a man. Nevertheless, the central theme of the novel covers a much extensive, less romantic scope. Although all of the novel’s action occur during a number of months in the 1922 summer, and is set in a confined area in the vicinity of New York, Long Island, The Great Gatsby is a decidedly symbolic reflection on the whole America, in the 1920's particularly the crumbling of the dream of Americans in an era of unmatched material excess and prosperity (Lockridge 20). This era is often described as one of the most successful eras where persons in the United States were truly happy, and the financial prosperity could be seen in their faces.
Today, over seventy years after the publication of The Great Gatsby, it appears as pertinent and fresh to American life as it did back in the 1920s. According to Maurer, the historical, cultural, and social setting of the 1920s embodied in its pages does not seem dissimilar from our own (Maurer 50). This story’s setting is in the start of 1920s, after the end of World War I, during a prescription, a period that forbids the sale, consumption or manufacture of alcoholic beverages. The period is noteworthy since the illegally acquired wealth of Gatsby appears to be from bootlegging; also alcohol is noticeably available, despite being prohibited, throughout the novel. This essay aims at showing ways that the author, F. Scott Fitzgerald aims at reflecting the 1920s’ culture. Moreover, it also aims at identifying the symbols and the themes used in the novel and the nature of Gatsby’s tragedy.
In the 1920s, the impact of Jazz Music was massive. It was the start of the collapse of strict barriers, and it created a considerable influence on culture and social setting, and it reflected how the roles of women were starting to change. According to Fitzgerald, although the prominence of jazz music continued, the youth became less and less interested in Jazz (Fitzgerald 40). Time is a fundamental notion in the novel; for instance, Jazz itself is associated with time. Fitzgerald intentionally developed this story during the Jazz era. It was an authentic and authoritative voice of the historic era, and the contemporary art form to articulate it.
Fitzgerald depicts the 1920s as an era of decayed moral and social values, supported by its overarching greed, cynicism and empty quest for pleasure. The irresponsible jubilance that led to wild jazz music and debauched parties —exemplified in “The Great Gatsby” by the luxurious parties that Gatsby throws each Saturday night. Ultimately, this led to the American dream being corrupted, as the unreserved desire for pleasure and money exceeded more decent goals (Gross 65).
After the end of World War, the young American generation that took part in the war became extremely disillusioned, since the atrocious bloodshed that they had just encountered made the early 20th Century’s Victorian societal morality appear like empty, stuffy hypocrisy. According to Wyly, the unprecedented rise of the stock market after the war resulted in an abrupt, constant rise, in the wealth of the nation and the new materialism as individuals began to consume and spend at unmatched levels (Wyly 90).
An individual from any social or cultural background could, possibly, have a lot of wealth, but the aristocracy of America, which consists of families with old wealth, ridiculed the newly rich speculators and industrialists and speculators (92). Furthermore, in 1919, the passage of the 18th Amendment, which outlawed the selling and consumption of alcoholic beverages, created a flourishing underworld intended to satisfy the colossal demand for bootleg alcohol among the poor and rich alike (9 Wyly 7). This is clearly shown in the Great Gatsby, and it contributes to his immense wealth.
Fitzgerald presents the Great Gatsby’s characters as symbols of these social trends. Gatsby and Nick, both fought in World War I, and display the new-found cynicism and cosmopolitanism that resulted from the World war. The diverse, ambitious speculators and social climbers who attend the parties of Gatsby demonstrate the rush for prosperity. The conflict between new and old money is evident in the symbolic geography of the novel. The East Egg symbolizes the renowned aristocracy while the West Egg represents the nouveau rich. Gatsby and Meyer Wolfshiem’s fortune represents the rise of bootlegging and organized crime (Maurer 50).
According to Fitzgerald, initially the American dream was about a quest for happiness, individualism, and discovery (Fitzgerald 20). However, as demonstrated in this novel, relaxed social morals, and easy money have tainted this dream, particularly in the East. The central focus of this novel echo this evaluation, as the dream of Gatsby of loving Daisy is destroyed due to their social statuses’ difference. Gatsby resorts to criminal activities so as to impress Daisy by making enough money, and the uncontrolled materialism that illustrates her lifestyle (Dowling 70).
Gatsby fills Daisy with an idealized flawlessness that she neither possesses nor deserves, just as the people in America give meaning to America through dreams about their lives.
The dream of Gatsby is destroyed by the lack of the worthiness of its object, just as the dream of Americans in the 1920s is destroyed by the lack of the worthiness of its object, pleasure and money. Just like the 1920s, where American unsuccessfully looked for a bygone era that embodied their values and dreams, Gatsby wishes to reconstruct a past already gone, his time with Daisy in Louisville, but is not capable of achieving this dream. After his dream fall apart, Gatsby eventually dies, and Nick makes the decision to go back to Minnesota, a place where the values of the Americans have not yet decayed (Weisbrod 45).
In conclusion, the roaring 20’s was, therefore, a preparation for the great depression. The economic prosperity was mainly provided by increased consumer spending and this growth fed the supply side of the economic policy. The Dow Jones Industrial stock index was at an all time high, and it continued to move upwards for weeks and months. It is of the essence to recognize that this led to an increase in speculative activities, and this can be shown through the behaviors of Gatsby. People were over-confident in the economy and gave an illusion of the bull market of 1928-1929. Most economic analysts threw caution to the wind and thought that the economic prosperity would last forever. However, on October 29 in the year 1929, the stock prices on Wall street collapsed and this day is often regarded to as Black Tuesday. The events in the United States put millions of people out of work across the United States.
Dowling, David. The Great Gatsby in the Classroom: Searching for the American Dream. Urbana, Ill.: National Council of Teachers of English, 2006. Print.
Fitzgerald, Francis Scott. The Great Gatsby. Harmondsworth (Royaume Uni): Penguin Books, 1950. Print.
Gross, Dalton, and MaryJean Gross. Understanding "The great Gatsby": A Student Casebook to Issues, Sources, and Historical Documents. Westport, Conn. [u.a.: Greenwood Press, 1998. Print.
Lockridge, Ernest. Twentieth Century interpretations of The great Gatsby: A collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1968. Print.
Maurer, Kate. Fitzgerald's The great Gatsby. New York, NY: Wiley Pub., 2000. Print.
Weisbrod, Eva. A student's Guide to F. Scott Fitzgerald. Berkeley Heights, NJ: Enslow Publishers, 2004. Print.
White, Patti. Gatsby's Party: The System and the List in Contemporary Narrative. West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 1992. Print.
Wyly, Michael J. Understanding The Great Gatsby. San Diego, CA: Lucent Books, 2002. Print.
The Great Depression started in the year 1929 and it lasted until 1939, it occurred in the industrialized areas of the world and it was the longest as well as the most severe depression that has ever been experienced by the industrialized Western world. On Black Tuesday, the stock market crashed and there was consensus amongst the demand-driven theorist that indeed a large-scale of confidence led to what can be described as a sudden reduction in consumption in investment spending. It is therefore, critical to understand that once panic as well as deflation set in, in order to avoid losses, people kept clear of the markets.
The Great Depression affected most Americans in that they were not able to afford basic amenities. Most Americans went unemployed in this stage and they felt that they were inadequate when it came to the provision of different tasks. A lot of companies laid down their workers as there were no sufficient funds to pay the workers. It is important to critically note that at this time, the American education system as well as the health care system was on the verge of collapse. Most Americans lost land and they went on to become nomads looking for work in neighboring counties as well as States. This was a period of devastation for the United States as the economy was on a historical low. Most of the people felt that there was no hope and they compared their lives in regards towards the 1920’s which was successful and was a period of economic posterity which showed that indeed life was good. The period of depression was a time of agony for most Americans in regards to the different conditions that existed at the time of the one of the worst depressions in the world.
Among the greatest events of historical significance in the United States are the great Depression and the World War 2. During this time, Americans learnt to pull through together. It is imperative to identify the fact that these events occurred one after the other. The depression occurred during a ten-year period between 1929 and 1939. After that, the World War 2 occurred between 1939 and 1944 although America’s involvement came much later as the War was almost ending (Swados, 1966).
One of the major origins of the great Depression was the stock market collapse in 1929. This signified the beginning of a number of factors that eventually led to the tumultuous period known as the great depression. Another participating factor was the collapse of the vast uninsured banks in the Americas. As such, people lost their savings while the remaining banks stopped lending as a precautionary measure (Zirakzadeh, 2013). The government also played a critical role when it tried to intervene only to make things worse. They increased taxes on imports to try to promote local industries. However, since the local industries had already failed this was a futile measure, which further derailed the economic situation.
As expected, the government enacted a number of policies known as the new deal policies to try to save the economic situation. The new deal policies were based on relief recovery and reform (Zirakzadeh, 2013). Relief was aimed at trying to provide the much-needed aid to those affected by the depression while recovery aimed at policies aimed at recovering the economy to a more stable condition. Most importantly was reform to try to alleviate any future occurrence of another depression. These policies ran across all sectors of the economy among them banking agricultural and transport.
During this time, Americans learnt to survive with the little they had and to support each other to overcome hostility. This was particularly evident in the black community, which soon started demanding for equality, beginning with voting rights. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 marked the start of demonstrations, not their end (Crosby 499). The spirit built among Americans during the great depression was also crucial during the World War 2 as Americans stayed together and faithfully enlisted for the war. This led to a culture of togetherness. In this period of the 1930’s, there was the marked growth of mass culture as many citizens sought to diversify from their troubles. It is important to recognize that the literary works of the 1930’s mostly focused on the refusal of the opinion of progress and a deep desire to return to an earlier age of simplicity, as well as purity.
These events were instrumental, and they inspired a lot of writers in regards to their content. This was the case with John Steinbeck; he was able to develop as a writer during the Great Depression. The diverse events that were taking place at that time provided him with a lot of materials to write about. In October 1929, the U.S stock market crashed, and this sparked the Great Depression. This was followed by an environmental catastrophe that took place from 1930 to 1936, and it brought with it severe drought. It is from these incidences that Steinbeck was able to get his content and material. He was able to meet two labor organizers that were hiding in California in the year 1934; they were doing this after they had participated in a cotton strike. Steinbeck decided to shape his interviews with these two men in the pro-worker novel referred to as In Dubious Battle. It is important to note that indeed Steinbeck travelled a lot in the country during the Great Depression and at one time he spent a part of his year travelling with a group of different migrant workers that were displaced by the Dust Bowl. While traveling with them Steinbeck was horrified with their plight and in fact he empathized with the sense of dignity that the men had. He described the men as persons that had worked hard in their farms and had felt the pride of being in possession of land. They were resourceful as well as intelligent. However, they saw the reigns of droughts hold their land, and it withered and died. This was indeed a terrible pain to the men. Steinbeck after leaving the men behind never forgot about the hardship and humiliation that the men had undergone.
The novel Of Mice and Men is a touching story written by John Steinbeck. The story touches on the friendship between some two men set against the United States backdrop during the 1930s depression. Understated in its characterization, the novel addresses the real dreams and hopes in the working-class citizens of America. The novel is not big, but it raises the lives of those suffering from poverty and dispossession to a symbolic level that is higher. The story in the novel emanated from the United States. As one reads the novel, it is lucid that the novel’s powerful ending is shocking and climactic. However, it also brings to our understanding the life’s tragedy. Despite the suffering that people experienced, life continues.
Steinbeck then got back and published Of Mice and Men, this was a novella which he had conceived as a play. The plot of the novella lies on two migrant ranch hands, the mentally challenged Lennie and George, who had a simple dream of owning land. However, these dreams were thwarted. It is of said that the novella Of Mice and Men was inspired by the stories of the men that had lost their land and had tried as hard as possible to keep their dignity (Hillstrom, 2009).
The fictitious power of the novel Of Mice and Men firmly rests on the two central characters relationship, their shared dreams, and their friendship. However much they are different, the two men hold up to one another, come together, and even stay together in a world that is so full of persons who are alone and destitute. Their fellowship and brotherhood are an enormous humanity achievement.
George and Lenny sincerely believe in the dream that they both have. Whatever they want is just a small portion of land that they can own without interference from other people. They not only want to take care of rabbits, but they also want to cultivate. Having the same dream, binds their relationship and brings out a chord that is so convincing to anyone reading the novel. The dream that George and Lenny have is what is called the American dream. Apart from being particular to the 1930s, George and Lenny’s desires are so universal.
The novel Of Mice and Men is a friendship story that conquers over the odds. However, the novel also brings to the readers a picture of the social order in which it is set. Devoid of formulaic or dogmatic, the story in the novel examines most of the discrimination and the intolerance at the time: sexism, racism and even discrimination towards persons with disabilities. The power that the author of the novel has in his writing is that he examines the issues in the novel entirely in human terms. He sees the prejudices in the society in terms of a person’s misfortune. At the same time, the characters that the author uses in the novel attempts to walk out of those prejudices.
To some extent, Of Mice and Men can be categorized as a despondent novel. The novel brings out the dreams of individual group and at the same time, compares these people’s dreams with an unreachable reality, which, these people cannot accomplish (Swados, 1966). However much, the dreams of these individuals never grew into a reality, the author of the novel does not leave us with an advice that is so optimistic.
They too had dreams of a prosperous life thwarted and this was done by the great depression ensuring that their land was not viable and that it was barren. In the year 1939, the start of World War II, Steinbeck published The Grapes of Wrath. This book can be said to be heavily influenced by the Great Depression. In fact, the book traces the journey of the Joad family; this was a clan of the Dust Bowl sharecroppers that had migrated into California after they were kicked off their Oklahoma farm. The story is intriguing as the convey head by a convicted murderer and recent parolee Tom Joad. The family saw California as their promised land especially in terms of employment and prosperity. However, as the family travels West headed towards California, their dreams collapse amidst their squalid migrant camps, and exploitative farm owners that had put in place discriminatory policies.
It is of the essence to understand that the writing of migrant farmers held a great deal of allure especially to Steinbeck mainly because their predicament was the extreme opposite of what the American dream as well as identity comprised (Morretta, 2015). It has become automatic that when one thinks of American identity, the immediate connotations that often enter one’s mind are those of economics success, development of happy family as well as a sense of contentment in one’ setting and the way the world is enveloped. However, it is important to comprehend that indeed in the writing about the migrant workers that lived in the 1930’s, this state of reality can be contrasted with the American Dream and the American way of live.
The struggle, in order to get work and to move from one place to another without even a clear sense of home, was commonplace at the time. This showed that there was a rootless existence driven to find work as their main means of subsistence (Morretta, 2015). Therefore, currently as American can be said to be growing in greater awareness of self, Steinbeck writing of the migrant farmer can be said to have helped to drive home the larger concept of America and the fact that it has to encompass more voices. In fact, Steinbeck writing of the different migrant workers can be said to be a reminder of all the successes that America has had as a nation.
Morretta, A. (2015). John Steinbeck and the Great Depression.
Swados, H. (1966). The American writer and the great depression. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.
Hillstrom, K. (2009). The Great Depression and the New Deal. Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc.
Zirakzadeh, C. E., & Stow, S. (2013). A political companion to John Steinbeck.
Photography is a way of preserving memories of things that happened in the past. Most times people wish to preserve good memories and historical events. However, some photographs raise several questions about the intentions of the photographer and the state of life during the time when the photographs were taken. Without Sanctuary, is a rich archive of photographs taken between 1882 and 1968 (Allen & Littlefield, 2005). During this time United States experienced great terror and carnage. Approximately 4742 blacks were killed and no reports were made on these incidents. Surprisingly, there was a photographer who took pictures of all these incidents.
All these murders share some common aspects. There was always a crowd of people witnessing the exercise. Even worse, the crowd enjoyed the scenes and even took photographs home as souvenirs (Allen & Littlefield, 2005). This explains the reasons as to why photographs of these disturbing scenes were recorded through photography. Additionally, most of the victims were convicts who were pulled out of their lockouts forcefully. Other cases were acts of vengeance against some people.
The dust bowl disaster represents great agony that befell United States on 14th April 1935 from sundown and through the night (Gmbudt, 2009). It was translated to be the judgment of the people despite the fact that most of the victims were innocent children women and men. In another scene, the story of the migrant mother creates a picture of a starving mother with her children clinging on her (Dorothea, 2005). This continues the tale of agony and suffering that befell the occupants of United States during the depression period. Another major incident is the dismissal of hungry veterans who had gone to Washington to claim their bonus after offering the state great service during World War 1 (Eye Witness to History, 2006). Despite having risked their lives to serve the state their families still suffered from hunger. The depression was a time that no living being would ever wish to experience. Thesis: exploring the archives for the great depression in the United States.
Allen,. J.&littlefield,. J. (2005). Without sanctuary. Retrieved on 12th April 2015 from: http://withoutsanctuary.org/main.html
Dorothea,. L. (2005) "Migrant Mother, 1936," EyeWitness to History. Retrieved on 12th April 2015 from:www.eyewitnesstohistory.com
Eye Witness to History. (2006)"The Bonus Army Invades Washington, D.C., 1932. Retrieved on 12th April 2015 from:www.eyewitnesstohistory.com
Gmbudt. (2009). Dust bowl disaster slideshow. Retrieved on 12th April 2015 from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=csnY0Tnvdj8&feature=related
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