The 1920s was a period of peace, economic prosperity, and a time of great inventions and trends. "The Roaring Twenties," was also the period after World War I where stock prices increased, and people drowned themselves in wealth and luxury. it was during this time that cultural innovations like Jazz and motion pictures ruled. But it was also the time of increased gang activity, the rise of racist clans like the KKK, and when the law enforced the banishment of alcohol. This was also when creative expression was at its peak. F. Scott Fitzgerald was an American author of many novels, but none of them express his ideas in the theme of the book. In order for us to understand the theme we also have to look at how he uses character, plot, style, and setting to develop his theme. There are also certain symbols in the story that address issues present in the 1920s.

The theme of the story is how a person puts oneself over society. In the story the theme is represented by Gatsby's desire to be with Daisy. The theme applies here because Gatsby is corrupted because of his dream. His desire to be with Daisy forces him to resort to crime, and this shows the theme because he takes the easy way to get rich. It will also force him to ruin Daisy's marriage and ultimately his own life. Before we can understand the theme and Gatsby's corruption, we must first understand how Fitzgerald uses Gatsby's character to develop the theme.


Fitzgerald uses Gatsby's character to develop the theme and represent the 1920s. Gatsby is wealthy, kind, siple, and loves a girl named Daisy. In the story people see him as a rich and powerful man, but in reality he doesn't want ot be rich or powerful. This can be seen when he takes Daisy and Nick on a tour around his house. When they finally reach his bedroom Nick says "his bedroom waas the simplest room of all-except whrere the dresser was garnished with a toilet set of pure dull gold." This shows how Gatsby is just showing of his riches to impress Daisy. Fitzgerald also uses Gatsby's character to represent the typical mindset of people in the 1920s. He believed that after World War I., people wanted to spend excessively and pursue wealth. Gatsby perfectly captures that idea because after he fought in the war he tries to pursue wealth in order to impress Daisy.

The plot also helps develop the theme because it shows how the story embodies 1920s values. During the Exposition we are told that Daisy and Gatsby were lovers before the war. When the conflict is presented to us, we see that Daisy wont accept Gatsby because he isnt rich enough. In the rising action, Gatsby then tries to attain wealth and power by resorting to crime. the climax is presented in the form that Gatsby and Daisy have an affair. The falling action takes place when Daisy's husbacd, Tom, gets into a fight with Gatsby out of suspicion that Daisy and Gatsby are having an affair. Daisy also runs over Myrtle, who was having an affair with Tom. In the resolution, Gatsby takes the blame for Daisy and is shot by Myrtle's husband, George Wilson.


The author also uses style to help develop the ideas of the 1920s. The tone that Fitzgerald present to us is a depressing, nightlife-like tone, which was a popular view of the 1920s. Fitzgerald uses diction by skillfully utilizing characters' memories to describe their feelings and desires. An example would be when he uses Gatsby's memories of Daisy to display his feelings and motives. According to an essay by Bookrags, diction is also used to describe how Gatsby transforms during the "mysterious night" with Daisy. With many descriptive words like "blossomed for him like a flower" and "the carnation is complete" the reader is able to tell that after that night and that kiss, Gatsby has become a more meaningful person and is even more determined to be with Daisy. Fitzgerald uses figurative language to address values in American society during that time. An example is the Green Light in Daisy's East Egg dock, which represents Gatsby's desires and dreams. Gatsby associates this symbol with Daisy and his hope of being with her. The light also represents the idea that people during the 1920s wanted to pursue happiness and wealth after the war. The Valley of Ashes is located between New York City and West Egg where industrial ashes are dumped, and represents the social and moral decay of pursuing wealth. Fitzgerald uses both subjective and objective views, and he shows us this by narrating through Nick Caraway. "He had one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life," this is a quote showing Nick describing Gatsby using the subjective pint of view and involving himself in the situation. "Michaelis was astonished; they had been neighbors for four years." In this quote Fitzgerald uses a very unique sentence structure because he uses Elipses, which is when an author skips events and mentions it later in a side conversation between Nick and his lover, Jordan. The motif can be seen in how Nick symbolizes whatever he sees. An example of this can be seen when Nick talks about the Green Light and compares it to America, and how it must have looked like to the early settlers of our nation.

The setting of the story helps to develop the theme because of how the different places represent different things in the story. The story mainly takes place in New York City during the 1920s. There is some significance in how most of the story takes place in the city, because throughout the story many bad things take place in the city. For example: Myrtle and Tom's affair, Tom and Gatsby's argument, and Myrtle's death all take place within the city. This also shows that the city symbolizes the pursuit of wealth and luxury, and the fact that many bad things happen in the city shows that the desire is corrupt. West Egg and East Egg of Long Island are also important places in the story because they represent two kinds of people in the story. West Egg represents the self-made rich people who are showy and vulgar. While the East Egg represents the original aristocracy who are elegant, tasteful, and graceful. The reason why the two symbols are present is to show that there is a conflict between the two. An example of this conflict can be seen when Gatsby was invited to a dinner party in the East Egg not knowing that the inviters did not really want him there. This also shows how Fitzgerald believes that newly rich people don't have manners and "cannot read between the lines."

Fitzgerald uses many symbols in his book to convey important 1920s ideas. The author tried to symbolize the superficiality in society through the many affairs in the story. He also shows superficiality in Gatsby's room and his displays of wealth because he only shows off his wealth to impress Daisy. Fitzgerald also addresses an issue during 1920s, Prohibition, a law in 1920 which prohibited alcohol. The presence of alcohol in the story shows his position on the issue, that he is against Prohibition. Throughout the story Fitzgerald shows how people want to enjoy themselves during the 1920s by partying, drinking, and spending excessively.This idea of the 1920s can be seen in Gatsby's parties, because they are full of people wo want to enjoy themselves, and in Myrtle's excessive spending.


Fitzgerald skillfully uses the theme of the book to express what he feels about society. We can also see he uses symbolism and elements to help him develop his theme. He will gibe many different ideas that may contradict and not make sense, but he is able to lead the reader to put those ideas together in order to understand the underlying theme and plot. The theme is used in the book to represent how people in the 1920s pursue the American Dream because of the stress created by WWI. But because the theme is also represented by Gatsby's desire to be with Daisy and how Gatsby ends up dying, this shows that the American Dream is corrupt. Fitzgerald believes that people seeking the American Dream, are seeking wealth and luxury, and therefore believes that people have corrupted that dream.


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book references:

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New Jersey: Enslow Publishers, Inc. 1920.