In 1920's, America- known as the Jazz Age: The Golden Twenties or the Roaring Twenties.


Separating two world wars, the 1920's followed events such as:

-The sinking of the Titanic (1912)

-The invention of stainless steel (1913)

-The completion of the Panama Canal (1914)

The Roaring Twenties would have their own share of excitement and wonder as well - the Treaty of Versailles ended World War I & Penicillin was discovered.

This Painting by Thomas Hart Benton illustrates several aspects of The Roaring Twenties.

* The Emancipated Women wore their hair short ("The Flapper")

* Beginning to drink and smoke in Public.

* Women gained the right to vote in the US during the 1920's.

* New Styles of dancing: "Tango"

* Rudolf Valentino was one of the first Hollywood Stars. He had thousands of fans by the time he died in 1926 by the age of 31.


*This "movement" in which jazz music grew in popularity by immense standards in the U.S. also influenced other parts of the world.

*Music Revolution with the help of the Saxophone.

*Growing industrialisation: Black people and New-Orleans-Musicians moved from the country site south to Chicago. There they helped creating the (white) Chicago-Style. Lots of Chicago musicians finally moved to New York, which was an important centre of jazz, too.

*People Flocked into the Cotton Club to listen to Jazz artists.

*Illegal Alcohol in speakeasies.

*Everybody seemed to have money and a wealthy lifestyle.



Flappers, Speakeasies, and the Birth of Modern Culture (Excerpt of Documentary Part V)


*The American Dream originated in the early days of the American settlement, with the mostly poor immigrants searching for opportunities. It was first manifested in the Declaration of Independence, which describes an attitude of hope.

*The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal and that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”.

The 1920's was an incredible era in the world's history. It was the birth of modern culture, celebrity, the birth of hot jazz and dance bands that would be synonymous with the era. Films, fashion and literature developed at a phenomenal rate. It was the era of prohibition and wild excess, all brought to an end with the Stock Market Crash of 1929.

Literature of the times captured the changes in Society

Authors of the period struggled to understand the changes occuring in society. While some writers praised the changes others expressed disappointment in the passing of the old ways.


* Shows changes in Society (Differences of living in the east egg and west egg)

*In New York the Jazz Age was a time where hardly anybody worried about money.

*Gatsby’s parties are typical for this time period.

* Gatsby’s garden and all the decorations that are put up for the party, it seems a little exaggerated: “Several hundred feet of canvas and enough colored lights to make a Christmas tree out of Gatsby’s enormous garden" (35)

*Also, Gatsby does not save any money with the food. Each evening a great buffet table with glistening hors-d’oeuvre, turkey, ham, salads and pastry pigs waits for his guests(35)

Once a week five crates of oranges and lemons are delivered to impress his visitors with fresh fruits(35). Despite Prohibition alcohol is poured out.

*The way the people dress during this jazz age period is also very interesting.

Their hair is “shorn in strange new ways”(36). They wear “golden and silver slippers”(109)

* Gatsby’s guests are, of course, entertained by cocktail music played by a typical jazz orchestra consisting of "Oboes, trombones, saxophones, viols, cornets and piccolos, low and high drums"(35). They know how to play popular jazz songs, for example the “neat, sad little waltz of that year”(82)

*In The Great Gatsby,the American Dream plays a big role. In it you can see what happened to it during the 1920s The values have totally changed, instead of striving for equality, they just want to get as rich as they could get.

*Is not surprising that the new kind of "American Dream" fails several times, which F. Scott Fitzgerald describes in his book. He shows that people are not yet treated equally and that social discrimination still exists, which is described in the scene where Tom and Wilson talk to each other in Chapter II. For the reader it is immediately clear that Tom sees himself as superior to Wilson. We can see that when Wilson wants to resell Tom’s old car. Tom simply goes on with his game with Wilson since he wants to continue his affair with Wilson’s wife, as a result of that he does not give the car to Wilson.

*Most of the people appearing in The Great Gatsby are full of hope. Especially Gatsby who is hoping to win Daisy back. He has an “extraordinary gift of hope“ (p6, 10) and he sacrifices himself to fulfill his dream. He struggles to get into the upper class. In the end his dream fails completely, and his life finds an abrupt end.

*Daisy lives her American Dream with Tom as her husband, who has a lot of money. She does not have any long term aims in her life. Having that kind luxury around her, she lives for the moment, and does not think about the next one.

*Wilson’s dream is to earn enough money to move away with his wife and to start a new life some place beautiful. But his dream can just become true with the help of Tom. Although, Wilson does not realize that Tom does not want to help him at all. His dream fails, when his wife is killed, which is the point were life becomes senseless to him.


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