–The Great Gatsby
Standard of living increased for most
Americans abandoned small towns in
exchange for urban living
Economy prospered as Americans tried to
forget troubles of war
- frivolous spending
- illegal liquor
The 1920s: Nicknames
The Roaring ‗20s
The Jazz Age
The Flapper Era
WWI made Americans question traditional
Literature and art denied foundations of the
past and went for the new.
The philosophy of the Jazz Age was
The Jazz Age / Roaring
The age takes its name from jazz, which
saw a tremendous surge in popularity.
This was a period of pleasure seeking &
Most of Fitzgerald‘s stories provide a
picture of youthful hedonism and the
antics of the liberated young women
known as ―flappers,‖ affronting
conventional values with short skirts,
short hair and make-up.
18th Amendment to Constitution
prohibited manufacture and sale of
Thousands turned to bootlegging
Mob activity increased to supply the
demand for what was once legal
This period has been referred to as ―The Lost
Hemingway, in his novel The Sun Also Rises depicts a
group of expatriate Americans, wandering aimlessly
through Europe, sensing that they are powerless and
that life is pointless in the aftermath of the Great War.
The Great Gatsby likewise reflects this perception of life
without purpose, of restlessness, dissatisfaction and
This term was originally coined to refer to
the rise & power of extremely rich
businessmen, who displayed their wealth
in ostentatious houses & extravagant
This was invariably wasteful & implied
increasing poverty among the lower
classes in society.
Advertising & the mass market
By the time The Great Gatsby was published, the
American population had almost doubled.
The solution included mass production, which led to
technological development - cars, air travel and the
telephone - as well as new modernist trends in social
behavior, the arts, and culture.
This growth in commodities led to standardization, where
all citizens had the opportunity to buy items that had
been too expensive or difficult to acquire.
The early years saw a corresponding change in
advertising – products were given brand names as a sign
of reliability. But new advertising also sought to create the
desire for commodities & packaging became more
Daisy leans forward and talks in a low
Tom is restless and hulking.
Jordan balances something on her chin
almost in an athletic stance.
What is Fitzgerald‘s purpose in thus
The other girl, Daisy, made an attempt to rise — she leaned
slightly forward with a conscientious expression — then she
laughed, an absurd, charming little laugh, and I laughed too
and came forward into the room.
―I‘m p-paralyzed with happiness.‖ She laughed again, as if she
said something very witty, and held my hand for a moment,
looking up into my face, promising that there was no one in
the world she so much wanted to see. That was a way she
had. She hinted in a murmur that the surname of the
balancing girl was Baker. (I‘ve heard it said that Daisy‘s
murmur was only to make people lean toward her; an
irrelevant criticism that made it no less charming.)
The younger of the two was a stranger to me. She was
extended full length at her end of the divan, completely
motionless, and with her chin raised a little, as if she were
balancing something on it which was quite likely to fall. If she
saw me out of the corner of her eyes she gave no hint of it —
indeed, I was almost surprised into murmuring an apology for
having disturbed her by coming in.
At any rate, Miss Baker‘s lips fluttered, she nodded at me
almost imperceptibly, and then quickly tipped her head back
again — the object she was balancing had obviously tottered a
little and given her something of a fright. Again a sort of
apology arose to my lips. Almost any exhibition of complete
self-sufficiency draws a stunned tribute from me.
He had changed since his New Haven years. Now he was a
sturdy straw-haired man of thirty with a rather hard mouth
and a supercilious manner. Two shining arrogant eyes had
established dominance over his face and gave him the
appearance of always leaning aggressively forward. Not
even the effeminate swank of his riding clothes could hide
the enormous power of that body — he seemed to fill those
glistening boots until he strained the top lacing, and you
could see a great pack of muscle shifting when his shoulder
moved under his thin coat. It was a body capable of
enormous leverage — a cruel body.
Mia Farrow and Robert Redford
Carey Mulligan and Leonardo
• How does the reunion of Daisy and Gatsby
signal both the beginning and the end of
Gatsby‘s dream and of his success?
• Trace the recurring image of eyes, and ascertain
the purposes of those images. Consider blindness
on any level as well as sight.
―above the gray land and the spasms of bleak
dust which drift endlessly over it, you
perceive, after a moment, the eyes of Dr. T.J.
Eckleburg. The eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg are
blue and gigantic – their retinas are one yard
high. They look out of no face but, instead,
from a pair of enormous yellow spectacles
which pass over a nonexistent nose […] But
his eyes, dimmed a little by many paintless
days under sun and rain, brood on over the
solemn dumping ground.‖ (Chapter 2)
QHQ: The Great Gatsby
Question: How do life decisions of the
characters in The Great Gatsby affect their
eventual life outcomes, and what does this
say about Fitzgerald‘s outlook on morality?
Q: How is it that without ever meeting
Gatsby, various strangers were able
to formulate stories about who he is
In terms of queer
theory, could it be
argued that Nick
Carraway is in fact
a closet gay or
Q: In what ways does
the factor of Daisy
cheating on Tom
represent the typical
behavior of a modern
woman who commits
adultery and how does
this conflict in the novel
reveal about the author‘s
intentions to the reader?
Q: Why does Daisy
refuse to leave Tom For
Read: Critical Theory Today: Chapter 1
Introduction pp. 1-10
Post #5: QHQ: Critical Theory