Time Period in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald


F. Scott Fitzgerald is the American novelist, who wrote several fascinating works including The Great Gatsby, The Tender Night, This Side of Paradise, and The Beautiful and Damned. This paper focuses on The Great Gatsby, which is one of the most significant novels written by F. Scott Fitzgerald during his years. The novel is a perfect piece of writing that draws a clear and colorful picture of the contemporary society in the United States. Moreover, it shows how literature can exemplify the time period, in which it was written hence promoting its effective understanding. The novel presents the time image in a clear manner that is easily understood by the lovers of literature.

Thesis: Literature plays a key role in exemplifying the significance and the happenings of different periods in which it was written. Fitzgerald was a keen observer of the happenings that took place during the Roaring Twenties and came up with an exciting work The Great Gatsby that illustrates the nature of that period.

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This paper highlights the biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald and the background information relating to the writing of The Great Gatsby. Additionally, the paper explicates the manner, in which this novel exemplifies the time period in which it was written.

Biographical Information

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He was named after his sister, Louis Scott who died three months before his birth. Notably, Fitzgerald spent the first decade of his childhood in Buffalo, New York where he attended two schools sponsored by the Catholic churches. This was in line with the religion of his parents. His earlier years in school in Buffalo revealed his intelligence and immense passion for literature; his mother was ready to support him by all means. Fitzgerald entered Princeton University upon the completion of his high-school studies where he had purposed to upgrade his artistic and writing skills. He was later put on academic probation; consequently, the man decided to enlist in the army. In the course of his life in Alabama, he met and fell in love with Zelda Zayre. The woman agreed to marry him only after he became a literary star in 1920 after the publication of his first novel, This Side of Paradise. In 1924, he moved to Paris with his wife where he began writing The Great Gatsby, one of his most prominent literary works. Later on in 1927, Fitzgerald returned to the United States of America where he wrote more works. He died on December 21, 1940 from the heart attack, and his wife died eight years later.

Background Information

Modernist fiction aimed at representing the high sense of emptiness and disillusionment that had occurred in the US and other European countries after the First World War. The Great Gatsby is categorized as one of the modernist works that attempted to show the nature of life led by the US citizens in the period succeeding the World War I. In the novel, Fitzgerald highlights the American cultural movement that he commonly referred to as the “Jazz Age.” The Jazz Age is the period representing the Roaring Twenties when America was recovering from the War in terms of economic growth. In this time, the lives of many individuals were improving significantly. The Great Gatsby aimed at reflecting the true rhythm of life that people in the United States lived in the period (Gross & Gross 41). Moreover, the novel indicates that most Americans were enjoying the fruit of economic recovery and the renewed sense of economic success. In the novel, however, Fitzgerald also reiterates the high levels of corruption and social differentiation that emerged during the Roaring Twenties in the country.

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How Literature Exemplifies the Contemporary Time Period

It is vital to note that The Great Gatsby was written during the 1920s at the time when the American economy was recovering from the damages caused by the World War I. It exemplifies the period of the Roaring Twenties by describing the lavish lives led by the rich in the society. Most wealthy individuals bought expensive cars and houses and lived lavish and gorgeous lives that indicated their class status hence emphasizing the economic recovery and hope that the society had for the prosperous future of the country. The book illustrates the manner, in which individuals had begun living comfortable lives; this in turn meant the end of troubles, and continuous suffering that had faced the United States of America during the World War I (Fitzgerald 56). Most individuals were picking up their lives and improving them gradually; this in turn was a sign of an impressive recovery that was also taking place in the entire economy. The lavish lives led by wealthy individuals proved the assertion that economic recovery was taking place in the United States, and individuals had some extra time for enjoying the benefits of life. It indicated the shift from the common routine of continuous working to the enjoyment of the money that had been earned from different activities taking place within the US economy. Therefore, the novel exemplifies the period of the Roaring Twenties by revealing the nature of the lavish lives led by wealthy individuals in the US. This reiterates the recovery of the economy and the dedication of a certain amount of time to the enjoyment of some fruit that had been brought about by the recovery of the economy during the time period.

Additionally, the novel exemplifies the time of 1920s by highlighting the class inequality that existed at that time. It is worth noting that the period of Roaring Twenties was characterized by high level of social differentiation in the US: few individuals led lavish lives for the money they acquired by different illegal means such as corruption and robbery. Most US citizens, however, lived in poverty hence emphasizing the class inequality that existed during this time. For instance, Gatsby, who is one of the main characters in the novel, lived lavishly arranging frequent bashes for other people in society (Bloom 45). The novel exemplifies the social differentiation that was rampant during the period indicating the high life style led by few wealthy individuals while others had to depend on them for the enjoyment of life. For example, most individuals in society depended on the bashes arranged by Gatsby in order to try and enjoy some sense of their lives, which they could not afford on their own. This illustration indicates the view that there was an urgent need to balance life during this time and ensure that the dream of the Roaring Twenties was realized with extreme levels of equity within the economy. Therefore, the novel exemplifies the period of the Roaring Twenties by highlighting the class differences that existed in the then United States. In addition, the novel suggests that the benefits of the recovering economy were reserved for few individuals in the country.

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In conclusion, F. Scott Fitzgerald is a great literary writer who is commonly known for the brilliant pieces of the American literature. He had developed the passion for writing since his early days of schooling that was supported by his mother. The Great Gatsby is one of his most significant works written during the period of the Roaring Twenties when the economy in the US was gradually recovering from the World War I effects. The novel was written to bring out the life mode led by individuals in the country during this period. It exemplifies the Roaring Twenties by describing in details the lavish lives of few people in the economy. Most wealthy individuals such as Gatsby lived gorgeous lives and arranged bashes for other members of society. Additionally, the novel illustrates the time by revealing social differentiation that existed in the country during the period. Nevertheless, most people lived in poverty while others enjoyed the money they had acquired from different illegal sources and activities such as corruption. 

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