The Great Gatsby
World War One was over. The Great Depression was yet to come. When F Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby in 1925, America was enjoying more wealth and freedom than ever before. But the novel damns the materialism and individualism that comes with these new excesses. Its hero, the glamorous socialite Jay Gatsby, throws lavish parties funded by dodgy dealings, hoping to win back his former sweetheart Daisy Buchanan, who is beautiful but unavailable. By the novel’s end, Gatsby’s dreams – and his life – are in tatters. And the narrator, Nick Carraway, realises that they were hollow from the start.
Nick makes his fortune on the rapidly rising stock markets of Wall Street; Gatsby through the organised crime of the prohibition era, and Daisy has married into the “old money” of the upper classes. The 1920s saw the beginning of unprecedented wealth and consumerism – a period which continues nearly a century later.
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The story of the romance of Gatsby and Daisy is also the story of America, says Nick. The selfish pursuit of a naive dream leads to corruption and disappointment – all that is left is for Gatsby to die and for Nick to leave the excesses of New York forever.
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