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The Great Gatsby is a novel written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It is said to be one of the greatest American novels of the last century, not only for it’s tale of hope and disillusion, but also for the way it portrayed the spirit of the 1920s.
The information from the presentations made me realize that the characters in the story weren’t just any upperclass; they were the social and cultural upperclass of the world.
The presentations also made me develop my understanding of the background of their arrogant and lavish behavior.
They were born into the old elite and were stupendously rich in the wealthiest country in the world. They lived extravagant lives in a careless post-war time with mass media covering their lives in the tabloids. Another factor that contributed to this feeling of being superior must have been the lack of authorities and strong politicians. As the economy ran itself and the politicians were incompetent, the cultural elite were literally on top of the world. They distanced themselves from institutions and history and lived their lives in a social bubble, respecting only those who were a part of their class.
The dream of being famous and glamourous bloomed in the 1920s and was distributed to the public through the mass media. The dream was available for everyone, and people strived to become a part of the cultural elite. The main characters in The Great Gatsby were already there, as a natural part of the scene. They lived luxurious and careless lives, following the latest trends, listening to the new music and attending extravagant parties.
From the presentations I also learned about modernist literature. A significant trait of this genre is the break with traditions and the search for an absolute truth and a meaning of life elsewhere. The upperclass seemed to have lost their meaning in life in their extravagant lifestyle. Previously I had not given the social context too much thought, and without the information from the presentations, I may would just have seen the tragic love story of the book, and not how the book is a picture of and a comment to the 1920s life.
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