In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald creates a series of ‘worlds’ that overlap and collide. This brings about conflict:
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An introduction to The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby was written by Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940). In writing The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald drew heavily from his own life and weaved various people, relationships and experiences into his book. The Great Gatsby was first published in 1925
World War 1 (1914-1918) had a big impact on America in the 1920s. After all the death and destruction, people adopted a ‘live for today’ attitude.
The 1920s are known as the Jazz Age: a time of music, dancing, drinking and fun. In the book, Gatsby’s lavish parties attract crowds of ‘nameless’ people in search of a good time.
The prohibition laws of 1919 made it illegal to sell liquor in America. Corrupt individuals made fortunes by “bootlegging”. Many government officials were bribed. In the book, Meyer Wolfsheim and Jay Gatsby are involved in illegal activities.
In the 1920s many left the small towns in search of a good life in the cities (e.g. Nick Carraway). Fortunes were made by investing in stocks and shares. Historically wealthy families (“old money”) despised the self-made millionaires (“new money”).
Geographical Context (setting)
The novel is set in the ficticious neighbourhoods of East Egg and West Egg on Long Island Sound, New York, in the summer of 1922. (The best way to imagine it is that East Egg is the Waterfront and West Egg is Bloubergstrand.)