Slides in this set
THE JAZZ AGE
A period in American history following the
first World War.
During the 1920's Jazz music grew
tremendously in popularity.
The Jazz Age was a part of the Roaring
Technological advancements such as the
telephone, the car and air travel became
symbols of wealth.
There were also modern changes in
behaviour, art and culture.…read more
The Jazz Age brought about many social changes. It
even appeared that at one point there was a role
reversal between men and women. Feminine Men and
Minorities (ethnic and social) became more widely
accepted. Homosexuals for example were accepted
at a level that was not seen again till the 1960's.
It was a liberal but also hedonistic time. Prosperity
People were "loosening up" in a general sense. For
example, Sexual ideals were changing. All this was a
reflection of the American Psyche at the time after
As with any drastic change, there was conflict. Social
conflict between classes and groups etc. This is
highlighted within The Great Gatsby.…read more
IN RELATION TO:
THE GREAT GATSBY
It was Fitzgerald who first coined the phrase "The Jazz
It was a Lawless decade where anything went.
Although Prohibition was in place there is always alcohol
readily available at Gatsby's parties.
Prohibition caused a massive influx in organised crime (e.
g. Al Capone)
The way in which the guests in Gatsby's party drink and
dance to Jazz is not too different from the Rave scene.
The Car was seen as a sign of success. We are shown three
levels of Society:
Tom and Daisy The old rich (taste in art)
James Gatsby The new rich (careless with money)
George Wilson Poor (Buys and Sells cars)
The Jazz Age even had its own slang! http://home.
"Hip flasks of hooch, jazz, speakeasies, bobbed hair, 'the lost generation.' The Twenties are endlessly fascinating. It
was the first truly modern decade and, for better or worse, it created the model for society that all the world
follows today." (from Kevin Rayburn, "Two Views of the 1920s.")
"[The flapper] symbolized an age anxious to enjoy itself, anxious to forget the past, anxious to ignore the future."
(from Jacques Chastenet, "Europe in the Twenties" in Purnell's History of the Twentieth Century)
"It was during what we might call the Flapper period . . . that American popular culture began to capture the
imagination of the world. . . . [America] was inventing its own modernity. . . . " (from Laura Mulvey, "The Flapper
The Flapper style was a in many ways masculine. They had short bobbed haircuts for
example. Other traits of the Flapper would include short skirts with sequence
embedded, or lush fur coats, an assortment of hats either large sombrero-like sun
hats or small hats that go over the ears (see picture at top right)
In The Great Gatsby, Jordan Baker is the typical Flapper who not only dresses as
such, but lives the care-free hedonistic lifestyle.
MORE ON THE JAZZ AGE
The Jazz Age develops out of a very Victorian society. Modernism,
sexual liberalism, identity, freedom. All traits of the Jazz Age.
"God is Dead" is a phrase that could in many ways ring true for the
Jazz Age. No one was really all that religious anymore. Politics was
dull. People wanted to take all the pleasures from life and nothing
The automobiles in The Great Gatsby symbolise this wealth and lust for
"A kiss no longer meant that a proposal for marriage was expected."
Although this thriving society positive change was everywhere, there
was also a dark side.
The dark side is shown in The Great Gatsby as "The Valley of Ashes."
This industrial wasteland is the dwelling place of George Wilson and it's
grim nature gives another meaning to "God is Dead," he has left this
place desolate and all that is left for Wilson is the eyes of doctor T.J
Eckleburg. He is the symbol of the futility of life which the lower
classes endure, buried in the ashes.
The rich, careless people of the Egg do not need a God. They can live
out their days seeking short term pleasures (Tom and Daisy moving
from town to town, destroying any sense of peace).
It only takes a character like Nick Caraway to see through the "glitter
of the Jazz Age" and witness the lack of morality and substance