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The Great Gatsby and America in the 1920's

            Secretary of commerce Herbert Hoover described the rise of a freewheeling economy and a heightened sense of individual liberty after World War I as the "New Era " . When World War I ended in 1918 several young Americans who had fought in the war returned to America with a heightened disillusion of reality, as the horrors of the war made everyday life and social morality of the early 1900's seem trivial. Following the recession of 1921-1922, the nations economy grew spectacularly, which led a new age of consumerism and materialism as one newspaper announced, "The first responsibility of an American to his country is no longer that of a citizen, but of a consumer. " During the 1920's the perception of the American Dream was that an individual could achieve success in life regardless of family history or social status if they only work hard enough, yet the families with old wealth belittled those with new wealth who rose to riches and this created a large social class division. Some were made rich by nefarious means thanks to prohibition and the passage of the eighteenth amendment, which banned the sale of alcohol. Ultimately all of these ills in society- the consumerism, corruption, cynicism, vast cars and houses, massive parties, lack of moral values, plus the Prohibition movement led to class struggles between the rich and poor, a superficial wealthy class of people, and an inaccurate perception of the relationship between money and happiness. Many Americans describe the period in United States during the 1920's as the Roaring twenties, to describe the economic boom, which led to lavish, carefree, and reckless living by many Americans. Throughout this period there was a perception that all was good and times were great but below the surface, there were many problems with society. These issues such as consumerism, corruption, cynicism, and social class divisions were brought to light by the characters and actions in The Great Gatsby, through Fitzgerald's depiction of the 1920's as an era of deteriorated social and moral values as well as the American dream and its demise.

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