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The Great Gatsby - Contextual Information

Contextual information used to supplement essay

Date : 10/10/2020

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Uploaded by : Ritika
Uploaded on : 10/10/2020
Subject : English

The Great Gatsby Context

Published 1925

Real life inspiration

Fitzgerald met Zelda Sayre at an army camp, like Gatsby met Daisy

On his book, `I have so many things dependent on its success including of course a girl`

Daisy also based on Ginevra King, Chicago socialite who he loved before Zelda

After an impassioned courting period with Fitzgerald, King announced her engagement to William Mitchell, a wealthy Chicago man.

Both Ginevra and Zelda rejected him due to him not being wealthy enough (Zelda later accepted him after the success of his first novel)

Meyer Wolfshiem based on Arnold Rothstein who fixed the World Series, Fitzgerald met him

Jordan Baker`s name was a play on two popular car brands of the Roaring Twenties: the Jordan Motor Car Company and the Baker Motor Vehicle

Tom inspired by Ginevra`s father, also a white supremacist who attended Yale

Set on the prosperous Long Island where him and Zelda lived after getting rich

They, along with others of the nouveau riche lived in Great Neck, across the bay from Cow Neck peninsula where the wealthiest established families lived

Fitzgerald felt like `a poor boy in a rich town`

`I have never been able to forgive the rich for being rich and it has colored my entire life and works`

Both him and Zelda had countless affairs

Literary context

Was going to be called `Under the Red, White and Blue`

The Diamond as Big as the Ritz criticises the destructive power of consumerism and the carelessness of the rich

Dexter Green from Winter Dreams, is like Gatsby, self-made men who are eager to rise beyond their current status

They both find that their ideal woman is ultimately elusive, Green`s illusions of his ideal woman are shattered, he mourns his lost youth

Tender is the night also discusses the downsides of Hedonism, main character Dick Diver is an alcoholic, based on Fitzgerald


Women had increasing independence

Flouted social and sexual norms

Many had jobs, smoked

Conspicuous consumption

Spending on luxury goods to publicly display economic power, Veblen`s theory

Spending on goods to display wealth and gain a higher social status/flaunt status rather than for use of the good

Ownby identified 4 dreams of consumerism which underpinned the new American Dream

Dream of Abundance abundance of material goods

Dream of Democracy of Goods everyone can access goods regardless of race, sex, class, challenging aristocracy

Dream of Freedom of Choice range of goods allowed people to fashion their own lifestyle

Dream of Novelty new products broadened consumer experience, challenging cultural and social conservatism


Jazz age - 1920s period of carefree hedonism, wealth, freedom

Described by Fitzgerald as `an age of excess`

1920s characterised by conflict between old and new American ideals

Mass advertising made people dissatisfied with what they already had

America considered the land of opportunity

Consumerism is the preoccupation of society with acquiring goods

Cars were a symbol of prosperity and mass production, Ford`s car production greatly boosted the US economy

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