Theme Of Decadence In The Great Gatsby

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The Great Gatsby: A Time of Doomed Decadence and Harmful Hedonism The 1920’s is often depicted as a time of economic prosperity, social optimism, and lavish decadence. What is commonly obscured, however, is that the 1920’s was also a time in which the morals and motivation of Americans reached its lowest point. This is the unexplored truth of the 1920’s as it is perfectly examined in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tragic novel, The Great Gatsby, giving readers a true taste of this decade-long party that was destined to come to an abrupt end. As a result, the notion that the materialism and sickening decadence of the 1920’s resulted in mass superficiality and hedonism is a central theme in the novel, and this central idea is used to expose the less-than-perfect …show more content…
In order to establish and develop this significant theme, Fitzgerald expertly employs the use of situational irony throughout the story. First, a strong example of situational irony is explored through all of Gatsby’s partygoers and the immoral actions made by them, as they take advantage of Jay Gatsby in order to fuel their craving for decadence. While these types of "men and girls came and went like moths," in order to attend his parties, on the day of his funeral, "it wasn 't any use," waiting for people to show up, because "nobody came" (Fitzgerald 39, 174). It is notably ironic that despite the fact that hundreds of people attend Gatsby 's parties, all but Nick, Gatsby 's father, and Owl-eyes fail to show up at his funeral. Consequently, their behavior shows that the partygoers only take interest in Gatsby 's wealth, rather than in Gatsby himself. This also demonstrates how the decadence of the 1920’s, as it is examined in the …show more content…
The first example of this literary device is demonstrated through Fitzgerald’s characterization of Tom and Daisy, who are both portrayed as careless, completely unmotivated, and reckless individuals. For instance, Nick remarks that "they were careless people, Tom and Daisy - they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made" (179). This shows the direct consequences that materialism has on Daisy and Tom, causing them to be too reliant on their wealth and to mistreat those people who cross their paths. Their over-indulgent existence has given them an advantage in life, leading them to be ungrateful and to take their luxurious lifestyle for granted. Tom and Daisy have also become oblivious to other important aspects of life, such as the genuineness of their feelings towards each other and other characters in the text, like Myrtle Wilson and Jay Gatsby. By highlighting these character’s selfish traits and cruel tendencies, Fitzgerald shows the negative effect of decadence and hedonism on people of the upper class in the 1920’s. Furthermore, Gatsby 's materialism, need for acceptance and belief that wealth is a key factor to his happiness is another point that clearly indicates the destructive effects

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