Essay On The Effects Of Prohibition In The Great Gatsby

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The 1920s was a time of entrepreneurship, big spending, and partying. At the heart of these parties was the popular 1920s activity of drinking, Which was threatened by prohibition. The law of prohibition came into effect on January 16, 1920 and was intended to end drinking and drunkenness. However this policy backfired and sent the American alcohol industry into black market functions. Prohibition is found throughout the novel, “The Great Gatsby”, especially in the life of the character Jay Gatsby.

Prohibition was instituted in order to reduce crime and create a more sober society. The effects of the law were quite different. Black markets were created, illegal and legal homebrewing started, and “Bootleggers” began selling and distributing
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An example of this would be when Tom breaks Myrtle’s nose after he has been drinking all day and she repeats daisy’s name over and over. (Fitzgerald pg 37). In this same sequence of the story the narrator gets himself drunk for the second time in his life after being pressured into drinking by Tom and his group. Another instance where we see a character's attitude change under the influence of alcohol is the scene in which Daisy is shown to be drunk and crying over a note the night before her wedding. The note is presumably written by Gatsby and in her drunken state her feelings for Gatsby are exposed. The only character in the novel who does not drink is, ironically, Gatsby. He devoted himself to a sober life after seeing what drinking did to his old mentor. Although these characters had unpleasant experiences with alcohol in the past they, for reasons unknown to us, continue to surround themselves with the smell, taste, and temptation that alcohol provides.

In conclusion, prohibition and its effects have a lasting impact on the novel “The Great Gatsby”. It is present within the lives, attitudes, and mannerisms of all of the characters. In many parts of the story alcohol and its ban are the main driving force that continues to push the plot forward and mold the characters into who we see them as in the

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