Role Of Individualism In The Great Gatsby

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Following the Progressive Era, an era in which the awareness of the working class man was raised, many liberals watched what the political gains they achieved in American society be dismantled during the Roaring Twenties. The 1920’s saw a profound conservative shift following The Great War; “Regardless of one’s social position, the decade was a time of immense social change. Following the horrors of the war, the old traditions and societal rules and regulations seemed no longer applicable” (Palladino, 2010, p. 31).
Fitzgerald uses Tom Buchanan's character to exemplify this problematic shift to individualism. His desire to be with the married Myrtle Wilson, which would eventually result in her death as well as Mr. George Wilson’s freedom, is seen as a selfish act. “I couldn’t forgive [Tom] or like him, but I saw that what he had done was, to him, entirely justified. (Fitzgerald, 1925, p. 179). This selfishness alluded to in The Great Gatsby was reflected largely throughout the 1920’s through consumerism; or the act of not only buying necessities, but items of luxury. (Palladino, 2010, p. 31). As Americans sought to buy lavish items for their own needs, the idea of aiding others in need seemed to dwindle during this time period.
The idea of
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America had no longer focused on helping others, but, rather, they focused on how to improve their own lives. The selfish tendencies of this new society is what caused Nick to leave New York, as he observed this radical and inevitable departure of the society he had once known; “I see now that this has been a story of the West, after all- Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan and I, were all Westerners, and perhaps we possessed some deficiency in common which made us subtly unadaptable to Eastern life” (Fitzgerald, 1925, p.
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