The Great Gatsby is often referred to as the quintessential novel of the "Jazz Age." Explain what this term means.

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asorrell's profile pic

asorrell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Assistant Educator

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When you read about the Jazz Age in a history book, you'll no doubt read about Prohibition, music, flappers, automobiles, lavish lifestyles, etc.  All of these are included in the novel.  Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda lived this lavish lifestyle themselves, so he was well aware of all of the things that made the Jazz Age unique.  Gatsby's parties, the fashions of Daisy, the description of the cars, and the overabundance of illegal alcohol all come together to make it the "quintessential" novel of the Jazz Age.

julikiyomi's profile pic

julikiyomi | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

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The "Jazz Age" was a time of economic prosperity and moral decline.  The term "quintessential novel of the 'Jazz Age'" is showing that The Great Gatsby is the most perfect embodiment of this specific time. This time period was characterized by post-WWI decadence and hedonism, as well as the growth of individualism.  We see these things repeatedly throughout the novel through characters such as Daisy and Gatsby.

mguadagno's profile pic

mguadagno | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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The Great Gatsby is often referred to as the quintessential novel of the "Jazz Age" for many reasons.  First of all, it was a great era of social, economic and cultural change in America. People were riding high on success and thought little about the future.  Fitzgerald does such a stunningly good job of depicting the lazy, self-centered, apathetic image of the wealthy during that time period. Daisy, for example, is named for a nondescript weed that is pretty on the outside but really has no substance.  Her character also had little substance. The "Jazz Age" was an age of fun and glory. It was followed by the Depression which snapped everyone, including the wealthy, back into reality. 

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