What is the social historical context behind The Great Gatsby and how does it reflect the time it was written in?

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The Great Gatsby is set in New York City and on Long Island during the 1920s. The historical context of the novel plays a significant role and thematically corresponds to the carefree culture of the particular time period in America. Following WWI, the United States experienced a period of sustained economic growth, which led to a cultural, social, and artistic dynamism. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald exposes the darker side of the Roaring Twenties by illustrating its criminal background and superficial facade. Through Gatsby's extravagant parties and the Buchanans' selfish, callous personalities, Fitzgerald portrays the extensive greed and unrestrained desires of American citizens during the 1920s. Fitzgerald criticizes the depravity of the United States during the Roaring Twenties and foreshadows the unfortunate upcoming events (the Depression and WWII) by depicting Jay Gatsby's death and demise.

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Set in the 1920s, The Great Gatsby represents a society in turmoil following the First World War. Because of the huge loss of life in Europe, and to a lesser extent the United States, there was a sense of having survived tragedy and a need to celebrate life and youth. Young men and women during this time counted themselves both fortunate to have survived and potentially doomed to die in the next conflict. So an air of decadence prevailed, since the future was not guaranteed. Fitzgerald's novel reflects the lighthearted and carefree attitudes of many of the young socialites of the day, while also creating an air of dread that foreshadows the coming dark days of the Depression and the Second World War.

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