The 1920s were a peculiar time in American history; everything was drastically changing during this period. The role of women in society was being redefined and revolutionized. Fitzgerald's work played a significant role in the development of sociological trends in the society such as feminism, narcissism and romanticism. 1920's marks the beginning of self-awareness and actualization among women. Feminist nature of the society at the time depicts women as more independent with free will to their Individual opinions and actions. Feminism is depicted in character Beatrice who is the embodiment of superiority and self-delicacy. Rosalind also explicitly mentions to Amory that she a feminist in mind (Fitzgerald, 147). An ideal woman for the main character was also depicted as a feminist with her most outstanding trait being, an exquisite beauty, idealized romance and courtship and intoxicated with love and freedom of choice. The stereotypic women of that generation also portray the idea of love to be a hunt for financial stability and success. Therefore, getting married to a person with no money was a failure in life. Mrs Connage, Rosalind's mother, persuades her daughter who has wasted time on Amory not to make the mistake of marrying him. She describes him as a genius with no penny to his name to cater for the expensive taste of her daughter. The 20's were a hard time for the American people especially for those who could not afford (Fitzgerald, pg 72).
The novel further revolves around the American history of the 1920's and the birth of literary eloquence in America. Fitzgerald depicts literary proficiency throughout the story. He explicitly describes Amory's qualities as an egotistic romance. At the end of the book, he also displays this aesthestism by describing the sky over the head of Amory, outlining it as crystalline and radiant to show the new era of the American society awaiting the broken and hopeless lover (Fitzgerald, 241). The change in the culture was also fast paced during the 20 's in a manner that the old institutions failed to cope and evolve with the trend. Amory reminisces how he adored Princeton despite its failures as an institution of learning and equipping the lost generation with the necessary knowledge they needed to be successful in the society. He remembers what little boys they had been, fighting for blue ribbons? (Fitzgerald, pg 234). The protagonist is depicted as a master with words. He attains this through his quest for self-knowledge as the existing system is not satisfactory enough. A trait that correctly represented in the new society.
During this period the conservative nature of the American people remained as the Congress passed the eighteenth amendment prohibiting the purchase and sale of Alcohol. The youth of the time, however, continued defiantly to oppose the policies enacted to maintain a sober society. Drinking, partying and casual kissing were among the trends of the young generation at the time. Amory and Rosalind meet and kiss passionately during their first conversation (Fitzgerald, 149). After Amory's disappointed for not marrying his love Rosalind, he turns to alcohol to numb the pain. Alcohol drinking is therefore portrayed as liberty and right of an individual in their efforts to pursue self-satisfaction and happiness. Moral superiority as an aspect that could not be expected from the youth of that time. Either due to the defiance of the young generation or the destructive effects left behind by the war. The primary factor controlling their life was the drastically changing society, stimulus of war and confusion. The main character Amory feels alienated, disillusioned and disoriented about life as he does not fit in any aspect of the society. He does not get a stable career or enough wealth to marry the girl of his dreams Rosalind.
This Side of Paradise is written during the development of a new era with drastically changing dynamics in the society. An aspect of the twenties that could not be correctly captured in 2017. The setting further captures the beginning of feminists and its perceptions of both the society and individuals. The deep-rooted feminist culture and acceptance by the 21st century will not depict the female character's desire for stability as a heartbreaking and selfish character. The effects of war on the youth of that time also play a chief role in both economic and social aspects of the people's lives. World war 1 creates a turmoil in the minds of the young generation that leaves them bitter and feeling rejected. The evolving nature of the environment in the 20's is what gives the novel and the characters the captivating touch.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott, and James LW West. This side of paradise. Vol. 3. Cambridge University Press, 1995.
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