The American Dream’s most basic definition is that anyone from any beginning could achieve wealth and status. Gangsters rose to power, taking advantage of Prohibition and turning to bootlegging turning a pretty profit. Immigrants from all over Europe used this as motivation to find a better life in America. This idea of “rags to riches” is portrayed in The Great Gatsby and is the primary ideology of The Roaring 20s. Booze, money, and corruption.
The embodiment of The Roaring 20s. 1920, Congress shocks the world passing the Volstead Act, banning alcohol causing the start of the infamous Prohibition. Bootlegging became a get rich quick scheme, speakeasies popped up on every street corner, and powerful politicians were accepting bribes from anyone who could pay. The president became a figure head with all the power belonging to corrupt officials and gangsters. The 1920s was a notorious period of unrest in the United States. What was thought to be healthy for America, Prohibition increased alcohol consumption and the corruption rate was the highest it has ever been with half of America’s politicians accepting back door bribes and illegal drinking.
According to The 1920’s, “Prohibition allowed for a huge black market dominated by criminal groups. Each big city had its local crime syndicate.” (Wukovitz 11) It presented such a massive problem that Al Capone had total control of Chicago. All of the city officials were either too frightened to contest him or were under Capone’s rule. These infamous gangsters were above the law and ruled urban cities with an iron fist. Speakeasies, the nightclubs of the 1920s, were the face of the Roaring 20s.
Robert Benchley says, “There were thirty-eight speakeasies on East Fifty Second Street alon. . while turning a pretty profit. With the rise of the speakeasies, the need for alcohol also rose to supply them. Many turned to bootlegging, the making and distribution of illegal alcohol as their “get rich quick” token. In Fitzgerald’s novel the people who attend Gatsby’s party are enjoying their own version of the American Dream, having a good time and living in the moment.
Of course, there is the classic example portrayed through Gatsby of an impoverished individual turned successful through his own means.Portrayed in The Great Gatsby, the idea of “rags to riches” is the primary ideology of The Roaring 20s. Living life to the fullest and having a good time was a staple of this time. People could build up a new identity for themselves whether it be from illegal or honest means. People could achieve their idea of their American Dream with hard work and dedication.