Modernism Definition Essay
The word modern is a term that is used to describe current trends in today’s world ranging from attire to a city’s architecture. John C. Ransom, an abstract artist who still lives today, explains modernism: “And yet what is modernism? It is undefined” (John C. Ransom Quotes). What we may define as modern today may not be what was modern ten years ago or what will be modern ten years from now; modern has a definition that is always changing in order to follow the fast-paced changes of society’s culture. As culture changes, values and beliefs systems tend to change as well; art changes, new scientific and political thought emerges, and new ideas rise from spontaneity. As human nature progresses in artistic innovation and scientific discovery, new trends will continue to rise up with new indifference to past traditions to keep up with the modern world. Modernism is a cultural movement in which everything from social life to our beliefs begins to lack tradition and consistency to previous generations due to the ever changing world.
The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a modern work written in the 1920s, depicting new ideas of rebellious behavior, luxury, and desire for wealth and status. This decade is often known as the “Roaring Twenties” because the economy rose due to the fact that women became more outgoing, and people became more willing to buy items they wanted for luxury, especially after the war ended (The 1920s-Roaring Twenties-the Nineteen Twenties in History). The ways in which people dressed and acted when the world was at war were different from the trends of the 1920s. Up until this time period, people didn’t drink excessively at parties and women were loyal to their husbands; having extra-marital affairs was unheard of. However, Daisy and Tom Buchanan, a married couple from the East Egg of New York, were shown to have cheated on each other through the course of the story. Also, the protagonist Mr. Jay Gatsby held extraordinary parties at his gothic mansion in which everyone came to drink with one another. Women would come in just to have fun. “In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars... the bar is in full swing … alive with chatter...” (Page 44) The people who came to these parties desired wealth and status as well. This new desire for money and material items in the book shows the change in attitude towards values and other people. The Great Gatsby puts extra emphasis in describing people’s possessions, as seen in his description of Gatsby’s mansion: “…A factual imitation of some Hotel de Ville in Normandy, with a tower on one side, spanking new under a thin beard of raw ivy and a marble swimming pool and more than forty acres of lawn and garden” (Page 9). Fitzgerald’s emphasis wealth and acquiring wealth follows the trends of thought as well as the American Dream during the 1920s.
The Great Gatsby encompasses the big idea of the American Dream that people came to America with a hope to be free and wealthy. Throughout the story, Gatsby is constantly chasing a green light which symbolizes his hopes and dreams of being with Daisy and to be fabulously wealthy like her. His means of doing this were illegal and immoral. Gatsby was rebellious, yet, he desired wealth and he got it. This idea of striving for wealth shows that the American attitude towards success was changing because people in that time period began to yearn for material items rather than values. The way that The Great Gatsby can follow this trend in behavior demonstrates why it’s a modernist piece of work.
In modern art galleries, it is clear that modern technology and science can be inspirations for artists. Last year, I went on a field trip with the National Art Honor Society to visit modern art galleries in Chelsea, NY. Before arriving, I envisioned the type of art that was placed in galleries...
Cited: Fitzgerald, F. Scott, and Matthew J. Bruccoli. The great Gatsby. New York: Scribner :, 2003. Print.
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