Great Gatsby Morality

The Roaring Twenties was a time of parties and illegal practices; it was a time
of change. This change affected society as a whole- both how the people viewed
their lives as well as the way they viewed the importance of morality. Before
the Roaring Twenties the American people were very traditional in their values.

Their values included simple things such as being true to your spouse, raising
your family with love and attention and earning an honest living. In the
twenties, however, these traditional values seemed to be devalued. This was the
time when things such as the bootlegging business became very popular. The Great

Gatsby helped to portray the moral degradation happening throughout the time in
which it takes place. The Great Gatsby exposes the moral decadence of the

Roaring Twenties through its three main characters, Gatsby, Daisy and Tom.
"The parties were bigger...the pace was faster, the shows were broader, the
buildings were higher, the morals were looser..." (Rayburn) During the
twenties, peoples morals seemed to be a lot looser than they had been previous
to that decade. The work week went from being a sixty hour week to being a
forty-eight hour week giving people more free time to do what they wanted. Many
people began to party and drink more, as these things brought everyone together.

The social world experienced a lot of change during this era. Girls and young
women started wearing more make-up and shorter skirts which only a few years
before had been worn only by women of ill repute. As Rayburn points out,
"Dresses were loose and skimpy; swimsuits were tight and skimpy—the
result of both changing morality and an explosion in new industrially fabricated
synthetic materials..." Another indicator of this change in morality was
that sex became more common as well as more discussed. Rayburn notices that
"...youth freely discussed sex—if not always so freely performed
it." Illegal businesses like bootlegging became more popular.
"Breaking the law was the rule, not the exception..." (Rayburn, 3) As
a whole, the twenties was a looser period in which people seemed to have lower
morals. Many people began to expose themselves more, and got involved in more
illegal actions. Daisy, a woman of low morals, is one of the most superficial
characters in the book. As Gatsby says to Nick " Her voice is full of
money" (pg. 127). Daisy is a prime example of the affect of moral
decadence. The decisions that she makes on her own, which are few, are for the
most part based in one way or on money. For example, she falls in love with

Gatsby but when he proposes to her, she feels that she has to turn him down
because he does not have the money she desires. And when Tom comes along and
desires her hand in marriage and his proposal is accompanied by a three hundred
thousand dollar necklace she can\'t turn him down: she is in love with his money.
"Daisy is a very material person. She needs to have money. She was very
much in love with Gatsby, but because he wasn\'t wealthy, she married someone who
was. Daisy focuses on the outward rather than the inward." (Dilling) Ross

David Kulberg, creator of the Great Gatsby Guide agrees with these statements
saying, "She focuses on outside appearances instead of what\'s inside
because material possessions are most important to her." She may love Tom
as she did Gatsby but when she finds that Gatsby has money she runs to him, not
concerned at all that she might be committing adultery or hurting one that she
"loves". Daisy is not able to fend for herself nor take responsibility
for her actions. One prime example of this is when she hits Myrtle in Gatsby\'s
car and doesn\'t face up to it. She decides not to tell anyone when it is her
moral duty to inform George and/or the police of her actions. In the end Gatsby
gets killed because Daisy neglected to tell anyone who actually killed Myrtle.

She also has a daughter at home who she chose to have but is rarely mentioned
throughout the book. A nanny is raising Daisy\'s daughter, Daisy feels no
obligation to her daughter. The only time that Daisy actually acknowledges her
existence was when she wants to show her off. Daisy is obviously morally
bankrupt, and she hurts many people throughout the book and yet doesn\'t regret
any of her actions. "For Daisy was young and her artificial world was
redolent of orchards and pleasant, cheerful snobbery and orchestras