Imagine yourself living in a different time period. Not just any random time period, but the 1920’s. The era of jazz, the beginning of the “flapper,” the parties, the scandalous lifestyle. Sounds fun doesn’t it? Now imagine yourself married while all of this was happening around you. In my opinion marriages were very faulty in the 1920’s. Picture the jealousy, always wanting more, the scandalous flapper always testing your husband’s commitment. Many marriages couldn’t handle the lifestyle the 1920’s brought along with it. Many people believe it was only the lower class that had marriage and jealousy problems, which wasn’t true. All social class marriages were affected by this time period. Most marriages no matter the social class, were unhappy because people married for money instead of love. It was a very scandalous time, and the men were uncommitted to their spouses. Lastly, people were always wanting more than what they had.
First I’d like to bring to your attention about how in the 1920’s women were so concerned about money, they would rather marry a rich man instead of someone they truly loved. While reading The Great Gatsby in my English class, a scene really caught my attention. “Pulled out the string of pearls. “Take ’em downstairs and give ’em back to whoever they belong to. Tell ’em all Daisy’s change’ her mine. Say Daisy change’ her mine,” (Fitzgerald 81). In this scene, we assume Daisy received a love letter from Gatsby and is in hysterics over it. If Daisy really loved Tom she would not have been laid out, drunk on a bed the day of her wedding, saying she does not want to go through with it. Sweet Daisy had always had money, and you could say she had a duty almost, to marry into money. Daisy would have been so much happier if she could have married her true love, Gatsby. Sadly money was more of a reason to marry someone than love. “The intersection of love and money made for a sadness which can hardly be explained” (Crain 103). It’s sad that women actually had to chose between love and money, and what’s even sadder is the fact that most choose money.
Secondly, lots of women were unhappy because the men were not committed to them. In the 1920’s the flapper was originated. Many husbands committed adultery with a flapper because they were mostly young and rebellious which they found attractive, but there’s no way a rich man could ever marry a flapper. Their social status was far too important. How could any marriage be happy when the people in the marriage knew they were being cheated on? Daisy’s husband, the husky, rich Tom Buchanan in the book, The Great Gatsby was cheating on Daisy with a woman named Myrtle, who was indeed a flapper. “You mean to say you don’t know?” said Mrs. Baker, honestly surprised. “I thought everybody knew.” … “Toms got some woman in New York,” (Fitzgerald 19). Even worse than him cheating on her, Daisy knew, and Tom flaunted it. There is no way Daisy is happy being in a marriage while being cheated on. Especially if Tom gets up during their dinner to talk to Myrtle on the phone. The flapper was Fitzgerald’s recognition of young women as a product of the social flux… Too stubborn to admit the we’re casual, lazy, and scandalous” (Sandersen 4). Their behavior was found attractive to many men. With a huge thanks to the flappers, marriages were unhappy, flappers were rebellious and scandalous. They didn’t care to sleep with men before marriage, nor did they care to sleep with married men. Flappers caused many men to be uncommitted to their wives.
Finally, it seemed that nothing anyone had was ever good enough for them, and they always wanted more. Even if they had stable homes, and jobs they wanted bigger and better. Lower class women were unhappy because they couldn’t have what the wealthy wives had. “He wasn’t fit to lick my shoe,” (Fitzgerald 39). Poor naive Mr. Wilson was talked about like a dog by his own wife. Myrtle was not happy in her relationship. She thought because Mr. Wilson owned the garage that he would have money, when really he didn’t. Mr. Wilson couldn’t support the lifestyle Myrtle wanted. Many marriages were unhappy from the woman complaining that the husband could not effectively support his family and the necessities she needed. “Neither of them can stand the person they’re married to.” … “Can’t stand them.” She looked at Myrtle and then at Tom” (Fitzgerald 37). “If a man’s income was consistently below in his wife’s aspirations, for comfortable living the tension could become chronic and destroy the marriage that otherwise might have survived” (May 187). Living in the 1920’s and seeing the riches that others had and wanting them is probably the main reason in my opinion for unhappy marriages.
In conclusion, living in the 1920’s may have been glamorous for a single male or female. But for those married in this time period, it must have been rough. Knowing your wife most likely only married you for your money and not your love, had to be heart breaking. With that being said, no wonder the man would be uncommitted and cheat? She wasn’t with him for his attention and love anyways. With men and woman constantly wanting more, and never being satisfied it’s hard to be happy that way. You always need to be thankful for what you have. Marriages were in my opinion, unnecessary and unhappy due to the love of money instead of people, the uncommitted husbands, living a scandalous double life with a flapper, and that people always wanted more, they were never satisfied with what they had.
Crain, Caleb. “The Early Literature of New York’s Money Class.” Cambridge Collections
Online. Cambridge University Press, 2010.
Fitzgerald, F Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 1925.
May, Elaine. “The Pressure to Provide: Class Consumerism, and Divorce in Urban America,
1880-1920.” Journal of Social History. 180-193.
Sandersen, Rena. “Women in Fitzgerald’s Fictions.” Cambridge Collections Online. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2006.