Was the Roaring of the 1920’s Just an Illusion? The era of the 1920’s was perceived by many to be “roaring”. Exiting new inventions, entertainment, and social trends dominated the lives of people living in this decade. However, not everything was as glamorous as it seemed at the time, and hindsight has shed much light on the harsh realities of this period. Perhaps the 1920’s were not as “roaring” as people at the time perceived them. Examples of misconceptions in the 1920’s are: that the stock market was “roaring”, that everyone shared in the prosperity, and that society was making leaps forward.
In the 1920’s the stock market appeared to “roar”. People with little knowledge or understanding of how the stock market worked invested heavily, as stock prices were rising rapidly with the with the demand created by all these investors. People believed this trend would always continue, and stocks were viewed as a quick and easy way to make money. Many put themselves into debt, or wagered sums of money they couldn’t afford to lose, in order to invest in the sock market. In reality, stock prices were extremely overvalued, and investors were wildly overconfident.
This idea of an infallible stock market was an illusion, a “house of cards” that would fold as soon as confidence eroded. This was ultimately proven by the stock market crash in October 1929. Stocks started to drop, people panicked, sold their stocks, and the stock market plummeted, leading to the financial ruin and disillusion of millions of stockholders. Not everyone shared in the prosperity of the 1920’s. People in this decade where consumed by the need to have the latest innovations and current trends before their neighbors did, to “keep up with the Joneses”.
There was a common misconception that everyone was prospering, and that life was good for all people. Hollywood, and the emerging stars of the film industry did much to fuel this belief. However, this was not the case. People in many social classes did not share in wealth of the 1920’s. Aboriginals, Women, and Immigrants to Canada are three examples of people who did not share in the perceived successes of the “roaring twenties”. The Indian Act of the forced Aboriginal people to abandon their culture and adopt Canadian values,
Immigrants to Canada were forced to do difficult work in horrible conditions, and Women where wildly discouraged from holding jobs by the government. This is another example of how the successes of the 1920’s were really only “skin-deep”, many social issues and inequities where being “swept under the rug”. In the 1920’s, Canadian society was seen as progressing. Examples of this were the “flappers”, women who were seen to push the social boundaries of the time.
Flappers smoke, drank, wore makeup, and showed interest in men. They also explored new forms of leisure, such as dancing, movies, and frequent dating. All of these were considered “improper” behaviors by the older generations of the time. “Flappers” where thought to be progressive, a step forward for women. On the other hand, at the same time this was going on, Canadian courts were holding back the progress made by women, refusing even to recognize them as “persons” under the law.
Women could not become judges, senators, or members of parliament. It wasn’t until an appeal with the British Supreme Court, or Privy Council, that women officially became “persons”. The wildly controversial social progressions of the 1920’s were, in some ways, also an illusion, as they was frowned upon and held back by Canadian society. The era of the 1920’s was thought to “roar” by many of the people at the time, yet in hindsight most of the wealth existed only on the surface.
The advanced, “modern age” that people thought they were living in was in reality only a facade, skin-deep, and fueled by overextended credit. The prosperous times of the 1920’s where created by people’s short term desires, creating a society focused on quick fixes and short term solutions with no long term economic planning. Eventually, these blind ambitions lead to the emotional and financial ruin of a lot of people. Perhaps this is a lesson that our society could still benefit from toda