The Emergence of the Beat Movement in New York in the Mid-1940s

January 4, 2022 by Essay Writer

The Beat Movement was a literary and artistic movement that was founded by a core group of leaders that consisted of Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. This movement emerged in the area of Columbia University in New York in the mid-1940s at the hand of these four inspirational founding figures, but it was not until the 1950s, when the Beat Movement started to spread to the communities of North Beach in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and in Greenwich Village in New York City, did this movement take it’s full effect.

In the world today, this movement is not active, but we the many impacts that it had on society today. In the years after World War II, the American society began to conform to a lifestyle in which husbands and wives had kids, women had quit their jobs after the war to take care of the kids, and there was a formal etiquette that society required. The goals of the Beatniks was to not conform to these norms of society and to have a less restricted lifestyle. Also, they stressed the importance of “individual expression and personal enlightenment”.

The Beat Movement widely rejected materialism, traditional American values, and had complete indifference to social activism. The Beatniks rebelled against the common traditional American values of materialism and proper etiquette. The American society placed a heavy emphasis and reliance on money. The Beat Movement rejected this idea and focused more on imagination and self-expression, which led to their practices of religions such as Zen Buddhism. The proper etiquette that was placed in society was to be composed in a nice manner and to not be publicly intoxicated. However, the Beatniks engaged in large illegal drug use and over excessive alcohol consumption, which widely defied the formal etiquette that was demanded by society. These rejections of the values of the Americans impacted society by placing more laws on illegal drugs and intoxication laws against minor and drinking, also laws against anyone drinking and driving.

Norms of society that the Beat Movement challenged was the norm of a typical family consisting of a husband and wife with two or three kids. The Beatniks broke this principle by engaging in an attitude that excepted and experimented with different sexualities, which went against the norm of having a husband or wife. These ideas impacted society by catalyzing different gay liberations that eventually formed. A belief of the society in America that the Beat Movement openly defied was the belief that jazz music was sinful and immoral, and that abstract art need to be censored because it was seen as wildly inappropriate. The Beatniks widely embraced jazz music and abstract art because it allowed them express themselves in a free manner and to run wild with their imaginations. This heavily impacted society by allowing for the evolution of different music genres of music such as rock and roll seen through musicians like Beatles and Bob Dylan.

In all, the Beat Movement was very impactful on the society in the past and in the future now. Although many people rejected them in the past, their contributions to society led to great things that emerged in society later in the future.

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