F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby
Background • Born in St. Paul, Minnesota • The dominant influences on F. Scott Fitzgerald were aspiration, literature, Princeton, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, and alcohol (Univ. of South Carolina) • Married wealthy Zelda, daughter of Alabama Supreme Court judge
He wrote The Great Gatsby during the summer and fall in Valescure near St. Raphael, but the marriage was damaged by Zelda’s involvement with a French naval aviator. • sales of Gatsby were disappointing, though the stage and movie rights brought additional income.
His wife suffered a series of breakdowns and had to be hospitalized • He was unable to write any longer after suffering several professional failures • F. Scott Fitzgerald died believing himself a failure. The obituaries were condescending, and he seemed destined for literary obscurity.
Other Notable Works • This Side of Paradise • The Beautiful and Damned • Wrote many stories for The Saturday Evening Post • Fitzgerald’s peak story fee of $4,000 from The Saturday Evening Post may have had in 1929 the purchasing power of $40,000 in present-day dollars.
Visit the sites below for more information on the Jazz Age • http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/blacksox/blacksox.html • reading.cornell.edu/.../gatsby/jazz_age.htm
Symbols from The Great Gatsby The Valley of Ashes Moral and social decay caused by uninhibited pursuit of happiness and wealth
The Green Light • Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for future with Daisy • Generalized ideal of American dream
God is watching with disapproval (????) • Judging American society as a moral wasteland • Yellow is color of wealth = corruption and greed • Arbitrary meaning of symbols
Geography • East Egg = old aristocracy • West Egg = self-made rich Gold vs. Silver
“For the eye sees not itself, but by reflection, by some other things.”---Brutus in Julius Caesar What qualities do the “east eggers” see in others that they don’t see in themselves? • Do they see the moral disintegration within themselves? What about the “west eggers?”
Themes from Gatsby • Decline of American Dream • Old money vs. New money • Idealized Perfection • Juxtaposition of Old and New Money • Old $ has taste, class, but lack heart and consideration • New $ considered vulgar, gaudy, ostentatious, and lacking grace, but are sincere and loyal