F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) • Focus of Study • Life Experience • Literary Career • Point of View • Writing Style • Significance • Focus study on TheGreat Gatsby
An archetypal figure: • the drunken writer • the ruined novelist • the spoiled genius • the personification of the Jazz Age • the sacrificial victim of the Depression
The apartment house where Fitzgerald died in 1940 in Hollywood, California.
Life Experience • He was born in in St. Paul, Minnesota of mixed Southern and Irish descent on 24 September 1896. • He wrote that he felt like an outsider throughout his childhood among the rich. • He began to write in the St. Paul Academy in 1909. • In 1914, he met a beautiful young debutante, Ginevra King, his first love. • He was enlisted in 1917 for War I and met Zelda in 1918. • Although she was truly in love with Scott, she refused to commit herself to him, for his economic prospects were not promising.
They got married after his novels were accepted in April 1920 and the couple became the symbol of the era. • They were riding the crest of success and enjoying the fame that This Side of Paradise had brought. • When Zelda became pregnant they took their first trip to Europe in 1921 for the birth of their only baby. • Fitzgerald's debts started to grow. • The Beautiful and Damned was less well received. • In 1924 Fitzgerald moved to Europe, where he associated with Gertrude Stein and Hemingway. • The Great Gatsby received excellent reviews but the book did not make the expected money.
Their marriage was subject to continued stress from their drinking, his tension about his work, her feelings of neglect, and their constant worry about a sufficient income. Zelda • Fitzgerald's stormy relationship with is told in his novel The Crack Up. • Fitzgerald's alcoholism and Zelda's mental breakdown attracted wide publicity in the 1930s. • From 1934, they never lived together. But their love was enduring. • He returned to Hollywood in 1937. • In 1939 Fitzgerald began a novel about Hollywood, The Last Tycoon. • Fitzgerald died on December 21, 1940, in Hollywood, in Graham's apartment. • Zelda Sayre died in a hospital fire in 1948.
Literary Career and Major Works • This Side of Paradise 1920 • Flappers and Philosophers, 1921 • The Beautiful and the Damned 1922 • Tales of the Jazz Age 1922 • The Vegetable (satirical play) 1923 • The Great Gatsby 1925 • All the Sad Young Men 1926 • Tender is the Night 1934 • Taps At Reveille 1935 • The Last Tycoon (unfinished) 1941 • The Crack-Up 1945 • Others: over 150 short stories
This Side of Paradise(1920) • This novel closely reflects Fitzgerald's own experiences as an undergraduate. • The story of Amory Blaine, an aimless, privileged, and self-absorbed Princeton student, serves in WW I in France. His journey from prep school to college to War is an account of "the lost generation." At the end of the story he finds that his own egoism has been the cause of his unhappiness.
The young "romantic egotist" symbolizes what Fitzgerald so memorably described as "a new generation grown up to find all Gods dead, all wars fought, all faiths in man shaken." A pastiche of literary styles, this dazzling chronicle of youth remains bitingly relevant decades later. • It came as a revelation to Fitzgerald's contemporaries. It was regarded as a privileged glimpse into the new morality or the new immorality of America's young, and it made its author famous.
Tender Is the Night (1934) • concentrates on the theme of how money corrupts, destroying wealthy individuals who cannot seem to focus their lives. • while Dick, the most promising of the characters, is ruined by money, position, and power, eventually succumb to alcohol and oblivion. • critical of the American rich.
Point of View • He was both a victim and a keen onlooker of the gaudy extravagances of the Jazz Age. His novels show his ever-deepening understanding of American society. • He was ambivalent about hunting for money. • He was, on the one hand, a great lover for money and beautiful women, and on the other, alienated from that world.
His major novels are permeated with underlying moral burdens, which are always embodied as his wrestling with the American Dream. • He spent his life inquiring about the dream, but “he lived and he wrote at last like a scapegoat and departed like one”. He wrote his novel with his life. “He was Gatsby, a great Gatsby.”
Writing Style • His best novels exhibit a craftsmanship in using language. His sentences are always constructed in simple and subtle diction carefully chosen, and permeated with luxuriant symbolic connotations. • The dialogues and conversations are dramatized exactly like those of his time. • His novels move rapidly in a series of episodic descriptions with details which always result in leaving sufficient room for the readers’ imagination.
Character Analysis Jay Gatsby (James Gatz): Questions: Do you think Gatsby is great? If no, give your reasons. If yes, what makes Gatsby great? How do you interpret Nick’s shout at the end of the novel “They're a rotten crowd”... “You're worth the whole damn bunch put together”? Try to comment on Gatsby’s Dream. (Hints: Is it a worthwhile dream? Is it our dream, too? Can we love Gatsby and be critical of his dream at the same time? ) Gatsby’s dream is a kind of romantic idealism, "some heightened sensitivity to the promises of life," It is a belief in fairytales and princesses and happy endings, a faith that life can be special, remarkable, beautiful. Gatsby is not interested in power for its own sake or in money or prestige. What he wants is his dream and that dream is embodied in Daisy. The Great Gatsby is a kind of mystery story with Gatsby as the mystery. Focus Study on The Great Gatsby
Questions: Why the author creates Nick as the narrator in the novel? Is he in a convenient position to tell the story? What’s Nick’s attitude toward Gatsby? What leads to Nick’s final decision to leave the East and return to the Midwest? He comes from a solid Midwestern family with pretty basic values, graduated from Yale, served in War I, and decided to go into the bond business. He is honest, but not Puritanical or narrow minded. He is tolerant, understanding, and not hasty to judge people. Nick is in a perfect position to tell the story. He is both a participant and an observer of the action. He attempts to solve the mystery of Gatsby and comes to accept his greatness in his commitment to an illusion. Through him we come to know Gatsby, mysterious—absurd—a pathetic soul—an admirable exception to the whole “rotten world”. Nick Carraway
The author is Gatsby in his passionate devotion to the glamorous life, while he is Nick in his awareness of the pettiness and worthlessness of that life. • It was this double vision that enabled him to achieve objectivity and detachment in his penetrating demonstration of Gatsby as a victim of American society, which had shifted away from its frontier ideal and become corrupted by money.
Questions: Try to describe Daisy Fay in your own words. How does Nick think of Daisy? Is his point of view the same with that of Gatsby? What is the most often used color in the novel to describe Daisy? What’s Daisy’s attitude toward money? Can we identify Daisy with the green light at the end of her dock? Daisy is the princess in the tower, the golden girl that every man dreams of possessing. She is beautiful and rich and innocent and pure (at least on the surface) in her whiteness. But that whiteness, as you will notice, is mixed with the yellow of gold and the inevitable corruption that money brings. Gatsby worships Daisy, and Nick distrusts her. Daisy herself is much less than the green light which is the promise, the dream. Daisy is insubstantial, a careless woman who uses her frail appearance as an excuse for immaturity. Daisy Fay Buchanan
Questions: What do you think of the character of Tom? What’s Nick’s attitude towards Tom and Daisy? Because he is both very strong and very rich, Tom is used to having his own way. Fitzgerald describes Tom and Daisy as careless people who break things and then retreat into their wealth and let other people clean up their messes. Tom Buchanan
Questions: Which type of people does Jordan symbolize in the novel? Try to describe this type of character. What’s her function in the novel? In many ways Jordan Baker symbolizes a new type of woman that was emerging in the Twenties. She is hard and self-sufficient, and she adopts whatever morals suit her situation. She has cut herself off from the older generation. She wears the kind of clothes that suit her; she smokes, she drinks, and has sex because she enjoys them. Fitzgerald needs her to get the story told. As Daisy's friend, she can supply Nick with necessary information. She is a link between the major characters, moving back and forth between the world of East Egg and West Egg. She is rich enough to be both comfortable among the East Eggers and a social hustler to appear at Gatsby's parties. Jordan Baker
Major Themes of The Great Gatsby • The withering of American dream is its predominant theme. • The Great Gatsby is a highly symbolic meditation on 1920s America as a whole, in particular the disintegration of the American dream in an era of unprecedented prosperity and material excess. • A realistic demonstration of the economic and social life of the Jazz Age with its Prohibition, economic boom, and dislocation on the part of the younger generation. • A dramatization of an Age of Confusion marked by business corruption, encompassing vulgarity, frauds and rigid prejudices in social and political life.
After his death, his father brought Nick Gatsby’s childhood diary with a schedule for self improvement: exercise, study, sport and work, which clearly shows that Gatsby’s ideal is shaped in the tradition of Franklin and the frontier spirit. Gatsby identifies himself with such a romantic hero who is capable of conquering the urban wilderness and is totally unaware that the New Land is no longer virgin as it moved into 20th century. The way he realizes his past dream is to gain his advantages of wealth over Tom. His tragedy shows his ignorance of a changed and stratified American society which prevents him from materializing his dream. He dies because he is born too late and he dies without awareness that he is an outsider of his corrupted age. He begins with a dream of success and ends in a tragedy. This is not only Gatsby’s personal failure, but also the failure of American society.
Motifs: Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes. East Egg: the old aristocracy. People with grace, taste, subtlety, and elegance, but they are lack in heart, careless, inconsiderate bullies who are so used to money’s ability to ease their minds that they never worry about hurting others. West Egg: the newly rich--vulgar, gaudy, ostentatious, and lacking in social graces and taste, but sincere and loyal. Valley of ashes: the moral and social decay of America. New York City: uninhibited, amoral quest for money and pleasure. the East: moral decay and social cynicism of New York. the West: traditional social values and ideals Motifs: Geography and Weather
Weather in The Great Gatsby • Questions: • What’s the weather like when Gatsby and Daisy meet and at the time of Gatsby and Tom’s quarrel? • Their reunion begins amid a pouring rain--awkward and melancholy • Their love reawakens just as the sun begins to come out. • Gatsby’s climactic confrontation with Tom occurs on the hottest day of the summer, under the scorching sun.
Symbols • Symbols are objects, characters, figures, or colors used to represent abstract ideas or concepts. • The Green Light：Gatsby’s hopes and dreams for the future, a guiding light to lead him to his goal. Nick compares the green light to how America, rising out of the ocean, must have looked to early settlers of the new nation.
The Valley of Ashes--represents the moral and social decay that results from the uninhibited pursuit of wealth and the plight of the poor, like George Wilson, who live among the dirty ashes and lose their vitality as a result. • The Eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg: God staring down upon and judging American society as a moral wasteland; unsettling nature of the image. the essential meaninglessness of the world.
Gatsby: Green—hope, dream, full of energy, illusion. Blue—broad-minded, fidelity, bravery, honesty; sentimentality, faith. Daisy—yellow flower with white linings, fresh and bright as spring, yet fragile and without the strength to resist the heat and dryness of summer Yellow—money and power White—beauty, purity, elegance in the eyes of Gatsby; terror, death, evil, nada; blank—meaningless, purposeless; silver—money. Symbols of Color in Gatsby
Who do you think the characters in The Great Gatsby represent? Do they seem like real people? Which characters seem the most real to you? What is the symbolism of the green light (at the end of Daisy's pier) that appears throughout the novel? Fitzgerald returns several times to describe a decrepit optical products sign—the eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleberg—that hovers over "the valley of ashes." What does that sign represent? 4. Fitzgerald describes the world as "a valley of ashes" but often contrasts Daisy and Jay Gatsby as being spotless. What does this say about his view of American culture and of both Jay and Daisy? 5. The Great Gatsby is often referred to as the quintessential novel of the "Jazz Age". Using examples from the book, explain what this term meant, and Fitzgerald's attitudes towards thatcharacterization of the 1920s. Questions to Think After Class