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Kelso High School. English Department. The Great Gatsby. F. Scott Fitzgerald. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896

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Kelso High School

English Department

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896

  • The dominant influences on F. Scott Fitzgerald were aspiration, literature, Princeton, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, and alcohol   

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • The publication of This Side of Paradise on March 26, 1920, made the twenty-four-year-old Fitzgerald famous almost overnight, and a week later he married Zelda Sayre in New York

  • They embarked on an extravagant life as young celebrities. Fitzgerald endeavoured to earn a solid literary reputation, but his playboy image impeded a proper assessment of his work

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F.Scott Fitzgerald

  • The Fitzgeralds expected to become affluent from his play, The Vegetable.  In the fall of 1922 they moved to Great Neck, Long Island, in order to be near Broadway. The political satire subtitled “From President to Postman” failed at its premiere in November 1923, and Fitzgerald wrote his way out of debt with short stories

  • The distractions of Great Neck and New York prevented Fitzgerald from making progress on his third novel. During this time his drinking increased. He was an alcoholic, but he wrote when he was sober. Zelda Fitzgerald regularly got drunk, but she was not an alcoholic. There were frequent domestic rows, usually triggered by drinking bouts

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F.Scott Fitzgerald

  • Literary critics of the day were reluctant to accord Fitzgerald full marks as a serious craftsman

  • His reputation as a drinker inspired the myth that he was an irresponsible writer; yet he was a painstaking reviser whose fiction went through layers of drafts

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F.Scott Fitzgerald

  • The chief theme of Fitzgerald’s work is aspiration and the idealism he regarded as defining American character.

  • However, his own personal life was fast becoming a disaster

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • The 1936-1937 period is known as “the crack-up” from the title of an essay Fitzgerald wrote in 1936

  • Ill, drunk, in debt, and unable to write commercial stories, he lived in hotels in the region near Asheville, North Carolina, where in 1936 Zelda Fitzgerald entered Highland Hospital

  • After Baltimore Fitzgerald did not maintain a home for Scottie. When she was fourteen she went to boarding school, and the Obers became her surrogate family. Nonetheless, Fitzgerald functioned as a concerned father by mail, attempting to supervise Scottie’s education and to shape her social values

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Fitzgerald went to Hollywood alone in the summer of 1937 with a six-month Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer screenwriting contract at $1,000 a week. He received his only screen credit for adapting Three Comrades (1938), and his contract was renewed for a year at $1,250 a week

  • The $91,000 he earned from MGM was a great deal of money during the late Depression years when a new Chevrolet coupe cost $619; but although Fitzgerald paid off most of his debts, he was unable to save

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • His trips East to visit his wife were disastrous. In California Fitzgerald fell in love with movie columnist Sheila Graham. Their relationship endured despite his drinking

  • After MGM dropped his option at the end of 1938, Fitzgerald worked as a freelance script writer and wrote short-short stories for Esquire. He began his Hollywood novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon, in 1939 and had written more than half of a working draft when he died of a heart attack in Graham’s apartment on December 21, 1940

  • Zelda Fitzgerald perished at a fire in Highland Hospital in 1948.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald died believing himself a failure. The obituaries were condescending and he seemed destined for literary obscurity

  • Yet, the first phase of the Fitzgerald revival occurred between 1945 and 1950

  • By 1960 he had achieved a secure place among America’s enduring writers. The Great Gatsby, a work that seriously examines the theme of aspiration in an American setting, is now seen as perhaps the premiere example of the classic American novel

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Historical Context – The Jazz Age

  • The Jazz Age describes the period from 1918-1929, the years between the end of World War One and the rise of The Great Depression

  • Traditional values declined while the American stock exchange soared

  • The age takes its name from F. Scott Fitzgerald and jazz music, which saw a tremendous surge in popularity among many segments of society

  • During this period there were many technological developments (typically seen as progress)—cars, air travel and the telephone—as well as new modernist trends in social behaviour, the arts, and culture

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Historical Context – The Jazz Age

  • A great theme of the age was individualism and a greater emphasis on the pursuit of pleasure and enjoyment

  • This was seen as a natural response to the misery, destruction and perceived hypocrisy and waste of WWI as well as pre-war values

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The Setting

  • F. Scott Fitzgerald chose New York as the setting for The Great Gatsby because it was considered the cultural centre of the United States during the 1920s

  • East Egg and West Egg are the peninsulas of Long Island and where the main characters live. In real life the peninsulas are not referred to by these names, but Fitzgerald saw them as egg shaped

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Setting - East Egg

  • East Egg is the place where the "old money" lives

  • The East Eggers regard themselves as aristocrats who have lived with their money for generations

  • An important aspect of their lives is their contempt for so called "new money" and their feelings that these neophytes could eventually cause the downfall of their aristocratic society

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Setting – West Egg

  • The West Eggers are representative of the "new money" that the East Eggers resent

  • They are viewed within the novel as lower and middle class people who have found themselves with outrageous amounts of money and as a result spend it in an outrageous manner.

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Setting – West Egg

  • Daisy has never gone to one of Gatsby's parties because she hates being around West Eggers

  • Fitzgerald chose this clear separation between old and new to mirror East and West

  • This is because the people of the East considered the Western United States the barbaric frontier. The country was just beginning to grow in the West and as a result it was viewed as young and immature. Within the novel the West Eggers are regarded as the new money and are viewed just as the frontier is as young and immature