F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels provide an unparalleled insight into the breed of rich Americans who lived their young-adulthoods during post-WWI. The main characters of his books encounter these pompous aristocrats with often devastating ramifications. Nick Caraway of The Great Gatsby witnesses his wealthy cousin, Daisy, and her husband, Tom, mar the lives of many members of a lower social class: “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy–they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money and let other people clean up the mess they had made” Fitzgerald 187-188.
The wealthy people of the Jazz Age led purposeless lives and collided with others simply to relieve their boredom. Fitzgerald accurately delineates the emotional decay of the aristocrats during the tumultuous years proceeding WWI. In four of his novels, Fitzgerald employs a rich array of writing devices which serve to develop an overlapping theme of wealth in the early nineteen hundreds.
Fitzgerald utilizes such literary elements as point of view, dialogue, and title in his novels This Side of Paradise, The Love of the Last Tycoon, Tender is the Night, and The Great Gatsby in order to convey his belief that avarice for money causes the wealthy to lose their moral values. Fitzgerald utilizes many different points of view in his writings in order to help develop his theme of moral corruption associated with wealth. Two prominent examples of this occur in Fitzgerald’s novels Tender is the Night and The Great Gatsby.
The former consists entirely of a third person-limited view but follows three different characters at different points in the novel. Rosemary Hoyt and Dick Diver supply the first two views while Nicole Diver provides the last. Nicole represents the corrupt aristocrat who descends from a rich family. The beginning of the section limited to Dick’s views and all of the section limited to Rosemary’s views present a pleasant outward appearance to the wealthy Nicole.
Nicole’s “prettiness” 16 and sophistication obscure Rosemary’s youngish perception and forces Rosemary to paint a favorable depiction of Nicole. Fitzgerald uses Rosemary’s views to introduce the false faÃ§ade aspect of the rich. The third narrative concerns Nicole herself. Infidelity, drunkenness, and ill will towards her loving husband characterize some of Nicole’s actions during this section of the book. The juxtaposition of how Fitzgerald presents Nicole in the first two narratives and her unethical actions in the last narrative, harshly reveal the immoralities that befoul all wealthy people.
By using the third-person point of view and highlighting three different characters in Tender is the Night, Fitzgerald slowly unveils the moral bankruptcy characteristic of aristocrats during the early nineteenth century. Nick Caraway’s first person narrative in The Great Gatsby holds a strong significance because of Nick’s claim that he “reserve all judgments” 5. Throughout the novel, Nick witnesses the wealthy perform immoral acts. Nick learns Jordan Baker, a professional golfer, cheats in her matches. Tom Buchanan, Nick’s cousin’s husband, indulges in an affair with another woman.
Daisy Buchanan, Nick’s cousin, runs over a woman with a car and drives away. Nick stays true to his declaration and never states his opinion of the corrupt aristocrats until Chapter 9. A former freeloader of Gatsby’s named Klipspringer calls Gatsby’s house. Nick initially thinks Klipspringer wants to know the time and date of Gatsby’s funeral. After all, Gatsby provides Klipspringer with a mansion and food at no charge. Klipspringer, however, only calls to find out how he can recover his tennis shoes, which he left at Gatsby home. Shocked by Klipspringer’s lack of concern for an unbridled supporter, Nick, “ejaculate an unrestrained ‘Huh! ” 177. Although Nick claims to not pass judgment on people, he cannot help but feel disdain towards Klipspringer.
Despite the fact that he is not considered a wealthy person, Klipspringer’s character still supports the theme of money’s corruption because Gatsby and the new aristocrats he lives off of expose Klipspringer to the life of cupidity. Fitzgerald cleverly establishes a narrator who reserves all judgment his entire life and suddenly abandons that personality in order to convey the significance of the belief that greed causes one to lose one’s values.
Point of views in Fitzgerald’s novels The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night play a strong role in developing the stories’ themes. The dialogue that Fitzgerald’s characters use also play a pertinent role in expounding the belief that money causes individuals to lower their moral standards. The way the wealthy character, Tom Buchanan, speaks in The Great Gatsby, displays his feelings of superiority over others. Within a short period of meeting his wife’s cousin, Nick, for the first time, Tom “violently” proclaims his belief in the superiority of the “white race” 17.
Tom believes that since he leads an established life as an aristocrat he can label entire ethnicities with unjustified prejudices. Tom’s sense of superiority exists on more levels than just racism. Mr. Wilson, a local gas station owner, embodies the average lower class individual. When Tom addresses Wilson, he uses the demeaning term “old man” 29. Tom quickly asserts his power over Wilson at the beginning of their conversation by identifying him with a saying that connotes weakness and ignorance. After Mr. Wilson asks Tom if he still wants to sell his car, Tom quickly boasts that his “man” 29 is fixing it currently.
Tom seizes every opportunity he can to remind the lower classman, Wilson, of his position in the social ladder by bragging about his ability to afford servants. Fitzgerald shows how the wealthy use certain words as a means of declaring their wealth and separating themselves from others. Jay Gatsby, another wealthy character, utilizes the term “old sport” 52 frequently throughout the novel. Gatsby depends on the sophisticated connotations of the saying to arrogantly assure the people surrounding him that he exists in a high social class.
Near the end of the book, however, Tom states the most shocking piece of dialogue which blatantly accuses the wealthy of moral corruption. Tom compares Nick’s loss of Gatsby as a friend to his own loss of Daisy by claiming he also possesses his “share of suffering” 187. At this point, Tom already fully believes that his infidelity lacks any moral reprehension. Another one of Fitzgerald’s books, This Side of Paradise, contains important dialogue that adds to the overlapping theme of the moral bankruptcy of the wealthy. After the protagonist, Amory Blaine, returns from the war in Europe, he meets a dÃ©butante named Rosalind.
Rosalind knows she must marry a man with a secure financial future, yet she allows Amory to court her. One and a half months pass and Amory falls deeply in love with Rosalind. Rosalind then tells Amory she must stop seeing him and marry another man who descends from a powerful family with money. Amory tells Rosalind, “You’re spoiling our lives! ” 145. Rosalind replies, “I’m doing the wise thing, the only thing” 145. Fitzgerald uses dialogue in this instance to convey the aristocrat, Rosalind’s, lack of concern for others.
Rosalind causes Amory to fall in love with her then she leaves him abruptly because of her selfish concern for her own salubriousness. Rosalind’s immoral actions stem from her rapacity for money. Dialogue from both The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise support Fitzgerald’s belief that money causes people to act with degenerate principles. The titles of many Fitzgerald novels possess a significance which helps further the overlapping theme of money’s corruption of morals. The phrase, Tender is the Night, alludes to the thirty-fifth line of John Keats’ poem, “Ode to a Nightingale. The poem documents the narrator’s evolving impression of a single nightingale.
In the first stanza, the narrator labels the bird a “light winged Dryad in some melodious plot” Keats, line 8. By the eighth and final stanza, the narrator refers to the nightingale as a “deceiving elf” Keats, line 74. The narrator’s fickle dedication to one opinion directly relates to the fluctuation of emotions exhibited by the aristocrat in the novel Tender is the Night, Nicole Diver. The wife of Dick Diver, Nicole, suddenly begins to feel bored by and even hatred for her husband after six years of marriage.
Nicole engages in an affair with another man and leaves Dick. The stability of Dick’s life never fully recovers after the unexpected divorce. Nicole callous betrayal of dedication to her husband parallels to “Ode to a Nightingale”‘s narrator’s wavering opinion of a bird. The title, This Side of Paradise alludes to another poetic piece of literature: Rupert Brooke’s “Tiare Tahiti. ” The poem describes a picturesque setting which only those who stay withdrawn from the realities of the world can enjoy:
“Well this side of Paradise! €¦/There’s little comfort in the wise” Brooke, lines 76-77. People who wish to relish the benefits of this paradise must sacrifice a part of their dignity and humanity. Fitzgerald compares extreme wealth to Brooke’s paradise. The dÃ©butante, Rosalind, loves Amory and she knows he loves her also. However, Rosalind ignores her true feelings and chooses the suitor with the most financial security. Rosalind’s immoral actions causes Amory to slip into a depression that only deepens when he hears, a few months later, that she married the wealthier suitor.
The title, The Great Gatsby possesses more symbolism than allusion, but it still holds a strong thematic significance. At the time of the novel’s publication, Harry Houdini popularized the art of escapism and other forms of magic in the early nineteen hundreds. The Great Gatsby alludes to Houdini’s stage name, the Great Houdini. The allusion helps develop Gatsby as a symbol of aristocrats’ tendency to hide behind the guise of sophistication just as a magician hides behind the secrets of his tricks.
Gatsby left his middle-class life by gaining wealth through illicit means. By surrounding himself with a huge mansion and creating lies about his family, Gatsby tries to hide the truth about his past. The Love of the Last Tycoon shares a similar yet less distinct symbolism. Fitzgerald intended that the book’s title resemble that of a classic movie. The names of films such as The Mask of Zorro, The Life of Emile Zola, and The Prisoner of Zenda all share a similar structure of “the,” then a noun, then “of,” then the name or title of the movie’s subject.
Comparing the actions of the rich main character, Monroe Stahr, to the actions of actors in a movie implies that Stahr also possesses a similar guise to that of Gatsby. For most of the novel, Stahr operates based on his feelings of “tender love” Fitzgerald 88. The title claims that this motivation of love actually lacks any real bearing. Indeed, the Stahr courts Kathleen only because of resemblance to a beautiful actress who married Stahr then died at a young age. Stahr is attracted to Kathleen because of looks, not because of love.
All four of these Fitzgerald titles play an important role in conveying the belief that the wealthy lack a moral center. In four of his famous books, Fitzgerald utilizes many different literary elements which function to convey a common theme pertaining to rich Americans. Fitzgerald’s use of different point of views, insightful dialogue, and symbolic titles in his novels This Side of Paradise, The Love of the Last Tycoon, Tender is the Night, and The Great Gatsby helps to expound upon the belief that cupidity causes aristocrats to shed their moral values.
These four novels exist as everlasting testaments to the life of the wealthy in the early nineteen hundreds. Fitzgerald applies his experiences with the corrupted population of the upper class to his books in order to create an unprecedented chronicle of the revolutionary American era known as the Jazz Age. A history text may recount the important events and dates of this period, but it will never dissect the social mindset of the American population as accurately as Fitzgerald analyzes his morally bankrupt class of citizens.