F. Scott Fitzgerald And The American Dream Research Paper Example
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Creative and personal destiny of F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896 - 1940), one of the most important figures in the history of American literature of the 20s of this century, was complex and dramatic. Legends, judgments and reviews of critics and contemporaries about Fitzgerald, biased and unfair in many ways, confirmed after him reputation of a carefree singer of "Century of Jazz" - a period of economic prosperity the United States (1919 - 1929), which followed First World War, and was succeeded in the 30's years by Great Depression. During the Depression of 30th years, Fitzgerald experienced the frustration and break up of illusions and mentalities of lightweight "Century of Jazz". In his literary fate F. Scott Fitzgerald experienced everything - from admiration and recognition of the first novel "This Side of Paradise» to the humiliating unresponsiveness, and even deliberate disguise of the merits of a number of subsequent books.
According to Tobias Bumm, Fitzgerald became a poet of period when "America organized the most popular, the noisiest carnival in its history." Scenes of celebration, arranged by the character of "The Great Gatsby" in his estate, reveal the meaning of the metaphor of the carnival, which, according to Fitzgerald, more expressively characterizes atmosphere of the "Jazz Age". Magnate, giving joy to motley society, turns out vulgar speculator who became wealthy due to the illegal trade in alcohol. The romance is adjacent to the practicality, poetry intertwined with the vulgarity and the feast of cheerfulness breaks off by bloody finale.
Nowadays creativity of Fitzgerald is consistent with the ideological and artistic trends and search for American literature, the changes that occur in the system of spiritual, moral values of American society. F. Scott Fitzgerald was one of those artists who were deeply conscious of immorality and inhumanity of bourgeois relations with their ethics "prosperity and wealth," the idea of "equal opportunity" and "unlimited freedom" - all that is the basis of one of the many American myths of "American Dream." In his works was reflected an understanding of historical patterns of rebirth of "American Dream", turning it into an American tragedy. F. Scott Fitzgerald initially truly believed in the realization of his ideal, dream of creating society of "endless possibilities", society of people, who subordinated to themselves the circumstances and achieved success. Fitzgerald later saw and reflected a major tragic collision of his best works: blind adherence to the ideals of the "American Dream" leads to the degradation of the individual, the destruction and the collapse of talent of a person, which put his work in the service of ethical standards of "prosperity." (Tobias Bumm 24-26)
In the novel "This Side of Paradise", published in March 1920, is told about specious gilding of "Century of Jazz", the atmosphere of unbelief and lack of spirituality, which reflected the mood of postwar youth with its selfishness and simplicity, naivety and carelessness, although in the novel there is no in-depth analysis of the phenomena occurring in American society, its pathos - in the relentless search by the hero of the book, Princeton student Emory Blaine, for meaning and purpose of life, the desire to find his own independent path. Romantic egoist Emory Blaine is prematurely developed and ignorant young man; nevertheless, this character attracted the sympathy of critics and readers, the explanation of which should be sought in the specific conditions of American life in the 20s of the twentieth century, characterized by economic crisis, the growth of the strike movement, immigration processes. The rapid growth of industry demanded irresistible growth of consumption, spending of all. More or less wealthy young people were eager to have pleasure: love, delicious food, and travel overseas, everything seemed available, nothing sacred or forbidden. Precisely to such young people belonged the first hero of Fitzgerald - scion of a wealthy family Emory Blaine, he has the same thoughtless life that had thousands of his peers, becoming thus a real expression of their aspirations, thoughts and hopes, the embodiment of their dreams.
The novel reflected, of course, hope and search of the writer, who, like the hero, passes the school education through testing and inspection of life. The huge popularity of this book in those years is explainable - Fitzgerald expressed the mood of American youth, affected by the war, felt the finiteness of being, rejected the gradual virtues of their fathers and thirsted success and happiness here and now. According to Linda Claycomb, generation of Fitzgerald rushed headlong in "carnival dances" of the 1920s (the period of the American boom), and the writer became its symbol. There was atheistic XX century - a century of exaltation, doping and psychoses and Fitzgerald called it the "century of jazz." The novel expressed sentiments of those who, unable to get to the front, nevertheless survived the war as a watershed event in the history that affected all who have had to live in those years when there were undermined the usual order of things and the traditional system of values. The book is telling about the "lost generation", for whom "all the gods have died, all wars died down, every faith has disappeared." Realizing that after the historic disaster previous forms of human relationships have become impossible, the characters of first novels and short stories of Fitzgerald feel around them a spiritual vacuum and to them are transferred the inherent to "Age of Jazz" thirst for intense emotional life, freedom from traditional moral restrictions and taboos, and also emotional vulnerability , uncertainty about the future, the outlines of which are lost behind the rapid changes taking place in the world. (Linda Claycomb Pelzer 35 -39)
The tragedy of Gatsby reflects a deep inner duality of "American Dream", the origins of which go into the historical past of America, which have integrated the spirit of freedom and independence, as well as the idea of material prosperity and individualism. Ideological and moral pathos of the novel lies in the fact that in the interpretation of "dream" the author proceeds from the notion of historical patterns. In accordance with this the main character is specified, who appears as if in two dimensions: Gatsby - a romantic, a dreamer, a worshiper of beauty and goodness, and at the same time - the carrier of society of "consumption" ideals in all their ostentatious majesty and splendor. Hence, there are two tonalities in the image of the hero - romantic (hero lives by the dream of meeting with Daisy) and purely prosaic, business (activity of Gatsby as Bootlegger). However, about the second side of the hero's life is intentionally told very little, as for Fitzgerald was important to identify the tragedy of romantic aspirations of young man trying to find in the past the ideals and dreams, which prove to be lost both socially and morally. The drama of Gatsby lies in its extreme idealism, self-satisfaction, a naive perception of life and relation to people. At the end of the novel, when Gatsby is betrayed and deceived by those who enjoyed his generosity and hospitality, he still retains his romantic pathos of lonely dreamer. Historical approaching and depth of artistic vision of Fitzgerald as a writer is that unlike Gatsby he understands the inevitability of destruction of "dream" and is aware of reasons for the collapse of illusions.
All narration is full of metaphors and contrast which emphasize this dual perspective of events occurring in it: the carnival in the estate of Gatsby - and next to his house a garbage dump, "green light" of happiness for an instant shining to the hero - and the dead eyes staring from a giant billboard, etc. Fragile poetry of "Century of Jazz" and its flip side are the uncontrolled acquisitive ambitions, generating amorality, which are transferred by the writer in their inseparable unity. Duality manifests itself in comparing the different motives: the carnival and tragedy, hospitality and cold prudence, fun and deadness, love and venality. Thus, the "magic" of the carnival, continuing throughout most of the novel, is enhanced and becomes dramatic connotation due to the close presence of "deadly place" - Slag Valley: here, under the wheels of the car run by Daisy dies Buchanan's mistress, and Gatsby pays with his life for tragedy in which he was innocent. (Harold Bloom et al. 67 – 78)
In the title of the novel is present authorial irony, though about the true greatness of Gatsby is possible to speak primarily in terms of his dedication for the ideals, "Dream", his generosity, integrity and stability of the senses, strength of character. However, in the majesty of Gatsby there is a significant share of irony and paradox: it is as "great" as the "dream" in its transformed and forked forming with its ideas of naivety and innocence, on the one hand, pragmatism and prosperity - on the other. The superior man, Gatsby is wasting his time in the pursuit of the useless goals and ideals; however, the incompatibility of these qualities makes him prominent and in some way significant among other people. His greatness is also in the fact that he would rather die than give up his "dream." It is not his fault, but his trouble is that he could not understand illusion and senselessness of many aspirations and desires because he was equally great in his innocently-infantile perception of reality.
Fitzgerald, on the one hand, was tied to a secular society and bohemians of the time, he was fascinated and also to some extent was in love with the "lost generation", but on the other hand, he hated it for its perplexity, the pursuit to low ideals and goals, and at first glance, a fascinating philosophy of life, hastily life "right now". He ridicules the lack of moral values and rules of that time. More revealing, almost tangible turned out the image of Tom Buchanan and others like him heroes, as the writer knew this society, its life and interests. Fitzgerald with great artistic skill describes those "who have too much money to spend, and too much time to spend them." In the novel "The Great Gatsby" is shown a realistic contemporary American life. One of the original names of this work is "Among the debris and millionaires"; Scott Fitzgerald wanted to show the spiritual poverty, incredible stupidity, insignificance, brilliant beastliness of those who own all the material goods and at the same time Fitzgerald passionately hated them because wealth allowed them to take any actions to satisfy all their whims. In all his works, the writer takes off the mask from the American aristocracy, shows their moral squalor, spiritual indifference to the fate of others, the shameful influence of possessing the material means on the hearts and minds of the masses. This extreme dislike of the rich caused by Fitzgerald a feeling of disaster, the tragedy of the American way of life; he realistically shows the death of his hero, who lost the purpose of life, exposes the bourgeoisie, responsible for the death of many talented young people. (Jim Cullen 181 -184)
Fitzgerald masterfully reveals the essence of the ruling class and the mysterious veil that hides the low inside from prying eyes. In his novel are showed the images of typical bourgeois, who influence the fate of people, the most successful of which is the image of Tom Buchanan. As noted by the author, he "was a figure of its kind characteristic to America, one of those young people who to twenty-one year reach something very big." He inherited the fabulous wealth of his parents and did not need to think about tomorrow, money, unearned by him, gives him an influence in society, justifies all his actions. This arrogant, cruel man has not accustomed to receive rejection in anything; he may not stop before anything to achieve his goals, knowing that he can always excuse himself: money always come to the rescue.
Fitzgerald shows the dishonesty and cynicism of typical representative of the ruling class. Tom Buchanan considers his amorous adventures as little pranks, not hiding them neither from society, nor from his wife. He calmly appears in cafes and restaurants with his mistress Myrtle Wilson, not avoiding friends and acquaintances who know his family, for him nothing is sacred. He did not care how Daisy and his friends look at his love affairs, what they think, the wealth, inherited by him, determines all his social and spiritual views of this character. Fitzgerald with his talent has accused the ruling class in immorality of society, found it guilty in corrupting the minds of many Americans who want to "break out in people," not only in moral but also physical death of many of them.
The image of female characters is interesting in the novel; there are two basic female characters of the novel: Daisy Buchanan and her friend Jordan Baker. Jordan instinctively avoids clever, insightful people, feels more confident among those to whom in the head can not come the idea that she is able to make anything in disagreement with the generally accepted norms of behavior. She, like Buchanan, is always lucky, although she was incurably dishonest. Another female character Daisy Buchanan continues gallery of female images, but Daisy is simpler, natural, than its predecessor. She just as young girls «flappers» was brought up in luxury, not knowing any worries, surrounded by rich fans, clear as silver, prosperous and proud, infinitely far from exhausting struggle of the poor. Maybe she would not pay attention to the handsome officer Gatsby, knowing of his poverty and could not wait long for a loved one, and as a subtly noticed by the author, it was necessary for her "some force of love, money, undeniable benefits, which would not need to look for far. Her feelings were not considered and when Tom Buchanan made her the proposal, she agreed, his wealth and influence in society flattered her arrogance.
External beauty of spouses Buchanan interfaces with squalor and ugliness of their inner world, the emptiness and worthlessness of requests. Daisy is easily delighted at the sight of the luxurious design of the mansion of Gatsby, as well as the demonstrated by hero magnificence and a huge assortment of his men's shirts. In melodious voice of Daisy, according to Gatsby, all time is heard the sound of money and Tom may stand idle for a long time in front of shop windows of jewelry stores, admiring the brilliance of diamonds. Fitzgerald specifically used the style of alienation as we see each of these people, but do not feel them as living, with characteristic to a living person inner life: they seemed to be as from another world. Describing the alienation of people from each other, from their human essence, Fitzgerald shows his suspension from them: society "Century of Jazz" and the "lost generation". (Lois Tyson 40 – 54)
The theme of true beauty and human talent was always interesting to Fitzgerald, as in the assessment of personality have advocated spiritual wealth of man, his honesty, dignity, inner courage. To a large extent this character is presented in the novel by a person by whose name the narration is told - Nick Carraway, who enters the flow of events, yet confident that sufficiently well versed in the "basic moral values." Acquainted with Gatsby, he says that he embodies everything that he, Nick Carraway, "sincerely despised and despises." On the contrary, in Buchanan, as in girlfriend of Daisy, Jordan Baker, much is close to him. These sympathies and antipathies, inspired to him by the skills and the environment, are exposed to extreme test for him and suddenly collapse.
"Gatsby justified himself " - Nick reasons later, summing up what happened. "Insignificance and nothingness, here who are they you are one who is worth them all together," - he cries, saying goodbye to Gatsby at his last meeting with him. (F. Scott Fitzgerald 89- 91). He condemns Gatsby, but takes pity on him, as a victim of an immoral order of life in which all of them - Gatsby, Buchanan, Jordan and he - voluntary or involuntary participants are connected by mutual responsibility. He condemns Buchanan and blames them as active perpetrators of immoral order of life. According to Nick Carraway, "They were careless creatures, Tom and Daisy; they broke things and people, and then ran away and hid behind their money their all-consuming carelessness or something else, on what their union was kept". Shock, suffered by Carraway, causes him to abandon the moral compromises which he considered still acceptable for himself and in the order of things. He looks forward joylessly, does not see any escape from the ruling in his life evil, and considers it his duty to honestly tell about what he had seen, not exaggerating vice and giving due to the courage of the human heart.
Nick is not unresponsive narrator, the fate of Gatsby, in its turn, greatly influenced his own; for Nick it is important to understand Gatsby and his "dream" thereby to understand himself and his place in life. Unlike Gatsby, Nick does not choose in favor of his "dream": he breaks with Jordan, likeness of Daisy, because he sees in her and her surroundings arrogance, selfishness, infantilism of thinking, cruelty - all those features that did not want to see Gatsby in his beloved. With the line of Nick in the novel is undoubtedly related the theme of responsibility of the person before other people, the theme of the individual in its confrontation with society, the problem of moral choice and humanistic orientation. It is natural that Nick makes ethical condemnation to all that had happened. The collapse of the "dream" and illusions of Gatsby revealed moral inevitability not only of the "dream", but the American society as a whole: a civilization in which the spiritual life is completely subordinated to the idea of material prosperity can not be humane. In the final chapter of the novel it is impossible not to notice certain notes of skepticism and sadness of Nick, which are caused by the death of Gatsby and serious evaluation of all that has happened. However, the final conclusion of the writer is not pessimistic: with people like Nick, Fitzgerald connects his hopes for the future search for moral orientation in the complex world of the American reality. (Johannes Malkmes 70 -79)
In "The Great Gatsby" are expressed the tragedy of "Century of Jazz" and its special, painful beauty. Throughout the book there are two symbolic series associated in sad and poetic tonalities of the novel. Showing the emptiness and hopelessness of "dream" in contemporary American society, revealing its incompatibility with the bourgeois ideals and values, Fitzgerald simultaneously mourns that dream, regretting its inaccessibility. Hence are the characteristic to his works sadness and tragedy next to the external festive carnival, which give a special charm and at the same time metaphysical nature to his literary texts.
In conclusion, I would like to make a few basic ideas that are present in the works of Fitzgerald. Most importantly, that should be learned from Fitzgerald creativity is his peculiar lessons of life and the main thing is a dream, however, Fitzgerald destroys the illusions. Despite everything, Gatsby continued to believe in the "green flame" and Fitzgerald, even at the end of the novel mentions about this. He also encourages everyone not just believe and hope, but spiritually enrich themselves with the fact that they have something to strive for. After all, to aspire means life, otherwise, we are waiting for ethical, spiritual and moral decline. All what we dream are money or things that would have been ours, if we had the money, fame, and all the privileges, love of a certain person. Our dreams and fantasies materialized with the external world, and this leads us to the inevitable death. The novel makes us think about our "American Dream" and to analyze not only the behavior and character of Gatsby, but ourselves.
Tobias Bumm. The Failure of the 'American Dream' in the Works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. 2005. Print.
Harold Bloom, Blake Hobby. The American Dream. 2009. Print.
Linda Claycomb Pelzer. Student Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald. 2000. Print.
Lois Tyson. Psychological Politics of the American Dream: The commodification of subjectivity in 20th century American literature. 1994. Print.
Johannes Malkmes. American Consumer Culture and Its Society: From F. Scott Fitzgerald`s 1920s Modernism to Bret Easton Ellis 1980s Blank Fiction. 2011. Print.
Jim Cullen. The American Dream: A Short History of an Idea that Shaped a Nation. 2003. Print.
F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby. 1925. Print.
F. Scott Fitzgerald. This Side of Paradise. 1920. Print.
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