Research Paper F. Scott Fitzgerald

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According to Florence King, many people are too preoccupied with fantasizing about the American Dream and what they believe they should be or deserve, to the extent that they are unaware of their own accomplishments. This notion highlights the impossibility of achieving the American Dream. Additionally, F. Scott Fitzgerald, an influential American author, has greatly influenced the country. Through his novels, he consistently presents his disagreement with various aspects of modern American society.

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novels, The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise, the characters Jay Gatsby and Armory Blaine symbolize men in American society who have gained wealth through various means but still lack happiness, which is their true desire. The portrayal of these characters highlights the notion that when society solely focuses on material success, the American dream is ultimately ruined. F. Scott Fitzgerald, a Princeton Graduate, was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on September 24, 1896.

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Fitzgerald was named after his second cousin three times removed Francis Scott Key. He graduated from high school in 1912 and enrolled at Princeton University in 1913. As a member of the Princeton Class of 1917, Fitzgerald always neglected his studies and instead focused on writing. He wrote the scripts and lyrics for the Princeton Triangle Club musicals and was a contributor to the Princeton Tiger humor magazine and the Nassau Literary Magazine. Soon thereafter, Fitzgerald realized that he had a unique talent, and decided to pursue a career as a writer (Biography).

In 1919, Fitzgerald published his debut novel, This Side of Paradise, which is primarily set at Princeton and is described by Fitzgerald as a “quest novel.” The book follows the career ambitions and romantic letdowns of Amory Blaine. The publication of This Side of Paradise in 1920 quickly brought the twenty-four-year-old Fitzgerald fame, and just one week later, he married Zelda Sayre in New York. They began a lavish life as young celebrities. Around this same time, Fitzgerald popularized the term the “jazz age,” which characterized the lively society of the 1920s that revolved around wealth and material prosperity.

Fitzgerald strived to establish a credible literary standing, but his reputation as a playboy hindered an accurate evaluation of his writing ability (Bruccoli 5). He composed The Great Gatsby in Valescure during the summer of 1925, showcasing significant progression in his technique by employing a intricate structure and a controlled narrative perspective. Although Fitzgerald received critical acclaim for his accomplishments, the sales of The Great Gatsby fell short of expectations. However, the rights for stage and movie adaptations provided him with additional income.

Unfortunately, Fitzgerald felt like a failure because he was not wealthy at the time of his death. The obituaries were condescending and he seemed destined for obscurity, but by 1960 he had established himself as one of America’s enduring writers. His famous work, The Great Gatsby, explored the theme of aspiration in America and is considered a classic American novel. It suggests that wealth does not guarantee happiness, no matter how rich someone becomes.

The novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald exemplifies a strong disdain for the American Dream, which is an ideal that the characters in the story either pursue or attain. Fitzgerald skillfully portrays these characters as preoccupied with material possessions and driven by shallow and self-centered desires. The primary characters in The Great Gatsby display diverse personalities, yet all are impacted by wealth. Characters such as Gatsby and Tom Buchanan possess wealth and openly display it.

The text illustrates instances that showcase Gatsby’s opulence, such as his luxurious Rolls Royce and Tom’s Polo Horses imported from Chicago. According to the narrator, Nick, everyone had witnessed Gatsby’s car, indicating that Gatsby proudly displayed his wealth through his vehicle. Furthermore, Tom’s extravagant act of flying in polo horses from a different city would undeniably incur immense expenses. Gatsby repeatedly declared himself as “A Son of God” throughout the novel, consistently positioning himself at a superior level compared to his peers (Gatsby 63, 125).

Other characters, like Myrtle, desire wealth. Myrtle, who is from the middle class, is not attracted to Tom out of love but because he represents the wealth she has never had. She believes that having endless wealth, like Tom, will bring her happiness (Bumm 23). The characters in the novel have a strong desire for money and frequently use it to assert their dominance, which is a recurring theme. However, as the text nears its conclusion, Fitzgerald emphasizes that money cannot control human emotions (Expose of America).

Despite Gatsby’s wealth, it fails to tempt Daisy away from her husband, and no amount of money can erase the impact of Myrtle’s death. The conclusion of the novel emphasizes to readers that money is a shallow desire and cannot ultimately bring happiness or fulfill dreams. The decline of the American Dream is portrayed most vividly through the unethical character of Jay Gatsby, who is the main character in The Great Gatsby. On the surface, Gatsby appears to be the epitome of a self-made man who went from poverty to riches.

Even the initial portrayal of Gatsby by the narrator may be seen as deceptive. According to the narrator, if one’s character is an uninterrupted sequence of triumphant actions, then Gatsby possesses a certain beauty; a heightened receptiveness to the possibilities of life, akin to a device that can detect earthquakes from thousands of miles away (Fitzgerald 3). Throughout the book, it becomes evident that Gatsby is a single presence causing corruption: a wrongdoer, a smuggler of illegal alcohol, and an individual involved in infidelity (Will 126).

Gatsby opted out of school and hard work to pursue criminal activity, specifically bootlegging, as a means to get closer to his dream. His intense focus on his dream drives him to engage in any means necessary, including illegal activities, to achieve success. The absence of God or religion in this society highlights the futile nature of taking the immoral and expedient path towards realizing one’s dream, as seen in Gatsby’s case. F. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes repeated instances of color imagery in The Great Gatsby to provoke contemplation on different perspectives of the American Dream.

Throughout the novel, color imagery is used in various settings such as the Valley of Ashes, Gatsby’s parties, and the light on Daisy’s dock (Millett 4). The author, Fitzgerald, uses this imagery to shed light on the extravagant and wasteful perspective of the characters in their pursuit of the American Dream. Towards the end of the novel, during Nick’s first experience at Gatsby’s party, the vibrant colors illustrate the lively and intoxicated atmosphere amongst the guests. As Nick approaches the party, he observes that “the lights grow brighter… and the orchestra is playing yellow cocktail music” (Gatsby 44).

Nick is overwhelmed by the headlights of cars and the intensity of light against the twilight sky. He is also overwhelmed by the speculative nature of Gatsby’s life. Nick believed that Gatsby’s extreme success meant he was happy, but in reality, Gatsby was miserable, insecure, and unhappy. The corruption of the American dream led to the loss of motivation and ambition, leaving only the pursuit of an empty goal. Fitzgerald uses Jay Gatsby’s dreams to illustrate how money, status, and ideals contributed to the downfall of the American dream.

Daisy symbolizes Gatsby’s aspirations; he admires her voice described as “full of money – the charm that rose and fell in it, the jingle of it, the cymbals’ song in it” (Gatsby 127). The 1920s was a time when people eagerly pursued the American dream, although many ultimately fell short. Fitzgerald reevaluates this dream through Gatsby’s unsuccessful pursuit of it. During this era, individuals sought wealth, a partner, children, a lavish home, and a car, believing that these possessions defined success.

This is what they perceive as the American dream: money as the key element for achieving it, as success is measured by wealth (The Great Gatsby: The Corruption of the American Dream through Materialism 3). Additionally, the more money and success one attains, the greater their social standing becomes. In the 1920s, everyone believed that reaching a higher status and possessing wealth would bring them happiness, but they were often left unsatisfied, always searching for something better without ever finding the happiness they longed for.

Unfortunately, the American dream is unattainable for Gatsby and others, as they pursue the wrong dream. Fitzgerald aimed to create a character in This Side of Paradise, Amory Blaine, who embodied both his aspirations and his reality. Amory’s mother, Beatrice, was a wealthy, sophisticated woman who accompanied him on travels before he enrolled at St. Regis prep School. In contrast, Fitzgerald’s own mother, Mollie Fitzgerald, did not possess the same qualities as Beatrice. Despite this idealization of Amory’s mother, This Side of Paradise remains Fitzgerald’s most autobiographical work. It is a quest novel that chronicles Amory’s pursuit of self-discovery and offers insights into the confusion and turbulence of the 1920s.

Throughout “This Side of Paradise,” Amory Blaine’s search for his identity involves imitating people he admires, but this approach actually prevents him from discovering his true self. Amory’s concept of finding his identity involves merely mimicking the qualities of those he looks up to. This becomes evident in his relationships with various love interests. According to Amory, he is drawn to Eleanor because she reflects a version of himself that he sees in her wonderfully clear mind (Paradise 202). This illustrates that Amory is not aware of his own actions when he copies the personalities of others.

According to Fahey (2), the reason why he does it is that he knows no other way to establish a sense of self. The title This Side of Paradise symbolizes Amory’s ongoing struggle to achieve his own paradise, which is discovering his true identity. Prior to Monsignor Darcy’s death, Amory felt confined to “this side of paradise”. He knows what he desires – uniqueness – but he cannot attain it because it exists on the opposite side. He can visualize his objective, but just like trying to touch one’s reflection in a mirror, he cannot capture it until he shatters the glass.

Amory must go through the trauma of losing his sense of security and becoming his own person in order to break the glass. This struggle to find himself is successful when he admits, as the novel concludes, “I know myself, but that is all” (Paradise 255). Fitzgerald utilizes Armory Blaine to illustrate how everyone in 1920s society imitates each other and remains trapped until they discover their unique qualities.

Fitzgerald often explores the complexity of money in his earlier works, particularly when delving into the corruption of the American dream. In Amory’s courtship of Rosalind, Fitzgerald uses his character to illustrate this complexity. As they both fall in love, Amory realizes that Rosalind has grasped the concept of “supply and demand” and understands the importance of money. She knows that girls always marry into wealth, even if they are not in love with the person. This realization reinforces the notion that “poor boys don’t marry rich girls.” Despite his determination, Amory is blinded by his romantic and unrealistic view towards life. He tries to convince Rosalind otherwise, but ultimately loses her because he lacks the financial means to support her. Fitzgerald portrays money as the focal point of the American dream, but he stands apart from his peers in that he sees it as an evil, while they view it as the sole measure of success.

F. Scott Fitzgerald consistently explored the concept of the American Dream in his writings, particularly in his early works. These works highlighted the fact that using greed and corruption as means to achieve the American Dream ultimately results in its complete obliteration. Fitzgerald effectively showcases this theme through the characters Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby and Armory Blaine in This Side of Paradise.

According to Brittanica (3), Fitzgerald, being a realist, acknowledged that the American Dream was merely a myth. He famously argues that Gatsby’s dream of Daisy at the end of the dock is an unachievable aspiration. Fitzgerald claims this impossibility stems from the backward current of time, which leads us into the past rather than the future. Although this claim is unproven, it carries significant weight and deserves contemplation. Fitzgerald’s perspective is that dreams tend to be unattainable. People are constantly striving for ambitious goals, because even if they fail, they still achieve something remarkable.

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