4. Major Themes

Fitzgerald had a recurring technique of modeling many of his fictional characters after himself, and those around him. In the short story, "Babylon Revisited" we meet a man who has tired of the decadent extravagances shortly after the stock market crashes. There are striking similarities between Fitzgerald's own self and that of his character Charlie Wales. Charlie loses a wife to insanity and death, just as Fitzgerald loses his real-life wife, Zelda. Charlie was an alcoholic as Fitzgerald himself. The character of Gatsby is a self made rich man who desires a woman who would be defined as unattainable through moral standards. She is above his class, and married. This situation is similar to Zelda and F. Scott's situation. Zelda retracted her acceptance of Fitzgerald's marriage proposal upon reconsidering his financial status.

Alcoholism in itself was major theme in Fitzgerald's work. Gatsby was renowned for his infamous parties of excess. Babylon's Charlie was also a recovering alcoholic. F. Scott's close friend and fellow modernist, Ernest Hemingway was also known for the ever-present drink his characters were always having. Prohibition had a profound effect upon the culture of the twenties, and along with their social disillusionment alcohol was a way for American's to express their desire for a sort of alienation or dissolution.

The loss of the "American Dream" by traditional standards is another recurring theme in Fitzgerald's work. The American dream is typically thought of as something achieved through hard work and perseverance. Our anti-hero, Jay Gatsby has obtained his wealth through deceit and criminal behavior. Charlie Wales becomes a sell-out when he makes a large amount of money in a short amount of time, and proceeds to lose all that was of true value to him. Fitzgerald has a way of showing the "American Dream", through shallow and greedy eyes.

1 comment:

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