F. Scott Fitzgerald The nineteen-twenties was a turbulent and fascinating decade in American history. The new socioeconomic ideology of consumerism brought unprecedented new luxuries to many homes and also transformed the social and artistic atmosphere of city life, especially in New York City. This city, more than most, is generally considered by academics to have best epitomized the new cultural dynamic of the roaring twenties. New York had earned a reputation of vanity and glamour, mostly due to the explosive combination of new money and new works of art in all its forms.
After the devastation of World War I, the American people had a revolution in the social standards from traditional views to more modern. The moral compass of people was no longer based on basic religious rules but instead regarded ethics as a relative concept. This venturing out from traditional ways gave the people a door to start the extreme materialism and partying as a way of life. Along with the “roarin” side of the 20s, there also came a group of writers known as the Lost Generation. One of these writers that arose with the Lost Generation was F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The Moral Decay of the Materialistic Although F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby debuted in 1925– before the Great Depression– it serves as a prophetic exemplification of the the material excess of the 1920s that drowned out signs of the coming Great Depression. The book’s plot follows the bootlegger Jay Gatsby as he pursues his old love Daisy Buchanan through flaunting his new extravagant lifestyle, mainly by throwing ostentatious parties. Yet, in the end, Daisy chooses her unfaithful husband Tom over Gatsby. Through Fitzgerald’s use of wealthy, materialistic characters, he comments on the effect of the material excess of the roaring twenties: moral corruption.
The way Dick obtained his rights is clearly shown in the quote: “Wealth or social position he did not need to seek, for he was born to both,” (Chesnutt). This
Although Dick’s childhood has been much more “fortunate” than Perry’s, Dick still grows up to be the more immoral, and cold-hearted human being. For instance, the day after Dick and Perry had murdered the Clutter family, Perry feels very remorseful and cannot get out of bed while Dick simply carries on as if nothing had happened, and visits him parents’ house: “Perry had merely fallen face down across the bed, as though sleep were a weapon that had struck him from behind… A few miles north, in the pleasant kitchen of a modest farmhouse, Dick was consuming a Sunday dinner… his mother, his father, his younger brother—were not conscious of anything uncommon in his manner” (73). Dick is an absolute sociopath; that is not fazed by murder or anything.
Society is constantly under the criticism of authors. Many writers seek to expose certain aspects of American society and their scorn of it. Edith Wharton and F. Scott Fitzgerald are renowned for their work on this subject. In The Great Gatsby and The Age of Innocence, Fitzgerald and Wharton reveal their cynicism of the societal elite; they find the elite as a severe detriment to American society. Through symbolism and the characterization of their main characters, Wharton and Fitzgerald similarly depict the societal elite as depriving American society from a promising future by refusing to let go of the past.
He is portrayed as a mastermind in the cold-blooded killing of the Clutters family, a man with little respect for the lives of others, which can be seen through Dick’s expression before the murder of the Clutters when he converses Perry, “We’re gonna go in there and splatter those walls with hair” (Capote 234). This sudden tone shift enables Capote to depict Dick as a cruel and immoral character. Dick’s lack of empathy and concern for other people beside himself allow him to commit crimes without remorse, which is in contrast to Perry’s moral contemplation after each bad actions they committed. Moreover, Dick is represented as the true criminal with evident motives in murdering the Clutters, while Perry is seen as a vulnerable victim who depends on Dick for validation and acceptance, something in which Dick happily provides in order to manipulate Perry, as Capote writes, “Dick became convinced that Perry was that rarity, ‘a natural born killer,’—absolutely sane but conscienceless, and capable of dealing with or without motive, the coldest-blooded deathblows. It was Dick's theory that such a gift could, under his supervision, be profitably exploited” (Capote 205).
Although Dick and Perry were equally involved in the murders, Capote portrays opposing tones to provide different perspectives of the criminals; therefore, one’s opinion can become easily impressionable. At first, Dick sees Perry to be innocent and “little,” but this quickly changes as Dick gets to know him better. Dick explains his relationship with Perry to be that, “He had liked him but not considered him especially worth until, one day, Perry described a murder…” then, a few sentences later Perry described that, “he had killed a colored man in Las Vegas - beaten him to death with a bicycle chain”
In Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” Dick and Perry have murdered the Clutter family and are on their way to Mexico. In this passage, Dick makes an astounding statement. In the passage, Dick claims that he’s “a normal” but that is far from the truth. He is a conniving, manipulative son of a bitch who thinks he’s normal in comparison to Perry.
Conceivably, this hypocritical relationship between Tom and Nick may be used by Fitzgerald to generate criticism to the contemporary lack of social values and this idea of social decay that prevailed in the 1920s. Furthermore, the readers – as mentioned before – feel disgust and antipathy for Buchanan due to his racist and male chauvinist sayings and behavior.
Between World War I and the Great Depression, the 1920’s were unique and special years in American history. The best way to represent that time would be by historian Frederick Lewis Allen providing the historical account of America in the 20’s in Only Yesterday and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famed novel, The Great Gatsby. Both of them reflect America in the Twenties by showing lifestyles and behaviors of people who lived in that time. We can follow their beliefs, actions, and morality through the works. While Allen was seeking to capture a decade, F. Scott Fitzgerald did a good job by pointing to the main issues during that time.
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald is the author of the twentieth century American classic, The Great Gatsby. It is a story of the American dream, settled down in the 1920’s, with issues of the time period being, prohibition, women, class structure, crime, and many more, The Great Gatsby has a taste of each. Fitzgerald incorporated subjects of his time and his very own experiences into the story to portray an era of social and moral values. The 1920’s were a time of breaking morals Class structure and wealth were among the highest pleasures achievable. The 20’s were an era of Jazz; with extravagant music playing throughout all hours of the night. Not only men went to fancy parties, but women as well were invited, sometimes appearing to have no company. Times were changing for women, for they could go out on their own and dress spontaneously. In many occasions throughout the book we get sights of the characters drinking, another big boom of this era; we know that prohibition was an enormous debate about this time as people began to drink more (Fitzgerald). All of this ties together, because Fitzgerald’s vision of the American dream was about discovery, individualism, and the pursuit of happiness. Were his works for the characters of his book and his readers, or for himself? It is believed that Fitzgerald incorporated his life situations and emotions into his stories.
Much like the Buchanans, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life was influenced greatly by the pursuit of pleasure. He experienced his own failure of the American dream after years of alcoholism and smoking. His unhealthy habits affected his work and his mental health. “His [Fitzgerald] own alcoholism enslaved Fitzgerald.” (Doreski pg 2).
The novel “Tender Is The Night” takes place on a beautiful shore of the French Riviera where deferential palms cool its flushed facade and cool breeze sweeps through the short dazzling beach from night right up to dawn. This is a very interesting novel authored by Fitzgerald and can be classified as one of his best writings in history. In this story, the characters of the upper class of the 1930’s are portrayed. The main characters in this story are Dr. Dick Diver, Nicole Diver and Rosemary Hoyt. These three characters are connected to each other in a complicated love triangle which in the end causes Dick a lot of heartache.