Hope In F. Scott Fitzgerald's An Alcoholic

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Hope can be a driving force in our lives. It can pick up the phone to call that one girl back for a second date. It can move our fingers to type the first few words of a novel. It can push us to do more and be more than we ever thought we could be. On the other hand, hope can be like an opiate. It can relieve our tensions and our stresses in a small dose, but it is addictive in big enough quantities. It can make us see things that will never happen. It can convince us we can move a mountain with only the resources to move a molehill. It can dull our senses and blind us to what is really happening around us, allowing us to see only our idealistic fantasies. Most people either don’t let hope control them, or don’t notice or care when it does. For the few that abandon hope entirely, those are the hopeless. The hopeless are the ones that believe the world we live in is one without joy or optimism. One such case is The Alcoholic in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s An Alcoholic Case. The Alcoholic, once a successful cartoonist, has sunk to a pathetic, near invalid drunk. In An Alcoholic Case, Fitzgerald uses the character of The Alcoholic to illustrate what can happen to us when we quit hope cold turkey.

The idea of a central character being pessimistic is actually a bit of a rarity in Fitzgerald’s work. As noted in James Gindin’s essay Gods and Fathers in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Novels, Gindin notes, “Fitzgerald’s fiction always, in one form or another, reveals a strong element of moral judgement against which the heroes can be seen. The
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Scott Fitzgerald’s The Alcoholic Case is a master work of modern gothic literature, because of its theme of hopelessness. The main character is in a scenario many would never dream of; being stuck in a hotel room, drinking himself to death, trying to evade the trauma and fear in his own mind. An Alcoholic Case shows us why hope is necessary. With it, we can rise above where we stand, but without it, we fall even
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