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Author Study: F. Scott Fitzgerald Curated by Leslie Huang '20

An insightful look into the life and accomplishments of a famous author from the Lost Generation, F.Scott Fitzgerald.

WRITING STYLE

IMAGERY

Fitzgerald uses vivid imagery in order to paint a picture of the setting in which his story takes place. His use of imagery generates a vibrant and graphic presentation of the scene in order to appeal to his reader’s senses and aids his reader’s imagination to envision the story. Fitzgerald has a tendency to describe approximate locations and distances in order to allow his readers to formulate a mental map of where the story takes place. In addition to location, he also prefers to detail sound and visuals, primarily colors, which appeal to his reader's senses.

 

https://rabbiablog.com/5-senses/

 

SIMILE

One of the methods that Fitzgerald uses specifically for imagery, would be simile. Fitzgerald often utilizes similes to set the comparison between objects to enable his readers to imagine something on the basis of another. In The Ice Palace, Fizgerald compares sunlight dripping over a house to golden paint over an art jar, which shows that the house is basking in sunlight in a positive light and that it is a very beautiful and warm image. 

 

The sunlight dripped over the house like golden paint over an art jar, and the freckling shadows here and there only intensified the rigor of the bath of light. The Butterworth and Larkin houses flanking were intrenched behind great stodgy trees; only the Happer house took the full sun, and all day long faced the dusty road-street with a tolerant kindly patience.

METAPHOR

Fitzgerald also utilizes metaphors to emphasize his point, and this can be seen in one of his most famous lines — the ending sentence of The Great Gatsby

 

http://erburzio.blogspot.com/2011/01/forever-ourselves.html

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

In this sentence, Fitzgerald compares his characters to boats moving against the current, which is rather difficult — in this way, he expresses the futile nature of the desires his characters have to go back into the past.

 

APHORISMS

Fitzgerald uses a lot of aphorisms in his writing, which are essentially statements of truth expressed in a concise manner. These statements are often applied to philosophical, moral, and literary principles. Some examples of these aphorisms used would include:

 

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function. - The Crack Up

In any case, you mustn't confuse a single failure with a final defeat. - Tender is the Night

http://tathamgroup.com/hate-the-word-love-the-concept/

 

These aphorisms are used in order to impart a sense of wisdom. For example, in the first quote, the aphorism is used to state that people need to be open-minded and be able to “see both sides of the argument” — opinions and ideas are rather strong, so it would make sense that it takes an educated mind to put one’s own opinions aside to really consider what the rest of the world has to say.

In the second quote, the aphorism is used to emphasize the point that one failure doesn’t mean that one should give up. Essentially, this is encouragement that making a mistake is not equivalent to a death warrant.


FOILS

Fitzgerald utilizes foils to characterize his characters, since a foil is a character who brings out the character of another through contrast.

 

http://www.capturelab.com.au/work/editorial/vogue-australia-may-2013-the-great-gatsby-cast/

 

     [George Wilson] was a blond, spiritless man, anaemic, and faintly handsome. When he saw us, a damp gleam of hope sprang into his light blue eyes.

     [Myrtle Wilson’s face] contained no facet or gleam of beauty, but there was an immediate perceptible vitality about her as if the nerves of her body were continually smoldering.

In these descriptions of his characters from The Great Gatsby, George’s character is rather bleak and seems defeated or broken, whereas Myrtle is the complete opposite and seeks for more excitement. Through the lifeless description of George Wilson, readers will understand the compelling nature of Myrtle.

 

DIRECT CHARACTERIZATION

Fitzgerald also uses direct characterization to portray his characters and show their development. One example can be seen in this passage from This Side of Paradise.

 

    Amory Blaine inherited from his mother every trait, except the stray inexpressible few, that made him worth while.

    When Amory was five he was already a delightful companion for her. He was an auburn-haired boy, with great, handsome eyes which he would grow up to in time, a facile imaginative mind and a taste for fancy dress.

    It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being. This, too, was quite characteristic of Amory.

Right off the bat, Fitzgerald already tells us that Amory Blaine has every characteristic from his mother that makes him important. Amory is characterized as handsome and dreamy, which in the book, these traits help him get through his early life without being too much of an outcast. In the last line, Fitzgerald depicts Amory as someone who is obsessed with recognition and fame (“becoming”), but overlooks the responsibilities that come with it (“being”).

 


TONE: SARCASTIC

Fitzgerald also has a rather interesting way of establishing his tone in his novels. He usually prefers to have a more satirical and broody atmosphere in his writing. In his first novel, This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald demonstrates a sarcastic tone throughout the story.

 

Amory's two years at St. Regis', though in turn painful and triumphant, had as little real significance in his own life as the American "prep" school, crushed as it is under the heel of the universities, has to American life in general.

Essentially, Fitzgerald is saying that “Wow! Amory went to a snobby prep school! That’s so cool!” This is sarcasm by the way. In addition, Fitzgerald is also asking “If the prep school is meaningless, then what is meaningful?”

This sarcastic tone continues throughout the novel as Fitzgerald continues to ask existential questions that he never really answers.

 

TONE: IRONIC

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald demonstrates a rather ironic and cynical tone throughout his writing.

 

    Amory Blaine inherited from his mother every trait, except the stray inexpressible few, that made him worth while.

    When Amory was five he was already a delightful companion for her. He was an auburn-haired boy, with great, handsome eyes which he would grow up to in time, a facile imaginative mind and a taste for fancy dress.

    It was always the becoming he dreamed of, never the being. This, too, was quite characteristic of Amory.

Right off the bat, Fitzgerald already tells us that Amory Blaine has every characteristic from his mother that makes him important. Amory is characterized as handsome and dreamy, which in the book, these traits help him get through his early life without being too much of an outcast. In the last line, Fitzgerald depicts Amory as someone who is obsessed with recognition and fame (“becoming”), but overlooks the responsibilities that come with it (“being”).

 

TONE: CYNICAL

The narrator of The Great Gatsby, Nick Carraway, is quite cynical and this greatly shifts the tone of the novel to a more skeptical perspective. While Nick Carraway reserves explicit judgment of other characters, Fitzgerald is still able to criticize through his narrator’s tone.

 

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    "I love to see you at my table, Nick. You remind me of a – of a rose, an absolute rose. Doesn't he?" She turned to Miss Baker for confirmation: "An absolute rose?”

    This was untrue. I am not even faintly like a rose. She was only extemporizing, but a stirring warmth flowed from her, as if her heart was trying to come out to you concealed in one of those breathless, thrilling words. Then suddenly she threw her napkin on the table and excused herself and went into the house.

This passage demonstrates Nick Carraway’s cynical perspective of the ridiculousness of certain social circumstances. However, he, at the same time, is aware of the tempting quality of the upper class. There is tension between these paragraphs because while Nick Carraway wants to stay away from the social circumstance, he is taken by it as shown since he sees her words as “stirring” and “thrilling.” In this case, he mocks himself for falling for the temptation and remains distrustful of the upper class.