The modern age began in 1915 and ended around the year 1946. During that time American Literature changed in many ways. A lot of the changes were due to the impact of World War I. To truly appreciate literature written during this era you must understand the Before World War I began the mood of the American society was confident and optimistic, but when hundreds of thousands of the Americans and Europeans lost their lives this outlook on life was shattered. People began to see a need for change, but didn’t know what kinds of changes.
There was a growing sense of uncertainty, disjointedness, and disillusionment among ertain members in American Society. During the aftermath of World War I, a major literary movement known as modernism began to develop. This movement caused a lot of writers to abandon the traditional forms and techniques they used before. Instead, modernists sought to capture the essence of modern life in both form and content of their work.
They constructed works out of fragments, omitting the expositions, resolutions, interpretations, transitions, and summaries often used in traditional works. The modernists also frequently expressed their views about modern life in the themes of heir works, often focusing on themes such as the uncertainty, bewilderment, and apparent meaninglessness of modern life. ” (Babusci 650). Since most people living during this time believed that modern life lacked certainty, modernists usually suggested rather than asserted meaning in their works. The theme of a typical modernist is implied, not stated. This technique forces readers to draw their own conclusions.
One way they did this was by using symbols or allusions to suggest the theme of their work Also modernists generally used a limited point of view in their novels and stories, because hey believed reality was shaped by people’s perceptions. Modernists also experimented with numerous new literary techniques, including shifting points of new and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Was one of the most famous writers of this time. His most well-known novel The Great Gatsby which was published in 1925 is perfect example of the outlook Americans had on life during the modern age.
Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born on September 24, 1896, in St. Paul Minnesota. He was the only son of Edward and Mollie McQuillan Fitzgerald. When Scott was old enough his parents sent him to St. Paul Academy. It was there that he wrote his first short stories and published them in the school Magazine. After three years at the Academy, Fitzgerald dropped out due to poor grades. He then enrolled in the Newsman School where he continued his experiments with writing. There he met Father Sigourney Fay the person who would become the most influential figure in his early life, both creatively and personally” (Prigozy 89).
Fay made the Newman experience much more successful for Fitzgerald In 1913 Fitzgerald entered Princeton University. The years that followed would be central to his development as a writer. There he wrote lyrics for the University’s Triangle Club Productions and wrote for the Nassau Literary Magazine. He was a social success at Princeton, but was forced to drop out in 1913 when war and literary fame got in his way of keeping decent In 1917 Fitzgerald applied for a commission in the eh army and was appointed a second lieutenant. He spent fifteen months in the service before discharged in 1919.
He then returned to St. Paul and submitted a novel, This Side of Paradise, which was published in 1920. The novel became very popular and established Scott as a writer. After that Fitzgerald wrote many more ovels, including The Great Gatsby published in 1925. This novel was called “one of the most scrupulously observed and beautifully written of American novels” (New Yorker)92. He became a very well-known author. Then some of his novels weren’t as successful and his fame began to decline. He then turned to Hollywood screen writing to make money.
He did that for the rest of While Fitzgerald was in the army he met his future wife Zelda Sayre. Zelda was glamorous, bright, and beautiful. She was everything he wanted in a bride, so on April 3, 1920 they were married. She greatly affected her husbands life and his career. During the 1920’s she as Fitzgerald’s private literary consultant and editor, while publicly she matched Fitzgerald’s extravagant tastes and passion for living for the moment. When Fitzgerald’s fame declined and their income became tighter Zelda, who was not very stable to begin with, started drinking.
Eventually her instability progressed into schizophrenia, and she had to be permanently As the years went by Fitzgerald continued to write, but none of his novels seemed to be successful. He, too became an alcoholic and was referred to as a literary has-been whose career F. Scott Fitzgerald died on the afternoon of December 21, 1940, suffering a fatal heart ttack while he was finishing a chocolate bar-one of his placebos for the alcohol the ravaged both Although Fitzgerald was a forgotten writer at the time of his death, Fitzgerald has risen to become one of the best known American authors to ever live.
The most fitting summation of his life was given by Alice B. Toklas when she said Fitzgerald was “the most sensitive…. the most distinguished…. the most gifted and intelligent of all his contemporaries. And the most lovable-he is one of those great tragic American figures” (Toklas)88. The story begins by introducing us to the narrator, Nick. He has moved to New York to get rich by becoming a stock broker. His second cousin, Daisy, and her husband, Tom Buchanan, also live there. Nick is liked by everyone, therefore he learns a lot. He first learns of his next door neighbor Jay Gatsby.
Gatsby’s house is huge, and there are always big parties held there almost every night. Nick later learns about Daisy and Gatsby’s past relationship. They used to be a couple, but broke up because Gatsby was away at war and lost all his money. That didn’t make him worth loving in Daisy’s eyes. Finally Nick learns of Tom’s affair with a woman named Myrtle that is going on behind Daisy’s back. From the moment Tom hears about Gatsby and sees his house, he is jealous and gets his opportunity to meet him at one of his many parties. Nick also goes to the party.
Gatsby and Nick begin to talk and realize that they had fought in the same division in World War I. After that first conversation a friendship begins to build, and Nick begins One day he meets up with Jordan Baker, a lady he’d been seeing, and she tells him about Gatsby’s previous relationship with Daisy. She tells Nick that Gatsby is still in love with Daisy and wants her back, but he needs Nick’s help. So Nick invites Daisy and Gatsby over to his house for tea. They finally meet again after being apart for five years. They fall in love again, Daisy begins hanging around Gatsby.
That makes Tom suspicious so he starts going to Gatsby’s parties with her. It was at one of those parties that Gatsby realized that his and Daisy’s relationship isn’t what it used to be. He wishes he could bring back the love they had before the war. One day Tom and Daisy invite Gatsby, Nick and Jordan Baker out to lunch at their house. That is where Daisy and Gatsby reveal their love for each other in front of Tom. That makes Tom extremely jealous and angry. When they are all out at dinner he accuses Gatsby of trying to start trouble in his house.
They begin to fight. Daisy tells Tom that she doesn’t love him because she loves Gatsby. So Tom tells Daisy and Gatsby to leave. George Wilson and his wife Myrtle, who is also Tom’s mistress, are also having an argument. She runs out of the house just as Daisy and Gatsby are turning the corner. Daisy who is driving Gatsby’s car accidentally runs over her and she is killed instantly. Later when Tom and Nick are on their way home, they find Myrtle laying dead in the street. Tom sees that his lover us dead. Wilson comes down and asked Tom what happened to his wife.
Tom told him that Gatsby was responsible for Myrtle’s death. Wilson then goes to Gatsby’s house, kills Gatsby and then shoots himself. Nick being Gatsby’s friend makes the funeral arrangements. He calls to tell Daisy, but soon finds out that she and Tom had left town. He tries to find some of Gatsby’s other friends, but quickly realizes that the few friends Gatsby did have didn’t really care about him. Only three people go to the funeral. Saddened by Gatsby’s death Nick moves back to the Midwest to start a new life.
Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, is set somewhere west in the US on two identical islands, the West Egg where the newly rich live and East Egg where the established rich live. The story is told in first person point of view by our narrator Nick who is also a central character. In the beginning, he tells us how his neighbor, Jay Gatsby, the protagonist of the story, is in love with his married cousin, Daisy. Eventually Nick arranges for them to meet and they immediately begin their affair. Soon after, Daisy’s husband Tom, the antagonist of the story, learns of the affair.
It psets him greatly, even though he has a mistress of his own, by the name of Myrtle. The climax of the story occurs when Daisy, driving Gatsby’s car, accidentally hits and kills Myrtle. Despite the fact that he knew wasn’t true, Tom tells Myrtle’s husband George, that Gatsby was driving. In a mad rage George shoots Gatsby and then kills himself. Nick arranges a funeral for Gatsby, bur none of his “friends” attend. The book ends by letting us know that Nick was Gatsby’s only true friend. “Gatsby himself to look at him through Caraway’s eyes, is a tragic victim (Hoffman)2361.
There are two main conflicts in the novel. Man vs. man: Gatsby is trying to win Daisy back from Tom. And man vs. self: Nick is constantly struggling with himself. He wants to fit in and be accepted, but when he finally does, he’s not sure that it is so great. The atmosphere in the story is constantly changing. It goes from loud happy parties at Gatsby’s mansion to the gloomy almost frightening atmosphere in the Valley of Ashes. All of the characters in the story are finally seen as liars. Myrtle lies to her husband. Jordan Baker is a pathological liar who cheats at golf.
Tom lies to Myrtle’s husband which results in Gatsby’s death. Daisy is insincere because she lets Gatsby take the blame for her hit and run accident. Gatsby’s whole life is a lie. Nick says he is the only completely honest person he knows, but he knows the truth about Gatsby and is unable to tell the police. Bad driving becomes a moral statement throughout the story. At Gatsby’s first party there is a smash-up between two drunk drivers. Jordan Baker almost wrecks while taking Nick home from Gatsby’s house. Gatsby is stopped for speeding.
The most important accident when Daisy kills Myrtle by hitting her with Gatsby’s car. All Gatsby’s life has been devoted to winning Daisy. Ironically, it is her reckless driving that eventually leads to Gatsby’s death. The Great Gatsby is rich in symbolism which functions on several levels and in a variety of ways. One of the most important qualities of Fitzgerald’s symbolism is the way it is fully integrated into the story, so that the symbols seem naturally to grow out of the action. Nick states “Tom and Gatsby, Daisy and Jordan, and I were all westerners (Northman)47.
In moving east they move from a world of stable values to a moral vacuum symbolized by the “valley of ashes”. The eyes of T. J. Eckleburg are compared to the eyes of God in the novel. The unmoving yes on the billboard look down on the valley of ashes and see all the immortality and garbage of times. By the end of the novel you will realize that this symbolizes that God is dead. There are many things symbolized by color in the novel. Daisy always wears white. This color characterizes her as an unattainable enchanted princess. The green light represents the hope and promise of Gatsby’s dream.
Some symbols are used primarily for characterization such as Wolfsheim’s, cuff links, Gatsby’s spectacular library of uncut books, and Tom’s repeated gesture of physically shoving people around are all symbolic of their characters. Other symbols such as Gatsby’s car have a function in the eh plot ass well as a more abstract significance. The faded time table on which the names of Gatsby’s guests appear serves to characterize the whole social class rather than a single person, the names themselves are symbolic in their connotations.
There are a few minor characters whose main significance is symbolic, in particular Dan Cody. While Cody’s importance in advancing Gatsby’s career is undeniable, the man had died before the time of the main action. He serves as an American “type” a man who struck it rich and was incapable of sing his newfound wealth for anything but self-destructive purposes. Finally, the action itself has a symbolic dimension. The various parties reflect a moral as well as physical chaos, and the careers of the main characters symbolize the novels controlling ideas.
Gatsby’s career is made to transcend the physical environment of the twenties, becoming a metaphor for the fate of American idealism in the modern world. Out of Fitzgerald’s presentation and analysis of the lives of Gatsby, Nick and the Buchanans comes the final theme that “American idealism has been corrupted by adopting aterialism as its means” (Northmen)46. F. Scott Fitzgerald didn’t have a notably idiosyncratic linguistic style. A Fitzgerald story is recognized by its romantic rhetoric, characters, settings, and social concerns.
He experimented frequently with plots, subjects, and characters. The stories reveal a pattern of development and fall into three groups: the early tales about golden flappers and idealistic philosophers; the middle, embarrassingly sentimental, often mawkish stories; and the late works, marked by new techniques-ellipses, compression, suggestion, uriously enervated, yet deeply moving. Most of his stories imply standard fictional techniques used in the novels: central complication, descriptive passages, dramatic climaxes and confrontations.
And like the novels, his stories rarely turn on one action, even in the shortest story. Fitzgerald’s major problem is with the plot. He will often begin with a good idea, create dramatic scenes, and then simply let it peter out. An ending technique he often used was to blanket the resolution in lyrical prose often concealing the weakness of the story’s ending. Fitzgerald’s gifts as a writer were primarily lyric and poetic; weakness in the plot and characterization did not concern him as much as using the wrong word.
Therefore his stories whatever their plots are almost always notable for the grace and lyricism of his rhetoric. His prose is filled with imagery. He describes bridges, “like dancers holding hands in a row, with heads as tall cities, and skirts of cable strand” (The Sensible Thing). It is this type of imagery that lift the readers and transports them past the restrictions of their world. Most of Fitzgerald’s stories are about the world of the very rich. Even in the more somber stories, manners and money are just as important as the plot or the characters.
Although most of his stories are stories of manners, there are several that fall into the category of fantasy, Whatever the form of the story, Fitzgerald’s range of subjects is wide and varied. Within the larger themes of life, love, death, and success there are too many shades and variations to even Fitzgerald was the spokesman for the Jazz Age, America’s decade of prosperity, excess and abandon. The novels and stories for which he is best known examine the entire generation’s earch for elusive American dreams of wealth and happiness.
The glamour of the youthful, affluent characters portrayed in the The Great Gatsby were derived from Fitzgerald’s own life and that of his wife and friends. However, they reflect only one side of a writer whose second and final decade of work portrayed a life marred by alcoholism and financial difficulties, troubled by lost love, and frustrated by lack of inspiration. Much like his personal experiences, Fitzgerald’s works mirror the headiness, ambition, despair, and disillusionment of America in his lifetime.