Fitzgerald Protagonists There is a very direct similarity between ones behavior and ones environment. Humans are products of the environments they inhabit. Humans evolve and adopt behaviors which are very similar to those found in their social climate. This is especially true when examining the characters of F.
Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald presents the characters in his novels as products of a society void of moral integrity. Since Fitzgeralds protagonists in The Last Tycoon, The Great Gatsby, and Tender is The Night, succumb to the moral desert of high society, they end their lives in failure. Fitzgerald places his protagonist in The Last Tycoon, The Great Gatsby , and Tender is The Night, in the moral desert of high society; an environment very foreign to these characters. Jay Gatsby, the protagonist in The Great Gatsby, is drawn into the decadent and morally defunct society of upper-class Long Island. Daisy illustrates the moral void that exists in the Long Island society when she discusses her daughter with Nick.
Daisy says: Itll show you how Ive gotten to feel about–things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl and so I turned my head away and wept. All right, I said, Im glad its a girl.
And I hope shell be a fool– thats the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool. .. I (Nick) felt the basic insincerity of what she had said. It made me uneasy.. as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged (21). Daisy depicts the moral void that exists in Gatsbys society with her insensitive and selfish response to her daughters birth.
In addition to this Daisy also depicts the snobbery that exists in this society through the way she treats Nick, the narrator of the novel. Nick makes an observation that shows the lack of moral value held by the Long Island society when he describes Tom and Daisy. Nick says, “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made . . .”(180) These quotes clearly illustrate the insensitivity, snobbery and utter selfishness held by those who inhabit the morally void society. This society influences Gatsbys moral decline.
The amoral Long Island society in The Great Gatsby is very similar to the corrupt Hollywood society found in The Last Tycoon. Again in The Last Tycoon the protagonist is catapulted into a corrupt society that is unfamiliar to him. The protagonist Stahr, has entered into a deviant society saturated with characters full of lust, greed, and capitalism. The narrator depicts the valueless society and what it can do to decent people when describing the character Reinmund. The narrator says: Reinmund was a handsome young opportunist, with a fairly good education. Originally a man of some character, he was being forced daily by his anomalous position into devious ways of acting and thinking.
He was a bad man now, as men go. At thirty he had none of the virtues which either gentile Americans or Jews are taught to think admirable. (46) Reindmund is representative of many of the people living in Hollywood. Therefore the above quote proves Stahr did in fact enter into a society lacking virtue. The moral decay of this society can also be seen through the characters Cecilia Brady, and her father, Pat Brady.
Cecilia Brady is a character of very little moral value. She lusts after Stahr and throws herself at him while he is involved with the woman of his dreams, Thalia. Her father Pat Brady is an equally immoral character. An example of this behavior can be seen when he attempts to steal the production business from his partner. He tries to achieve this when Stahr (his business partner) is extremely ill in New York. Not only is Brady a shady businessman he also a capitalist participating in the immoral act of degrading the art of film-making to increase profits.
Writer R. A. Gallo, makes a similar observation about Hollywoods cultural wasteland as she writes: In The Last Tycoon Fitzgerald examines his conception of the contemporary wasteland. The deprivation of the Hollywood wasteland is cultural. Films have become a bastardized art form, exploited by the Bradys whose interest in the “booming circus” stops at the box office. (120) The behaviors of Pat, Cecilia and Reinmund clearly illustrates the state of moral decay that Stahrs Hollywood find acceptable.
The moral decay of Hollywood spilled over to the society of Tender is the Night. In Tender is the Night , the protagonist, Dick Diver marries into the morally challenged upper class society throughout Europe during the 1930s. This upper class European society is highly influenced by Hollywood, and is full of mental illness, adultery and snobbery. Fitzgerald sketches the snobbery of the society through the way Rosemarys observations on the differences between the upper and the lower classes. The narrator says: Rosemary looked for a place to sit. Obviously each family possessed the strip of sand immediately in front of its umbrella; besides there was much visiting and talking back and forth–the atmosphere of a community upon it would be presumptuous to intrude.
Farther up, where the beach was strewn with pebbles and dead sea-weed, sat a group with white flesh as white as our own. They were obviously less indigenous to the place… Rosemary found room and spread out her peignoir on the sand. (6) Rosemary admits that the people on either side of the beach are racially equal, but because they are of lesser means they are”indigenous to the place.” This quote clearly shows the snobbery that exists in Dick Divers amoral society. Divers society is also made morally complex by the mental illness of his wife, Nicole, and the adulterous behavior of those in his society.
Thus, Dick Divers society is morally challenged. Moreover, Fitzgerald uses these morally deviant societies as a strong negative influence on his protagonists. Fitzgeralds protagonists in The Great Gatsby, Tender Is the Night , and The Last Tycoon, succumb to the moral desert of their respective societies. That is to say that the Fitzgeralds protagonists evolve throughout their experiences in the moral desert of high society and adopt the beh …