F. Scott Fitzgerald

By: Gillian Manley 1st Red

Brief Biography

  • When/Where Born: September 24, 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota


  • Type of Upbringing: Raised in an upper-middle class family; Irish Catholic descent


  • Influences: In his early life, Fitzgerald was a bright boy who loved writing. At the age of 13, he published his first story in his school's newspaper. His success influenced him to continue writing in high school and college. However, Fitzgerald was forced to join the Army because he was so focused on writing. His fears of dying in WWI influenced one of his early writings, The Romantic Egotist (Lost Generation writer--post war writer; sense of dislocation and alienation). Later, as shown through many of his novels, Fitzgerald was influenced by The American Dream--the joys of young love, wealth, success, and the failures that came with it. Other influences include his wife, Zelda, his good friend, Ernest Hemingway, alcoholism, and his travels. (France--The Great Gatsby)


  • Motivation behind successes: Fitzgerald had a determined character. His future wife's initial refusal to marry him motivated him to complete his first novel. While in the army, he was writing his first novel. He also met Zelda while stationed. She refused to marry him, however, until he was financially stable. So, Fitzgerald continued to rewrite his novel and submit it until it finally got accepted in 1919 as This Side of Paradise. This novel set off his successes, and he married Zelda a week after it went on sale. Zelda was later diagnosed was schizophrenia, and Fitzgerald continued to write for the money to get her help at the Sheppard Pratt sanatorium in Maryland.
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"All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath."-F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald in the Modern Era

  • Perception: Fitzgerald would've been more successful in later time periods, perhaps modern times. He is very poetic in his writing and is able to beautifully describe his characters and their lifestyles. Today, readers love authors who can paint a picture for them and help them visualize, and that is one of Fitzgerald's greatest skills in his writing. Many of his novels are very popular to this day, most specifically, The Great Gatsby. Also, Fitzgerald would've been able to make more money in the modern era and probably wouldn't always be in financial trouble as he was in the 1930's.


  • Skills: If I had Fitzgerald's way with words, I would be writing books left and right. Personally, I would write realistic fiction or even dystopian novels. With the skills of Fitzgerald, I could really write any genre I like.

Fitzgerald & The 1920's

Fitzgerald lived through the 1920's, a time of new culture and prosperity all around the world. This era saw many developments, like the automobile, telephone, and airplane, as well as redefined womanhood, jazz music, and prohibition. Living through this time heavily influenced Fitzgerald and the man he became. He, like many others, resisted the new laws and 18th amendment which enacted prohibition and continued to drink. By the later years of life (and what some claim to be the reason for his death), Fitzgerald was an alcoholic, and this was likely due to the man he was in the 1920's.
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Interesting Fact

Fitzgerald's favorite alcoholic beverage was gin. As his health began to decline from the overconsumption, he continued to drink gin because it couldn't be detected on his breath.

"This Side of Paradise"


  • Context: published in 1920; at the time, part of the world was experiencing economic prosperity after WWI, commonly referred to as "The Jazz Age", "The Roaring Twenties", or "The Golden Age Twenties"; in America, this time period saw a rise in jazz music, flappers, redefined womanhood, and new inventions; completely new culture; in Germany, however, this time period marked economic crisis and can be attributed to the rise of the Nazi Party; this time period also saw a rise in political radicalism, particularly communism and fascism, as shown through the October Revolution and the Bolsheviks' victory in the Russian Civil War.


  • Themes:

1. Conformity-Individuals often strive to fit into society./Many individuals desire to be unique and stand out amongst the crowd. (I.E.-Amory initially wants to become an elite, but once he has his status, he becomes bored and wants to rediscover himself.)

2. Romance-Love is putting someone else first. (I.E.-Amory struggles with his selfishness, and many of his relationships fail because he is so proud.)

3. Loss-Loss is inevitable. (I.E.-Amory loses his youth, his loves, and close family/friends.)


  • How Content Reflects Time Period Published: This Side of Paradise explores many of the aspects of the 1920's: wealth, "looser" women, and alcohol. The novel also concentrates on the idea of the American Dream and an individual's desire to achieve status and success, similar to many Americans in the Roaring Twenties. Furthermore, many of the experiences Amory goes through were Fitzgerald's experiences, such as going into the war, his family's poor investments, and his increasing alcoholism.


  • Perception: This novel probably would've been less successful if it were published today. The main reason that This Side of Paradise was instantaneously successful in the 1920's was because it was extremely relatable to the people of that time period.


  • Writing Style: Fitzgerald has a very elegant, beautiful way with words. Not one sentence could be taken out of his book because each is important. Fitzgerald is very descriptive, utilizing imagery, similes, and specific diction. He easily paints a picture for his reader in just a few amount of words.

Fitzgerald vs. Hawthorne

Similarities: Both Hawthorne and Fitzgerald are extremely talented in painting a picture for the readers to visualize. Each utilizes imagery, or visually, descriptive figurative language, to describe events or characters. Additionally, both authors often use similes within their works.


Differences: As both authors are detailed, each are detailed in a different way. Nathaniel Hawthorne is able to give an elaborate description of an event or character within a page, whereas Fitzgerald can paint the same picture in a few words. Fitzgerald is very concise with his words, using specific diction to get right to the point. Additionally, Hawthorne has a very formal style of writing and also utilizes many periodic sentences.


Example:

"When the young woman—the mother of this child—stood fully revealed before the crowd, it seemed to be her first impulse to clasp the infant closely to her bosom; not so much by an impulse of motherly affection, as that she might thereby conceal a certain token, which was wrought or fastened into her dress. In a moment, however, wisely judging that one token of her shame would but poorly serve to hide another, she took the baby on her arm, and, with a burning blush, and yet a haughty smile, and a glance that would not be abashed, looked around at her townspeople and neighbours. On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold thread, appeared the letter A. It was so artistically done, and with so much fertility and gorgeous luxuriance of fancy, that it had all the effect of a last and fitting decoration to the apparel which she wore; and which was of a splendour in accordance with the taste of the age, but greatly beyond what was allowed by the sumptuary regulations of the colony." Chapter Two, The Scarlet Letter


"Eleanor was, say the last weird mystery that held him with wild fascination and pounded his soul to flakes." Page 207, This Side of Paradise

Works Cited

Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

Center, National Humanities. Prohibition in the 1920s: Political Cartoons (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

"F. Scott Fitzgerald Quotes." BrainyQuote. Xplore, n.d. Web. 16 Mar. 2015.

"F. Scott Fitzgerald." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 19 Mar. 2015.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott. This Side of Paradise. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1948. Print.

14, October. "Other Side of Fitzgerald." Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times, 14 Oct. 2001. Web. 22 Mar. 2015.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, and Stephen Feinstein. The Scarlet Letter. Irvine, CA: Saddleback Pub., 1999. Print.

PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.

"Prohibition." History.com. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.