Comparison of the Presentation of the Characters Jay Gatsby and Dick Diver from The Great Gatsby

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Comparison of the Presentation of the Characters Jay Gatsby and Dick Diver from The Great Gatsby

F. Scott Fitzgerald is known as a writer who chronicled his times. This work has been critically acclaimed for portraying the sentiments of the American people during the 1920s and 1930s. ‘The Great Gatsby’ was written in 1924, whilst the Fitzgeralds were staying on the French Riviera, and ‘Tender is the Night’ was written nearly ten years later, is set on, among other places, the Riviera. There are very interesting aspects of these works, such as the way Fitzgerald treats his so-called heroes, and to what extent we can call them heroic.

Gatsby and Diver are both presented as wealthy men leading privileged lives. ‘The Great Gatsby’ was written before the Depression, and the optimism and faith in the power of money within the novel demonstrates this belief that people had. Notably, it is the characters’ faith in riches, and not Fitzgerald’s own. Gatsby is a self-made millionaire, making his money through bootlegging. He has acquired vast amounts of money, and believes that this money will help persuade Daisy to love him and leave Tom. This is illustrated in Chapter five when Daisy is shown around Gatsby’s mansion at his request. He shows her every detail, through from the gardens to his shirts and ‘he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes’. Gatsby sees his money and possessions as wonderful things, but they are also more than that, they are a means to an end, the end being Daisy. He bough the house because of where it was in relation to Daisy (across the bay), and he held the most amazing parties in the hope that Daisy, or someone that knew Daisy would come. Gatsby, in effect, devoted his whole life to the search for Daisy, and his money is a tool to help him find his love.

Diver’s attitude to money is very much a contrast to this. Money to him does not represent freedom and choice, but a bind that ties him and constricts him. Diver is conscious through the whole novel that he himself is not the financially dominant member of his marriage, but Nicole, with her seemingly endless riches. ‘Tender is the Night’ is written after the Wall Street Crash and during the Depression, but Fitzgerald has moved his characters away from the Depression of the United States to the French Riviera...

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... ideal. Again and again, Fitzgerald underlines the importance of faith and hope, without which America and the American Dream mean nothing, and it is impossible to survive without. Diver and Gatsby can both be seen as the failure of the American Dream, and thus that the America that was supposed to be a place where everything is possible, where freedom and liberty come above all else, is failing herself.

In Jay Gatsby and Dick Diver F. Scott Fitzgerald has presented us with tow men who should not fail, who, if there is any justice in the world, should succeed in what they do. However, they do not. Granted, they are not perfect, but they are more heroic and noble that the other characters they are surrounded with. The reason they do not survive is because they are old-fashioned men, with old fashioned, romantic ideals, and they are destroyed by the cruelty and superficiality of modern America. Fitzgerald does not paint a very reassuring picture of his home country, and these two novels display his personal fears about American society. ‘Tender is the Night’ and ‘The Great Gatsby’ are two novels grasping the mood of the moment, and Gatsby and Diver are two men who cannot keep up.

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