Symbolism and Motifs in The Great Gatsby

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald


     Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota in the year 1896.  Named after his distant relative and writer of the national anthem, Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was ambitious enough to counter his meager upbringing.  His first published work was a short mystery he wrote at the age of thirteen during his time attending St. Paul Academy.
     When World War I began, Fitzgerald was assigned to a camp in Alabama.  This is where he met his future wife, Zelda Sayre.  Because of Fitzgerald's lack of money, Zelda was uninterested at first.  The pain he felt with this rejection based on money is reflected in many of his novels.  Indeed, the Great Gatsby himself is modeled after Fitzgerald and Daisy after Zelda.  Daisy does not look for Gatsby after the war, but instead seeks a rich aristocrat named Tom Buchanan.  Just like Fitzgerald, Gatsby eventually makes bank and in line with the story he is self destructive with his money, just like Fitzgerald.
    Fitzgerald's works are not limited to novels.  In fact, Fitzgerald's primary source of income was from the short stories he wrote for magazines.  Throughout his entire writing career, Fitzgerald wrote only nine novels (eight and a half, actually-- he died before finishing the ninth).  Fitzgerald and Zelda were careless with their money; partying and drinking were staples of life for the couple.  Despite his success as a writer, Fitzgerald was commonly in debt.
     As problems increased between the couple, so did the amount of alcohol consumed.  Financial problems forced Fitzgerald to try new frontiers for his talent; he moved to Hollywood in 1937 to try work as a screenwriter.  His works were met with very limited success and he was eventually fired for his drinking.  In 1940, Fitzgerald's unhealthy lifestyle caught up to him and he died in his apartment in Hollywood.


Fitzgerald Quotes

All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.

An author ought to write for the youth of his own generation, the critics of the next, and the schoolmaster of ever afterwards.

Cut out all these exclamation points. An exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke.

Genius is the ability to put into effect what is on your mind.

In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o'clock in the morning, day after day.

It's not a slam at you when people are rude, it's a slam at the people they've met before.

Nothing is as obnoxious as other people's luck.

Vitality shows not only in the ability to persist but the ability to start over.




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