Tender is the Night Commentary
F. Scott Fitzgerald conceived the original idea for Tender is the Night in 1925 at the peak of the Roaring Twenties. The novel was not completed until 1930. World War One, the Great Depression and Fitzgerald’s wife’s hospitalization of schizophrenia attribute to the novel’s gothic undertones that are less apparent in Fitzgerald’s Modernist writing. The title originates from a John Keats poem “Ode to a Nightingale”, where the Florence Nightingale effect gets its name. The title makes a subtle reference to Thomas Keats and the novel by making a comparison of the conflicts between realistic and romantic ideals involved in uniting in nature. The story begins to unravel as the teen befriends fellow vacationers of the “elite” class; most importantly, Dick and Rosemary. Certain situations during the vacation challenge this couples’ love and loyalty to one another. Dick is a doctor who developed Florence Nightingale Syndrome for Nicole. During his marriage with Nicole, Dick has a brief affair with Rosemary which inevitably leads him into alcoholism. The text is narrated in a third person omniscient voice of Rosemary, a newly famous teen actress vacationing with her mother in the French Riviera in the late twenties. In the opening chapter Rosemary describes her interactions with the other vacationers on the beach. She spots an American, gossipy, elderly lady wearing last night’s attire, and expressed antipathy towards her. To her opposite view, she describes a beautiful, young, sun kissed woman writing in a book. However, her attention is captivated by a group of boisterous, spirited young men. Rosemary’s attitude establishes the tone of the setting, and thus our attitude of the plot. The group of the elderly woman she dislikes befriend her and the playful gentleman that captivates her becomes the protagonist. Having the narration developed through the naivety of an adolescent girl, the reader can evaluate the novel’s key issues: youth and sexuality, love, and the separation of classes.
The text points to several important characters and Rosemary’s outwardly perception of them. Rosemary is a young, nearly famous actress that has not been tainted by the corruption of society. This allows us to follow her transformation into adulthood and her contamination of love, social appearance, economic status and sexuality. Rosemary indicates an attraction to Dick when she describes him as a “fine man” (6), seizing the attention of those within earshot. This instance foreshadows her emotional involvement that lead her to infatuation and a romantic affair; tainting her youthful pureness. From the text, we perceive Mrs. Abram’s pompous, gossipy attitude as a personification of the ingenuine attitude of the upper-class seen in distaste by Rosemary (6). Fitzgerald reaffirms this distasteful ideology when describing Dick, an ingenuine member of the “elite” class, at the turning point of his character’s demise. “He cared only about...