The Descent Of Dick Diver In Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night Essays

1465 words - 6 pages

The Descent of Dick Diver in Tender is the Night

  Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald chronicles Dick Diver's long descent (or "dying fall," [Letters 310]) to ruin at the hands of women. Diver, the novel's protagonist and antagonist, seeks to overthrow feminine power. Dick needs to control the women in his life. To him, women want to be dependent; they are weak, lost souls who need the guidance only a man can give. In turn, women are parasites who feed on him and ultimately destroy his genius.


      Before Diver becomes involved with woman, he is a Rhodes Scholar and a promising young Psychiatrist. By the end of the novel he is a middle-aged drunk chasing young women. Dick Diver, flaw credible, possesses an excess of charm, which leaves him vulnerable to women who lead him to moral and emotional bankruptcy. Diver meets Nicole Warren, the rich heiress. Their relationship is almost incestuous. The unsteady daughter figure/wife/patient seeks approval from her father figure/husband/doctor. The relationship is clearly based on the control Dick Diver has over Nicole. Nicole was already a mess from the sexual abuse she encountered from her father. She was looking for a father figure, someone to take care of her. Her choice of mate was the likely one: her doctor. While Diver does seem to love his patient, he nonetheless "handles" her, always treating her like a patient over whom he has power. During their courtship, the letters he sends her mostly tell her to "be a good girl and mind the doctors." (130) He is a doctor who has control over his patient while corresponding with her; he knows she will follow his directions and obey his commands. After he weds her, he becomes increasingly torn between his dualistic views of Nicole - that of husband and that of psychiatrist and Nicole ceases to "possess all the world's dark magic; the blinding belladonna, the caffeine converting physical energy into nervous energy, the mandragora that imposes harmony". Instead, Diver must increasingly "restate the universe for her", as part of her treatment. Nicole follows Dick "walking on her hands". She is after all "one to whom nothing need be explained and one to whom nothing could be explained". When the dying Mr. Warren requests to see his daughter, Diver claims she "is not strong enough to decide the matter for herself (249). Diver consults Franz but does not allow Nicole a say in the situation. Thus, Diver exhibits his controlling character in maintaining the right to make his wife's decisions for her. Nicole has no identity of her own: she identifies herself with Dick and is so dependent on him that she almost wants to be him. So much so that she even wants to become a writer like him: "I want to be a fine person like you, Dick, -- I would study medicine." When Diver once describes his love for Nicole, he calls it "a wild submergence of soul, a dipping of all colors into an obscuring dye." There is little...

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