7 April 2014
The Great Gatsby: A Work of Fiction or an Autobiography?
The idea of reflection is a “thing that is a consequence or arises from something else” (Oxford). Reflection is something F. Scott Fitzgerald knows a great deal of and a tool he uses in his literary works. Fitzgerald grew up in a middle class family and attended a prestigious university, although for a short period. He also met a troubled, beautiful woman who affected him deeply and would be the muse of a significant character in his renowned novel, The Great Gatsby (O’Brien). In his novel, Fitzgerald uses some of his own life experiences as inspiration to write the sensational plot and create the unique characters. In The Great Gatsby, the reader realizes the impact Fitzgerald’s life had on his writing through his experiences with his family, women, and alcohol.
Throughout The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald consistently uses parallelism to portray Gatsby as a reflection of himself and of his life. As a young man, he attended Princeton University, well aware that we wanted to become a famous writer, but became heavily involved with drinking. This behavior caused his grades to drop significantly and soon led to his withdrawal from college. Fitzgerald used his own failed attempt at college as inspiration for Gatsby’s character, although his withdrawal was not for the same reason; “It was in nineteen-nineteen. I only stayed five months. That’s why I can’t really call myself an Oxford man” (129). After failing to graduate from Princeton University, Fitzgerald enlisted himself in the army as a form of self-redemption in hopes of becoming a successful soldier. Gatsby also enlisted himself in the army when he left Oxford as a means to gain success and wealth.
While stationed in Alabama as a soldier, Fitzgerald met and fell in love with the girl of every man’s dreams, Zelda. They got engaged and quickly became the king and queen of the jazz age by throwing extravagant parties (Perkins, Barbara and George Perkins). As a result of all the drinking and partying, Fitzgerald’s writing process was put on pause. However, when Zelda realized Fitzgerald could no longer uphold her luxurious lifestyle she decided to break of the engagement and Fitzgerald returned to his creative writing to create income (O’Hearn). Fitzgerald used this income to keep Zelda happy and allow her to continue to live her extravagant lifestyle she had become so accustomed to. Fitzgerald used this part of his life to show a similar situation between Gatsby and his love interest, Daisy, “She vanished into her rich house, into her rich, full life, leaving Gatsby —nothing,” (149). This is important because just like Fitzgerald, Gatsby was not able to afford Daisy’s lifestyle. This generated more motivation and effort for Gatsby to become wealthy. From beginning to end, Fitzgerald depicted most of his life events through the characterization of Jay Gatsby.