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Reinterpretation of Fitzgerald’s Attitude Towards Women

Author JiangGuiHong
Tutor LuZuoTai
School Guangxi Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Fitzgerald the American Flapper the attitude toward women
Type Master's thesis
Year 2007
Downloads 1363
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F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896――1940), a representative American writer in both decades of 1920 and 1930, is widely regarded as the spokesman and the laureate of Jazz Age. The creation of the American Flapper is a theme that not only fascinates Fitzgerald but also his readers and critics. Taking the part of feminism, we will examine them again when putting Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Tender Is the Night into the background of the western patriarchal culture. Having carefully analyzed the images of the American Flapper in them, we will find out the decline of modern patriarchal culture as well as the rise of woman’s culture, therefore get to understand the author’s praised attitude toward women.As a realistic writer, Fitzgerald’s careful observation and his loyal attitude toward life make his characters more realistic and valuable. His fictional flappers are not stereotypical, dull but complicated, individual women. Their aggressive appearance and unconventional behavior in the roaring Twenties actually are not only a strategy of escaping from conversions in order to gain existential freedom and space,but also an attempt and a way to achieve autonomous subjectivity. Their growing process is like the Butterfly’s, which experiences the stages of egg, larva, pupa and adult butterfly. In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald tells us a touching story about a group of flappers, who struggle to survive but are still dependent on men under the influence and penetration of patriarchal culture: the cold-hearted and indifferent Daisy from the upper-middle-class refuses Gatsby’s love for fear of losing her decent life and social status; the parentless Jordan from the middle-middle-class has become careless and dishonest on the way of pursuing a reliable marriage which will not interfere her independence; as a member of immigrant white women, Myrtle’s wrong way of improving her fate fatally disillusions and results in her death. This novel indicates the American Flapper’s perplexed mind mixed with a feeling of conservation and rebellion, her hard existential state, and twisted nature. The bitter experience that they cannot find a right way out reflects the process of American women’s modernization in a shifting society still lingers between modernity and tradition. Those flappers presented by the author in Tender Is the Night, however, become mature and self-reliant after suffering the pain of growing: Rosemary, who receives her mother’s unique tuition, grows up gradually from a na?ve and innocent girl to a mature and independent professional woman in economy as well as in emotion;Nicole, who is tortured by the trauma derived from her father’s incest, dares to challenge the male authority and make an awakening shout after recovering physically and mentally, finally re-chooses her life on her own;Their independence, which weakens men’s masterful status gradually from the center to edge, is a dirge for modern patriarchal culture. These flappers become the typical representatives of a new generation of the American Flapper whose laudable qualities go down to nowadays American women.Fitzgerald’s understanding and persistency to the American Flapper, to a great degree, benefit from his extraordinary life experience, particularly the influence of the women at his side. He is a man who abides by traditional virtue and believes in traditional family concept. To him, the American Flapper is a new philosophy of romantic individualism, rebellion and liberation. Their individual distinctness, together with their violent revolting spirit and their persistent pursue of selfhood, wins Fitzgerald’s highly praise and adoration,and leads to his devotion to the American Flapper no matter in art and in life.

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