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Gender, Madness and the Search for Identity in selected works of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Turner, Helen M (2015) Gender, Madness and the Search for Identity in selected works of F. Scott Fitzgerald. PhD thesis, University of Essex.


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In this thesis I engage with the subject of identity and how it is formed and undermined in the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald. In many of the novels and short stories a tension exists between two opposing forces. The first is the pursuit of a social identity which values inherited wealth and familial connections, mirroring in the values of the Old European World. In opposition to this is the protagonists’ personal identity that is not dependent on these long established connections to others. In characters such as Jay Gatsby and Dick Diver the latter is sacrificed in order to pursue the former. However, such an act of self-betrayal is shown to have significant, indeed disastrous consequences resulting in alcoholism, narcissism and melancholia. Alongside this study of Fitzgerald’s male characters is a consideration of women in his work and the manner in which they are used as symbols of masculine success. I chart the development of these female characters from his first novel, This Side of Paradise, in which women are primarily used to demonstrate the fears, desire and indeed character of the protagonist to more complex representations in the mature novels The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night. In Gatsby, Daisy Buchanan demonstrates a growing awareness of the female voice, even as, at times, Nick Carraway’s narration attempts to suppress it. In Tender is the Night, I suggest that there are two distinct stories evident in one narrative. In this novel “her” story is as significant as “his” story. I argue that this dialogism is, in part, a product of the author’s biography at the time of the novel’s composition. The depiction of these masculine acts of self-betrayal result in locating the most important aspects of identity in work. Or, as Fitzgerald wrote in 1936, “I have at last become a writer only.”

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Alcoholism, Autobiography, Bakhtin,M., dialogism, Faulkner,W., feminism, feminist theory, Fitzgerald,F.S., Fitzgerald, Z.,Foucault, M., Freud,S., The Great Gatsby, Hemingway,E., Kierkegaard, S., madness, melancholia, multiplicity, narcissism,polyphonic, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, simultaneity, This Side of Paradise, The Sound and the Fury, Tender is the Night, trauma
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Helen Turner
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2016 10:44
Last Modified: 10 Jun 2016 10:44

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