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Character Development and Detail in Fitzgerald's "The Beautiful and Damned"

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Clarissa Martin F. Scott Fitzgerald fills The Beautiful and Damned with an eloquent air of detail and captivates the reader’s attention through careful character development. Fitzgerald's development and vivid descriptions, many of which parallel to his life with his wife, Zelda, make up for the slow start to the book and pull the reader into the mind of the main character, Anthony Patch. Fitzgerald masterfully crafts Anthony's character and describes his arrogance in such great articulate detail that, as a reader, you start to feel like you know him personally. Anthony's work ethic, or lack thereof, is based off of his belief that he is better than everyone else--that he is essentially too smart for the world. Though all Anthony does is rant about his intelligence and potential, he fails to make any effort to get a job. He feels as if he is destined for greatness later in life, and is then therefore free, for the time being, to indulge in the splendor of his youth. Fitzgerald describes Anthony’s painfully nonchalant attitude, saying: "In this state he considered that he would one day accomplish some quiet subtle thing that the elect would deem worthy and, passing on, would join the dimmer stars in a nebulous, indeterminate heaven half-way between death and immortality. Until the time came for this effort he would be Anthony Patch - not a portrait of a man but a distinct and dynamic personality…" Born into a family of wealth, Anthony uses his anticipation of inheriting his Grandfather's fortune as another excuse to not work.
As the book progresses, Fitzgerald shows the reader more insight into Anthony’s mind and helps them understand his pain. Anthony eventually marries a beautiful woman named Gloria, but the two fall helplessly into debt. Anthony is painfully irresponsible with his money and wastes it on alcohol and parties, and subsequently finds himself disowned and near poverty. Anthony begins to spiral out of control and turns to alcohol as a relief. Though he is nearing poverty, he still refuses to make a real effort to get a job. Fitzgerald, however, helps the reader understand Anthony’s pain; he helps make Anthony’s stubborn and self-destructive actions seem reasonable and logical, even though they are anything but. Fitzgerald’s ability to make the reader side with Anthony despite his childish and ignorant actions is a testimony to his talent as a novelist. He draws the reader into Anthony’s situation through vivid detail and life-like descriptions of his feelings and makes them feel as if they know Anthony personally.
It took me awhile to read this book, but I am thrilled that I did. Fitzgerald has such a lovely and poetic way with words that is unlike anything else I have read.


Damasia I agree, it took me a while to read it, it is very slow, but nice. I kept reading that its a similitud between Zelda and Scott, but I just can`t imagine Fitzgerald being anything like Anthony....


Jools In all of Fitzgeralds books he writes from the heart and with this he adds a part of his soul, and his life experiences. His relationship with Zelda is laid out in front of us in every book in a small way. If you read Save me the Waltz you get a glimpse into her mind and relationship with Scott.


Feliks Its an intense book; but has a certain roughness. Always seems to me very apart from his other works; the 'voice' just doesn't sound like the Scott who wrote 'Tender is the Night' (my favorite). But I did quite enjoy this work; its got a marvelous climax and makes you shake as you turn the final pages.


James Dante You've done a very good job with this character summary.
I've always liked the way that Richard Caramel turned out to be the happinest in the end, even though Fitzgerald would probably consider this an unfortunate irony.


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