byCOMPARE AND CONTRAST THE PRESENTATION OF THE CHARACTERS OF JAY GATSBY AND DICK DIVER. NOTE ESPECIALLY THEIR ATTITUDES TO LIFE, LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS, THEIR DEMISE AND THE ROLES THEY PLAY WITHIN THEIR RESPECTIVE NOVELS.
F. Scott Fitzgerald is known as a writer who chronicled his times. This work has been critically acclaimed for portraying the sentiments of the American people during the 1920s and 1930s. The Great Gatsby’ was written in 1924, whilst the Fitzgeralds were staying on the French Riviera, and Tender is the Night’ was written nearly ten years later, is set on, among other places, the Riviera. There are very interesting aspects of these works, such as the way Fitzgerald treats his so-called heroes, and to what extent we can call them heroic.
Gatsby and Diver are both presented as wealthy men leading privileged lives. The Great Gatsby’ was written before the Depression, and the optimism and faith in the power of money within the novel demonstrates this belief that people had. Notably, it is the characters’ faith in riches, and not Fitzgerald’s own. Gatsby is a self-made millionaire, making his money through bootlegging. He has acquired vast amounts of money, and believes that this money will help persuade Daisy to love him and leave Tom. This is illustrated in Chapter five when Daisy is shown around Gatsby’s mansion at his request. He shows her every detail, through from the gardens to his shirts and he revalued everything in his house according to the measure of response it drew from her well-loved eyes’. Gatsby sees his money and possessions as wonderful things, but they are also more than that, they are a means to an end, the end being Daisy. He bough the house because of where it was in relation to Daisy (across the bay), and he held the most amazing parties in the hope that Daisy, or someone that knew Daisy would come. Gatsby, in effect, devoted his whole life to the search for Daisy, and his money is a tool to help him find his love.
Diver’s attitude to money is very much a contrast to this. Money to him does not represent freedom and choice, but a bind that ties him and constricts him. Diver is conscious through the whole novel that he himself is not the financially dominant member of his marriage, but Nicole, with her seemingly endless riches. Tender is the Night’ is written after the Wall Street Crash and during the Depression, but Fitzgerald has moved his characters away from the Depression of the United States to the French Riviera, where the Depression did not leave such a deeply imprinted mark upon society. Diver is representative of middle class America – financially secure but not in a position to spend money as Nicole does, buying from great lists, and everything she liked that she couldn’t possibly use she bought as a present for a friend’. Instead, Dick felt a discrepancy between the growing luxury in which the Divers lived, and the need for display which apparently went along with it. Dick feels trapped by Nicole’s money, and constantly tires to assert his independence from it, such as when he and Nicole started out together, he supported them on his few thousand a year. However, the Warren family undermined his independence, such as buying the Divers their clinic in Zurich, in order to protect Nicole. Nicole wants to own Dick, and once of the ways in which to do so is by her money (‘Nicole, wanting to own him encouraged any slackness on his part’). People see the Divers for their money, such as Franz Gregorovious with his plans for the clinic. It is not that Dick is adverse to the concept of money and wealth, but he feels that he has become trapped by Nicole’s riches (he had wedded a desire for money to an essentially unacquisitive nature he had never felt more sure of himself than at the time of his marriage to Nicole. Yet he has been swallowed up like a gigolo, and somehow permitted his arsenal to be locked up in the Warren safety deposit vaults.’)
Despite both these men having vast amounts of money at their disposal, thus the theoretical ability to do or achieve anything they want, neither of these men are happy. Interestingly, neither of these men view their money as material wealth, but intrinsically linked to their lovers. Fitzgerald does not put forward the theory that money brings happiness, or can solve problems, but more often than not, brings more sadness and joy. This contrasts nicely with the mood of the 1920s which was of materialism, and also of the 1930s, where lack of money brought unhappiness.
Gatsby and Diver are both seen by their peers as luck men living an ideal life as socialites, entertaining people endlessly, blessed with great fortunes (lucky Dick, you big stiff’). What more could they wish for? They lived in big house, socialise and provide for others, and appear to enjoy their lives, but do they? Their idealised lives seem, to them, vacant and directionless, a never-ending stream of parties and faces. For Gatsby, his life will never be perfect unless he has Daisy. For Dick, his life is slightly more complicated, torn between his desire to be autonomous, his desire to cure Nicole, and his fear that a cured Nicole will no longer need him. Dick’s desire to control others is representative of his desire for order which is shown by his voice that promised that he would take care of her [Rosemary]’, and she also saw him as a model of correctness’. Dick also provided a structure for Nicole to put her faith in, and therefore get better. Dick’s faith in form and order comes from another time, and does not fit in with the anarchy and chaos of a rapidly evolving America. It does not hold with the sense of the disintegration of society which Fitzgerald saw happen before his eyes. Instead, he is the last hope of a decaying clan’ and the exact furthermost evolution of a class’ – a man who is eventually destroyed by not being able to keep up with the times.
Gatsby also has a relationship with the idea of order. He had, according to Nick, one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it’. Gatsby wished to find in Daisy some idea of himself’ with which to counter a life which had become confused and disordered.’ Order and chaos pervade The Great Gatsby’, with Nick declaring his belief that codes of conduct are needed to control human behaviour. He wishes for the world to be in uniform and at a sort of moral attention forever’, and Gatsby also seems to be lost in the world of parties he has created, and not quite in control, despite his efforts. Gatsby does not need to control his parties, but he does his life, which he has desperately tried to map out in his own way, despite what others may say (Nick saying, You can’t repeat the past!’ to which Gatsby replies, Why of course you can!’).
Both Gatsby and Diver’s need and belief in order is in contrast to the company they keep, such as, in Dick’s case, Mary Minghetti (North) and Lady Caroline Sibley-Biers, and in Gatsby’s case, the parties he throws. Notably, it is not their actual desired company, but the company they are associated with through friends or events. Gatsby searches for Daisy in these parties, not ladies who fall in the pool, and Dick was friendly with Mary whilst she was married to Abe, but not while she consorted with Lady Caroline. However, Mary turns to Dick, bringer of order to chaos, to sort out their problems when they are arrested. It is interesting to see that while Dick’s downfall becomes more and more apparent, his acquaintances become more and more wild, highlighting the disintegration of both society and Dick, and that Dick’s demise must be linked to his inability to adapt to this anarchic and chaotic mood.
Gatsby and Diver are great entertainers of their peers. Diver seems to thrive on the company of others, of controlling social situations perfectly and, and the peak of his social climb, people clamour to be with the Divers. Dick, according to Mary, could keep a party moving just by a little sentence or a saying here and there.’ He could make people enjoy themselves and each other, almost effortlessly, and because of this, people remember him (It’s one of the finest memories in my life the most civilised gather of people that I have ever known’ – Royal Dumphrey). His parties were always memorable, though it is questionable whether they were civilised. One of the earliest scenes in Tender is the Night’ is the party which ends in a duel, and whilst in Paris Rosemary notes that she can now say that she has been to a wild party. However, it is only after the departure of the Divers is when these parties degenerate into disorder and chaos, underlining the idea that Dick is a bringer of order. To please other people seems to please Dick, but it also wore him out (one of his most characteristic moods was upon him, the excitement that swept everyone up into it and was inevitably followed by his own form of melancholy’). Rosemary is one character within the novel who is particularly enchanted with the Divers, especially Dick. She constantly tells her Mother, who is also her chief confidante, how Perfect’ the Divers are, and Tommy protects them from rumours by telling Mrs McKisco that it is inadvisable to comment on what goes on in his house’. Tommy seems to be the only character willing to protect the Divers, especially Nicole. Despite their fantastic social life, the Divers seem to end up friendless in their own lives, on the outside than the leaders of the inside social circle that they once were.
Gatsby is also seen as a great socialite, but on a different level. Where the Divers were masters of smaller, personal parties, Gatsby regularly threw wild extravagant revels. However, Dick and Nicole were the obvious and open hosts, Gatsby remained elusive, and almost none of his guests could actually recognise him. Instead, he was the hidden host, observer of the gaiety that he provided, forever on the lookout for something, someone. Gatsby’s past is shrouded in mystery – some think that he is a German spy, others that he has killed a man. However, Gatsby does not entertain for the sake of it, he takes no real joy in the proceedings. Instead, it is a mechanism to find Daisy, the driving force of almost everything he does. In the spirit of entertainers, Diver and Gatsby are only linked by the happiness they bring others through their parties, and the fact that despite their social appearance, they both lead lonely, almost friendless lives.
Gatsby and Diver are both intensive socialites, even if in a kind of reclusive manner, and certainly in Dick’s case, the excessive like leads to his demise through, among other reasons, alcoholism. There are also other mentions of ridiculous behaviour which went on at Gatsby’s parties, but it would be unfair to say that in these two novels Fitzgerald was simply writing cautionary tales concerning the risks of excessive alcohol and socialising. Although Fitzgerald was passing judgement on the times in which he lived, he was writing about more than alcohol and the ridiculous critics often associated with it. Diver’s and Gatsby’s demise has more to do with a loss of control and broken dreams than too many parties.
Dreams, hope and romance play key parts in the personalities of both Gatsby and Diver. Gatsby possessed an extraordinary gift for hope’, and Fitzgerald seems to feel that this is what set him apart from his society. Gatsby has ideals. He had a dream which he not only desired, but did so so strongly that he based his entire life around life. Obviously Daisy is the immediate goal, but according to Nick, Gatsby’s dreams and aspirations had gone beyond her, beyond everything’. Daisy, Nick says, wouldn’t satisfy Gatsby – he knew that when he kissed this girl, and forever wed this unutterable visions to her perishable breath, his mind would never romp again like the mind of God’. Gatsby is constantly dreaming, but more than dreaming, he is actively striving towards something better, be it Daisy, or something less tangible. This drive separates him from the laissez-faire’ attitude of Daisy, tome and Jordan, who seem bored of their lives and its sophistication’. Perhaps it is this dreamer-like quality that compels Nick to call Gatsby great’.
Dick also has ambition and drive, but somehow goes wayward, and does not achieve greatness’. Dick is intelligent and he was seen by many as a brilliant psychologist, but becomes entangled with a love affair with a patient, Nicole, that effectively ends his career. Dick strives to heal Nicole, but this dream traps Dick, and then the success of his work to strengthen her actually underlines his own personal demise. Dick’s hopes are not as clear-cut as Gatsby’s, but the base ideals of most are within him, if hidden and corrupted by society (he used to think that he wanted to be good, he wanted to be kind, he wanted to be brave and wise, but it was all pretty difficult. He wanted to be loved, too, if he could fit in.’). It is interesting that Dick sees himself as an outsider to society, and that he, like everyone else wants love and care, as if he doesn’t feel loved by Nicole. This quotation also marks Dick’s attitude of not being quite good enough by his own standards, and the fact that he doesn’t feel strongly enough to work it out is in contrast to Gatsby who will do anything for his dream. However, like Gatsby, Diver is a romantic (the silver cord is cut and the golden bowl is broken and all that, but an old romantic like me can’t do anything about it’), in contrast to his peers and society. Of the two men, Gatsby is definitely the most idealistic, and this represents the optimism of his time, with Diver not having the same naive gift of hope. Gatsby and Diver are alike in their romanticism and ideals, and then demise represents the futility of ideals in an increasingly corrupt and materialistic society.
Gatsby’s dream is to be with Daisy, to marry her and spend the rest of their lives together. He obviously loves her a great deal, and his love is what drives him. For many, The Great Gatsby’ can be seen as a tragic love story. However, when Gatsby imagines his life with Daisy he knew before the war. Since then, both Gatsby and Daisy have changed, and in Gatsby’s mind, Daisy has been transformed into an ideal woman, an ideal which, through no fault of her own, cannot live up to. However, Daisy has been claimed by another, and although she may still love Gatsby, it is not as simple as Gatsby seems to think. The limitation Gatsby’s attitude to Daisy can be shown in the manner he acts towards Tom, and the forthright way in which he tells Tom that Daisy’s leaving you’. He is the dominant one in their relationship, but he is also childish and naive to suggest that Daisy never loved Tom. It is this idea, which taints her attitude toward him, and opens up the vulnerability which Tom is able to attack, namely the mystery surrounding Gatsby’s past. By bringing up Gatsby’s business, Tom is able to expose this weakness, and thus have him lose Daisy. Gatsby knows the effect of these revelations namely in the way he looked as if he had killed a man’. She herself was drawing further and further into herself’. Gatsby’s dream has crashed, and this is a critical turning point, namely the beginning of the very swift downfall, the drive toward death’.
Gatsby places absolute importance on his love and possible relationship with Daisy. Although Diver never really seems to express the same obvious undying love for Nicole that Gatsby appears to feel for Daisy, his demise also begins with the breaking down of his already dysfunctional relationship. In the way that Gatsby had created Daisy in his mind, Dick created Nicole as her psychologist, and he delights in her progress. However, she is his creation, and the signs that he is losing control of his creation help send him spiralling downward. The stronger Nicole grows, the less she needs Dick, and eventually she leaves. Although this seems negative, the Diver’s relationship was never balanced, Dick controlled Nicole’s mind through his psychology, and Nicole controlled his life through her money. Nicole owned Dick, who did not want to be owned’, and this control gave a very disturbing edge to their relationship. A possibly even more disturbing element of Dick and Nicole’s marriage are the two roles he plays – husband and healer. The dualism of his views of hers – that of the husband, that of the psychiatrist – was increasingly paralysing his faculties.’ Dick, once so brilliant at playing either of those roles (he was known as a brilliant psychiatrist) now cannot apply either to Nicole’s situation, and neither his love not his academia can help her. She has worn him down too much, and there is a definite element of truth when she says, some of the time I think it’s my fault – I’ve ruined you.’
It is interesting to note that Dick, a brilliant psychiatrist, does choose Nicole, a patient. There is her obvious beauty and charm, but Dick realises the complications of the situation. Why does he let himself marry Nicole, a marriage in which the difficulty of his role is clear? The answer must reside in Dick’s innate love of order, and his need to be in control of situations, whether they are parties, patients, or even his own marriage. The terrible irony is that Dick does not control Nicole, but Nicole Dick, with her illness which he has to tend, and her money which he needs.
Both Dick and Gatsby’s tragic endings are closely linked to their failed love. Neither Gatsby nor Dick manage to survive in the world that Fitzgerald has portrayed. Both also lose their dignity to some extent, Gatsby by being found lying in a swimming pool, and then by an unattended funeral; Dick by fading into the obscurity of a GP in New York State, never managing to settle in one place. Which of these two endings seems to have more dignity? Gatsby’s final ending is undignified, being in a swimming pool his house being defaces, but this is short term, and Fitzgerald does not let this be our last picture of Gatsby, instead ending with the epic vision of the future, of boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past’. Gatsby does not leave friends behind, he leaves a legacy (One of the taxi drivers in the village never took a fare past the entrance gate without stopping for a minute and pointing inside’), and an impact on Nick Carraway that was so great that he was compelled to write about him. Gatsby also dies spiritually intact (his dream must have been so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it’). He knew that he had lost Daisy, but he probably did not know the true extent of his loss, with his apparently unending capacity for hope. Gatsby’s death was the result of a revenge for the death of Myrtille Wilson, but it was Daisy who killed her, not Gatsby. The extent of his love for Daisy results in his death, and he dies with his dream.
Diver does not die, but is almost buried alive. He loses his wife, therefore his money, and also his reputation. He leaves behind his existence on the Riviera to forge ahead on his own. It appears that Tommy forces Diver out, but before Tommy suggested anything to Dick, it is evident that this relationship with Nicole was over. The case was finished. Doctor Diver was at liberty’. This is the culmination of a social fall from the very peak of society to being mocked, and being seen as a dissipated doctor’ who is not received anywhere anymore.’
Diver’s social fall should be compared to Gatsby’s as to see which is the more dignified and heroic. One key part is the element of control. Gatsby did not have control of the car which killed Mrs Wilson and he did not have control of Mr Wilson, who shot him. Therefore one can suggest that of the forces which led to Gatsby’s demise, Gatsby played a passive role, and events were to blame, and not him. Of course, he should not have let Daisy drive, but how could he have known what was to follow? The timing of Gatsby’s demise is also important – it all takes place within twenty four hours – from Daisy telling Gatsby that she did love Tom, and Tom revealing Gatsby’s past, to Mr Wilson shooting Gatsby. This short space of time leads even more to the idea that Gatsby cannot be held responsible for his death, but to a certain extent, Dick can be held responsible for his demise.
It is apparent from the end of Book Two in Tender is the Night’, when Dick hears of his father’s death, that he is losing control of himself and events. He meets Rosemary and the McKiscos on the ship, and Rosemary says, oh, such a shame. What’s it all about anyhow? Why bring it to me?’ to which Diver replies, I guess I’m the Black Death. I don’t seem to bring people happiness anymore.’ This conversation shows how even Dick himself is aware of his fading talents, but there is a sense of confusion within Dick, that he doesn’t even know what to do about it. Dick is finally being tested, and failing. One of Dick’s main problems is his alcohol intake, which becomes more and more apparent to people, such as Franz Gregory and Tommy, who says that Dick is not a person who should drink. Dick’s drinking began as a social exercise, but grows and grows until it controls him. As a result of Dick’s failures, both socially, professionally, and with Nicole, Dick drinks more and more, but he does not feel out of control (Dick blamed himself only for indiscretion’). It is the incident with Morris who accused Dr Diver of drinking whilst on duty that brings about an end to Dick’s psychiatric career, but even after this, Dick continues to drink excessively whilst with Nicole on the Riviera. Alcohol is symbolic of a world that Dick cannot control, but still wishes to be a part of. Society moves on and changes, and Dick cannot keep up. Fitzgerald uses alcohol as a mechanism that highlights Dick’s demise, and its inherent links with society. Dick turns to drink as he loses faith in himself, Nicole, and society in general. This loss of faith means that Diver drifts away into nothing, and fades from view. Our last image of him is in the distance, out of focus, fading into nothing. He has gone from being at the height of social order to a social drop out in a society where money, alcohol and social excess are the norm, but where he cannot keep up.
Gatsby and Diver live in fast moving, chaotic societies, where morals are bent and ideal broken. Fitzgerald has not created in either man an obvious hero, as both men are presented as having many faults, but I think that it is fair to say that they are heroes’, despite their drawbacks. They are both romantics in an unromantic world. Both these characters are seen as old fashioned in a swiftly changing America. However, Fitzgerald seems to applaud these characteristics, by portraying the other characters in a more negative light. The only other character with these novels who could be seen as heroic is Nick Carraway, and some see him, and not Gatsby, as the hero of his novel. However, Carraway himself feels that Gatsby is great’, mainly on account of his extraordinary gift for hope’. This hope sets Gatsby apart from everyone else Nick has ever encountered, and despite Gatsby representing everything which I have an unaffected scorn’, this idea of hope remains the most prominent and absolute.
Gatsby cannot be seen as heroic in the traditional moral sense – he made his fortunes from bootlegging, he involves himself with unscrupulous characters such as Meyer Wolfshiem, and befriends Nick and Jordan not because he likes them, but on account of their link with Daisy. But despite all this, and the half-scornful, half-admiring descriptions we receive dorm Nick, we still believe in Gatsby, and Gatsby’s character, because of his capacity for hope and love. There is also something admirable about the way Gatsby did progress from being a nobody to a millionaire, epitomising the American Dream. However, Fitzgerald does not shy away from showing that America does have classes within society, and Gatsby, despite his newfound riches, will never be able to become a part of the society in which he lives. Like Diver, he finds himself on the outside looking in.
Diver, like Gatsby, has heroic qualities, but he does not have strong enough a character not to be dragged down by the society in which he lives. Essentially, Diver is a good man. He has a desire to please others, to help, and to love. These are certainly admirable qualities. I think that Fitzgerald has created in Tender is the Night’ a novel in which the best’ character, or hero, is dragged down by the force that society exerts on him. It is the breaking down of a good character to become a shadow of his formal self. The hero in dick struggles against these changes, but, ultimately, he succumbs. Dick is not as heroic as Gatsby, and I think that Fitzgerald intended Dick to be seen as lacking compared to Gatsby, because he lacks the hope that Gatsby has. He sees that he has been defeated, and doesn’t fight as hard as he could to recover himself. However, this seeming lack of will power could be seen as a measure of just how much society has taken a toll upon Dick’s character. Gatsby can be seen as great’, but Dick, unfortunately for him, falls somewhat short of this accolade, and instead can be seen as a good man who has been broken.
Gatsby, with all his powers of hope and dreams, can be viewed as an unfortunate man, but there is also the idea that Gatsby can be perceived as more than a character, but as a symbol of America. Fitzgerald originally wanted to call the book Under the Red, White and Blue’, bringing in the definitive image of the American flag. Certainly, Fitzgerald is very concerned with the state of America within his novel, and I think that Gatsby himself represents American ideals under a great amount of pressure from changing times. America is said to be a classless society, yet Fitzgerald shows a world of many class distinctions, highlighted by the differences between Tom Buchanan and George Wilson. Gatsby can never be at ease with Tom either, because of the divisions of class between them, despite living in the New World, where every man is equal. Fitzgerald realises that despite the U.S’s supposed self-assurance, she still looks East toward Europe for approval. This is symbolized by the shirts that Gatsby has imported, and his Rolls Royce, both of which are seen as symbols of quality and wealth. Post-war America cannot remove the influence that Europe has, and create her own society.
Europe features even more strongly in Tender is the Night’. The Divers live in Switzerland and France, and whilst it is hard to see whether Dick represents America itself, the novel has an American theme, and concerns American people and American ideals. Occasionally, the novel mocks the America abroad, who do not have the same repose that Europeans seem to have, but Diver himself believes in America (It’s American – Dick believes in it’). In Tender is the Night’ Fitzgerald seems to be examining the role of the American abroad, and he seems to suggest that at this particular moment in time, Americans are not ready to live in Europe. They have not developed enough confidence and self-belief to be comfortable once taken out of their own setting, and frequently become lost or out of control. Europe has a different way of life from America, and requires different attitudes. Fitzgerald notes that the American attitude is not compatible with the European way of life. It is also interesting to note that many psychiatric patients come to Europe to be cured, a sign that America still looks to Europe for reassurance and care, despite military success in the war. Although America may be bigger and stronger that Europe, Europe is still seen as more mature and refined, and the movement of American culture to Europe only brings chaos and disorder.
A strong feature of American culture is the American Dream, which features strongly in The Great Gatsby’. The American Dream can be seen in two ways – that it represents the limitless possibilities at what America means, and that she is free from any limits set by past experiences, or that one’s self is equated with one’s wealth, and that freedom and possibility come only with money. Gatsby seems to aspire to both ideas, but it is the belief in the first that makes him great’. Gatsby has tried to recreate himself, and has shedded his past, in the way that America has tried to shed her European past and influence. Fitzgerald takes his idea of the tow interpretations of the American Dream, and presents it in a paradoxical fashion, in that the material success that Gatsby has achieved means that his belief in the ideal will fail. Presenting America and the American Dream in this manner demonstrates Fitzgerald’s fading belief in his country and its values.
Diver is representative of the middle-class American becoming rich, and again failing to settle in a society with definite class divisions. Diver works hard, and is talented, and, subscribing to the American ideal, he should succeed in life, but he does not. Diver’s eventual riches do not come from his hard work, becomes less interested in his job, thanks to his marriage, and drifts, because he did not believe in the ideal. Again and again, Fitzgerald underlines the importance of faith and hope, without which America and the American Dream mean nothing, and it is impossible to survive without. Diver and Gatsby can both be seen as the failure of the American Dream, and thus that the America that was supposed to be a place where everything is possible, where freedom and liberty come above all else, is failing herself.
In Jay Gatsby and Dick Diver F. Scott Fitzgerald has presented us with tow men who should not fail, who, if there is any justice in the world, should succeed in what they do. However, they do not. Granted, they are not perfect, but they are more heroic and noble that the other characters they are surrounded with. The reason they do not survive is because they are old-fashioned men, with old fashioned, romantic ideals, and they are destroyed by the cruelty and superficiality of modern America. Fitzgerald does not paint a very reassuring picture of his home country, and these two novels display his personal fears about American society. Tender is the Night’ and The Great Gatsby’ are two novels grasping the mood of the moment, and Gatsby and Diver are two men who cannot keep up.