The Misunderstood and Illustriously Passionate F. Scott Fitzgerald

The dimmest, darkest, most dastardly crevices in our lives are where hope is able to shine through brighter than ever before. The worst things that can happen to a person, whether that be sickness, heartbreak, or loss, give us the unparalleled opportunity for hope. It is this faith that propels the most positive individuals through everyday life. Without this, one tragedy would spell the end of happiness. A defeat on any front would be a defeat over all fronts. This is why others in life grasp so strongly to hope, and while their unwillingness to accept defeat is noble, there will be no solace in their denial. Denial sprouts from the greatest sense of hope and a person’s refusal to “let go” of something that has past, something that is truly unattainable. The tragic life of Francis Scott Fitzgerald gave the talented author numerous chances for hope in his career, his love affairs, and his stories. His characters all seem to be wishing, wanting, and waiting for things and people, hoping that one day soon they will have what they’ve hoped for. Their gifts of hope are especially strong, given that their creator seems to await a time when even his most inward desires may become reality. This theme of hope is embodied in all of Fitzgerald’s writings. The theme of hope is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most prevalent theme, evident in Bernice’s hope in “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” Dexter’s hope in “Winter Dreams,” and Jay Gatsby’s hope in “The Great Gatsby.”

Fitzgerald does a good job with creating personalities in his stories. We are able to relate to, have feelings for, and sympathize deeply with many of his characters on a personal level. Their greatest triumphs and successes seem to become our own as we turn the pages, but we also find ourselves sharing in their saddest, most desperate moments. But their slightest feelings of hope seem to create a light at the end of the tunnel for us as readers, and we cling to this sense of hope just as much as they do. In “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” we follow the learning experiences of an innocent Bernice who falls under the power of the scheming Marjorie. Bernice is first a victim to the harsh criticisms of her cousin, who states and explains why “Men don’t like her.” After overhearing all of this, Bernice is not angry, but deeply upset. Anger would’ve meant Bernice didn’t agree with Marjorie’s statements, but the sadness indicates that her cousin was in fact correct. Despite being tempted to return home to Eau Claire, it seems as though she is finding it difficult to leave. Marjorie even offers her allowance to Bernice for a hotel room and a train ticket, but the disappointed girl seems to be looking for a different response. “If you’ll tell me why your friends aren’t–aren’t interested in me I’ll see if I can do what you want me to.” She sees hope in Marjorie, the vain eighteen year old who has nothing but success with every man she meets. Bernice is firmly hanging onto this hope in her cousin, even though the “flapper” stands for everything Bernice seems to stand against. What a strong hope the girl must have to faithfully delve into an area of social behavior she has long stood opposite to. Her hope for male likeability lies completely in Marjorie, and that hope begins to transform into satisfaction as the flapper’s methods are put to use. “With the feeling that people really enjoyed looking at her and listening to her came the foundation of self-confidence.” Her hope had in fact materialized into triumph. Marjorie had taken her faith and attached reality to it. However, it was rather loosely tied. What allows Fitzgerald’s novels to be so filled with hope is the underlying feeling that somehow it will not work out for the hero in question. By making the ends unattainable, the strength of the character’s hope is wildly increased, pushing the reader to root even harder for the protagonist. But Fitzgerald once said, “Give me a hero, and I’ll give you a tragedy.” Bernice’s desperate hope is crushed into pieces at the hands of Marjorie, who once held and transformed her faith. The destruction of the hero’s greatest hopes becomes a saddening trend throughout Fitzgerald’s writings. The author’s theme of hope and its own greatness repeatedly draws us in, chews us up, and spits us out.

Throughout the centuries of male endeavors, men constantly find themselves chasing after women. So many say over and over again that every man loves the “chase.” The thrill of running down the stubborn “woman of your dreams” is fueled by the hope that one day she will be yours. Fitzgerald himself participated in his own chase, and his capture of Zelda Sayre fulfilled his hope, but only for a short time. Hope is a wonderful gift, one that guides lives of happiness. But Fitzgerald soon realizes, and represents it in his writing, that any hope placed in a woman is eventually destroyed. “Winter Dreams” is a perfect example of the wild hopes of young men being utterly crushed at the hands of both innocent and knowing women. Dexter becomes enthralled with the likes and looks of Judy Jones. The young man already has a tremendous amount of ambition for himself in life, and Judy becomes yet another of his dire hopes. “His heart turned over like the fly-wheel of the boat, and, for the second time, her casual whim gave a new direction to his life.” Just Judy’s simple question of “Dinner?” gives Dexter a “new direction” and a new hope in his life. He hopes that Judy will one day be his as “It did not take him many hours to decide that he had wanted Judy Jones ever since he was a proud, desirous little boy.” His hopes were always there for the perfect woman, and Judy was the exact personification of that idea. But Judy shows her true colors as time goes on, going around with the new boys and town and even former beaus, but Dexter’s hope never seems to waver. While he says he feels agony, there is still that faith that one day Judy Jones will be his own, that his ambition and dire hopes would propel him to success. His hope is unshakable in himself, but once placed in Judy, it is irretrievably damned. Even after Dexter finds himself engaged, there is still a sense of hope (closely resembling denial) for a life with Judy, and as she enter his life once more, it all seems to be falling into place for the second time. Fitzgerald gave Dexter a hope that could not be extinguished or let go of. It is not until many years later, as a 32 year-old Dexter listens to the story of a fading Judy Jones, that his hope is at last broken. His faith had rested in her beauty, her spark, even her unfaithfulness. Now she was just a normal housewife, and the hope that Dexter had placed in her as the perfect woman was now gone forever. “Long ago,” he said, “long ago, there was something in me, but now that thing is gone. Now that thing is gone, that thing is gone. I cannot cry. I cannot care. That thing will come back no more.” This thing is hope; hope for his perfect woman, hope for a new life with her. It had all been cut to pieces. Fitzgerald’s own hopes seem to be embodied in the character of Dexter, despite the fact that his hope for Zelda had become true reality. His next hero, however, would embody the gift for hope that every person wished they had. The strongest faith that Fitzgerald had ever instilled in one of his characters would also be his tragic flaw. And yet, it seems as though that hope was never destroyed. It was an amazing hope that would last until the clutches of death ripped it away from the hero himself.

F. Scott Fitzgerald bends and twists the hearts of his readers with every word, building up his greatest heroes only to bring about their downfalls. Their dreams, desires, and hopes are within reach and even partially grasped before the floor disappears beneath their feet. Fitzgerald is excellent in the way he uses the hope of his characters to repeatedly draw us in as we hope for their success. We can feel doubt in the pit of our stomachs the entire time, but their hopes make us think otherwise. Readers buy into their optimism, and the hope in his stories becomes our own time and time again. “The Great Gatsby” is perhaps the greatest example of Fitzgerald’s use of hope to make us feel. Mr. Jay Gatsby is the author’s true symbol of hope at it’s finest and in it’s finest form. The pure hope Gatsby, supported by his fiery ambition and determination, is represented in his charismatic personality, his sharp looks, and even his smile which “believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.” He is the stubborn pursuer of Daisy Buchanan, his own golden girl similar to that of Dexter’s Judy Jones. Despite the obstacles that have stood in his way throughout his entire life, he has used his ambition and his undying hope to propel himself into the upper class of society. The confidence he earned from this reaffirms his hopes for Daisy and the life he always wanted with her. The green light at the end of her dock gives Gatsby the hope that his days of waiting for her are numbered. The green light symbolizes that she is within his grasp, and greatly furthers his hope that she is so close to finally being his own. Gatsby’s faith becomes reality just as Dexter Green’s did when Daisy and him reconnect after almost five years of separation. His hope was in the process of being fulfilled, leading us to believe that with faith, anything is able to be accomplished. But Gatsby allows his successes to lead him down the damning road of denial. “Can’t repeat the past?” he cried incredulously. “Why of course you can!” Gatsby’s hope for a complete recreation of his past relationship with Daisy is his ultimate downfall. He had overcome a lower class upbringing and rose to high society prominence, all through never letting go of his wondrous hope. Once there was hope, there was motivation for the ambitious man. Where there was ambition, he believed there would ultimately be success. But he places his hope in Daisy, that she will return to him as the innocent girl she once was in Kentucky. His denial of this brings a what should’ve been an end to his dream for her. When she fails to relinquish her marriage with Tom in exchange for the love Gatsby has for her, his dream seems to be fading. However, even after Tom has seemingly won the battle for Daisy’s affection, Gatsby clings to his hope. Even after he waits outside her bedroom window all night long, only to watch as Daisy shuts off her light, his hope never disappears. It may have been weakened, but Gatsby refuses to give in, faith-filled till the end for a life of love with his golden girl. It is Nick Carraway, our every-man, who states the ultimate truth about Gatsby; He had an extraordinary gift for hope, a romantic readiness such as I have never found in any other person and which it is not likely I shall ever find again.” Jay Gatsby’s hope was like no other, as Fitzgerald created him to be the greatest symbol of the author’s theme of hope in his writings. Death was the only thing that could vanquish the faith of this illustrious hero, but his hope lives on in every single reader who has read and felt for the man that was and still is Jay Gatsby. The author may have destroyed his greatest hero, but his hope could never truly be erased. Gatsby gives us all hope for a better reality, and hope for our dreams, hope that one day things will be the way we always envisioned them.

While the life of F. Scott. Fitzgerald was tragic in itself, the author always seemed to possess some sort of hope for the future. His letters to Zelda even after she is sent off to multiple sanitariums, his continuous attempts at creating a new masterpiece story, and his usage of hope as a theme throughout his career in writing are all testament to his possession of faith. The theme of hope is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most prevalent theme, evident in Bernice’s hope in “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” Dexter’s hope in “Winter Dreams,” and Jay Gatsby’s hope in “The Great Gatsby.” The most extreme desires of our hearts can be likened to those of Bernice, Dexter, and Gatsby in numerous ways. Whether we seek the love of a beautiful woman or man, or the riches the future holds, we can all identify with these characters as long as we possess the one thing Bernice and Dexter lost, but Gatsby held onto; hope. Without hope, we have no cause for ambition, no cause for success, and no reason to truly live as we were born to do. We must live happily, following our hearts, just as F. Scott Fitzgerald did and wanted us to do. We must find our own Zelda’s, and though it may seem impossible to the eye and mind at first sight, we must trust our hope-filled hearts. For it is hope that keeps us alive in life, even just the hope for tomorrow. “Tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther…. And one fine morning—— So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”