Fitzgerald on the Roles of Men and Women
This is a great and enterprising study of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night” that touches primarily on the lack of close overlook and critical scrutiny of the roles of men and women and the characters that surround them. The novel also touches mostly on the feministic views of Fitzgerald as he claims that Dick had personal experience from his wife Nicole. In this novel, men are considered to be superior to their counterparts though there are various comparisons that show both sexes can do better if they perform their tasks together.
Fitzgerald’s novel, “Tender Is the Night” shows how human beings can sometimes excel at the expense of others. The novel starts in a high note as it describes the activities of Dick, a young psychologist, who tries to deal with a neurosis patient who goes by the name Nicole. In his endeavors, he believes the best way to deal with Nicole’s problems is to marry her, which he does despite the objections from Nicole’s sisters, who think he is there for the money. As the story unfolds, at one point Dick has an affair with Rosemary, something he had always contemplated coupled by the drinking problems. Though they live luxurious life, he continues to regress while Nicole improves. He finally disintegrates to oblivion prompting Nicole to divorce him and remarry (Lahood & Marvin 178).
Fitzgerald’s work covers the early times of the twentieth century where both male and female played major roles in the First World War. He writes of the war and its consequences on the soldiers who undertook the fighting and also the people who were left behind. For instance he talks of the life during the First World War in America of how many girls had become drunkards, cigarette smokers and would allow many men to kiss them many young and growing children did not embrace morality and the society was so much corrupt. This as he explains was brought about by lack of parental guidance as many parents were undertaking patriotic missions of their country in the form of fighting. Fitzgerald was morally upright as he was brought up well under the good care of his parents and did not observe modernity with obsession (Fitzgerald 34).
The other common problem in the society that affected the life of both men and women was that of alcoholism. Fitzgerald wrote of men and women taking alcohol in large quantities in order for them to be ‘happy’. This led to a lapse in moral behaviors of both men and women though alcohol was considered to be men’s main item. In America during the great depression men and women worked at different sites especially those that involved infrastructural constructions in order to earn some income. The wages were not very pleasant given that they had to work for long hours and the working conditions and the working environments claimed many people’s lives (Fitzgerald 22). Fatigue and diseases claimed most people’s lives as America was rushing its development programs to become one of the most developed nations in the whole world. The issue of mere or small wages made the workers to spend it at local pubs to ‘kill’ their fatigue and have a chat with their friends. During this critical period no one was exempted from undertaking whichever activity one wished to undertake be it a man or a woman.
Men of the twentieth century were observers of their counterpart’s activities and appearance. During the 1920s through to 1930s, women were seen as humble creatures in the eyes of men. They had to be decent in the way they dressed and the way they kept their hair. In fact their hair was the main focus from men hence they were to remain smart and maintain long hair to impress the males (Lahood & Marvin 129). This is in contrast to today’s way of living of the women as they have the freedom of doing whatever they wish at their own peril. Fitzgerald himself had a conservative view of women and he indicates in his novel that he feared and respected the women irrespective of class or race and he also had special admiration of them.
The issue of alcoholism brought about other social problems in the American society. The morality among the people deteriorated and many societal vices rose up. The issue of gay relationships became common and men to men unions and pairings increased. On the other hand, women lesbianism increased as trust between opposite sex couples became untrustworthy and unsatisfactory. Through these new and strange unions, both sexes became comfortable with their new partners although this practice was viewed to be very uncouth to the other morally upright community dwellers (Fitzgerald 86).
Fitzgerald’s ways of leading life represents men’s ego of the time as he conquered men most than he did to women in his life. He was so tough and masculine as well as very complicated and well assured while he made women believe that he was all that they needed. Like any other normal man, his affection for his wife and other women was driven by his alcoholism behavior. Many men during Fitzgerald’s time wanted to dominate women, to own them and to make them to desire them as they perceived themselves better than the others. In fact they worked day and night in order to impress the women of their choice which eventually bear fruits and would make other men to think otherwise and compete with their counterparts. On the other hand the women also yearned for men with reputation and those that would make them fill secure in terms of food, clothing, shelter and comfortable living styles. The women also worked very hard in order for them to appear responsible in the men’s eyes (Lahood & Marvin 44).
Throughout the novel, it is evident that men wanted to take control over women. It is clearly evident as there are themes and instances where there is control and dominance that revolves between husbands and men controlling the wives and women. It is also evident that women could leave their husbands and move on to other men who would make them happier as in the case of Rosemary who eventually fell in love with Albert Mckisco. The union does not seem satisfactory to her as she also realizes that Albert is also a drunkard as is Dick. Fitzgerald refers to this consumption of alcohol as of self destruction and addiction and that destroys one’s reputation in the societal eyes (Fitzgerald 99).
In this novel and as observed earlier, it can be clearly noted that the author captures the change of gender roles from the traditional ones, where women were normally housewives entrusted with bearing and bringing up children and while the men played a role of providing for the family. Women are therefore seen as people who have transformed their roles by becoming providers and mothers to their children. This is illustrated by the fact that Rosemary’s mother was single. The fact of women being family care takers did not begin recently but it was believed to be the women’s work to stay with the children back at home when the men and young lads went in search of jobs in industrial areas as well as the in the urban centers. Others could also work on farms of wealthy farmers in order for them to earn their daily bread. This kind of living made many men to become absent in their homes and every other responsibility was left to the wives (Lahood & Marvin 48).
The women are also expressed as independent in terms of choosing their lovers and life partners as depicted in Fitzgerald’s novel, “Tender Is the Night”. They can choose their love life and work on their financial stability. Men are painted as failing in their traditional roles of breadwinners. As the story unfolds, the distinction between the roles of men and women becomes vague. Roles change dramatically as men are no longer bound by hard work like their Victorian counterparts, but they are more engaged in leisure than expected of them. The new balance between sexes affects men negatively since most of the time they become dependent on their women. The only well-defined roles of men and women are the war roles where it emerged to be mainly a men’s affair. The war period defined the roles and aspects of women in the society. Women were considered inferior and that they could not participate in warring activities and they were majorly entrusted to taking care of the family and the family property. On the other hand men worked hard for the country especially during these periods of wars in order for them to prove their worth and significance in that particular nation. Fitzgerald refers to these men of war as heroes since they are people who are ready to die for their country. The inclusion of women in warring activities would come later as most would volunteer to fight alongside their male counterparts. This has gone well up to today where many women take part in these men dominated field (Fitzgerald 62).
Fitzgerald’s novel has clearly shown the major roles of men and women and the key implications to the society. The novel has over emphasized on male’s activities and their ego over women while criticizing the females in a slightly demeaning manner over their male counterparts. On the contrary, the role men have played is considerably great and their dominance over women is encouraging. The only problem is that of men thinking of their pleasures at the expense of attending to their families.