Style

“Her eyes invited him to a romantic communion of unbelievable intensity” (73).  F. Scott Fitzgerald has a dynamic way with words, as seen here in his novel, The Love of the Last Tycoon.  He uses many rhetorical devices to convey his message in his books.  In order to fully understand his style, it is important to analyze his use of descriptive language and similes in his three books, as well as a stylistic element unique to each book.  The style of Fitzgerald’s writing invites the reader to experience the intensity of his messages.   

One style element that F. Scott Fitzgerald is widely known for is his descriptive language.  The way he uses striking adjectives creates a vivid picture for the reader.  Fitzgerald uses his descriptive style to reveal qualities of his characters.  In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald describes Tom as having “a rather hard mouth and a supercilious manner.  Two shining arrogant eyes had established dominance over his face and gave him the appearance of always leaning forward” (7).  He continues to say he had “a body capable of enormous leverage – a cruel body” (7).  As a result of these detailed illustration of Tom Buchanan, the reader has a sense of his domineering and powerful personality.  F. Scott Fitzgerald not only uses descriptive language to introduce characters, but the lifestyle that they lead as well. At one of Gatsby’s infamous parties, “the groups change more swiftly, swell with new arrivals, dissolve and form in the same breath…confident girls who weave here and there” (40).   Words like swiftly, swell, and dissolve flow together and create a vivid and realistic picture of a well attended gathering.  Fitzgerald doesn’t only describe parties is The Great Gatsby, he also uses descriptive language to describe Amory’s invitation in This Side of Paradise.  “The invitation to Miss Myra St. Claire’s bobbing party spent the morning in his coat pocket, where it had an intense physical affair with a dusty  piece of peanut brittle” (11).  This description is very effective because it creates an unusual image of a common occurrence; this draws the reader into the rest of his writing.   Fitzgerald continues his style of descriptive writing in The Love of the Last Tycoon.  To show the imperfect side of Hollywood, he describes the heroine of the movie before she put her make-up on.  “She wore a low gown which displayed the bright eczema of her chest and back…Her hair was of the color and viscosity of drying blood” (50).  This too, is a very unusual description that catches the reader’s attention as it puts a human face on the celebrities that are placed on pedestals in American society.  F. Scott Fitzgerald uses his often unusual and elaborate descriptions to help the reader picture and imagine what is going on in his novels.  

Another descriptive technique that Fitzgerald often employed is the simile.  Since Gatsby has many parties in order to try and impress Daisy, the lights are always blazing at his house so “in his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings” (39).  This simile shows how light up Gatsby’s house it and how it attracts people from all over, like moths to a glowing light.  Continuing with the insect theme, Fitzgerald describes Gatsby’s car “scamper[ing] like a brisk yellow bug” (39).  Comparing his car to a scampering yellow bug helps the reader understand Gatsby’s hectic lifestyle trying to hide his true identity.  F. Scott Fitzgerald uses many similes in This Side of Paradise to add deeper imagery.  An excellent example is when he describes the sofa as “alive like heat waves over asphalt, like wriggling worms” (126).  There are two similes in this example that paint a vivid picture of a party where Amory had too much to drink.  Amory has two main loves in his life.  Both have many similarities, but they also have their differences.  “Isabelle’s alto tones [are] like a violin, but if you could hear Rosalind, you would say her voice [is] musical as a waterfall” (188).  These similes not only compare the women’s voices to exquisite sounds, they also compare the two women to each other.  This shows the power that Fitzgerald’s similes possess.  Again Fitzgerald uses two similes in the same sentence to emphasize his point in The Love of the Last Tycoon.  “Under the moon the back lot was…like the torn picture books of childhood, like fragments of stories dancing in an open fire” (25).  This comparison and very important because it shows that Hollywood to Stahr was no different than childhood because he has the ability to create magic in his films. F. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes similes to emphasize certain descriptions that are important to understanding his unique style.    

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Even though Fitzgerald has similar elements of style between his three novels, he also adds other elements unique to each book.  In The Great Gatsby, he uses repetition.  There are many instances of careless driving that show the character’s lack of responsibility.  Owl Eyes leaves Gatsby’s driveway and ends up “in the ditch beside the road, right side up, but violently shorn of one wheel” (54).  Unlike Owl Eyes, who doesn’t harm anyone in his accident, “Myrtle Wilson [has] her life violently extinguished” (138) by a car driven by Daisy, who didn’t even slow down.  Also in this novel, Jordan Baker drives so close to a man that she pops a button of his jacket with her car.  Not only does F. Scott Fitzgerald use the repetition of reckless driving to emphasize society’s lack of responsibility, he utilizes the repetition of the color green to show new, fresh hope.  For Gatsby, green represents money and his desire for the American Dream.  He often gazes at “the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock” (182).  Fitzgerald also describes the America as the “fresh, green breast of the world” (182).  The use of repetition reinforces the symbols that Fitzgerald includes in the book.  However, instead of having the same ideas repeated all through the book, in This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald employs many different kinds of literature. Throughout the book, Fitzgerald intertwines letters to Monsignor Darcy, poetry, and he even formats a section similar to a play.  Amory carries on a correspondence with Monsignor Darcy in which they discuss philosophy and the reader discovers many traits of Amory that aren’t revealed to his friends.  Amory and his friend Tom D’Invilliers are avid readers of poetry.  Eleanor and Amory write each other poems through which a more emotional side of their relationship is exposed.  “Here, deepest of dreams, by the waters that bring not anything back of the past that we need not know” (262).  It is under the cover of literature that they share their deepest dreams and desires which is a contrast to their more physical relationship during the summer.  Unlike using many types of literature in This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald alludes to many pieces of literature in The Love of the Last Tycoon.  When Kathleen Moore arrives at the screen-writer’s ball, she realizes that she is not of the elite social status to be accepted there so she leaves.  Wylie White turns to Monroe Stahr and comments, “There…goes Cinderella” (74).  Stahr and White get into an argument about production and Stahr tells him: “if you want to paint a scarlet letter on her back it’s all right but that’s another story” (41), creating an obvious allusion to the Scarlet Letter.  While Fitzgerald often has many similarities in his style among his writings, he exploits other elements to emphasize different messages in his individual books.

F. Scott Fitzgerald utilizes many writing techniques to draw the reader in and create his own unique style.  His novels include elaborate descriptions of characters and places, similes that create imagery, as well as repetition, various forms of literature, and allusions.  By using a variety of literary techniques, Fitzgerald develops his individual writing style through which he hopes to immerse the reader story and message.                    

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