Alcoholism In Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby

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Amanda Wittry
Mrs. Johansen
English 11
17 February 2013
Alcoholism in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s, The Great Gatsby
The author, Samuel Johnson once said that “Wine gives a man nothing… it only puts in motion what had been locked up in frost”. Francis Scott Fitzgerald lived during the Jazz Age, a time of frivolous and carefree living. He and his wife Zelda became engrossed in this lifestyle, they spent their time drinking and partying. They appeared to have a perfect life, but in reality they struggled with marital issues and an overall emptiness created through living in this way. Fitzgerald and Zelda attempted to drink away their sorrows which only succeeded in escalating their problems. Set during the Prohibition Era of the Roaring Twenties, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, explores society’s dependence upon alcohol and its failure in acting as a means of mental escape.
F. Scott Fitzgerald emphasized the consumption of alcohol throughout his novel, therefore intending to prove that society, particularly the upper class, relied on alcohol to remain ignorant of their misery. Psychologists have determined that alcoholism is often found in people with “psychological traits such as impulsiveness, low self-esteem, and a need for approval prompt inappropriate drinking. Some individuals cope with or ‘medicate’ emotional problems” (Nathan 1). Over consumption of alcohol is often a reaction to the events in a person’s life. Disappointments, regrets, setbacks, and failures often lead to intoxication because people have developed the belief that a drunken and impaired state of mind might provide some sort of release from these hardships. Fitzgerald exemplifies this effect through Nick’s experience at Gatsby’s party. He states “I had taken two finger bowls of champagne, and the scene had changed before my eyes into something significant, elemental and profound” (Fitzgerald 47). Throughout history, alcohol has been present in jovial occasions and various forms of



Cited: Fitzgerald, F. Scott. The Great Gatsby. New York: Scribner, 2004. Print. Nathan, Peter E., PhD, John Wallace, PhD, Joan Zweben, PhD, and A. Thomas Horvath, PhD. "Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders and Their Treatment."  Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders and Their Treatment. American Psychological Association, 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/alcohol-disorders.aspx. "Roaring Twenties." - Ohio History Central. Ohio Historical Society, 2013. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/entry.php?rec=546

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