Sour American Dreams

Dissolution of Dr Diver and Souring of the American Dream:

Mary E. Burton sees that in making the new hero of modern America a travelling socialite and psychiatrist, Fitzgerald honed in on the neurosis of a society. The analyst, the healer, the smoother of social events and dream worlds becomes victimised by that it seeks to cure and counter transference affects him. In the disintegration of Dr Diver we can see the disintegration of an ethos, of the Dream where the acquisitive consumer Nicole triumphs over her husband. Fitzgerald charts the perversion of old ideals of hard work, responsibilities, respect and their bastardisation into actualities of grabbing wealth and ruthless social climbing as characters such as Dick Diver could be seen to suffer at the hands of mercenary, acquisitive society. His desire for social recognition, achieved through marriage into the haute bourgeoisie, becomes the source of his self-destruction and alcoholic demise. Stavola sees in Dick older American Values "a natural idealist" who is left insecure and out of his depth in the wake of a Post-war ethos where previously his charm and vitality had kept him afloat, losing his "tensile strength" he is drawn into the excesses of those around him (Stavola, p.146). Those moral crimes of money, liquor, anarchy, self-betrayal and sex epitomised by Baby warren, Abe north, Tommy Barban, Albert Mckisco and Rosemary Hoyt. He is both an egoist, desiring to be loved and pleased by the expatriates surrounding him, and a social climber "whose natural idealism is finally corrupted by the amoral virtues of his flock" (Ibid.). Those around him sap his vitality. Fitzgerald, whilst depicting with enchantment a glittering society there is also the moralists' scorn and disillusionment as he depicts a society obsessed with wealth.

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