University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Alcoholism as the Plot Builder of Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned
To echo Fitzgerald’s postulation of Antony Patch’s messed up life, “…As winter approached it seemed that a sort of madness seized upon Anthony. He awoke in the morning so nervous that Gloria could feel him trembling in the bed before he could muster enough vitality to stumble into the pantry for a drink. He was intolerable now except under the influence of liquor, and as he seemed to decay and coarsen under her eyes, Gloria’s soul and body shrank away from him…CITATION Fit02 p 111 l 1033 (Fitzgerald, 2002, p. 111)” This is a depiction of a desperate man’s life that has turned to alcohol after experiencing multiple frustrations in life all through his adulthood and a wife who is drawn away from him for this reason. How Antony Patch’s character is molded and developed in the novel is just but a reflection of the messed lives of many uber-rich adults who were lucky enough to be born in rich families but ended up blowing up lifetime opportunities in wasteful escapades of lavish spending during the excessive drinking and partying Jazz Era of the 1920s.
Ideally, The Beautiful and Damned is about Anthony Patch who is married Gloria Gilbert and they are hypnotized with the party life. They lead an extravagant life where they enjoy throwing and attending parties which eventually develops to a habit of drinking o a daily basis. Such was the life of Anthony Patch who had mastered the art of laziness leading a valueless life only eager for his grandfather to pass on so as to inherit his multimillion fortunes .Patch’s drinking habits were picked while at school in Princeton where his initial life was tied around books but due to peer influence channeled through his schoolmates who thought of him as being dull and a hopeless romantic, he besought to drinking just like the rest of his peers and vowed to explore the world and party using his family fortune. At some point in life, Anthony Patch is enrolled into Camp Hooker during the war years but he proves to be mentally disoriented as he spends his days in the camp getting drunk and to cap it all picked up a mistress. Though the move of enrolled into Camp Hooker is considered as a patriotic one, his friends at the camp are another worthless lot who gratify and support his drinking tendencies by indulging in the same with him. His drinking trysts make him a favorite among his camp buddies for he is treated respect for the incessant parties he throws while at camp thus putting to light contemptibility and stupidity of his friends CITATION Mau22 l 1033 (Maunsell, 1922).
Patch then meets Gloria Gilbert who beauty is impeccable and he is quickly swept off is feet as he vows to pursue his romantic desires to his life’s death with Gloria. Gloria herself is a replica of Antony for her dogma is satisfaction of worldly pleasures as she selflessly puts it herself, “If I wanted anything, I’d take it… I can’t be bothered resisting things I want… (Fitzgerald, 2002, p. 235)” It is with the same creed that she detests her husband’s inability to continuously sustain her lavish and innumerable cocktails. Just like everyone else, this couple turns to alcoholism to camouflage their life frustrations to the extent that Anthony cannot do without a taste of the bottle described in Gloria’s own words, “Oh no, he doesn’t show it anymore unless he can hardly stand up, and he talks alright till he gets excited. He talks much better than he does when he’s sober. But he’s been sitting here all day drinking-except for the time it took him to walk the corner for a newspaper… (Fitzgerald, 2002, p. 398)” This entry at towards the end of the novel shows how despicable and dependable Antony patch’s life has been on alcohol after missing out on his grandfather’s fortune and the same being directed towards a servant.
Perhaps, Patch’s party and drinking habits were fueled by the fact that he was heir to a rich empire built by his rather strict disciplinarian grandfather who gave no room to unvalued morals. An event where he walks into one of Gloria and Antony’s raucous wild party at their apartment is a representation of his disgust and vilification for irresponsible behavior. His body language and events that transpire after this speaks volumes about his disciplinary antics; at the party, he stares at a white-faced Antony with disgust and in disbelief and utters five denouncing words to the young man in front of him, “…Well go back to Suttleworth..(Fitzgerald, 2002, p. 235)” The mood in the mood is all somber, both Gloria and Patch are frightened by Cross Patch’s presence but he silently walks out of the room after his works. Repercussions that follow are that gets disinherited of his grandfather’s fortune and it is directed towards a servant. They contest the decision after his grandfather’s passing but it only makes them more miserable as they entrenched deeper into alcoholism to drown their sorrows. The Damned and beautiful closes as tragic story of an individual who had it all but wasted the opportunity through lavish parties and alcoholism to end up in a wheel chair by age thirty three.
Fitzgerald, F. S. (2002). The Beautiful and The Damned . New York : Simon & Schuster .
Maunsell, F. L. (1922, March 5). Latest Works of Fiction: The Beautiful and The Damned . Retrieved October 11, 2014, from The New York Times : http://www.nytimes.com/books/00/12/24/specials/fitzgerald-damned.html