Alcohol came to play a leading role in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s life. During his wife’s emotional decline, he drank excessively, and though he technically died of a heart attack, there is no question that his lifestyle and his abuse of alcohol played a contributing role in his death. Likewise, alcohol came to rule and ruin Dick Diver. When we first meet Diver, he is a happy-go-lucky bon vivant, always reaching for a drink but never in excess. By the novel’s conclusion, however, alcohol has helped to ruin his marriage and his career.
Dick Diver, however, is not the only character affected by drinking. Nearly everyone in the book drinks to varying degrees of excess, and Abe North is eventually killed because of his drinking. Fitzgerald is preoccupied in Tender Is the Night with the effects alcohol has on his characters and their careers.
Although there are only a few characters who could be classified as artists in Tender Is the Night, Fitzgerald treats their characters with more respect than he does the others. Albert McKisco, for instance, is portrayed early on as an aspiring writer, but years later when Diver meets him on the ship coming back from America, he has emerged as a successful author and is a much more pleasant person to accompany. At the clinic that he runs with Dr. Gregorovius, Diver became intensely affected by the death of a woman painter—the one case he seems to have...
(The entire section is 1596 words.)
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