The Beautiful and Damned Questions and Answers
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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What are the main topics for The Beautiful and Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald?

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Lynnette Wofford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Beautiful and Damned is a novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald first published in 1922. It tells of the life and relationships of Anthony Patch, a young man from a wealthy family, who lacks purpose in life.

Although Anthony was considered intelligent and possessed a certain taste for the arts and culture, unlike his friends Richard Caramel and Maury Noble, he lacks both writing ability and the discipline to do the hard work of actual writing. Although at various points in the novel we see him fantasizing about writing projects, he doesn't actually put in the hours necessary for success. Instead, he becomes infatuated with, and eventually marries, a beautiful young woman, and the couple live a life of extravagant socializing and partying in expectation of inheriting money from Anthony's grandfather. 

The first major theme is that of the bad effects of the prospect of inheriting money on Anthony's character. Because he anticipates inheriting money, he lacks not only a career but also a purpose, leading to his eventual downfall.

Unlike the actual writers and artists in the novel, who do have a real sense of purpose in life, Gloria and Anthony are constantly bored and often resort to sexual affairs and alcohol to provide interest in their lives, but these stimuli always prove insufficient to give meaning and purpose to their lives. Even when Anthony has minor successes, he tends to sabotage himself, especially by drinking.

Thus the main topics you want to look at in the novel are the difference between actually producing art and merely being vaguely "artistic," the effects of the expectation of money on young people, the bad effects of alcohol, and the need for a purpose in one's life.

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