F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the great American writers of his time who based his novels on his life experiences which makes the stories more realistic and gives depth to his character development. From these stories I gathered that Fitzgerald had a harsh life and relationship problems. The Great Gatsby is about a man named Nick Carraway, the narrator, who lives in West Egg, New York and his neighbor Jay Gatsby, the main character. It’s about the glamorous life of the upper class of the 1920s but also about the corruption and the twisted view of the American Dream in that era. The novel I chose to compare and contrast The Great Gatsby with was Tender is the Night which is not set in America but in Europe. These book includes similar themes, although the main characters are quite different.
Tender is the Night and The Great Gatsby have a lot in common; the obvious one is that they are both written by F. Scott Fitzgerald and they are both set in the 1920s. If you look deeper into the stories you find they are about relationships, success and failure, affairs, glamour, and murder. The feeling and tone in both books begins as happy and joyous and as if everything is great but then toward to end of the stories the tone becomes gloomy and dark. The setting affects the tone. When life is good and happy it’s summer time but when it becomes gloomy the season is fall or winter. Fitzgerald’s writing style is very descriptive and complex with lots of imagery. The author kept the same style consistent in both books. In both stories, the main characters are more anti heroes, but their common motivation comes from love. Yet the manner and style in which Fitzgerald develops his characters are different.
There are many differences between these books; one difference that stands out is the main characters are almost mirror opposites. The main character in The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby in the beginning of the story seems a shady character, but later you learn he is a good guy. On the other hand, the main character in Tender is the Night, Dick Diver, initially seems like a perfect husband and very likable, but later he devolves into an unlikable character because he is a cheater, liar and a manipulator. Gatsby in the beginning is a mysterious fellow and he is described as a person who throws many parties but nobody seems to know much about his background. There are rumors that other characters allude to and some of those rumors turn out to be true. Later in the story it is revealed that in truth he was just a boy from North Dakota without connections, money, or education. After he falls in love with Daisy, the other main character, he manipulates his way to do all he can to get to the top so he can win her back at all costs, even if it means doing something illegal. After we learn of Gatsby’s background, the reader feels as if he shouldn’t be trusted. In the end, he turns out to be innocent and loyal to Daisy. Gatsby is “Great” to strangers and acquaintances because of his wealth and popularity but to the few people who really know him; it is his personality that makes him great. In the end, it is disclosed that he never really cared about all those material things, but that he acquired material things to earn Daisy’s love.
On the other hand in Tender is the Night, towards the end of the book, Dick starts to become a drunkard and his life falls apart. He leaves the clinic that he created because a patient who was in for alcoholism smelled alcohol on Dick’s breath. He loses his wife to Tommy Barban, a wandering military man, who has loved Nicole for a while. Dick is thrown into jail after getting drunk and fighting with some cab drivers and Baby Warren, Nicole’s sister, has to bail him out. In the end Nicole and Dick Diver divorce and go their separate ways leaving behind their children with an aunt. Nicole marries Tommy and Dick moves to New York.
Coming to a close, it’s fascinating to see how these two books written by the same author, can be so different and yet so similar at the same time. Although these novels are both set in the Roaring Twenties and discuss themes related to that era such as the decay social and moral values in the 1920s, having the novels set in different countries and having the characters drastically develop in different ways among other things makes these two pieces of fiction have their own unique identity and atmosphere.