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The Beautiful and Damned Fitzgerald

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 10 months ago

The Beautiful and Damned




This work by F. Scott Fitzgerald has a huge number of musical references within it. The purpose for these references is to place the novel in the times and shed light on the social setting for the main characters of Anthony and Gloria. They are a part of the upper class and were not interested in working to earn money but were drawn to the art of doing nothing but what submits to the senses and impulses of a life of leisure. They spend a great deal of time at the shows, going to social dances and throwing extravagant parties and the musical references appeal to that aspect of their personalities. The frivoloty of how they lead their lives is evident by their overwhelming attention to entertainment and music. There is very little in the way of serious issues that affect them until much later in the novel when they are forced to finally face reality. Money and the realness of growing old gives them a big wake-up call though they are still never too far from where they started. Fitzgerald interweaves this novel with particular songs in order to further express the idealism of Anthony and Gloria as golden children of the Jazz Age. 




pg. 81 "He's a Rag Picker" is a song from 1914 by Irving Berlin that is mentioned in the novel. The lyrics to this particular song serve as an ode to the style of paino playing known as Rag time. This is is a distinct mark of the era from which Fitzgerald is writing about. This was a very popular and catchy tune and the sheet music for this song is still heavily coveted to this day. This song is referenced when Muriel and Maury are dancing with one another. Muriel quietly sings the song while holding onto Maury. She is described in this scene as very much a seductress. She is entranced and holding onto the nape of Maury's neck with the zealousness of a vampire preparing to bite. This connotation is telling because of the stereotypical roles of women during the twenties. Fitzgerald defines her personality when he writes, "She was got up to the best of her ability  as a siren, more popularly a "vamp"--a picker up and thrower away of men, an unscrupulous and fundamentally unmoved toyer with affections" (79). A vamp was a woman who used her good looks and charm to seduce and take advantage of men. By referencing this lingo, Fitzgerald is speaking to the changing norms of female behavior at that time. Women were given much more agency when it came to courting and participating in relationships with men. Muriel sings this particular song and appears to deeply accept it into her soul. The style of Ragtime was as much a part of her personality as she was a vamp. This identiifcation with a style of music was a part of the Jazz era in that the music reflected their personal expression.



pg. 268 "K-K-K-Katy" a stammering song written in 1918 by Geoffrey O'Hara. This song was considered a very popular song during World War I and was written at a time when it wasn't considered wrong to make fun of stuttering at least in a playful way.The lyrics to this song would imply that it is a good bye song from a soldier who must go off to war and will miss "Katy" his love. It is made less somber by the consistent stuttering that the singer must perform to confess his love before he heads to France.  This is the song that is playing as Anthony comtemplates what he will write home to Gloria while he is away at military camp. It has a sentimental value of missing and loving someone dear but unlike the song, Anthony can't seem to find the words to write to Gloria. He is somehow disconnected from her and though he wants to write something meaningful and sweet his anger towards her for not writing him, has given him writer's block. This song is also fitting to the story in that Anthony enlists in the military and though he doesn't ever go overseas the song speaks to the war time rhetoric that would have been prevalent at the time. Also the light-hearted feel of the song does well to describe Anthony's own nonchalance. He joins up in order to make some money but his lack of concern for current affairs showed him to be missing the point and the severity of war.






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