Behavior Vs Environment Essay Research Paper There

Behavior Vs. Environment Essay, Research Paper

There is a very direct similarity between one?s behavior and one?s

environment. Humans are products of the environments they inhabit. Humans evolve

and adopt behaviors which are very similar to those found in their social

climate. This is especially true when examining the characters of F. Scott

Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald presents the characters in his novels as products of a

society void of moral integrity. Since Fitzgerald?s protagonists in The Last

Tycoon, The Great Gatsby, and Tender is The Night, succumb to the moral desert

of high society, they end their lives in failure. Fitzgerald places his

protagonist in The Last Tycoon, The Great Gatsby , and Tender is The Night, in

the moral desert of high society; an environment very foreign to these

characters. Jay Gatsby, the protagonist in The Great Gatsby, is drawn into the

decadent and morally defunct society of upper-class Long Island. Daisy

illustrates the moral void that exists in the Long Island society when she

discusses her daughter with Nick. Daisy says: It?ll show you how I?ve gotten

to feel about–things. Well, she was less than an hour old and Tom was God knows

where. I woke up out of the ether with an utterly abandoned feeling, and asked

the nurse right away if it was a boy or a girl. She told me it was a girl and so

I turned my head away and wept. ?All right,? I said, ?I?m glad it?s a

girl. And I hope she?ll be a fool– that?s the best thing a girl can be in

this world, a beautiful little fool.? … I (Nick) felt the basic insincerity

of what she had said. It made me uneasy… as if she had asserted her membership

in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged (21).

Daisy depicts the moral void that exists in Gatsby?s society with her

insensitive and selfish response to her daughter?s birth. In addition to this

Daisy also depicts the snobbery that exists in this society through the way she

treats Nick, the narrator of the novel. Nick makes an observation that shows the

lack of moral value held by the Long Island society when he describes Tom and

Daisy. Nick says, "They were careless people, Tom and Daisy — they smashed

up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast

carelessness, or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people

clean up the mess they had made . . ."(180) These quotes clearly illustrate

the insensitivity, snobbery and utter selfishness held by those who inhabit the

morally void society. This society influences Gatsby?s moral decline. The

amoral Long Island society in The Great Gatsby is very similar to the corrupt

Hollywood society found in The Last Tycoon. Again in The Last Tycoon the

protagonist is catapulted into a corrupt society that is unfamiliar to him. The

protagonist Stahr, has entered into a deviant society saturated with characters

full of lust, greed, and capitalism. The narrator depicts the valueless society

and what it can do to decent people when describing the character Reinmund. The

narrator says: Reinmund was a handsome young opportunist, with a fairly good

education. Originally a man of some character, he was being forced daily by his

anomalous position into devious ways of acting and thinking. He was a bad man

now, as men go. At thirty he had none of the virtues which either gentile

Americans or Jews are taught to think admirable. (46) Reindmund is

representative of many of the people living in Hollywood. Therefore the above

quote proves Stahr did in fact enter into a society lacking virtue. The moral

decay of this society can also be seen through the characters Cecilia Brady, and

her father, Pat Brady. Cecilia Brady is a character of very little moral value.

She lusts after Stahr and throws herself at him while he is involved with the

woman of his dreams, Thalia. Her father Pat Brady is an equally immoral

character. An example of this behavior can be seen when he attempts to steal the

production business from his partner. He tries to achieve this when Stahr (his

business partner) is extremely ill in New York. Not only is Brady a shady

businessman he also a capitalist participating in the immoral act of degrading

the art of film-making to increase profits. Writer R. A. Gallo, makes a similar

observation about Hollywood?s cultural wasteland as she writes: In The Last

Tycoon Fitzgerald examines his conception of the contemporary wasteland. The

deprivation of the Hollywood wasteland is cultural. Films have become a

bastardized art form, exploited by the Bradys whose interest in the ?booming

circus? stops at the box office. (120) The behaviors of Pat, Cecilia and

Reinmund clearly illustrates the state of moral decay that Stahr?s Hollywood

find acceptable. The moral decay of Hollywood spilled over to the society of

Tender is the Night. In Tender is the Night , the protagonist, Dick Diver

marries into the morally challenged upper class society throughout Europe during

the 1930?s. This upper class European society is highly influenced by

Hollywood, and is full of mental illness, adultery and snobbery. Fitzgerald

sketches the snobbery of the society through the way Rosemary?s observations

on the differences between the upper and the lower classes. The narrator says:

Rosemary looked for a place to sit. Obviously each family possessed the strip of

sand immediately in front of its umbrella; besides there was much visiting and

talking back and forth–the atmosphere of a community upon it would be

presumptuous to intrude. Farther up, where the beach was strewn with pebbles and

dead sea-weed, sat a group with white flesh as white as our own. They were

obviously less indigenous to the place…. Rosemary found room and spread out

her peignoir on the sand. (6) Rosemary admits that the people on either side of

the beach are racially equal, but because they are of lesser means they are

?indigenous to the place.? This quote clearly shows the snobbery that exists

in Dick Diver?s amoral society. Diver?s society is also made morally complex

by the mental illness of his wife, Nicole, and the adulterous behavior of those

in his society. Thus, Dick Diver?s society is morally challenged. Moreover,

Fitzgerald uses these morally deviant societies as a strong negative influence

on his protagonists. Fitzgerald?s protagonists in The Great Gatsby, Tender Is

the Night , and The Last Tycoon, succumb to the moral desert of their respective

societies. That is to say that the Fitzgerald?s protagonists evolve throughout

their experiences in the moral desert of high society and adopt the behaviors of

that society. Jay Gatsby succumbs to his morally void Long Island society by

participating in the immoral actions of his society. Firstly, Gatsby explores an

adulterous relationship with Daisy, and descends into the world of the

virtueless: ? So he waited, listening for a moment to the tuning fork that had

been struck upon a star. Then he kissed her.? (100) Consequently, by

physically acting out his desires for Daisy, Gatsby descends into the depths of

moral defeat. Secondly, Gatsby succumbs to the immorality of the Long Island by

buying into the vain dream of that society. The dream was the good life. Gatsby

abandoned all his dreams so that he could achieve this status. Writer William H.

Fahey, observes Gatsby succumbing to the vain dream of the good life when he

writes, ? He has lived not for himself, but for his dream, for his vision of

the good life inspired by the beauty of a lovely rich girl.?(71) Gatsby

abandons his own dreams in pursuit of a vain dream inspired by Daisy. Hence,

Gatsby?s involvement with a morally void society causes him to succumb to

immoral actions. Stahr too succumbs to his morally corrupt society.

Hollywood?s influence on Stahr, causes him to submit himself into devious

behavior. Stahr submits himself when puts a hit on his partner, Pat Brady after

Brady tries to take over their business. Stahr, is the perfect example of a good

man driven by a bad society to do something heinous. By Stahr putting a hit on

Brady he succumbs to Hollywood?s corrupt society. Therefore, Stahr does in

fact succumb to his deviant society. Dick Diver also succumbs to his morally

challenged society. Firstly, Dick succumbs to his morally challenged society

when he pursues an adulterous affair with Rosemary Hoyt. Dick says to Rosemary,

?Oh, say that later! But kiss me now- love me now. I?ll love you and never

let Nicole see.?(76) Dick abandons all his virtue to pursue his adulterous

affair and conceal it from his ill wife. This quote shows how Dick has succumbed

to the moral wasteland of his society. Secondly, Dick continues to succumb to

his morally challenged society when he begins to drink heavily. Dick?s

drinking problem is illustrated in a conversation Dick has with the father of a

patient at Dick?s clinic: ?My son is here for alcoholism, and he told us he

smelt liquor on your breath…We hand Von Cohn to you to be cured and within a

month he twice smells liquor on your breath! What kind of cure is that there??

Dick hesitated… ?After all, Mr. Morris, some people are not going to give up

what they regard as food because of your son–?(163) This quote clearly shows

how Dick has succumb to alcoholism, a disease that runs rampant among the people

of his society. In addition to this Dick has succumb to the bitterness of

society, and has become emotionally hardened and insensitive. Therefore, Dick,

Stahr, and Gatsby have all succumb to the moral desert of high society.

Fitzgerald?s protagonists end their lives in failure. They achieve this

failure in their lives by succumbing to their morally dry societies. There is a

direct relationship between the protagonists? inability to resist the moral

desert of high society and the cause of their failure. In other words,

Fitzgerald?s protagonists receive justice for their immoral actions. Jay

Gatsby ends his life in failure because he is unable to remain a moral character

in his society. Firstly, he dies an unhappy man unable to benefit from the

potential of his wealth, because he bought into the vain dream, of a vain a

society. William H. Fahey writes: None cares. To be sure, in the radiance of

Gatsby?s single vision everyone is greeted as familiar; ?Old sport,? he

calls them all. But he has no friends. No cares who gives the parties. Nobody

goes to his funeral except Owleyes and Nick. ?No one else was interested,?

as Nick says, ?-interested, I mean, with that intense personal interest to

which everyone has some right at the end.? Rich as he was, he is a poor a

son-of-a-bitch like us all in the end. (85) Fahey clearly illustrates the

personal failure Gatsby achieved by buying into the vain dream of high society.

Secondly, Gatsby ends his life in failure due to an unnecessary death. How does

he die? Indirectly, he dies not by murder, but by suicide. He dies because of

his indecent relationship with Daisy. Had Gatsby not succumb to his desire for

Daisy, she would never have been in his car and their would never have been a

shooting. Had he not succumb, he may have had a chance at a fulfilling life.

Therefore, Gatsby?s inability to remain virtuous in the moral desert of high

society was the source of his failure. Stahr?s failure at the end of his life,

like Gatsby?s, is unnecessary death. Stahr ends his life in failure because he

was unable to resist succumbing to the moral desert of high society. Stahr dies

tragically in a plane crash and is unable to marry his one true love, Thalia.

Yet this tragedy could have been avoided. If Stahr had not put a hit out on

Brady, he would never have been on the plane to New York and he would still be

alive. Therefore, it can be said that Stahr?s unnecessary death was an outcome

of his own ineffectiveness to remain a moral character. Dick Diver ends his life

in personal and professional failure. His failure comes from his inability to

resist the immorality of his society. Nicole comments on Dick?s failure in

life when she says, ?…you used to want to create things–now you seem to

want to smash them up.? (267) Dick ends his personal life in failure because

had succumb to the immorality of society. Nicole says, ?You don?t care for

me anymore…It?s all just habit. Things were never the same after

Rosemary.?(308) This quote clearly states that the cause of Dick?s personal

failure was his adulterous relationship with Rosemary. Dick?s professional

failure was again caused by his inability to resist the immorality of society.

Dick?s drinking was the reason he was bought out of the clinic. It can also be

assumed that his drinking ruined his professional career after he left Europe.

Therefore it can be said that Dick, along with Gatsby, and Stahr, failed in life

because they were unable to resist the moral desert of high society. In

conclusion, it can be said that one who lives among the immoral will succumb to

their environment. In the case of Fitzgerald?s protagonists in The Last

Tycoon, The Great Gatsby , and Tender is The Night, failure is the justice for

immoral action. Whether or not this is a balanced justice is debatable, but it

is justice nonetheless.


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