The Theme of Marriage in The Beautiful and Damned Essay Example

Among the elites of society, exist two types of opulent people: the type that does not so much as lift a finger and, inherits all the riches, and the kind that makes their name, a name to remember. In Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned, Anthony and Gloria Patch live an aimlessly lavish life; however, as the plot unfolds, the two lovers soon realize that their marriage is purely lustrous and bears no substance much like their personal lives. Thus, Anthony turns to an affair with a younger woman as an attempt to bring significance to his inefficacious life.

Much like the lives of Anthony and Gloria, Tom and Daisy Buchanan of the Great Gatsby, have come into wealth through generations of inheritance and have a relationship that is merely built on superficiality; as a result, their marriage begins to crumble, and Tom seeks purpose in his life through his affair with Myrtle Wilson. Those who live solely on the basis of wealth, inevitably lack ambition and objective in their life. In Fitzgerald’s Beautiful and Damned, Anthony and Gloria lack achievement in their personal lives and rather seek gratification through their possessions; Tom and Daisy of the Great Gatsby exert an almost identical value in their lives. Through his twentieth-century works, Fitzgerald sheds light on the complete and utterly idle reality of those living their wealthy lives in waste.

Although Anthony has the intelligential means to pursue a noteworthy career, he lacks the motivation to do so. He is seen as academically promising and gifted from a young age and is invited, to attend Harvard University. However, years pass his graduation; and ironically, he still has yet to achieve anything worthwhile in his life. Anthony seems to believe that if he continues to spend his days lounging in his Fifth Avenue apartment, his grandfather will eventually pass away, and with his inheritance, a notable future awaits him: “…he considered that he would one day accomplish some quiet subtle thing that the elect would deem worthy…Until the time came for this effort he would be Anthony Patch” (Fitzgerald).

His grandfather then insists that he attempt to write as a profession, to hopefully find the ambition he lacks in his life. Subsequently, after years of brainstorming ideas for his novel, he does not have a single sentence written in his novel. Anthony is so accustomed to the comforts of his lifestyle; he lacks the financial incentive that most individuals possess through their careers. He merely believes that out of thin air he will accomplish “some quiet subtle thing” however, he has no conception of what this “thing” will be and does not take initiative to actively work towards this. He deliberately utilizes his wealth as a safety net; whether employed or not, he has his inheritance to subsidize his sumptuous way of life. 

In the same way, Tom is Yale-educated and comes from a lineage of wealth and societal eminence but lives his life aimlessly. When Tom attends Gatsby’s party, Gatsby introduces Tom to the other guests as a polo player: "Mr. Buchanan--" After an instant's hesitation he added: "the polo player." "Oh no," objected Tom quickly, "not me." (Fitzgerald 112).  Tom’s immediate reaction to this situation is to deny his label as a mere polo player; he is self-conscious and shameful of his societal relevance. Like Anthony, he has the intellectual ability to pursue a career; though his financial means provides him with a comfortable lifestyle without the needs of a profession. Nonetheless, without a line of work, he lacks the sense of self-accomplishment and is not able to make an impact in society in which he can be remembered for.  

Anthony’s unrewarding life changes course, as he meets his future wife Gloria. By chance, Anthony’s friend Dick Caramel invites Anthony to meet his cousin Gloria Gilbert for tea whom he deems alluring but unintelligent. Overlooking the forewarning Dick gives him, Anthony is immediately drawn to Gloria and swept away by her glamour: “She had all her life been associated either with her mental inferiors or with men who, under the almost hostile intimidation of her beauty, had not dared to contradict her…” (Fitzgerald 145). The relationship they build solely constitutes on the basis of a picturesque fantasy. At this point, their individual lives become so dissatisfactory and monotonous, that their relationship becomes the focal point of their existence. Gloria and Anthony are entirely detached from reality; and simply charmed by the superficial elements: the wealth, beauty, and societal image, in which their relationship entails. They are completely blindsided to the true qualities and characteristics of one other. Being so, they immediately rush towards marriage, and their relationship takes a turn for the worse.

Like Gloria and Anthony, Daisy and Tom’s marriage is both impulsive and surface level.  Originally, Daisy and the title character Jay Gatsby fall madly in love for one another; Gatsby leaves to enlist in the war and they agree to wed one another upon his return. However, amidst Gatsby’s time overseas, Daisy hastily grows impatient and meets another man by the name of Tom Buchanan: 

He might have despised himself, for [Gatsby] had certainly taken her under false pretences. . . he had deliberately given Daisy a sense of security; he let her believe that he was a person from much the same stratum as herself (Fitzgerald)

Although Daisy is genuinely in love with Gatsby, she consciously chooses to marry Tom. She willingly eschews her love for Gatsby to live a mere shallow lifestyle filled with riches. Tom is equally as depthless. Similar to Anthony, Tom is single-handedly infatuated with the outward image of Daisy, and not with her inward persona. 

Not six months pass Gloria and Anthony’s wedding, and they begin to experience the realities of a relationship. As such, they instantaneously come to be disinterested in one another: “We keep an apartment that we’ve only lived in three months and a little old house way off in nowhere. We’re frequently bored and yet we won’t make any effort” (Fitzgerald 182). In its preliminary stages, their relationship is an unsustainable solution for the apathy in their personal lives. In such a way, if they are aimless in their own lives, they undoubtedly will not find the resolution in one other. Since both Gloria and Anthony’s lives are trivial, they consist of dissipating their lives on the concept of affluence; it reflects in the relationship in which they have built. Although a cliché, “money does not buy happiness”. One must function in themselves in order for their relationship to last. 

Identically in scenario, not far in their marriage, the spark between Tom and Daisy begins to subside. The narrator, Nick Carraway establishes this notion between Tom and Daisy early on in his encounter of them: “They had spent a year in France, for no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together” (Fitzgerald 17). As outlined by Nick, Tom and Daisy grow so remarkably fatigue in their relationship, they attempt to find pleasure in their travels. Ultimately, they may travel across the entirety of the world; however, they eventually will still become tired in themselves. As concluded above, when an individual entirely fixates on the notion of wealth, their lives unavoidably take no direction. Although Tom and Daisy do not have any form of fulfilment nor objective in themselves; their marriage is not an outlet in which they escape their personal lethargy no matter how hard they try to resist it. 

As their marriage begins to unravel, Anthony enlists in the war. While in training camp, he stumbles across a nineteen-year-old girl by the name of Dorothy Raycroft or “Dot”, who has a rather poor reputation across town; and whom he begins to have an affair with:” …he was attracted to Dorothy. As a matter of fact he lived in terror that Gloria should learn by some chance or intention of the relation he had formed” (Fitzgerald 186). At this point in the novel, Anthony is clearly no longer allured by the beauty of Gloria; although her appearance the initial basis of his ‘love’ for her. Instead, he seeks satisfaction in someone with a sizable age difference and someone with a menial social standing. Hence, the iteration that possessions of wealth and superficiality, by no means provoke satisfaction in the long haul. Without self-accomplishment and achievement in one’s own life, life will forever be futile. 

Likewise, in The Great Gatsby, soon after Tom and Daisy’s marriage, Tom begins to have an affair. His mistress is Myrtle Wilson, a married woman and that like Dot, is of a significantly lower social class. “…Tom was feeling the hot whips of panic. His wife and his mistress, until an hour ago secure and inviolate, were slipping precipitately from his control” (Fitzgerald 164). Like Anthony, he his wife has lost her appeal in his eyes. Lacking control and achievement in his life, he deliberately turns to having an affair with someone in which he can source a feeling of satisfaction; as his upscale lifestyle and possessions no longer spark joy.



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