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displace all our social ills through psychology and advancing economic status, never quite filled the shoes which society expected. The modern image of life contained high amounts of anticipation and idealism. Yet as the industrial revolution took hold and transformed our culture socially, economically and politically, people discovered slowly that societal expectations were not as easily changed as a new factory was built at the end of the block. People still acted like people always had, wrestling with ideas that seem good at the moment compared to the ethics and values which ultimately held the individual and the community to solid ground.
In this time, the image of a woman and of a woman's place in modern culture also was undergoing considerable forces toward change. The woman's social image prior to the industrial revolution, and a modern mindset was that of a home maker and women who was, or should be content with the home maker's life. Women were not perceived in the social order as having a value beyond what they could contribute as a social support system for men, and men's plans.
However, in this role, women's contribution to society and family life was much more valuable than that of an unpaid maid and baby factory. The social support which a woman provided became the glue which often held the family together. The woman was a person who often worked in the background, without notoriety. However, like the stage crew which makes sure that a Broadway play performance goes off without a problem, the woman who stayed at home and spent her time and energy on and for her family was often responsible for the stability of the entire home.
Nonetheless, modern thought wanted to build a new position for women in society. In response writers cast their images of heroines in early 20th century literature which included many different shades of womanhood, mother hood, progress, and success. At the heart of each character was a major character lesson which the author wanted to communicate, or a lesson about the culture which authors believed could be better told through the life of a woman than the life of a man. In the following cases, the different messaged paint a picture of modern womanhood which was caught in the midst of change, often to her own harm.
Tender is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the story of a man caught in between his desires for a traditional woman, or enjoying a non-tradition woman who could provide wealth and fun. In the time of this authors work, the man was the 'breadwinner' of the family. Therefore selecting a woman who could provide the wealth for the home was a non-traditional lifestyle. However, Fitzgerald wants to communicate that while there is nothing inherently 'wrong' with selecting a non-traditional woman, she might come with a price, a high price.
In the case of Dick Diver, the main antagonist in the story, dick falls in love with Nichole Warren, and married her. Nichole is a woman from a wealthy family, and her resources more than meet Dick's desires for wealth and material prosperity. However, the tow met at a time when Nichole is institutionalized in a mental hospital, and as the two progress through life, Nichole never leaved her emotional disorder completely behind. Eventually, Dick tires of her draining neediness, and begins a self-destructive spiral of drinking, and flirting with other attractive women who are more his level of social and intellectual standing. He is a handsome man, and he has no trouble attracting female companionship. Thus the stage is set for the conflict between Nichole, Dick and himself as the story climaxes.
Nichole is a woman with obvious resources, and obvious detractions. She is a woman who can provide for dick the things which men are knows to seek in life, status, attention and money. However the cost which she brings to the relationship is the subtext of the message regarding men and women. Fitzgerald is setting a metaphor in motion regarding the way a man goes about attaining the emotional and character-based success in life. For dick, he was given those three elements. For Nichole, she brought those things into his life, much in the way the modern movement was insisting that women become. But for Dick, he did not find happiness in receiving wealth and economic security…[continue]
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