The Beautiful and the Damned by Fitzgerald: Summary & Analysis

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  • 0:00 Plot Summary
  • 1:28 Analysis of the Novel
  • 2:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Pylaar Solomon

Middle/Secondary teacher with college experience. Master's degree in Bilingual Education. Fluent in Spanish and English.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's ''The Beautiful and The Damned'' explores the issues of greed and power in the context of the pre-World War I era. In this lesson you will read a brief summary and learn how to analyze the nuanced text.

Plot Summary

In F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1922 novel, The Beautiful and the Damned, the main characters Anthony and Gloria Patch are vain, self-obsessed, and haughty. The novel plots their downfall from uppity socialites to fiscal ruin.

Anthony Patch is a young man who expects to inherit millions when his grandfather dies. He claims to be a writer, yet does very little to that end. Instead, he spends his time blowing money on a semi-comfortable family income. His end plan is to inherit money and live a luxurious easy life. Most of his time is spent out rubbing elbows with other people whom he considers wealthy.

Anthony then meets Gloria, who eventually becomes his wife. She is beautiful and vain, and her only claim to special treatment lies in her looks. Anthony's alcoholism and the constant thought of his grandfather's will create many issues in their marriage, and it is far from a happy union. However, they do remain together, and it is easy to see that a downward spiral awaits them.

The Patches are the stereotypical socialites - wealthy people who spend most of their time socializing - of the pre-World War I era. They are very much like the Kardashians or other wealthy stars nowadays. Eventually, Anthony's grandfather dies, and Anthony discovers he has not been included in the will. This utterly destroys his reality, and he spends much time trying to fight to recover the money. His sense of entitlement and arrogance never changes throughout the novel.

Analysis of the Novel

The Beautiful and the Damned explores the ideas of money and decadence, as well as morality in love. Anthony's goal in life is to become enriched by his grandfather's wealth, without a second thought of what else he can do with his life. He lives decadently with a vastly overrated opinion of himself, leading to his failure. His wife Gloria is just as bad, seeing her only goal as marriage to a wealthy man. This also ends poorly for her, as she hasn't developed any part of herself except for her beauty.

The novel is a cautionary tale of decadence and the ends to which it can take us. Morality in love is nonexistent between the two characters; instead they are completely self-absorbed and do little to care for each other. They are a perfect example of what can happen to people if they are too selfish; they end up lonely and alone.

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