American Dream and Pursuit of Happiness in Babylon Revisited Symbolism
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Babylon Revisited by F.S. Fitzgerald is one of the most significant works of the author, where the main idea surrounds the issue of ‘American Dream’ and pursuit of happiness. The author described the time he lived in and tragic history of life of the main hero named Charlie. The author drew a parallel between his own life and the life of the main hero, therefore this story is referred to be an autobiographical. The story shows the real values that the protagonist recognized only after years of mistakes. Babylon Revisited is the reflection of the late 20th, when the parties came up to the end and people woke up in the debris of their broken dreams.
Fitzgerald is one of the most prominent authors of his time, and his works still influence the modern generation. His literary writings are dedicated to the themes of ‘American Dream’ where his heroes waste their life achieving success and wealth, however, they do not see the real values. In his short story Babylon Revisited, the author was willing to show the inside of American values and the way of living during the Jazz Age and after this epoch.
One of the author’s most crucial approaches or literary devices is symbolism that he used in all his works. The title of the story makes it possible to see the example of symbolism employed. ‘Babylon’ signifies the world where the main hero lived. When he was young and rich, he left America and moved to Paris, a sophisticated city full of temptations. There, he and his wife started to live on a grand scale due to constant celebration and joy. ‘Revisited’ means the revision of his own mistakes, his recognition of the fact that he wasted his life and followed wrong ideals. The story opens not with the beginning, but with the end that shows the main hero visiting the place where he burned his life in constant joy.
Charlie visited Ritz Bar in Paris where he was a loyal client for a long time. However, he became disappointed with this place because it seemed very different from what it was during his young age: “He was not really disappointed to find Paris was so empty. But the stillness in the Ritz bar was strange and portentous. It was not an American bar any more – he felt polite in it, and not as if he owned it. It had gone back into France (Fitzgerald)”. This scene was symbolic as the author showed the feeling of the main hero with a help of this emptiness.
Fitzgerald wrote this story being inspired by the real facts of his life. He was an extremely successful writer, who never had any problem with money, but the time of Great Depression dramatically influenced his family. As his main hero, he suffered from alcohol addiction and could not pay for a luxuries life as he could before. His wife, Zelda, had a nervous breakdown and consequently got to the hospital, so it was difficult for him to take care about his children ("Telegraph"). The main hero of a story had very similar situation, when after fun life and constant money spending he got into debts, became alcoholic, and had same problems with his family. He came back to Paris to return his daughter who was adopted by other family.
Considering these issues, we can state that the author of the Babylon Revisited also focused on such theme as the importance and sense of money. In addition, he described the attitude towards money in American lifestyle of that time. The author expressed the significance of money and wealth by the words of the main hero: “Again the memory of those days swept over him like a nightmare . . . The men who locked their wives out in the snow, because the snow of twenty-nine wasn’t real snow. If you didn’t want it to be snow, you just paid some money.” (Fitzgerald).
Disappointment is the main theme in all Fitzgerald’s works. He usually showed two sides of life, the first is bright, beautiful, but fake, and second is like winter after summer, where everything is covered with a snow that means emptiness and disappointment. The lead character described the joy of living by the following words: "But it was nice while it lasted," Charlie said. "We were a sort of royalty, almost infallible, with a sort of magic around us (Fitzgerald)”. Magic is the word that signifies their perception of life, where constant parties and joy become the center of life. However, the author always showed another side, where the main hero understands the mistakes of his past and reveals emptiness of existence. Charlie represents a typical hero of the 20th century, whose dreams broke after years of joy. It was a period of time, where people had to pay debts after parties and fun they had.
In conclusion, Babylon Revisited by F. S. Fitzgerald became one of the most popular and noteworthy works of the author that still have a powerful influence on the modern literature. It is certainly the case of ironic reality since the author describes a tragedy of the society, where in pursuit of wealth, social status, and this well-known ‘American Dream,’ people forget about the real values which do not bring fake happiness. Charlie dedicates his life to achieve success and, consequently, understands that he lives in fantasies, whereas all his actions and achievements cannot bring him real happiness. The protagonist of short story created in Jazz Age recognized that he wasted his life and revisited his world, his Babylon, after years of his own mistakes.