Dick as Tragic Hero in Tender is the Night
Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night tells the story of an American psychiatrist Dick Diver and his wealthy, schizophrenic wife Nicole. We follow the deterioration of the seemingly wonderful, happy marriage of the stylish couple presented in the first book, to the finalizing divorce of the newly empowered and relatively stable Nicole and the somewhat broken, yet content Dick. Dick’s fall from grace is not entirely surprising considering the weaknesses of his character and the choices he makes throughout the novel. Portrayed throughout the beginning of the book in a very positive light as a wonderful entertainer and the epitome of social grace, Dick’s character is not as strong, nor as pure as it first appears. However, Dick is not an entirely bad person. It is actually some of the more positive aspects of his personality that, in combination with the negative aspects, lead to his eventual downfall.
Book I of the novel introduces Dick as the jester on the beach and a gracious host. He seems to enjoy a great respect from the people around him. The positive light cast on Dick at the beginning makes it likely that Dick Diver will ultimately become the “hero” of the novel, which is an idea that deserves consideration throughout the novel. But, at the end of Book I, the reader is still not certain of the identity of the main character. “It is entirely plausible at that point in the novel to guess that Tender is the Night is actually the story of the young actress Rosemary”( LaHood, 27). The majority of the first book revolves around Rosemary and our perspectives of the characters are somewhat stinted by her impressions of them. It is upon her rather idealized impression of…
…the happy, stable and more independent life that she had been missing.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Bruccoli, Matthew J. and Judith S. Baughman. Reader’s Companion to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. Tender is the Night. New York, NY: Scriber, 1933
Grenberg, Bruce L. “Fitzgerald’s ‘Figured Curtain’: Personality and History in Tender Is the Night.” In Critical Essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night, ed. Milton R. Stern. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1986.
LaHood, Marvin J., ed. Tender Is the Night: Essays in Criticism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1969.
Stern, Milton R. Tender Is the Night: The Broken Universe. New York: Twayne, 1994.
Stern, Milton R., ed. Critical Essays on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night. Boston: Hall, 1986.