Zelda Fitzgerald Essay

Zelda FitzgeraldZelda Fitzgerald began life looking forward to what it could offer her. A popular debutante and success at everything she had yet to try enticed her to believe that she was infallible. It was only during her later life that she realized that life, both physically and mentally, had its breaking point. Though many things have been blamed as the cause of her mental breakdown, there is no specific root to her problem. Diagnosed as schizophrenic in 1930, Zelda would be condemned to spending the rest of her life in and out of mental health facilities, the place where she would take her final breath, killed by a fire in 1948.

Zelda Fitzgerald’s first breakdown occurred while living abroad in 1929. Insistent on becoming a world-class ballerina Zelda threw her heart and soul into her dancing. Later in life Zelda would admit that she needed dancing, she wanted, “dancing to be her exclusive possession” (Milford, 152)[1]. After having a life in which she was constantly referred to as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda imagined dancing to be her own passion, one which could give her a personality separate from simply being a wife. The pinnacle of her first breakdown occurred in April of 1930. Increasingly Zelda’s behavior had been becoming so strange that Scott finally took her too a hospital. Against her doctor’s wishes she soon left and returned to her apartment where she became increasingly more disoriented, complaining of hearing voices and seeing phantoms. Finally, against her wishes Scott instituted her at Les Rives de Pragins. The one thing Zelda missed was her ballet, of it she wrote, “It was all I had in the world at the time” (Milford, 160). During her first instance of being institut…

… 4)[3] to a sad lonely existence. Whether it was genetics or Scott Fitzgerald to blame for this transformation can never be decided. What Zelda’s illness took away from her and from society was the creative thinker that could never fully be unlocked. Zelda left behind a treasure of short stories, plays, and paintings. Perhaps without her debilitating schizophrenia Zelda Fitzgerald would have been able to create the independent identity for which she so craved.

[1] Milford, Nancy. Zelda, Harper Collins, New York, New York, 1970. All further references refer to this edition.

[2] Bryer, Jackson. Dear Scott, Dear Zelda, St. Martin’s Press, New York, New York, 2002. All further references refer to this edition.

[3] Willett, Erika “Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald: Artist, Writer, Dancer and Wife”. PBS Biographies. www.pbs.org/kteh/amstorytellers/bios.html

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