I finished reading this gem about one week ago. I could not get too attached to the first few chapters, but the pages definitely sucked me in by the end of the first part. It tells a tale of success, frivolity, insanity, adultery, and deceit; not once did I see the ending within sight, and its result seems remiscient upon Lady Chatterly's Lover, Anna Karenina, or even Madame Bovary, yet has the same hauntings of Macbeth. Does anyone have any thoughts?
The irony of Dr. Dick Diver basically having a reciprocation with the situation of his wife, Nicole, seemed especially psychologically surprising. The doctor ended up as the patient, afflicted with depression, alcoholism, broken, poor, while Nicole, after struggling with previous abuse from her father, ended up in success. I would think it safe to say that Dick began his cascade downhill after breaking his Hippocratic oath by falling in love with one of his patients. Does his fate seem just, however? Does his result as a trusted individual in a respectable occupation seem deserved?
Absolutely. I considered Dick Diver, coming from a hardworking American family, a diligent, polite man, worthy of respect, but his later frivolous lifestyle corrupts him to succumb to his appetites, peaking at the beginning of the novel when he encounters Rosemary. He sees himself, I believe, heading towards an awful fate when his good friend, Abe North, gets killed partially as a result of his partying and drinking.
How Nicole Diver, in a way, ends up as the heroine of the novel I found especially genius - a young girl, sexually abused, delirious, tossed into a psychiatric institution, then rises to greatness by her own doing, even after getting somewhat abandoned by her former doctor and husband, Dick, betrayed at the very least. She goes from getting caught in self-mutilation in a restroom to falling in love with Tommy Barban, admitting to it, and running away from him. Quite a jump!
Rosemary confused me. To me, she seems one of the main characters in the first part, but ends up more like a Monet painting in the background - something that affects the entire story, alluring by sight, but deceiving once the eyes get near. Once the novel ended, I wondered what happened to her later in life. Living a lavish, Epicurean lifestyle, young, supported by her mother, she reminds me of a spoiled brat who takes much for granted, and does not consider the results of her actions. Perhaps an actress can act well, but not live well.
I know this novel seems partially autobiographical in part of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Apparently, early in their marriage, his wife, Zelda, fell ill with what they suspected as schizophrenia; sadly, she never recovered, and died years later inside the psychiatric institution, alone. Fitzgerald, distraught by her absence, overwhelmed with medical bills, I heard, fell into poverty, alcoholism, quit writing, and died young himself of a heart condition; if Fitzgerald had lived to continue Tender is the Night, I fear Dick Diver would have left this world in an equally unfortunate, depressing manner.