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Zelda Fitzgerald: the forgotten icon

by Sarah Morris - Copy Editor
Tue, Feb 27th 2018 10:00 pm

As the first week of National Women’s History Month rolls in, it’s important to keep in mind and learn the stories of the women who made a positive impact on the United States, especially those who didn’t receive the credit for the amazing things they did to help America. 

Throughout history, we’ve had several women participate in the establishment of the society we know today. Some women, though, are kept in the dark or overshadowed in their accomplishments, no matter how large, and these women deserve to have their stories told.

Zelda Fitzgerald (previously known as Zelda Sayre), who as a socialite, painter and novelist gave her husband, author F. Scott Fitzgerald, a name, is an example of an incredible woman.Living in Alabama, Zelda spent her youthful years “cracking a cold one with the boys,” challenging the gender norms with her excessive smoking, drinking and having relations with the opposite gender against her parents’ (and society’s) rules, making her the “first American Flapper.” Her rebellious behavior caught the eye of F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of the famous novel “The Great Gatsby,” and then the two married, becoming one of the most iconic couples of the Roaring Twenties.

Zelda was not only a painter and socialite, but also a writer, and she and her husband would write together, inspiring each other with their dreams and ideas. However, this couple wasn’t perfect. In fact, F. Scott Fitzgerald often demeaned his wife, Zelda, claiming to the public that she was “crazy,” when, in reality, she suffered from serious depression. 

Zelda claimed she felt like an object to her husband, and not a sexual one. During many occasions, F. Scott Fitzgerald was rumored to have been having a homosexual relationship with Ernest Hemingway, leaving Zelda, obviously, sexually unsatisfied.

After the two took some time away from each other, Zelda began to write short stories to cope with her depression, and even got an agent to get some articles published. 

Each publication, no matter how big or small, was under her husband’s name. When she expressed interest in publishing her diaries at the suggestion of a publisher, F. Scott Fitzgerald immediately shut her down and refused to let anyone but him see them, claiming he needed them for his inspiration.

This “inspiration,” though, is simply just a very watered-down term for plagiarism. F. Scott Fitzgerald took not only word-by-word passages from her diaries, but also stole her ideas and deepest feelings that weren’t his to share. 

He based his best-seller, “The Great Gatsby,” on the couple’s marriage, using Zelda’s diaries to sculpt Daisy’s character.

The unwanted exposure and lack of recognition caused Zelda to have a series of meltdowns, which got her thrown into an asylum. Despite finishing her novel while inbetween asylum visits, Zelda was never really published and was soon forgotten as she slowly grew more and more depressed in the mental hospital. 

At the age of 47, eight years after F. Scott Fitzgerald died, the mental asylum Zelda was held in caught fire and she died, unable to escape from the top floor. Zelda’s death was a fitting end to the tragedy that was her life, an even better, and true, version of “The Great Gatsby.” 




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