Scott Fitzgeralds Babylon Revisited Essay

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Babylon Revisited, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is a 1930 short story first published in 1931, free inside the Telegraph and on Saturday Evening Post. The short story saw a movie adaptation in 1954 titled The Last Time I Saw Paris. Set just a year after the 1929 stock market crash and the 'Jazz Age', some flashbacks within the story take place within the Jazz Age. The story references some instances of the Great Depression and how someone would have adapted their life in that era. In fact, the story is based on many of Fitzgerald's own experiences. For example, 'Scottie', his daughter is one of the people the story is based on along with his sister-in-law and husband. The story lends to the various feelings and thoughts of someone that feels and lives within an era of color and shadow. This essay is meant discusses such things through exploration of themes and symbolism throughout the story, especially memory and remembrance, something is inherently tied to life and reflection.



Aside from having a real-life foundation, there are several themes within the story that provide some insight into the thoughts and ruminations of the author. For example, a prevailing theme within the story is the inability to escape the past. Charlie, one of the main characters, seems to be unable to escape his wilder days. The memories of Paris haunt him, following him everywhere he goes. A good example of that is when he lunches with Honoria. There is only one restaurant he could find that does not remind him of the long drunken hours of eating. "At noon he sat opposite Honoria at Le Grand Vatel, the only restaurant he could think of not reminiscent of champagne dinners and long luncheons that began at two and ended in a blurred and vague twilight.
" (Fitzgerald 621)



Another is simply noting changes that have happened in the story. The frightened tourists going to cafes are nothing compared to the partier he once was. Those spots the tourists frequent, now almost empty, bring forth a feeling of emptiness in Charlie. It is as if those memories belonged to another person and made him feel not nostalgia, but longing and desperation.



Those memories also bring up for Charlie, a failed marriage. Marion incessantly reminds Charlie of his errors because of her own obsessive desire to cling to the past. And through these revelations brought on from the past, it informs the current circumstances within the narrative. Charlie cannot truly live with Honoria due to what happened with Helen. "I'll never in my life be able to forget the morning when Helen knocked at my door, soaked to the skin and shivering, and said you'd locked her out." (Fitzgerald 628) He is stuck and reminded not just from places, but from people of the 'bad old days' like Lorraine and Duncan. There is just something that Charlie cannot let go of and that is what brings the main conflict for him.



If Charlie willingly goes to the Ritz bar and to Montmarte, it does beg to consider whether Charlie wants to be haunted. If these memories are all he has left of a time where he felt something, is he purposely trying to invoke such memories by going to these places. He knows if he goes to these places, he will feel regret, and yet here he is, going anyway. Even with Duncan and Lorraine, even though he protests to let them know where he is staying, he already told….....

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Works Cited


Fitzgerald, F S. The Complete Short Stories and Essays, Volume 2. Scribner, 2004.

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