Dr. S. Wright
11 September 2014
The effects of alcohol on the middle- and upper- classes of the 20th century are evident in the literature of that time. The poems, short stories, and novels of the 1990s demonstrate that alcohol had a destructive impact on the people of the period. The characters in 20th century prose are not only wealthy but they are also abusers of absinthe. What is perhaps most curious about characters’ consumption of alcohol is that the characters of 20th century novels are not the only persons who liberally consumed alcohol; the authors of the period consumed it, too. Absinthe is an extremely potent distilled alcoholic beverage that was popular in the early 1900s. Its 74% ABV (Alcohol by Volume) is extremely higher in alcohol content than many of the other spirits of its time. Many were cautious of the effects that absinthe had on the nervous system for it was believed to be a hallucinogenic. Earnest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, two of the most lauded authors of the 20th century, were absinthe users. Their use of absinthe would not have been a surprise to most living during the period, however, for it was believed that “artist of the 20th century” was the best example of absinthe abuse (insert citation). Alcohol was a major factor in both writers’ personal lives, and alcohol abuse constantly appears in many of their works. Careful readers of Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants” and “A Clean Well-Lighted Place” and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby will notice that the characters’ desire for alcohol is rooted in their desire for money and social status. The aim of this paper is to demonstrate that the characters in the aforementioned stories use alcohol as a means to procure elevated social rank.
In the short story, “Hills like White Elephants,” it is important to pay attention to the setting that Hemingway depicts in the opening of...