F. Scott Fitzgerald is one of the most famous and respected American writers in history. Among his more prominent works are some short stories and novels written during and about the Jazz Age, a time period following WWI known for its change in culture, classism, political unrest, and jazz music. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story entitled Bernice Bob’s Hair is a prime example of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing style, including a reference to a popular piece of literature and the Jazz Age, which F. Scott Fitzgerald lived through and experienced first hand.
F. Scott Fitzgerald references William Shakespeare’s Hamlet within this short story. In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story, however, there are many differences between Shakespeare’s play and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s version of events, mainly pertaining to the ending. Bernice Bob is a girl who possesses unusually long hair at an early age: “Bernice bobbed her hair as other girls were doing… ” (817).
She is very insistent upon her hair being admired, constantly worrying about it during the course of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story. This is not something F. Scott Fitzgerald would have seen in his life at this time, with F. Scott Fitzgerald participating in the Jazz Age , which included many events filled with alcohol and jazz music. Bernice Bob is a reflection of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s own characters created during this time period in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s writing career.
F. Scott Fitzgerald also makes reference to the popular book His Dark Materials, in which F. Scott Fitzgerald asks if Bernice Bob will “dust [the house] with fairy wings like Lady Salisbury? ” (817), referring to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book. F. Scott Fitzgerald, as previously stated, was a part of the Jazz Age , where F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote about F. Scott Fitzgerald real-life experiences and events that F. Scott Fitzgerald found interesting or amusing. This is seen in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story Bernice Bob’s Her Hair and his other short stories and novels written during this time period.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Bernice Bob’s hair” is a story that tells us about Paul, who falls in love with Bernice, but her hair does not attract him to the same extent as another girl’s hair did. This situation makes Paul feel inferior and he leaves Bernice without having the courage to tell her anything about it.
F. Scott Fitzerald uses such an ironic tone throughout this short story, making us realize how selfish some men can be when they love a woman unconditionally and never lift a finger if something is wrong with them at all; whereas women always try their best to please every man they fall in love with without expecting anything in return. F. Scott Fitzerald shows us by Paul, how men can be: Fickle and self-centered. The story takes place in the South of England, where Paul meets Bernice Bobs at a dance.
At first sight, Bernice’s beauty captures Paul’s heart; but it is not until he notices her hair that he throws himself at her feet as she passes him by. From then on, nothing will drive away his feelings for Bernice as long as she keeps those beautiful locks of hair. When summer comes along, the attention of every man around Bernice increases; making one fall right after the other to her altar, honoring her with a flowery wreath for each visit they pay her. One day when sitting next to Paul on a bench under a big tree, a girl comes along who Paul had a crush on before Bernice.
She walks up to Bernice and asks her if she could braid her hair because hers is too thick for this task to be done by one’s self; Bernice agrees. When the girl leaves Bernice’s side, Paul can’t take his eyes off of that thick red hair that has just been braided by someone else. F. Scott Fitzgerald uses this moment of jealousy as an opportunity to tell us about women “torturing” their hair with all kinds of potions; but they never find the right treatment to make it look perfect like some other woman’s hair would do.
This is why F. Scott Fitzerald carefully chose this moment in the story to tell us about Paul’s feelings for Bernice changing. F. Scott Fitzerald describes this moment as being one of those “moments” that every woman with a crush on someone feels when they are sitting next to their “soulmate”, knowing that this person does not see what is right under their nose, but is completely attracted by something else instead, feeling miserably inferior compared to this other thing or person which makes them feel so self-conscious about themselves and their hair at the same time.
F Scott Fitzgerald also shows us how men can be with women who do everything they want without having to ask for it because they know they will get it eventually; such as Bernice Bobs who does not even mind when Paul asks her to take the braiding out of that other woman’s hair and in exchange she can braid Bernice’s hair herself.
F Scott Fitzgerald also finds an opportunity in this to tell us about how much women obsess over their appearance, which was what every southern girl did at the time F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote this story; like when Bernice finds out that someone wanted to take out her “braids” and compare them with another woman’s because they were too thick for one person to do it alone; we see again F. Scott Fitzgerald use irony throughout this short story by showing us how men can be: “Self-centered”; like when Paul tells Bernice: “I think I should like you to be proud when I escorting [sic] you. ”
F. Scott Fitzgerald uses the word “escorting” instead of “accompanying” because it has a more formal sound and F. Scott Fitzgerald always chose such words very carefully to make us understand that something was wrong with Paul; he would never put himself out there if everything was fine with him and Bernice’s hair; especially since F. Scott Fitzgerald says: “It is very strange how little countenance will sometimes suffice to disarm the hostility of women, and how little it takes to make them succumb—for Bernice did so within five minutes—to men. ” F Scott Fitzer Fitzgerald shows us by using such words that Paul will use to seduce women like: “escorting [sic]” because F.
Fitzer Fitsgerald wants us to understand that Bernice was not used to this; she was never out and about meeting men and being treated in such a way and F. Scott Fitzgerald uses this situation as an example at the end of the story when he says: “What made him think that he could be successful if other men, obviously more eligible, had failed? ” F. Scott Fitzgerald is using irony here too because we can see how much F. Scott Fitzgerald values the importance of something like having “beautiful hair” by making it essential for Bernice’s beauty.