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By the time a person has achieved years adequate for choosing a direction, the die is cast and the moment has long since passed which determined the future. -Zelda Fitzgerald

The Other Zelda

Though Final Fantasy characters may be named Locke and Paine, it's unclear what relationship (if any) they have to their historical counterparts. However, we know for a fact that the Zelda of the popular gaming series is named for Zelda Fitzgerald, the novelist's wife, who was an important and interesting figure in her own right. Now, I'm more an amateur fan of Scott's than any sort of expert on Zelda, but I was her for Halloween, and I will try to explain a little part of her appeals and intrigues.

Zelda Sayre was born in 1900, in Montgomery Alabama, the daughter of a Supreme Court Justice and the youngest of six children. Named for a character in one of her mother's romantic novels, Zelda came into a world where women just might be educated and allowed to think for themselves. She was a bright, creative, rebellious and opinionated little thing, with golden locks and a graceful figure. She grew into the quintessential southern belle- and when a young officer named Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald came into town and stole her heart, her unofficial fanclub became jealous.

Scott and Zelda had a famously torrid affair, and they wrote eachother words of devotion at a furious pace. For Zelda, Scott was a way out of the South and into the big city- a chance for freedom and happiness and love. For Scott, Zelda was a beautiful and enchanting creature, who happily happened to come from a prominent family (for status could be everything to him.) Their letters continued- however, Scott was struggling to make a name for himself, and when he proposed, Zelda refused, saying that he needed to find success on his own. Luckily, Scott's first novel, This Side of Paradise, was an instant best-seller, and he and Zelda were married a week after publication.

Zelda and Scott became icons of the age- posing in magazines and revelling in the New York life. Scott even credited his wife for inventing and popularizing the flapper look. She was a freethinking woman with all the world at her feet. She gave brith to a daughter, Scottie, and for a time had the glamorous life she'd always dreamed about.

However, the tensions between Zelda, Scott, and their extravagant lifestyle grew. After an affair weakened their marriage, Zelda persued a lifelong dream- becoming a professional ballerina. She studied intensely under a famous dance instructor for years, which gradually eroder her health. This, coupled with the commercial failures of Scott's later novels (including The Great Gatsby, his masterpiece) and his downspiral into alcoholism, led to her first nervous breakdown in 1930. She was eventually diagnosed with schizophrenia and lived in and out of mental hospitals until her death in an asylum fire in 1947.

Not only was Zelda a ballet dancer and an infamous and outspoken beauty, she was an artist and writer as well. Her novel, Save Me the Waltz was written during her stay at a sanitorium, and she published several short stories as well. Her paintings, most of which were destroyed in a fire, were vibrant pictures of both life and life as it should be. She painted a series on both fairy tales and the Bible, as well as portraits of both herself and her husband. Most critics believe that if she had focused on one discipline, she would have achieved a name for herself independent of her husband. However, her image and works are being re-evaluated today, and she has achieved a reputation as a feminist icon.