Majesty by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Author: Francis Scott Fitzgerald
Published: The Saturday Evening Post (July 13, 1929), Taps at Reveille (1935)
Genre: Short Story
1. Majesty Synopsis
“Majesty” explores the concept of destiny and the unexpected turns life can take. The narrator reflects on how people often adhere to their ingrained behaviors. The focus shifts to Emily Castleton, her life, engagements, and the turmoil surrounding her failed wedding. Olive, her cousin, navigates the aftermath of Emily’s escape, finding comfort in unexpected places. Emily’s subsequent disappearance from public view and her association with an unsavory character lead her family to intervene. The narrative highlights the unpredictability of life’s paths and the way people adapt to unforeseen circumstances.
2. Story Summary
The narrator finds that individuals often maintain their levels of behavior or even exceed them, guided by some unyielding destiny. The narrator’s personal belief is that nobody has disappointed them since they were eighteen. The narrative then shifts to focus on Emily Castleton, tracing her life from Harrisburg to New York, her encounters, engagements, and disillusionments. Despite her charm, beauty, and fame, Emily feels the pressure to marry. On her wedding day to Brevoort Blair, she ponders the future and questions the fulfillment of her marriage. As the wedding ceremony approaches, a commotion spreads through the church; Emily has fled, leaving Brevoort at the altar.
Olive arrives at the Castleton house to find chaos after Emily’s escape from her wedding. She seeks comfort from her Uncle Harold. Upstairs, she finds him disheveled at Emily’s dressing table. He’s devastated by the situation. Olive reads the telegram Emily left, expressing regret. After sending for a masseur to help calm her uncle, Olive goes to the library where a secretary is anxious. Music from a makeshift party drifts in, and Olive finds her younger cousin, Harold, and his friends dancing. She demands they stop the party, and after some reluctance, they do. Olive sits down, contemplating the situation.
Brevoort Blair enters the house. They discuss the scandal and how it will be perceived by the media. Brevoort suggests they marry to alter the story, but Olive is insulted by the proposal. As he leaves, she calls him back and agrees to the marriage to protect her own dignity and reputation.
During her previous European stay, Emily’s actions were widely known among American society abroad, but she vanished from public view after leaving New York a month after her uncelebrated wedding. Occasionally, there were letters and rumors suggesting her whereabouts. Mr. Castleton later saw Emily in Paris, where she seemed changed and distant. Learning about her association with a disreputable figure named Petrocobesco, Mr. Castleton felt it was time to intervene. He asked Olive and Brevoort Blair, Emily’s cousin and her husband, to bring her back home to the US.
They traveled to Europe to find Emily in Sturmdorp, a small town. She was living with Petrocobesco and his associates. The Blairs attempted to convince Emily to return, citing her father’s aging health and her family’s concern for her reputation. Emily’s situation took a surprising turn when Petrocobesco revealed that he was set to become king of Czjeck-Hansa, a small country. Emily’s decision to marry him and become queen left the Blairs shocked and baffled.
Mr. and Mrs. Brevoort Blair and their children watch a royal procession from a balcony in London. Their daughter asks if Aunt Emily is the Queen of England, to which her mother explains that Emily is the queen of a small country. Emily’s rise to royalty is attributed to magnesium deposits. The procession passes by, featuring the reigning monarchs and their consorts. Olive, watching, feels a mix of emotions and wonders if Emily is truly happy as a queen. Despite the seeming silliness, Olive remains deeply moved by her cousin’s journey.
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