Idealism in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last TycoonIdealism is undoubtably present in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon. Infatuation may be a better word, for that was exactly what possessed the main character, Monroe Stahr. He was totally engorged with one Kathleen Moore. He idealized Miss Moore as the second coming of his deceased wife Minna Davis. Stahr was a true man of men that had little to do with women since the tragic passing of his wife. He would rather put his feet up with a cigar and shoot the breeze with the boys. Yet once he laid eyes on Kathleen for the first time, all of that changed. It was love at first sight.
Kathleen and Stahr meet after an earthquake rocked Los Angles. Stahr was surveying the damage done to the studio, when a prop came floating by with two “dames” clinging to it for their lives. A stage hand rescued and presented them to Stahr for judgement. That was the moment that would change everything. The following excerpt is a narration of what was going through Stahr’s mind when he was struck blind by Cupid’s golden arrow.
“Smiling faintly at him from not four feet away was the face of his dead wife, identical even to the expression. Across the four feet of moonlight, the eyes he knew looked back at him, a curl blew a little on a familiar forehead; the smile lingered, changed a little according to pattern; the lips parted–the same.” (Chp II, p.26)
She was Minna, but she wasn’t. All her features were Minna’s, except her voice. “–and then he heard another voice speak that was not Minna’s voice.” (Chp II, p.26) She was obviously British and not glamorous American, as Minna’s had been. Nevertheless, she was a replica of his life long love. Stahr determined right then that she would be the next.Before he could get himself together, Kathleen was whisked away by the police for trespassing. Stahr spent the next few days trying to track her down. By this time he had fully succumbed to her rapture. On their third meeting, they happened to stumble upon each other at a posh Hollywood party. Her beauty brought back all the sensations that had trapped him initially. The scene was as follows: “…the white table lengthened and became an altar where the priestess sat alone. Vitality welled up in him, and he could have stood a long time across the table from her, looking and smiling…(while dancing) she was momentarily u…
…es me feel as if life is just one big joke. I soon come to my senses and re-release that life will go on. Stahr on the other hand cannot get past the facts that love has left his life twice. It is just too much for him to deal with. I too idealized the woman in my life as the “wind beneath my wings.” The sad fact is that just is not true. The only wind under my wings is the mountain valley breeze that is ever present on this university campus. I am reason for my survival, not a woman. Stahr saw Kathleen as the only thing missing from his life, and quite possibly that being a true statement. He could have lived without her, but he just didn’t see it that way.
Overall idealism is an interesting idea. We all do it, but why? Why do we idealize people and ideas? Are we trying to make them seem better than they really are? I believe that we do it, because it is instinctive. Whether we idealize a person or an abstract idea, we all do it. The Last Tycoon is an idealistic novel. Even during the time in which Fitzgerald was writing this novel, he idealized the novel itself as his best work. Tragically, just like Stahr, his dream was not realized due to death, that death being his own.