Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Amory's Disillusionment in This Side of Paradise

Academic journal article Studies in Literature and Language

Amory's Disillusionment in This Side of Paradise

Article excerpt


As many critics observe, nobody has described the despair of the twentieth century better than F. Scott Fitzgerald. He came to prominence as a great American novelist in the 1920s, a period dominated by the postwar novel. In This Side of Paradise, Fitzgerald successfully depicts the disillusionment of the protagonist, Amory Blaine, a young romantic egotist in a quest of forming a "personage" in which he has to face various dilemmas and losses. Critics have adopted different approaches, such as feminist theory, gender studies and realism to analyze Amory's psychic dilemmas. This paper adopts a different approach using early theories of Freud in dealing with the protagonist's disillusionments concerning his personal life.

Key words: This side of paradise; Disillusionment; Fantasy; Loss; Mother-figure; Substitute father-figure


This Side of Paradise's omniscient narrator points out the huge change in Amory's psychology from naïve self to aware self, with a moment of awakening in between. Written with a well-organized structure in two books and an interlude, This Side of Paradise becomes a premise for Fitzgerald's later, more successful novels. In quest of success, money and happiness, Amory has endured many experiences to form a conception of self but it is hard for Amory to control himself and so he inevitably falls into a disillusioned world view. As Pearl (2005) suggests, Amory "can never achieve a coherent character" (Pearl, 2005, p.3). One of the main points that leads to Amory's misconception of sexual identity as well as gender identity is he is much influenced by his mother, Beatrice O'Hara, in his childhood, without the influence of his father, Stephen Blaine, or an adequate substitute figure. Pearl also points out that "Amory's story traces the development, not of manly character, but of personality-a new, inferior, and effeminate kind of identity" (Pearl, 2005, p.3). In the light of reading This Side of Paradise, this essay will focus on the psychological facets of Amory's life and his psychological growth from his boyhood to adulthood to learn how disillusionment functions in his life, especially in his love for various idealized women in his later life. In addition, the study aims to make use of classic Freudian theories and several of Freud's little-known but highly thought-provoking early essays in particular to analyze the protagonist's illusions which lead him to failure in life.


Drawing on Freudian theory, we can say that the first erotic object for both sexes is the mother, while the way boys and girls resolve their mother-love determines their sexual identity. However, this theory does not contradict what Freud says in another of his theories about the most idealized figure, the father, of a boy. With the relevant Freudian concepts, we can see obviously that Fitzgerald is much influenced by Freud's psychoanalytic principles in depicting the relationship between mother and son.

Freud's "Some Reflections on Schoolboy Psychology" (Freud, 1914, p.241-244) exhibits several unusual and distinctive views which are of use in analyzing This Side of Paradise. In this school essay for the 50th anniversary of his own school's foundation celebration, Freud recalls the past, giving an adult's view of schoolboy experience, a time of "confusion and illusions, painful distortions and heartening success" (Freud, 1914, p.241). In this essay, Freud reflects on the individual's emotional attitudes toward other people, and how they are of such extreme importance to his later behaviors. Such attitudes are already established at an unexpectedly early age: "the nature and quality of the human child's relations to people of his own and the opposite sex have already been laid down in the first six years of his life" (Freud, 1914, p.243). According to Freud, "he may afterwards develop and transform them in certain directions but he can no longer get rid of them" (Freud, 1914, p. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.