Amory Blaine\'s \'Mirrors\' in Fitzgerald\'s This Side of Paradis


Amory Blaine\'s "Mirrors" in Fitzgerald\'s This Side of Paradise

In F. Scott Fitzgerald\'s novel This Side of Paradise, Amory Blaine searches for his identity by "mirroring" people he admires. However, these "mirrors" actually block him from finding his true self. He falls in love with women whose personalities intrigue him; he mimics the actions of men he looks up to. Eleanor Savage and Burne Holiday serve as prime examples of this. Until Amory loses his pivotal "mirror," Monsignor Darcy, he searches for his soul in all the wrong places. When Monsignor Darcy dies, Amory has the spiritual epiphany he needs to reach his "paradise" - the knowledge of who Amory Blaine truly is.
Amory appears to be a rather vacuous choice for a protagonist. He relies mainly on his breathtaking handsomeness and wealth in order to get by in life. He has been endowed with brains, but it takes him years to learn how and when to use them. Amory spends his late high school and college years frolicking with his peers and debutantes. By constantly associating with others Amory creates an image of himself that he maintains until he becomes bored or finds a new personality to imitate. Amory does not know who he really is, what he truly feels, or what he thinks. He merely cultivates his personality du jour depending on how he believes he would like to be. Essentially, Amory is shopping at a personality store, trying each one on until he can find one that fits.
This personality imitation began when Amory spent his adolescent years in the presence of his flamboyant mother, Beatrice. Beatrice raised Amory to be what she wanted him to be, as long as it was stylish and acceptable to coeval virtues. When he goes to Princeton, the separation from his mother, who essentially thought for him, leads Amory to search for himself. However, his idea of searching for his identity entails merely simulating the personalities of those he admires. This trend becomes obvious in the pattern of Amory\'s love interests. His first conquest, Isabelle, is a strong-willed girl who knows what she wants. Amory falls in love with her because of her distinct personality; perhaps subconsciously he feels that by being in her presence he makes up for not having a personality of his own. Amory\'s next love, Rosalind, represents Amory\'s latent desire for the riches and luxuries that he lost with the death of his parents. Amory imitates Rosalind, who is most certainly a spoiled brat, because he wants to live like her again. Amory misses the spoiled brat quality of his childhood, so he searches for it through Rosalind. After she ends their relationship, a heartbroken (and spiritually lost) Amory searches for someone strong who can bring him out of his state of mental disarray. Because he installs the qualities of the women he loves in himself, when Amory loses a girlfriend he loses his personality and must find a new one. The answer to Amory\'s problem manifests itself in his third cousin, Clara, who, despite the death of her husband and serious financial difficulties, lives a fulfilling and rewarding life. Amory\'s affair with Clara does not last long, but it serves its purpose of supplying him with a personality until he finds Eleanor Savage.
Amory claims he is attracted to Eleanor because of "the mirror of himself that he found in the gorgeous clarity of her mind" (202). This demonstrates the fact that Amory does not consciously realize his actions when he emulates other peoples\' personalities. He does so because he knows of no other way to create an identity for himself. Speaking of Isabelle, Amory says that there "was nothing at all to her except what I read into her" (170). This seems rather ironic, considering the exact opposite of his statement reflects the truth: Amory consists of nothing save the qualities others project into him when he associates with them. However, Eleanor brings Amory to the point at which he seems almost ready to shape his own individuality instead of mimicking others. The shock he receives after Eleanor has a violent mood swing and nearly rides her horse off a cliff makes