The Archetype of the Wandering Hero in This Side of Paradise
In This Side of Paradise, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the archetype of the wandering hero in a quest is repeated in the novel in the person of Amory Blaine. During the entire novel, he is as though engaged in a roller-coaster ride, a journey of sorts, in pursuit of his dreams – through his education in a boarding school, studying and competing in Princeton, fighting the Great War as a soldier for the United States, among many other quests towards complete self-discovery. What cannot be left unsaid, however, would be his thematic quest for true love against-all-odds, in his pursuance of Isabelle Borge who rejected him in Princeton, and his true-love-found-but-lost relationship with Rosalind, a New York debutante who may have loved him truly and completely, but had to leave him for another man so as not to be ‘married into poverty,’ which was a real situation Amory himself faced in the end.
Our wandering hero, thus, had lost everything and was failed by everything that should have mattered for his complete self-discovery and journey – his solid Ivy League education, the women who all in the end feigned their love for him, the small but significant riches left by his mother lost due to his bad investments. In the end, the wandering hero was never more alone than when his journey of self-discovery started. Towards the end, it was only to himself that he relied on completely, rejecting all the conventional reliance given to education, women and riches, to the extent of embracing even socialist virtues while continuing on with his wretched life of poverty. And in the end therefore, his statement, albeit lament, is never more true for this wandering hero without any chance of redemption – I know myself, but that is all. He is unlike the wandering hero of old who found the treasure at the end of the perilous journey, nor is he the Alchemist who found the treasure at the origin of his quest. The wandering hero of This Side of Paradise, just does what he does best – continue wandering towards unknown, even unknowable, destinations.