The Last Tycoon

Infatuating Idealism in F. Scott Fitzgerald\'s
The Last Tycoon


Idealism 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 unreal. Usually a girl\'s skull made her real, but not this time--Stahr continued to be dazzled as they danced out along the floor...." (Chp. V, p.73)
Stahr wanted desperately to have her as is own, but she was not to be had. Unbeknownst to him she was engaged to be married. She tried to tell him, but could not. She too was in love. The romance that followed was of a whirl wind pace that ended with a "Dear John" letter. She could not bring herself to tell him in person. Kathleen had fallen in love with Stahr although she resisted it by the fact she was already involved with another man. His ideal was not to be realized. His ideal goddess was the beginning of Stahr\'s downfall. The simple fact that Stahr was unable to win Kathleen away from her fiancť causes him to become extremely miserable. In F. Scott Fitzgerald\'s own words: "Stahr is miserable and embittered toward the end." (Author\'s Notes, p.149) He continued to love her to the end, as he lost his life, he lost it lovelessly.
All this fuss over a woman might seem a bit trivial, but in true love, nothing is trivial. Monroe Stahr idealized Kathleen Moore as the true cure to all his ills and loveless nights. To him, she was Minna Davis. In being, but not spirit, she was a replica.
This theme of idealism is similar to what Richard Slotkin reflects as "the American dream of perpetual self-improvement and transcendence." (22) Stahr idealized Kathleen as his way of perpetual self-improvement. He believed that Kathleen was the ticket he was waiting for, the ticket to happiness and closure. His life was a non stop slug fest that