Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited Essay

Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited Essay

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Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited is about a relationship between two Oxford boys: Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte. The book takes readers through the progression of their friendship and the introduction of Sebastian’s family: the Marchmains. Throughout the book Charles remains enamored with both Sebastian and his aristocratic family even though Charles and Sebastian grow apart. The novel takes a reflective look back to the golden age before the Second World War and what the author terms the age of Hooper and how it threated to bring down aristocracy. The underlying theme of the book is the changing nature of British society, however, Waugh presents an overly pessimistic representation about what the age of Hooper meant for the future of Britain.
Before a complete analysis of the changing nature of British society can be reviewed, it is essential to define the age of Hooper. At the beginning of the novel Waugh introduces commander Hooper. Charles looks at Hooper as a symbol of young England, which represents the rise of the middle class. Although Hooper only appears at the beginning and end of the book, he represents a pivotal expression of symbolism, which permeates the novel and gives it context. Without introducing Hooper, the symbolic meaning of the Marchmains and what happens to them would be lost.
Waught’s novel Brideshead Revisited looks at the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of the middle class. The Marchmain family represents old England with their country manor, lavish lifestyle and pedigree. Old England seems to have no problems spending their money on rather vulgar extravagance. An example from the novel is when Charles father gives him five hundred and fifty pounds as an allowance for the school ...


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...uce an heir. This leads to the deterioration of the Marchmains name.
The 1920s saw a number of changes within British society, not only was the decline of the aristocracy on the horizon but also some new liberties for women. Waugh provides an example of this in Brideshead Revisited. At the end of the novel Lord Marchmain states he would like to leave Brideshead to Julia instead of his oldest son. The Property Act of 1922, which came into effect during the era of this book would have allowed this to happen. The act made it possible for male family members to pass property down to female members. This was an important milestone for the fight for equal rights for women. However it is unknown if this was a bone of contention for Waugh and that is why he included this in his disgruntled novel or just a point of interest. Either way it was a change for British society.

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