The New Exciting Beauties Of Mary Fleming 's ' The Airship Party '

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Even when individual parties are detailed, descriptions hold no more excitement or beauty. Whilst Anne Fleming admits ‘Evelyn sadly confided that he got no pleasure from natural beauty’, his description of the airship party focuses upon how new modern beauty defies natural beauty. ‘Acres of inflated silk blotted out the sky’ and ‘lights of other cars arriving lit up the uneven grass.’ This holds a certain nostalgia for pastoral beauty, and with the country landscapes of Hetton and Brideshead casting a great aesthetic influence in later novels, perhaps Waugh already senses here that any excitement of technological beauty is fleeting, and as the ugliness of war looms, a hankering for beauties’ past sinks in. The new exciting beauties prove…show more content…
The description of Brenda applying makeup is deliberately unpleasant, as she ‘spat into the eye black’ and ‘choked slightly.’ This language implies that creating the illusion of beauty requires uncomfortable effort, and the ugliness of her adulterous intent struggles to reveal itself from beneath it. For Waugh, to highlight the ugliness of adulterous women was biographically motivated, due to the revelation of his wife’s adultery during his writing process. This only adds to his association with decadence according to Freud, whom Charles Bernheimer suggests thought contemporary decadence resulted from people having too little sex rather than too much. So sceptical is Waugh of any positivity in female beauty that in Vile Bodies the term ‘pretty’ gains negative connotations. Adam ridiculously deems Mary Mouse and the Maharajah a ‘pretty pair’ as they publicly make love on the airship balcony. The negative use of the term is only furthered when Chastity ‘in the prettiest way possible’ simpers to the drunk major against the ugliness of the war backdrop. Thus Women’s ‘prettiness’ is a fickle attempt to disguise the ugliness around them. The sense of ‘pretty’ is by its very nature shallow and transient, it’s sentiment far from the stunning or the gorgeous that true beauty in romantic literature holds. Indeed, Waugh taps into another Romantic poetic conceit here. The
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