Waugh Presents Change Consistently as a Destructive Force in 'Brideshead Revisited'

Decent Essays

“Waugh presents change consistently as a destructive force in the novel” To what extent do you agree? Within the context of pastoral literature, change is typically seen as a destructive force, intrinsic with the movement away from a harmony with the natural world towards modernisation and corruption. In ‘Brideshead Revisited’ the same pattern appears to be followed; moving from the peaceful harmony of Sebastian and Charles’ life in Oxford into corruption and turmoil or the shifting power balance between the social classes, from the nobility to the lower classes. However, change is not exclusively a negative force in the novel. Charles’ and Sebastian’s first encounter into Rex’s world of manipulation and smooth talk is shown to be …show more content…

Looking beyond Hooper, the soldier’s treatment of Brideshead adds to a sense of carelessness and lack of awareness in the lower classes. The painting that Charles spent hours working on is “made absolute hay of”, Charles created something of wonderful beauty, only to be destroyed by unappreciative men; symbolic for the fate of Britain, in Waugh’s eyes, in the hands of the ‘Youth’. In respect of the changes Sebastian makes to Charles’ life, Waugh presents change as the antithesis of destructive. Before Sebastian, Charles’ friends are described as “grey figures”, lifeless and colourless boys whom “scrambled fiercely for facts”. “Scrambled” brings forth images of desperation, “fiercely for facts” heightening the mocking tone of the description, as though they had nothing other than “facts” to be passionate about. The first thing Waugh mentions about Sebastian, on the other hand, is the magical day him and Charles lay underneath a tree in the country with the “sweet scent of tobacco merged with the sweet scents of summer around us and the fumes of the sweet, golden wine” lifting them a “finger’s breadth above the turf”. The repetition of “sweet” makes this description even more sensuous as it draws upon one’s sense of taste and smells simultaneously, the heavy sibilance in the phrase “sweet scents” making the

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