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"This Ghastly Age": The Tragic Fall In Waugh's Brideshead Revisited As A Response To Modernity
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

I have examined Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited by reading it as a tragedy and looking at the motif of the tragic fall of the Marchmain family as a response to the challenges of modernity. Most academic works on Brideshead Revisited are religious readings that focus on the role of Catholicism in the narrative. I argue that the novel portrays modernity and as such, calls for the necessity of being able to change with the times. Approaching the narrative as a tragedy highlights this interpretation and allows for an exploration of the characters’ attitudes to modernity through their tragic fall.

I have investigated the role and implications of tragedy in modern secular times and applied it to Brideshead Revisited, focusing on the Aristotelian theory of tragedy and employing Schopenhauer’s and Nietzsche’s understanding of tragic action to explain the effect of the tragic fall on the spectator or reader. The Marchmains can be seen as Aristotelian tragic heroes that experience a fall due to their mistaken views that are founded on tradition and thus distance them from the modern world. The fall of the Marchmains and the looming disintegration of their social stratum are indicative of broader social change in interwar. For Charles Ryder, the narrator of Brideshead Revisited, the Marchmains’ tragic fall serves as a tool that allows him to see life from a different perspective and reconcile nostalgia and modernity. Brideshead Revisited is therefore not only a Catholic novel, but also a detailed image of interwar England, the shifts in its social structure, and the importance of accepting change.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 17 p.
Keyword [en]
Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, modernity, tragedy
National Category
Specific Literatures
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-99976OAI: diva2:690051
Available from: 2014-01-22 Created: 2014-01-22 Last updated: 2014-01-22Bibliographically approved

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