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- Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh (Book Analysis)
- EVELYN WAUGH'S DECLINE AND FALL: SATIRE THROUGH BLENDING OF GENRES
- Decline And Fall Evelyn Waugh
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Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh (Book Analysis)
Rapid developments in science and technology were transforming the texture of everyday life and conceptions of the universe […] [and] challenging old ways of conceiving the human mind and religion" Norton Anthology, These rapid changes have tended to leave people in a confused position in terms of their readiness for adaptability, their values are shattered and they have to replace them with new ones.
Setting his narrative in various social spaces -school, London, and prison -Waugh tells the adventurous tale of a young theology student Paul, who does not make a hero but an "anti-hero," a man who, "instead of manifesting largeness, dignity, power or heroism [in the face of the fate], is petty, ignominious, passive, ineffectual, or dishonest" Abrams Through the characterization of Paul and his interaction with his society, Waugh criticizes not only the education system but also other fundamental institutions in his society and such concepts as marriage, religion, justice, and affection.
His masterful blend of genres through which comic scenes turn out to be full of tragic potential operates as a medium that serves the author's primary purpose; that is, it enables him to put forth his message focusing on the prevailing corruption in human nature and its manifestation in social institutes. Thus, this study will focus on Waugh's reflection on his time and the ways how his satirical standpoint is manifested in the novel through the combination of tragic and comic, farcical elements.
Satire as a Literary FormAs an exposition part and theoretical session of this study, it is necessary in the very first place to discuss satire thoroughly in its most acceptable definition and operations in literary works.
As a literary form, satire seems to have never lost its popularity throughout its long-running historical existence on the pages of literature and has been extensively used in a wide range of literary works beginning from the ancient Roman times to the present modern days. The motive to satirize in human being has never ceased to exist "since all social and legal systems are in need of continuous reform" Hodgart By making use of several different techniques such as parody, irony, burlesque, authors employ a satirical approach to their works which is based on their keen observation of the social defects, political degenerations and the conventions prevalent in the time they live.
Throughout its long historical existence and several applications in a varied scale of literary works, satire has undergone many changes, which raises some questions about its position in terms of classification. Although it first emerged as a genre; in time, due to its elusive nature, it is not wrong to say that it has stripped off generic restrictive rules and evolved into its present largely accepted literary form which operates as mode or tone.
This liberation from the absolute set of generic rules has been a necessity "[w]here other patterns of literature tend sometimes to be formal and remote, satire is free, easy, and direct" Highet 3. In modern times, the tendency of accepting the blurring of genres results from the idea that a work can not belong to a pure genre.
As Fowler propounds in his Kinds of Literature:Every work of literature belongs to at least one genre. Indeed, it is sure to have a significant generic element. For genre has quite a different relation to creativity from the one usually supposed, whereby it is little more than a restraint upon spontaneous expression. Rightly understood, it is far from being a mere curb on expression that it makes the expressiveness of literary works possible.
Their relation to the genres they embody is not one of passive membership but of active modulation. Such modulation communicates There must be definitely the traces of other genres, modes, and forms.
As Fowler attempts to "distinguish the following: kind or historical genre, subgenre, mode, and constructional type", he asserts that with the adjective addition tragedy-tragic, comedy-comic some genres invade or infuse into the other forms In that sense, although satire is regarded as a genre in previous periods of literature, in modern times it most influentially invades other genres as satiric tone or mode by bringing several techniques together.
Edward A. Bloom and Lillian D. Bloom maintain that "satire is elusive and variable, wearing many disguises and satisfying many expectations. In a similar way, Brian A. Connery and Kirk Combe have noted that because of satire's slippery nature, despite many attempts, "[t]he definition of satire has become increasingly restrictive. However, in general usage, "satire" remains less an identifiable genre than a mode, and an astonishingly wide range of vastly varied works have been placed under its rubric" 9.
Agreeing with the previous theoreticians, Dustin Griffin in his Satire, propounds that "if we consider satire as a mode or a procedure rather than a literary kind, then it can appear at any place, at any time" 3. Griffin continues his argument by referring to Alastair Fowler who claims in his "introduction to the theory of genres and modes" that satire is "the most problematic mode to the taxonomist, since it appears never to have corresponded to any one kind" […] [and] it can, through parody, invade any literary forms [such as] epic, pastoral, travel book, song, elegy, and so on" 3.
It is possible to attach satirical tone to a variety of literary kinds or "it can infuse its spirit into comedy or tragedy or the novel so as to create a strange hybrid [ Therefore, it can be said that satire has undergone many changes of form and fashion but it is still the same in essence and its application is varied, which makes it a mode that surpassing the boundaries of genres.
As a Satirist -Evelyn WaughThere are some basic elements employed in Decline and Fall that mark Evelyn Waugh's style as a satirist: "degrading the hero," "gaming with the plot," creating a sense of detachment, and applying to several techniques Clark First, "In order to parody the fall of the modern man, the conventional hero-protagonist is deliberately subjected to decay" Contrary to the expectations from a hero who is admired by many people for doing something brave or good; here the protagonist of the novel is portrayed as timid, submissive, passive, and impotent.
In the middle of the novel the author himself declares that: "as the reader will probably have discerned already, Paul Pennyfeather would never have made a hero, and the only interest about him arises from the unusual series of events of which his shadow was witness" Waugh This shadow over his identity is shaped by his interaction with the society. The technique explained above overlaps with the picaresque quality of the novel. Some critics including Beaty and Pollard, have described Decline and Fall as a picaresque novel but what is striking in the work is that, unlike the cunning protagonists of this genre who "outwits the cunning knaves by even greater cunning", Paul is an impotent character who meekly submits to the cruel system of society Pollard The novel ends where it begins for Paul only with "a painful awareness of evil, [as a result of] the serious turbulent picaresque adventures that strip away Paul's illusions about honour, love, society, education, church, the law, the prison system, and even human nature" Beaty Despite this awareness, at the very end of the novel, Paul is again located as a theology student in the same school with slight differences in his physical appearance.
According to Pollard, the greatness of the novel lies in its perfect circular form and continues his argument by asserting that "[t]his circularity of plot is the ideal embodiment of the stoic resignation of the picaresque satirists; his fable of escape and voyaging ends with the discovery that escape is impossible" Pollard Third one is to create a sense of detachment which is a very operative tool in author's delivering his message and an important contribution to the technique of the novel.
Waugh does not hold light into the psychology of the characters or delineate their feelings deeply unlike the popular technique of time: stream of consciousness.
As Beaty asserts, "[t]he disinterested pose of the narrator serves negatively, however, to stimulate the increased emotional involvement of the reader, who might consider obtrusive condemnation of evil as preachy or, especially in this fallen world, where innocence is often equated with stupidity, might regard over sympathy with the victim as sentimental To this end, Waugh never extends on the inner world of the characters and the reader is not provided with the knowledge of the feelings of the characters but he is to make sense out of it on his own.
As Friedmann propounds, "the satirist has done his part in holding it up to the reader's eyes who must now recognize the portraits of human failings 4. In his novel, Waugh primarily makes use of irony and parody.
As Beaty asserts,"novel as a whole may therefore be viewed as an ironic parody of the Bildungsroman-one which, neither debasing the genre nor treating it seriously, merely plays with it in unexpected ways" When the primary goal is to satirize, the use of irony comes up to be an indispensible tool for the satirist.
As Abrams asserts in his A Glossary of Literary Terms "In most of the modern critical uses of the term "irony," there remains the root sense of dissembling or hiding what is actually the case; not, however, in order to deceive, but achieve special rhetorical or artistic effects" Accordingly, Waugh makes use of this technique so as to intensify his satirical message indirectly.
It makes the reader laugh at the comic scenes but the message they convey lead the reader to question the satirical tone taken by the author. His primarily ironic work Decline and Fall displays "irony both as a way of perceiving life and as an artistic device for representing its unresolved paradoxes" Beaty 9. These discrepancies do not create a wide gap between what is comic and what is tragic but they are blended. In that sense, although Waugh, in one of his reviews, claims that this novel is intended to be a funny novel, he prompts us to ask: How can we reconcile with that ending?
Is this a really funny novel? The guardians of education and order "Mr. Sniggs, the Junior Dean, Mr. Postlethwaite, the Domestic Bursar, sat alone in Mr Sniggs' room overlooking the garden" 9. It is "the night of the annual dinner of the Bollinger Club," and traditionally, drunken Bollinger club members cause some difficulties. On his way to college, Paul, a passing student, is attacked by a group of Bollinger club members and is stripped off his trousers since "it so happened the tie of Paul's old school bore a marked resemblance to that of the Bollinger Club" When the authorities see that Bollinger club members have caught someone, they turn off the lights and are hidden in a safe place where they watch what is happening.
Contrary to the expectations from the authorities, "the two dons creep to the window [,]" 10 look around carefully, and expect for higher profits. This situation is firstly expressed in Mr. Postlethwaite's words: "If only they were all members of the College! Fifty of them at ten pounds each. Oh my! Then Mr Sniggs prays for "ultimate barbarism" Kernan to gain larger fines: "Oh, please God, make them attack the Chapel" For the sake of their profit, they expect Chapel to be attacked.
Moreover, when it is understood that it is Paul they are relieved; and they put the shame on his shoulders although he has no fault. School authorities distort the truth because it does not serve their purpose as they know that Paul will unable to pay the fine they will charge him. At the very first scene of the novel, the author displays the degeneration even at as prestigious an institute as Oxford University. During this upheaval, Paul is wrongly dismissed from the school because of "indecent behaviour" although he has no blame It is striking because this scene comes after the delineation of Paul's character and his aim in life.
It was his third year of uneventful residence at Scone. For two years he had lived within his allowance, aided by two valuable scholarships" Having provided this information about the protagonist of the novel beforehand, in a way the author offers a background for the ironic effect of the unfortunate event. What is more striking is that Paul never stands up for his rights. He cannot show his reactions to anyone but he just swears in a low voice. Even this small pretence of revolt ends in a fiasco.
To the annoyance of the reader, without any slightest protestation, he conforms to the decision of the authorities.
In that way, this unfortunate and comic scene takes on a serious mode: Paul is so passive that he cannot build at least a few words for his defence. His first implication on the reader is very defamatory.
Therefore, at the very beginning of the novel, by demonstrating the pretension in religious beliefs and the corruption in such a respected institution as Oxford, the author sets the tone which is both comic and tragic; as a result of the two a satirical tone becomes prevalent throughout the novel. This satirical attack on Oxford is reinforced in the third part of the novel again.
When the doctor in the prison asks Paul "Have you at any time been detained in a mental home or similar institution? If so, give particulars" he replies "I was at Scone college, Oxford, for two years"
EVELYN WAUGH'S DECLINE AND FALL: SATIRE THROUGH BLENDING OF GENRES
The wedding was an unparalleled success among the lower orders. This story was written thirty-three years ago. I offered it to the publishers who had commissioned my first book, but they rejected it on what seemed, and still seems to me, the odd grounds of its indelicacy. The Managing Director, my father, was abroad and was spared the embarrassment of a decision which was taken in his absence by a colleague, the late Mr Ralph Straus. Mr Straus read the manuscript carefully to see what could have shocked Duckworth's. He had a few suggestions which I accepted.
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Decline and Fall is a novel by the English author Evelyn Waugh, first published in It was Waugh's first published novel; an earlier attempt, titled The.
Decline And Fall Evelyn Waugh
Have questions about eBooks? Check out our eBook FAQs. Evelyn Waugh's "irresistible" first novel New York Times is a brilliant and hilarious satire of English school life in the s. Sent down from Oxford after a wild, drunken party, Paul Pennyfeather is oddly surprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at a boys' private school in Wales. His colleagues are an assortment of misfits, rascals and fools, including Prendy plagued by doubts and Captain Grimes, who is always in the soup or just plain drunk.
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Расстояние между ним и Беккером быстро сокращалось. Он нащупал в кармане пиджака пистолет. До сих пор Дэвиду Беккеру необыкновенно везло, и не следует и дальше искушать судьбу. Пиджак защитного цвета от него отделяли теперь уже только десять человек. Беккер шел, низко опустив голову.
Линия Джаббы оказалась занята, а службу ожидания соединения Джабба отвергал как хитрый трюк корпорации Американ телефон энд телеграф, рассчитанный на то, чтобы увеличить прибыль: простая фраза Я говорю по другому телефону, я вам перезвоню приносила телефонным компаниям миллионы дополнительных долларов ежегодно. Отказ Джаббы использовать данную услугу был его личным ответом на требование АН Б о том, чтобы он всегда был доступен по мобильному телефону. Чатрукьян повернулся и посмотрел в пустой зал шифровалки.