Symbolism in Brideshead Revisited Research Papers
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Evelyn Waugh's novel, Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder, uses symbolism to celebrate the past.
- Lord Sebastian Flyte and the other members of the Flyte family symbolize the nobility in England.
- Their home, Brideshead, reminds the narrator of a better time when the English nobility exerted greater control over society.
Charles aspired to become a member of this upper class society. His effort at social-climbing is symbolized by the low door in the wall he believes will lead to an enchanted garden. Charles' friendship with Sebastian enables his passage through the door to explore the privileged world of the wealthy Flyte family.
The novel also celebrates the gift of God's grace and elements of the story may serve as religious symbols. Alcohol is a symbol for sin. Lady Marchmain is angered when Charles provides Sebastian with alcohol. Sebastian is an alcoholic and that status distances him from his family and their Roman Catholic faith.
Cara, the Frenchwoman, is a symbol for idolatry. Teresa's husband fell in love with her and converted to Roman Catholicism in order to marry her. However, he quickly lost his faith and the love of their marriage similarly declined. Cara became his mistress and their relationship ended both his marriage and his dalliance with Catholicism.