In Vile Bodies, Evelyn Waugh shows thematic relationship between the final chapter (titled Happy Ending) and the rest of the novel by making a connection between the behaviors of youths in most parts of it and the way these behaviors affect their lives. In any novel, the final chapter concludes the theme of the book. Hence, it must be related to the overall theme of the whole book to show a conscious flow of ideas. Activities that occur in the final chapter (titled Happy Ending) of Vile Bodies are consequences of decisions made by the youths in the earlier parts of the novel. The lives of the youths engaging in different activities such as drinking and partying is the main focus (Jacobs, 2000). Their actions end up deciding their fate towards the end of the novel.
The central theme is focused on the social life that the youths were living. This life was preparing them for the war that erupts at the end of the novel. They did not care much about their well-being since the author writes/mentions that they would sometimes get drunk until 2 a.m (Decoste, 2013). This social life of these youngsters was, unwittingly, the best way of preparation for the war, since, in one way or the other, they would have the courage to fight on the battlefield, which is mainly focused at the end of the novel. Waugh states that I know very few young people, but it seems to me that they are all possessed with an almost fatal hunger for permanence (Jacobs, 2000). This hunger of permanence according to the author is the main reason that drove the youth into living the life of partying.
Youngsters in the novel are alienated from their families and the society, which causes them to develop interest in the war that occurs at the end of this novel. Alienation introduces some sort of laziness among the youth where they tend to become passive in most of their activities. The author states that The languor of Youth - how unique and quintessential it is! How quickly, how irrecoverably, lost! (Jacobs, 2000). Due to this alienation, the society considers these youths to be meaningless since they were doing nothing/very little to contribute to the development of the community (Decoste, 2013). They are therefore regarded as perfect/ly (dispensable) tools for the war that occurs at the end of the novel, and this shows the thematic relationship between the two parts of the novel.
One of the other themes that connects the concluding part and the other parts of the novel is the lack of feeling that the youngsters had about comradeship among themselves. One such occasion portrayed is when a character, Agatha is defeated in a car race. Rather than offering support to her, Malpractice reacts to this occurrence by taking advantage and searching for his popularity (Decoste, 2013). This shows the lack of partnership/affiliation between the different individuals involved. Towards the end of the novel, the author writes that during the war, the characters had a difficult time due to lack of understanding among themselves.
The search for the meaning of life is considered to be the main reason why the youths end up living a devastating life, and at the end, find themselves fighting wars. The problems of the youths are highly focused on by the author. They forget the actual meaning of life due to the meaningless life that they were living. The author uses this novel to compare the life of the youth during those periods and the ending parts of the novel (Jacobs, 2000). He states that There's only one great evil in the world today. Despair (Jacobs, 2000). Its the main reason why youngsters end up losing meaning in life. The parental relationship between the youths and their parents is what the author claims to be the reason for the suffering of the youngsters.
The behaviour of most parents, where they cease to become involved in the development of their children, is one of the reasons why the children (youths) end up suffering on different occasions in the novel. Instead, parents should act as role models to their children, showing them the right way to live their lives and avoid suffering the consequences in the future. Another thematic relationship that can be considered is the way the author connects the other parts of the novel and the ending parts. The novel is mostly about the bad lives that the youths are living, whereas, in the end, the author tries to offer a solution towards making this life better (Jacobs, 2000). He suggests possible ways on how the young people can live to ensure that they do not suffer because of making poor decisions in their lives.
Adam is portrayed as a protagonist in the novel due to the aimless life that he lives; though most critics would argue that he should have been given another role. The author picks him to be the focal character of the novel because he needed to depict the moral corruptness of the public (Decoste, 2013). Hence, Adam turns into a handmaiden device of the storyteller to illustrate the social indecencies/decadence of the time. The thematic relationship is seen between the ending part of the novel and other parts in the way that the author fails to give the main character any heroic qualities.
In the long run, Adam is used by the author to deliver some lessons in life about how most of the audience in the present world end up making wrong decisions in life and thus, end up suffering (Jacobs, 2000). Adam is depicted as a character who is unheroic both physicalities and mentally. This is because he ends up finding himself in the wrong situations most of the times, and instead of finding a solution, he becomes ignorant. The disappointment of more youthful era to have a steady and long enduring relationship additionally draws out the lightness with which they take genuine matters of life.
Decoste, Damon Marcel. (And you get far too much publicity already whoever you are): gossip, celebrity, and modernist authorship in Evelyn Waughs Vile Bodies. Papers on Language & Literature 49.1 (Winter, 2013): no page numbers provided. Online.
Jacobs, Richard. Introduction. Vile Bodies. Evelyn Waugh. Ed. Richard Jacobs. Toronto: Penguin, 2000. ix-xxxiv. Print.
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