Compare and contrast the extent to which both novels comment and criticise on the societies which they are set in.
We are introduced to both novels in the 1920s elite society where both authors; Waugh and Fitzgerald are from an upper class society. Fitzgerald cultivates the character Jay Gatsby who we perceive purely from Nick who is an onlooker throughout the novella. Readers interpret Gatsby’s social structure as a triangle and we learn to commiserate him whereas Waugh invents the character Paul Pennyfeather who is a naïve, passive character and is in the structure of a circle. The one factor that is apparent throughout the novels is that society determines their social structure. YOUR INTRODUCTION HAS TO BASICALLY ANSWER THE QUESTION AND SUMMARIS WHAT YOUR ESSAY IS GOING TO BE ABOUT. DOES YOUR INTRO DO THAT AND DOES IT SPECIFICALLY STATE YOUR MAIN POINTS THAT U WILL BE TALKING ABOUT THROUGHOUT YOUR ESSAY. IF SO, MOVE ON.
One of the main themes in Decline and Fall is social mobility and the constant struggle to obtain wealth and power, and it could be argued that Waugh himself is from an elite society yet he chooses to satirise it. This may be because although he was privileged, he struggled against those above him in the social hierarchy, which is mirrored in Paul’s character. ‘The civilised man of before the war… is the necessity and value of a society organised in distinct classes’ (1) this shows us that Waugh is bourgeoisie which could be linked to the novel in the sense that Paul is not a civilised man because he is too naïve and since he does not have the wealth to conceal his naivety it leads to him being taken advantage of in the novel. HOW?? EXPLAIN FURTHER. DOES SOCIETY PUSH HIM A OR IS SOCIETY TO BLAME FOR HIS ACTIONS? Waugh is criticising society in the aspect that those who are of upper class society scrutinize those below them, and at this time 20% of Britain was of upper class standard which may be why their culture is so judgemental as they are only a minority. Another interpretation would be that Waugh believes society is too lenient in who it casts as upper class since it is the ‘necessity’ for structure to remain. Paul Byrne describes Waugh as a ‘snobbish misanthrope’ (2) which Marxists may interpret as him being conservative in the way he thinks as he believes in self-help and fails to sympathise those who struggle such as Paul. ‘Somehow you got the wheel, and got thrown off again’ the metaphor of a wheel is used to describe society which tells the readers that Paul is a social riser but is constantly pushed back down due to his impotent character. We know this of his character when he is sent down for indecent behaviour. ‘Dear dear! No trousers!’ this shows that Paul is easily swayed and has no authority in his actions or simply that he does not know how to conduct himself in a prestigious manner. Waugh’s quote on distinct classes can be applied to Paul as there is no interchanging of classes which is why he is thrown off the wheel. The structure of a circle is related to this as Paul is part of the society so he has the ability to scrape by however if it was to be someone of working class, they would have merely survived. EACH PARAGRAPH SHOULD RELATE BACK TO THE QUESTION AT THE END. DOES YOURS? YOU HAVE GOOD POINTS BUT THEYRE ALL OVER THE PLACE. SORT OUT THE QUOTES AND TRY TO LINK THEM TO THE CHARACTER, AUTHOR AND THEN AGAIN BACK TO THE QUESTION OR BACK TO THE FIRST SENTENCE OF THIS PARAGRAPH. In contrast to The Great Gatsby where again the writer criticises society, unlike Waugh who satirises the characters, Fitzgerald cultivate a society to which we deeply sympathise the character. ‘Or rather I didn’t know Mr Gatsby, it was a mansion inhabited by a gentlemen of that name’ this shows how names form identities and Nick who is supposed to be this non-judgmental character, is presuming Gatsby is a gentlemen. Fitzgerald is criticising the people in this society as they do not judge a...
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