Saint or Sinner? ——On Lady Marchmain as the origin of tragedy

Cora 2022-09-14 01:52:03

"Mother is generally considered a saint." - Sebastian

"Mother took my sins to church and walked down the empty streets with my sins, and my mother died of my sins that annoyed her so much. Yes ." - Julia

"I sometimes feel that when people hate God, they hate their mothers." - Cordelia

"She kept a bunch of servile, emaciated prisoners for her own enjoyment. She Sucking their blood. Once she's got their teeth on them, they'll never get away." - Anthony Blanche

"He hates her; but you probably don't know how much he hates her. He won't set foot on her. English soil, because it's her home; Sebastian hates her too. Why should she deserve such hatred?" - Carla

when I actually started writing something for Brideshead Revisited a few years later , I found that Sebastian, who everyone liked, and his complicated friendship with Charles, faded in my mind, replaced by the increasingly clear image of Mrs. Marchmain, as she appeared in the book The way of the general, gentle and gentle, but omnipotent and omnipresent, dominates the fate of the Marquis of Marchmain family, and promotes a series of separations and reunions.

Author Evelyn Waugh undoubtedly intended to create a perfect, saintly image of Mrs. Marchmain. Therefore, when the character has not yet appeared, her appropriateness and perfection at the level of being a person and doing things have been implied by Sebastian's few words.

- "First time eating bird eggs this year, where did you get them?"
- "Mum brought it to me from Brideshead Manor. Birds always lay eggs for her early."

- " Why don't you ask her for a fixed stipend?"
- "Mum likes to give everything as a gift, she's wonderful."

With a touch of irony in his words, Evelyn Waugh hints Mrs. Marchmain's fatal flaw in her nobility is the desire to control. She excels at maintaining every conversation with an unparalleled art to ensure the outcome is in her favor:

"Actually no one... consciously led to this conversation; when she wishes to have a cordial conversation, one finds himself accidentally alone with her."

As for what belongs to her, she They are happy to transform it into a noble, soft and perfect image to match her:

"This living room is entirely hers; In this house, you feel like you are in another mansion. . . . I went out, closed the door, and put the superstition, the low ceiling, the calico, the lambskin-covered book, the Florence The landscape paintings, the bowls filled with hyacinths and potpourri, the quick canvas embroidery, the little problem, the kind woman, and the fashionable high society are all locked in.”

And this transformation is not limited to Brideshead . What about a small living room in the manor?

As for Mrs. Marchmain's delicacy in appearance, Anthony Blanche complements it with a poignant statement:

"She is very, very beautiful; undressed, with just a few elegant strands of silver in her hair, no rouge , pale, with big eyes—lids covered with blue microvessels that others had to smear with oil on their fingertips; wearing pearls and large gleaming gems, some An ancient inlaid heirloom. Her voice is as light as a prayer, as powerful as a prayer." The

soft but "powerful" voice re-emphasized the undeniable principle behind Mrs. Marchmain's perfect image. Although this overly upright and dignified manner sometimes only drew her ridicule, for example, even in Venice, Mrs. Marchmain "never went near the Lido beach", on the contrary, she "frequently went to church" and became "that Quite the funny character of the year." But with her flawless perfection and tough personality, Mrs. Marchmain has won many hearts. In Anthony Blanche's half-truth account, "there were five or six people of different ages and genders, circling her like ghosts". Leaving aside the devotion to her of the clown, the swashbuckling "warlock" Mr Sanglass, the book deliberately recounts the poet Sir Adrian Posen's devotion to Lady Marchmain in several places:

"He considered her the most outstanding someone - he's loved her all his life - but doesn't seem to have anything to do with her at all."

Yet it was this perfect and holy Lady Marchmain who, in a way, unknowingly shot her perfection as an arrow at Sebastian, making him like the martyred saint of the same name, Accept the fraught suffering. Before that, the Marquis of Marchmaine had been a victim of Lady Marchmain, father and son had become alcoholics, and as Lady Marchmaine herself realized:

"Both of them were unfortunate, ashamed, and both sneaked away. It's gone."

What's more, both father and son hated Mrs Marchmain beyond measure. However, hating someone who is inextricably linked to oneself—in this novel, is even worse, hating a being who is inextricably linked to oneself and is immaculate, In the end, it can only be reduced to hatred for the self who is unable to change everything, as Sebastian revealed twice inadvertently in the dialogue with Charles

————“Who are you ashamed for, for me or for her?”
—— — "For myself."

"I'm sorry, Charles. I told you I'm still drunk. If I'm going to make you comfortable, I'm going to say I hate myself.

" What this character is saying:

"When people hate so much, they hate what is in themselves. Alex hates all the fantasies of his childhood - innocence, God, hope. Sebastian Love his childhood. It will make him very unfortunate."

The author continues through Carla's mouth in this episode to point out that the incarnation of Sebastian's obsession with childhood is his teddy bear Aloy Hughes. But this teddy bear, which was ubiquitous at the beginning of the novel, gradually faded out of Sebastian's world as the story progressed, until at a certain point, it was completely thrown into the abyss of oblivion. In contrast, the TV version of Aloysius' fall from grace is deliberately explained: when Sebastian completely moves out of the house because of the last drunkenness of his student life, the dilapidated Aloysius Lying in the crate symbolizes the end of Sebastian's idyllic era of innocence. The teddy bears belonged to the storage box of memory, and various spirits began to be placed on the table one by one.

"Sebastian drinks too much. If no one comes out to stop him, he'll be an alcoholic. I see it from the way Sebastian drinks.

" Intoxicated and sober, he had no choice but to once again plunge into the indulgence and detachment brought by drunkenness. As Mrs. Marchmain also soberly understood: "I don't care that

he is drunk. It's uncomfortable that he is not happy at all."

Even Brideshead knew that the only reason for indulgences is self-control:

"If someone wants to get drunk, it can't be persuaded. My mother can't persuade my father, you know."

Marchmay Mrs. In can accurately attribute the characteristics of an alcoholic to "deception":

"It's no use trying to believe him. I've known alcoholics in the past. One of the scariest things about them is deception."

However, as repeated many times The deceived object, Mrs. Marchmain did not realize that the alcoholic, as the perpetrator, suffered no less than the torture of the victim. She also failed to understand the wonderful illusion of being free and in control of destiny brought about by intoxicants through intoxication.

—“He must feel free.”
—“But he has been free, always free, until now, and see the result.”

Sebastian once described the bondage he hated most:

“Every week Doing two Masses, serving refreshments to shy new Catholics, eating at the Newman Club with those who came for short lectures, drinking a glass of wine only when guests came, and Bishop Bell's eyes on me, telling me not to. Drink too much, and as soon as I leave the room, he'll say I'm a local nerve-racking alcoholic, and I've been taken in because my mother is so charming, isn't that the case?

" Yes, it is the freedom that he will be able to obtain after he leaves North Africa, and it is also the ultimate freedom:

"His life would be half birth, half dabbling in the mortal world, a figure we are all familiar with, a wandering figure with a broom and a bunch of keys. He would be the old priest's favorite and a trainee monk They joked about. Everyone would know about his drinking; he would disappear two or three days a month, and everyone would shake their heads, smile knowingly, and say in unison: 'Old Sebastian is having a blast again.' Later , he came back scruffy and ashamed, and in a day or two he would appear more devout in the chapel. . . See a strange old man as part of their school hometown, and they will think of him when they go to Mass."

But freedom of any kind is impossible to find at Brideshead, where Mrs Marchmain is present. . On the contrary, since Charles provided financial support for Sebastian's drinking, Mrs. Marchmain kicked him out of the house in a stern tone, cutting off Sebastian's last hope for the freedom of choice and the frankness of kinship:

"I'm not going to blame you, God, it's not up to me to blame anyone. The children's failures are my failures. But I don't understand. I don't understand how you're so good in so many ways. Such a cruel thing. I don't understand why we all like you so much. Have you always hated us? I don't understand how we deserve this kind of retribution."

However, sooner or later, at some point in life At this point in time, all conflicts and reckless actions will eventually return to reconciliation and peace. What Evelyn Waugh dedicates to readers through hundreds of pages is also a story about the reconciliation of life. As the "invisible hook" metaphor recurs in the book:

"I caught him with an invisible hook and an invisible long line that was long enough for him to wander to the ends of the earth. , but yanking the line pulls him back."

That's why the protagonists of this book, as the story unfolds and the conflict intensifies, ostensibly part ways and embark on different paths. Either heresy or the way of fanaticism, but they did not stay far away from each other for too long; after experiencing their own suffering, they finally achieved a reconciliation with their faith:

"No one can be sanctified without suffering."

The invisible hook brings Julia back to her religion, draws Charles away from agnosticism, guides the Marquis of Marchmain from Venice to the death bed of an English manor, and brings Sebastian close to the ugly and rude Cool Especially with a foreign monastery in North Africa, and even lead the boring Brideshead into love.

However, the remaining members of the Marchmaine family, Mrs. Marchmain and Cordelia, did not ostensibly achieve the reconciliation that others had. Mrs Marchmain begins with the image of a holy, immaculate suffering saint and ends with the image of an equally holy and innocent suffering saint:

"Mrs. Marchmain goes to church every day with these old hatreds and new sorrows; her heart seems to have Pierced by swords of sorrow, this living heart will be put on

poultices and ointments; but what consolation will she bring back home? Only God knows." It begins with the image and ends with the image of the undifferentiated believer. She and Mrs. Marchmain do not need any form of reconciliation with life and faith. Just like people who start from the end, they do not need detours; the disciples who have been tempered and sanctified do not need redemption. However, Mrs. Marchmain and Cordelia belong to two sides of the mirror: the former is the origin of the whole story, it is she who molds the other members of the Marchmaine family into blasphemers or fanatics, and controls their fate and gathering; the latter The latter is the end of the whole story, as suggested by the Marchmaines' reunion at the rear of the Jerusalem battlefield.

From this point of view, it is not accidental that Cordelia once said that "the people in our family, I get along best with my mother", although Cordelia, who is "full of normal feelings", still " Didn't really love her, not as she hoped, not as she deserved," is the tragedy of Lady Marchmain's incarnation of the perfect saint. And this tragedy is by no means the result of her devout religious beliefs. As in the pastoral days, Sebastian once said:

"Anyway, no matter how you look at religion, happiness doesn't seem to have much to do with religion."

Because love and devotion are the common needs of human beings, and perfection is the common pursuit: this is the invisible hook of life, the starting point that brings everyone back. From this perspective, the old world that Evelyn Waugh wrote about, and the love and hate, emotions and experiences of people in this world can exist completely independent of religion.

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