The majority of the interactive oral was spent discussing the many similarities between Waugh’s life and the storyline of his book, as well as his disapproval of his society in this satirical novel. Waugh often relies on irony and lack of emotion within the characters to convey his distaste for 1930s British society. The discussion allowed me to see and fully grasp this concept more clearly, which I had previously struggled with; Waugh denounces, more specifically, the downturn of the English upper class. I also realised that Waugh’s criticism of the upper classes bore many similarities with Orwells’ condemnation of the same superficiality of the English lifestyle. Further still, the IO made me notice that Waugh may possibly be mimicking Orwells indifferent tone towards otherwise cruel and traumatic events. An example of this is when, after being asked if anyone was hurt in a fire, Mrs. Beaver replied with ‘no one, I am thankful to say’. She swiftly follows this up by stating ‘except two housemaids who lost their heads’. The sheer unsympathetic tone in which this was said, without mentioning the fact that she was gazing into her fireplace confirms this similarity between these two authors.
The IO also highlighted the many parallels he draws between the so-called ‘civilised’ barbaric behaviour of the Londoners and the primitive ways of the South American tribes. It appears as though he doesn’t distinguish between the two groups in terms of how civilised they are.
Tony Last abandons London after Brenda leaves him to roam the Amazonian jungle and spends many weeks in solitude, before being captured and forced to read Dickens indefinitely. I learned, thanks to the IO, that Waugh also spent many months travelling alone following the dissolution of his first marriage. Knowing the he left his home country after a presumably distressing event helped me understand why Waugh would incorporate such a a seemingly random plot twist to the story. Autobiographical context, in my opinion, always provides a reason for every choice an makes in his writing.