This sample essay on Decline And Fall The offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and the conclusion are provided below.
Evelyn Waugh has wrote the book ‘Decline and Fall’ as a statement of what he felt was wrong with the English society in the 1920s. This is reflected through his book using a very dry and ironic humour. The novel is very much satirical, with the main character, Paul Pennyfather, satirising the English culture. In order to show this, I have chosen two events in the book, and I will focus on how Evelyn Waugh makes them comic. The two I have chosen are the sports day and the restoration of King’s Thursday house.
To set the scene, in the first part of the novel, Paul Pennyfather had been dismissed from the Oxford University he had been studying at. He needed a job, so he went to work as a teacher at a public school. Unfortunately, he was sent to work at the awful llanabba Castle School. The teachers were all frauds, and their teaching methods were chaotic. The school is generally a disaster. This is Waugh’s way of saying the schooling system in England is a shambles. One of the events that is particularly funny is the sports day.
The first humour comes in the ironic speech made by Dr Fagan, where he says ‘During the last 14 years at this school, there have been six sports days and two concerts, all of which have been utterly disastrous. ‘ This is again commenting on how bad the school is. The teacher’s start talking about how well presented this years sports day is. Then, quite ironically Paul comments ‘Nothing seems to have been done about marking out the ground. ‘ Imagine the ensuing chaos as boys ran frantically round, with the teachers setting their own race distances!
As for the newly delivered hurdles, they were only ‘Five feet high and were painted green with spikes. ‘ So the doctor, in a very sarcastic manner says ‘It seems they have sent the wrong sort. ‘ The sports day starts to turn into a disaster. The Doctor says he wants there to be some ‘style’ involved in the event. When he asks for a starting pistol, Philbrick pulls out his ‘enormous revolver. ‘ He then says ‘careful, it’s loaded. ‘ This made me laugh, what sort of school sports day uses a loaded revolver as a starting pistol? The then band arrives. Described by Waugh as ‘men of revolting appearance. He said they were like a ‘loping tread of wolves’ and ‘ape-like. ‘ Philbrick then says ‘Loonies! This is where I shoot. ‘ The teachers then find out that it is the band the school have booked. This was very ironic. Dr Fagan’s insulting comment regarding the band’s Welsh nationality, then began insulting the bands nationality, they ‘mate freely with the sheep. ‘
Further enhances the comedy of the situation. As the first race started, Mr Prendergast managed to shoot one of the boys in the foot. This was very dry humour coming into play as the book says ‘clearly Tangent was not going to win. This was yet another sarcastic yet very funny line. The second part I will be focusing on is the re-building of King’s Thursday House. Margot Beste-Chetwynde owned the country house and it was in desperate need of restoration. It had not been changed for hundreds of years, but it was still a ‘remarkable’ house. The house went up for sale and it was bought by Lord Pastmaster’s sister-in-law. The first ironic humour to hit this chapter it when Waugh is describing how Margot visited the house she owned for the first and only time.
She said it was ‘worse than I thought,’ whilst all the villagers who lived nearby almost worshipped the house. This shows a definite class distinction in Waugh’s writing. Margot decided to re-store the house, so she employed an architect who was given the instruction ‘Something clean and square. ‘ So basically Margot wanted to change everything good about the house. The comic part in this section of the book is the interview by a journalist, with the architect. He is criticising his own profession, by saying ‘I don’t think it is possible to make architecture beautiful. Pessimistically he says ‘Man is never beautiful,’ He says. My impression of this man is a crazy pessimistic architect who is a failure.
The journalist realises this and tries a different approach by asking how much he expects to earn out of the job. The man replies by saying ‘fuel’. This made me laugh because here is yet another aspect of English society that in Waugh’s mind is a failure – art. The architect carries on being pessimistic by saying in a ‘gloomy voice’ ‘I suppose there will have to be a staircase, why can’t people just stay in one place? He then has another dig at humans by saying that they don’t ‘stay still and work. ‘ Followed by another amusing comment ‘Do dynamos require staircases? Do monkeys require houses? ‘ He then goes on about how the human race is ‘immature, ‘self-destructive’ and ‘half-formed. ‘ I think the man fails to realise he is a human himself. He is the complete opposite of what an architect should be – full of ideas and full of life. Whereas this man is a sarcastic, unhappy and uncreative architect.
This is what makes him such a failure, and ultimately what makes his character funny. Waugh has therefore displayed this event in an ironically amusing context. Although I have only focused on two parts in the novel, the same theme runs throughout the book. Waugh makes it clear that he thinks the English culture is a complete shambles. He has taken some quite serious events in Paul Pennyfather’s life, and managed to make them interesting, and above all very amusing. In my view, Evelyn Waugh is a great comic novelist.