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Amanda  DeBaie

Evelyn Waugh: Finding Religion through His Works
King GeorgeVI and Queen Elizabeth: Guiding Britain through World War II

Evelyn Waugh wrote satirical novels reflective of the British upper class and its decaying society. His novels reveal how the characters of this declining culture improve their lives throughout the war by transcending social standards. Evelyn Waugh’s novels mirror his life because he was also wearied from society’s principles, which caused him to become entangled in wealth and to reject his religion. As his life continued, Waugh found confidence in his faith, as do his characters, in order to defeat the obstacles in his life. Waugh’s works begin similarly to his own life, confusing and chaotic, but both his novels and his life developed into a deeply religious experience demonstrating hope for himself and his characters.

Unlike Evelyn Waugh’s description of the upper class, who viewed the wealthy as vain and shallow creatures, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth disproved this image of the aristocracy. The King and Queen’s reign lasted throughout World War II in Britain, the time in which many of Waugh’s novels are set. Although the royal pair had not expected to become the monarchs of Britain, this responsibility was thrust upon them. Despite this surprise in their life, they settled into their roles together as a family and used their love to guide them and to identify with the people of Britain. Their characteristics allowed them to identify not only with the people of Britain, but also with prime ministers and world leaders. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth led their country when the Blitz struck London, much like the characters in Waugh’s works, and helped to guide the British people through their turmoil. They uplifted the spirits of the down- trodden, reached a helping hand out to those in need, and opened their home to some European leaders who were escaping their countries, thus demonstrating their care and compassion for all people.

Major Works Consulted:

Bradford, Sarah. The Reluctant King: The Life & Reign of George VI 1985-1952. New York: St. Martin’s, 1989.
Donaldson, Frances. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1977.
Waugh, Evelyn. Brideshead Revisited. New York: Back Bay, 1999.
---. A Handful of Dust. Boston: Back Bay, 1999.
Photo Credit: Waugh, Evelyn. Vile Bodies. New York: Bay Back, 1999.


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