Brideshead Revisited

A discussion on Evelyn Arthur Waugh’s novel on the influence of Roman Catholicism.

In Evelyn Waugh’s novel, “Brideshead Revisited”, the narrator, Charles Ryder’s, life is impacted by the Roman Catholic religion through his complex relationships with the diverse members of the aristocratic, Roman Catholic, Marchmain family. This paper shows how, in the book, each family member approaches the Roman Catholic faith in a different way, and it is through witnessing their individual struggles with the faith that Charles eventually begins to incorporate the beliefs of the Catholic faith into his own beliefs. As Charles and each of the Marchmain family members eventually come to grips with their faith, Waugh ultimately reveals God’s grace intervening in the lives of the complex family.
“Cordelia is the epitome of Christ like love: she is expansively loving and generous, and forgiving of all of the human foibles of her family. Through her, Charles sees the giving and loving aspect of Catholicism. Lady Marchmain becomes a symbol of Catholic piety for Charles in her refusal to grant her husband a divorce. It is through Lady Marchmain’s refusal to divorce that Charles begins to understand the sometimes-uncompromising nature of the Roman Catholic faith.”