Death and the Meaning of Life in "The Loved One" Book Review by scribbler

Death and the Meaning of Life in "The Loved One"
An analysis of Evelyn Waugh's novel, "The Loved One", and his perspective of death and the meaning of life in America.
# 153423 | 2,838 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2013 | US
Published on May 30, 2013 in Literature (English) , Sociology (General) , Film (General)

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This paper examines Waugh's "The Loved One", a novel about the American perspective on death that managed to satirize Hollywood, American religion, and the American funeral rite all in one fell swoop. The paper explains that "The Loved One" shows America's own de-signification of death and its concomitant lack of meaning in life; life in Waugh's fictionalized Forest Lawn cemetery is made up of shallow, pretentious, and gimmicky diversions meant to alleviate and/or distract from the fact of death. The paper goes on to explain that Waugh saw no need or point in trying to hide from death; as a Christian, had a definite plan based upon observing God's laws. The paper highlights how the characters in "The Loved One" have no knowledge of true religion and they are doomed to suffer the de-signification of death and a life with no meaning.

From the Paper:

"By placing the novel within the context of Waugh's faith as a Christian, the reader is able to grasp the underlying themes of The Loved One--themes that have to do with the absence and/or disregard for nature and reality in modern-day America. Examples of such are not wanting in the novel and it is their juxtaposition with the poetic works of the late Romantics that fuels the conflict of interests between Waugh's main characters.
"Waugh's novel begins with the loss of Sir Francis' writing job at a Hollywood studio, where he has worked for a quarter century. The "termination of his contract" is an impersonal affair (no one bothers to tell him; they just push his belongings out into the corridor, change the nameplate on his door, and install a new writer in his office). The gesture is symbolic of the suddenness of death, and the language ("His contract wasn't renewed" (33)) ominously foreshadows the larger theme of the book: life is a contract that will run out at some point.
"When it unexpectedly runs out for Sir Francis, he goes home to his bungalow in Southern California and hangs himself. Hollywood was his life--and when Hollywood breaks off the relationship, Sir Francis sees no reason to go on living. The meaning of his life has been only to write screenplays for film producers."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • McInerny, Ralph, ed. Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings. England: Penguin, 1998. Print.
  • New Revised Standard Version Bible. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2009. Print.
  • Waugh, Evelyn. The Loved One. London: Little, Brown & Company, 1999.
  • Williamson, Richard. "Eleison Comments." Dinoscopus. 2008. Web. 27 Apr 2011.
  • Zerhusen, Evan. "Windy Blather and Lies." The Remnant. 15 Apr 2008. Web. 27 Apr 2011.

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