Merely fancy expressing 'vacancy', all my lifetime.


Early Life of Sebastian Flyte: Lightness & Weight

--Because of Sebastian Flyte, Brideshead Revisited is heart-breakingly beautiful, his life, his daydream, his exile...all of which is a tragedy of lightness and weight.

In the novel Sebastian is born in a Catholic family, and his early age is accompanied by the period of time when homosexual relationship is illegal, therefore, discussing on his religious and social background is necessary.

Initially, some facts of the Catholics should be mentioned. As is written in Encyclopaedia Britannica, people in Catholic communities ‘pronounce the three vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience (the evangelical counsels)’, thus it is not strange that Lady Marchmain only ‘loves’ her children when they listen to her and do as she says since nursery. The other thing must be pointed out: ‘members of religious communities generally accept a rule of life that emphasises humility and the renunciation of worldly goods and pleasures’. The Lady, in fact, cares not about her children’s happiness or hers, for she believes that happiness is not what really matters, while religion is, and happiness is not right in her world view -- she overestimates the world after death. She is the one who ruins Sebastians life and casts him from ‘the place his family lives’. Additionally, his potential homosexuality is banned among Catholics, which makes his life more miserable.

When it comes to the social environment, one thing we should notice is that Cara reminds Charles of being cautious to his relationship with Sebastian when expressing the appreciation for friendship between young lads in Germany and Britain. Strangely, when adolescents ought to begin to show some interest in people of the other gender, ones in the UK are usually sent to secondary schools where are all boys or girls at that time. Chances are that their affection is laid on one of the same gender, so the homosexual has to live in fear and sin, afraid to come out. I do agree that there is such feeling between Sebastian and Charles because Charles admits he that loves Sebastian, which needs taking into account.

In the early childhood of Sebastian, due to the absence of a caring mother to look after and encourage him, according to Erikson, the seed of guilt is planted in his head. By contrast, his nanny is a loving person so she might have acted the role as ‘Mother’. Some of his cognitive development has stopped at pre-operational thought (animism), supported by the fact that he looks after his teddy bear Aloysius as if it is alive. Sebastian commenced to bear the weight of guilt as well as drifting with the lightness of innocence.

Like many other noble boys, Sebastian spends his adolescence at Eton, he must have been well known for his beauty and strangeness, there is some possibility that his buddies there still accompany him in Oxford, while his true friend I assume is Aloysius (or his imaginary audience). Before he knows Charles, he has got a burden of the weight of solitude in his heart, concealed in the lightness of madness on the surface. Amongst his peers Charles is the single one who makes Sebastian feel sincere and kindness, and, forgiveness. Probably that's why Sebastian likes staying with Charles, therefore, as a vital role in Sebastian's life, Charles should be analysed.

When they build their friendship they both were young adult. In this stage, normally, young adults fall in love and plan for future. From the novel we know that Charles does love Sebastian without noticing it himself. Old days with joyful Sebastian, Charles is truly valued, which has never happened before he becomes Sebastian's best friend -- his father regards making fun of him as a routine. It is Sebastian who support him to paint and participate in what he likes, which indirectly impacts the option of his profession and career as a painter. Charles used to feel alone too, so no doubt memories of that summer with Sebastian is his ‘enchanted garden’. At that time he consider their relationship as friendship, while in fact it was love, which is not hard to understand because Charles is likely to fall in love and Sebastian is charming. Tracing Charles’ life, he has got a family to satisfy his vanity as a painter, and after divorce he has an affair with Julia who is certainly Sebastian’s substitution, since they are alike in some aspects, yet all those cannot fill the emptiness in his heart: during the war, when all the vanity is gone and he has for survival, due to the trick by fate, back to Brideshead, memories flood into his head. Apparently there is stagnation in Charles’ development, in accordance with Erikson.While Sebastian’s problem must be role confusion: after a small car accident after being drunk, his mother treat him as a alcohololic bans everyone who said anything to him. In this stage he is not completely identified as a certain role, once labelled as alcoholic, he is too weak to reverse the situation under Lady Marchmain's control. She has made herself God, while he has to be made a ghost. He lingers between the weight of the truth that he is trapped in a space of vacancy and the lightness of escaping by drowning himself in whisky. Whereas, apparently he is not alcoholic at all, he would rather 'act' as one than do as Lady Marchmain asks,-- he takes his actions as a form rebellion against her power of evil. Even exiling to Morocco, penniless and suffering, with an awful roommate to take care of, still he is satisfied, for he has fled from the place full of her. Sebastian does actually hate Lady Marchmain, as a matter of fact, he does not hate anyone. He fears her. Even though she is going to die years later and she does die he fears her.

He fears her because she attempts to make him transparent in the family, because he has seen his father, a Lord, be forced to hide in Venice, and because Lord Marchmain has already been invisible back in England. Such fear, consolidating the idea that he shall never return, reminds him of the weight of existence and the lightness of being. In Morocco, at least he has found his own value and a role for himself and realises that he is not a useless one who must be taken care of and supervised. Hard as life is, Sebastian feels freedom and happiness in the alien field.

Perhaps one day, as Cordelia predicts, he will end his difficult journey and go back, old, withered and wearied. Gone is the summer in his life, yet he lives in an eternal summer of happiness of knowing who he is and being the one who he chooses to be. However, Sebastian has to suffer for a long time, while his life should not be so miserable in that way. Or he is destined to be a character of tragedy, for he has to either endure the weight of gaols of Catholic Church or the miseries of exile, while his intends his life to be light and beautiful like bubbles rising from Champagne.


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