Brideshead Revisited: Did they or didn’t they? | Vulpes Libris
Was Charles and Sebastian's relationship a homosexual one? What did . even showing a sex scene between Charles and Julia – it is one-off. The new movie of 'Brideshead Revisited' camps up the relationship between Charles and Sebastian, misunderstands Waugh's world. These two meet when Sebastian pukes into Charles's bedroom window. There's been plenty of speculation on the possibly gay relationship between these.
And his unconcerned reaction to being associated with "sodomites" is more akin to a brash young man happily owning being called an "asshole" or a "sociopath.
If he had actually been a sodomite he probably would have been more abashed by the comment. It just isn't in Charles' character to be that brazen, even with Sebastien at his side. Although he does delight in making his cousin uncomfortable in this context, it seems more like a sassy kid playing a game that he knows he won't get in trouble for. Let's remember sodomy was a jail-able offense in those days.
His subsequent liaison with Julia despite its melancholy result is the mature relationship Cara's comment foreshadows. It is deeper and more candid than the one with Sebastien, if not as winningly fantastical or classically romantic. It's Waugh's great genius that he makes us feel this comparison, makes us question which is the more poignant of the two loves — without providing us the easy out of an articulated answer.
I've read Brideshead many times over the years and it is often the first book I recommend to people. Part of reason for that is the subtlety with which all of these themes are handled. It is a book full of humor, truth, and complexity — unapologetically unspecific about its controversies. Waugh never provided the answer and the text as we can all see was happily opaque about the details.
What we can say is that Sebastien was homosexual even if he and Charles only ever snuggled and that Charles definitely displayed sexual interest in women and was uncomfortable when confronted with overt sexuality from men. I subscribe to the idea that sexuality is spectrum, wherein an individual's sexuality is rarely all the way to one extreme or the other.
- Writer blogs
- Book blogs and websites
- Navigation menu
How evenly balanced was Charles on this spectrum? The text doesn't tell us. If Charles relationship to Sebastien was the forerunner to the one with Julia, then that is likely because it was easy to play at romance with a boy — a boy it so happened who was much like the sister who would eventually become his lover. Remember that Charles had no real experience of women at all in those Oxford days. His mother was dead and he had been at various all-male institutions of learning until that point. That drive with Julia, the cigarette they briefly shared, was his first intimate experience of a women.
Sebastien, whatever the degree of carnality they shared, was the training ground for all the romances and women to come.
Brideshead Revisited: Did they or didn’t they?
Becoming close to the flamboyantly effeminate Sebastien helped Charles build a bridge across the chasm of his ignorance of women. It also put him in the sphere of several iconoclastic women, including Lady Marchmain, Cara and Cordelia. Each had their own indiscreet relationship with Charles. Julia was the last holdout for Charles in this sense, and the ultimate ascent. The physical and mannered similarities between the siblings can only have made the this truth more evident.
Of course he was reminded of Sebastien the whole of his affair with Julia — they were so very alike. That he acknowledges Sebastien as the forerunner is a rueful observation, I think. To conclude, I don't think Charles and Sebastien were just friends but neither do I think they were lovers in any carnal sense either.
I think it highly unlikely that their romance was ever consummated. In fact, I think the purity of their love was gradually destroyed by Charles' sexual awakening. I remember the fluster of hormonal older girls excitedly discussing which of Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews was the more scrumptious — whereas I was not yet in that swooning breastbeating state of teenage unrequitedness.
But I did love them all the same in my own childlike fashion. Then, one night, at the dinner table my parents and sister embarked on a ground-breaking conversation. I was told the answer.
And was absolutely horrified. I was a very prudish child.
Brideshead Revisited - Sebastian and Charles: Lovers Or Just Friends? Showing of 6
They were pure as the driven snow. A day or two later and I was over it. Watching the series it seemed obvious, even to my innocent eyes that their relationship was certainly a romantic one.
So, they were gay. What did it matter? I still loved them. And I got back to watching my beloved characters for the rest of the series and thought little more of it. Anthony Andrews, I noticed, said nothing. A brief low-down For anyone unfamiliar with Brideshead, let me give you a brief low-down of the plot. If still in doubt, the film presents us with the tamest of man-on-man action — when Sebastian nips in with a quick smacker on the lips and Charles turns away with an enigmatic smirk in response.
This last causing some controversy.
I am sympathetic to the film and its intentions. I am sympathetic to the way the film is trying avoid presenting the religious themes, the snobbery and the pre-War aristocratic hedonistic excess through nostalgia-tinted spectacles and to bring out the homosexuality was a brave move and could have yielded some very interesting results.
The film presents a very simplistic and unsatisfying love triangle of which Sebastian is the losing party from the start.
The story becomes a much more conventional love across the divides of class and religion sort of plot, with a sad Sebastian dying of a broken heart in the background — rejected by Charles. In the book and the TV series, Charles loses Sebastian — to drink, to addiction and to his extreme crisis of faith?Try Not To Laugh Challenge // Mads Lewis w/ Caden and Dylan Conrique
Sebastian is bent on self-destruction and self-destruct he does. He rejects Charles in the end, not the other way round, and Julia has nothing to do with it. The quest for reality: Charles and Sebastian of course do not exist.
But there IS the underlying reality in terms of what we are meant to understand from the signs and signals that Waugh sets out for us. For me, these signs and signals are clear. First of all, is the incredible dominance of Sebastian as a character within the book. The series which I saw first and the book itself that I read much later share the same problem: And the first half is so attractive, so dramatic, so dominant — that the second half just falls away somewhat.
The second half is about Julia — and the novel cannot conjure the same sense of rapture when concerned with this character. It is rare to find a character in a book that is so charming off the page. Sebastian is light and witty and fun and generous. Is there a circus?