The themes and styles of the Depression Era novels Vile Bodies (1930) by Evelyn Waugh and Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) by George Orwell appear to reflect an increasing distrust of capitalism as an economic and social structure for England and the world. These two authors come at the issue from differing sides of the British class divide. Waugh satirizes the frivolous actions, attitudes, and tendencies of wealthy British youths to show the impermanence of their class and situation in an unstable society. He also analyzes how these actions may or may not contribute to their downfall and ultimate erasure from the public consciousness. Orwell, on the other hand, criticizes capitalism from the beggared and dark battle Gordon Comstock fights. Gordon rejects opportunity and compliance with standard economic society in order to stand against what he calls the “Money God." This casts Gordon into deep despair that lasts until his ultimate reacceptance of the mainstream economic system. Although a distinct displeasure with capitalism is well vocalized in these novels, the issues raised are not resolved. Rather than articulating true alternative solutions or modifications that could be made, these authors only pessimistically embrace war as an inevitable final outcome.
"Struggling For An Answer to Capitalism: Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell’s Pessimistic Approach,"
Proceedings of GREAT Day: Vol. 2011, Article 18.
Available at: https://knightscholar.geneseo.edu/proceedings-of-great-day/vol2011/iss1/18