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In what ways is Orwell's Keep the Aspidistra Flying a critique of British values between the wars - Essay Example

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Keep the Aspidistra Flying By George Orwell Keep the Aspidistra Flying by George Orwell gives the reader an excellent idea about the 1930’s London. This story is set after the First World War during the Era of Depression. The author has brought this period back to life by using words which paint a stark picture…
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In what ways is Orwells Keep the Aspidistra Flying a critique of British values between the wars
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Download file to see previous pages Even from above you could see that his shoes needed resoling.” (Orwell, 2002) This makes it obvious to the reader that Gordon is a man who is down on his luck. The book can be interpreted in terms of reflecting on the values of the British society especially between the war period. Unfortunately Gordon has some very unattractive qualities which make it difficult for the reader to identify with him. He is a man obsessed with himself and wallowing in self-pity. He has a lot of intellectual arrogance and conceit. He professes to be a budding poet although his book has only sold about one hundred and fifty three copies. He firmly believes that it is only the lack of money which prevents him from turning out a masterpiece. In his own words “Snooty, refined books on safe painters and safe poets by those moneyed young beasts who glide so gracefully from Eton to Cambridge and from Cambridge to the literary reviews.” (Orwell, 2002) Here Gordon’s contempt for writers who do not dare to take any kind of risk but prefer to stick to safe topics is obvious. At the same time a tinge of envy is there in his words. He considers that their moneyed background offers these writers a blanket of security which is conspicuously lacking in his life. Actually through Gordon’s monologue we catch a glimpse of British Society during the post-war period. The British middle class values are also high-lighted in this book. It was a very class conscious society at that time. The British middle class had certain rigid standards by which they lived their lives. Thus at that time you were either a gentleman or an aristocrat. If you belonged to neither of these two categories then you were a member of the lower classes and you could expect to be treated with a certain degree of contempt. Actually here the author has tried to bring to the fore-front the false sense of values which governed the British Society in those days. So we see that although Gordon Comstock had no money he was still desperate to keep up appearances. For example in this passage, “Gordon walked homeward against the rattling wind, which blew his hair backward and gave him more of a 'good' forehead than ever. His manner conveyed to the passers-by--at least, he hoped it did--that if he wore no overcoat it was from pure caprice. His overcoat was up the spout for fifteen shillings, as a matter of fact.” (Orwell, 2002) Here Gordon’s behavior is typical of the class to which he belonged. He did not possess an overcoat and at the same time he was trying to convey the impression that this was just whimsical behavior on his part. There were one or two bright spots in Gordon’s life. One was his girlfriend Rosemary who loved him but refused to sleep with him. The other was his rich friend Philip Ravelston who tried to help him by publishing one of his books through his publishing contacts. Gordon formed the impression that his lack of money was the main reason behind Rosemary’s resistance to his advances. Although Gorden claimed to disdain money, at the same time he was obsessed with it. This is apparent from this passage. “It wasn’t merely the lack of money. It was rather that, having no money, they still lived mentally in the money-world--the world in which money is virtue and poverty is crime.” (Orwell, 2002) Gordon had little or no time for his relatives. Their genteel poverty and their helplessness was a source of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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