What are the main themes explored in Plenty?

One of the main themes explored in Plenty is the decline of post-war Britain. Despite its glorious past, the country is now in a state of terminal decline, and that decline is reflected in the character of Susan. During the war, she led a much more exciting, fulfilling life than she does at present. Unable to recapture her glory days, she descends into a self-constructed fantasy world characterized by drug abuse and mental illness.

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The character of Susan Traherne in Plenty is clearly allegorical in that she represents the decline of post-war Britain. Like her native country, Susan has seen better days and will never be able to experience them again.

During the war, it was all a different story. Susan was able to...

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The character of Susan Traherne in Plenty is clearly allegorical in that she represents the decline of post-war Britain. Like her native country, Susan has seen better days and will never be able to experience them again.

During the war, it was all a different story. Susan was able to share in the glory of Britain's heroic war effort by performing a vital role as a secret agent in occupied Europe. But with the dawn of the post-war era, Susan, like the country she so proudly represented, finds herself without a specific role in the world. What was supposed to be a time of national renewal has instead quickly degenerated into an era of decline. Susan feels this herself in her own life, which shows signs of chaos and disorder.

Unable to deal with her lack of purpose and debilitating sense of ennui, Susan retreats into a world of her own, a world disfigured by self-indulgence, recklessness, and destructiveness. To a considerable extent, Susan's behavior mirrors that of Great Britain's political leadership as a whole. Unable and unwilling to face up to the truth of national decline, the country's jaded establishment, as epitomized by Susan's husband Raymond, also occupies a fantasy world, in which Britain is still a major player on the international stage.

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