Brideshead Revisited

by Evelyn Waugh

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What does the figure of Anthony Blanche represent in Brideshead Revisted?  

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Anthony Blanche is a student who is at Oxford with Sebastian and Charles and is a close friend of Sebastian. He is clearly a somewhat debonair, hedonistic individual and he certainly seems more interested in partying and food and wine than he is in studying. In fact, Charles refers to him as an "aesthete par excellence" to point towards his interests in beauty. There are strong hints in the text that would lead us to believe he is homosexual. Whether this is true or not, it is clear that his charisma and personality leaves everybody else in awe of him, and Charles comments elsewhere that although Anthony is only slightly older than other students, he certainly gives the impression that he has experienced much more of the world than others and is more mature. He also has a very romantic background, and his mother lives in Argentina and Anthony has spent time with her and her Italian husband travelling to various farflung parts of the world. He is something of a name dropper, never failing to mention the famous people that he has met and knows when he is talking to Charles and Sebastian.

Anthony Blanche seems to be another example of the kind of close male friendships that are presented in this novel. This is a clear theme, and although the obvious focus in this novel is on the friendship between Charles and Sebastian, and the way that it often seems to cross the border between platonic and romantic, Anthony Blanche gives us a lesser example of the way that close male friendships are clearly under scrutiny in this text. To a certain extent, he is the kind of character that Sebastian wants to be.

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