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Another aspect of Waugh's comedy is the characters' ability to throw off one role and assume another, as the situation calls for it. Their substance is protean, their natures flexible and melting: they can do whatever life forces them to do, and, often, they are only too willing to re-make themselves.The bizarre, the eccentric, the idiosyncratic all appear normal to them.
From the chaos two problems emerge as major preoccupations: Mr.
Waugh is concerned first of all with the disastrous effects of Science and progress on the human personality, and, arising out of this, is his vital concern about authority or leadership in the modern world….
Waugh's characters, rarely recognizing their limitations, and never apologizing, throw themselves fully into life.
When they meet obstacles that they had not dreamed existed and their ultimate power is questioned, then Waugh has a comic situation.
Catholicism involves sacrifice but because it gives life a meaning the sacrifice is worthwhile.
Close in their nihilism to Firbank's fruity nonsense and Huxley's despairing comedies of the twenties, Waugh's early novels also suggest the indifference to the larger world of Fitzgerald's playboys and Hemingway's dissolutes.
The basis of Waugh's comedy, if it can be defined, is confusion compounded by human presumption.
Waugh's characters usually assume more, or less, about themselves than they are intrinsically worth, and then, suddenly, they are thrust into zany situations….
Waugh, like Henry Green, is at his happiest when his theme is confusion.
He is weakest when he deliberately attempts to turn chaos into order, hysteria into sanity, madness into normality….