The comments about Monets painting, Impression: Sunrise, gives an insight tothe artistic vision in Waughs Vile Bodies and Greenes Brighton Rock.Monets Impression: Sunrise is a famous and prime example of Impressionism.The impressionist style of painting is characterized by “concentration on thegeneral impression produced by a scene as an object and the use of unmixedprimary colors and small strokes to simulate actual reflected light.” (WebMuseum)Impressionist paintings use light and color to imitate a certain setting orreality. In both novels, Vile Bodies and Brighton Rock, there is animpressionistic feel to them.
There is a sense of darkness and unclearness asone reads along, but have an element of light that is present throughout.The light in these novels are represented through characters. In VileBodies, the story is one of nothingness, meaninglessness. None of the charactershave an objective reality, its all subjective. The reality is different toeach character. There are concessions to nothing outside the self.
Their livesare portrayed as wasted, as if there is no other purpose to them than to be partof a society that emphasizes the importance of money and social gatherings, inother words, a social satire. One source of light in this novel is Mrs. Ape andher angels. They serve as a religious element in a world that is existentialismat its best.
Brighton Rock is a detective story, a who done it.Naturally, being that it is a detective story, there is a dark quality to it.Detective films fall into the film noire genre, because of the dark element.Rose is the light, it is present with her.
Throughout the novel, alongwith the murders and crime solving, Rose is the balance, the light. Her goodbalances with her husbands , Pinkies, evil. Pinkie seems to be incompletewithout Rose. Monets painting seems to be incomplete, or unfinished. And likethe painting, Rose is the stroke of color, that reflects light in the novel.
Being that they are married, which is a holy institution, makes her differentfrom the unmarried characters, i.e. Ida, Charles, etc. Rose is the bondingelement in her marriage to Pinkie. The comment made by Castagnary, in the testbooklet, “They are impressionists in that they do not render a landscape, butthe sensation produced by the landscape…
There they take leave of reality andenter the realms of idealism”, has a connection to the life portrayed in VileBodies. The landscape sensation, which is the world and lives of the characters,is produced by the meaningless conversation, relationships, and subjectivementality of the characters. In the essay by Paul Tillich, “The Meaning ofMeaninglessness”, it states that, “He(man) has sacrificed himself to his ownproductions…
He who is in the grip of doubt and meaninglessness cannotliberate himself from this grip, but he asks for an answer which is valid andnot outside the situation of his despair.” This is the case for Adam. He issearching for something that is not outside of the satirical world that he istrapped in, created by Waugh, constructed as an example of what the world hasbecome or what the world is soon to become. The authors, as like Monet andother Impressionist painters, have an artistic vision that is expressed throughstrokes and color and a reality, or lack thereof. In the novels, the strokes arethe characters, and the color is the role that the character plays in the worldcreated by the author. All the elements come together to form a world, createdby the artist, either with paint or words.