Theme # 2
Captain Charles Ryder
A good friend is someone who remains your friend even if you make the wrong
decisions. Friends forgive your mistakes and support your choices even if they disagree
with them. A true friend is someone whose love is unconditional. They accept your
faults as well as your virtues. A true friend gives without expecting anything in return.
A character friend is one that looks upon you as their equal as well as their mentor.
They are loyal to you even if people try to convince them otherwise. In Brideshead Revisited, Captain Charles Ryder demonstrates through actions and words that he is a character friend to Sebastian Flyte. Aristotle states: "Now those who wish well to their friends for their sake are most truly friends; for they do this by reason of their own nature and not incidentally;" (Nichomachean Ethics, 1156 b 10) In this passage Aristotle is stating that a true friend is one who looks after and takes care of their friend unconditionally, without any expectations. Charles lives up to Aristotle's statement, by demonstrating through actions, that he is still a character friend to Sebastian after ten years.
After not seeing him for a long period of time, Charles seeks him out to inform Sebastian that his mother is dying. Page 2 When Charles finds him, he discovers that his old friend is ill in the hospital. Charles visits Sebastian daily until he is well enough to leave the hospital. During these visits, Sebastian's mother passes away. At this time, Charles could leave, but he helps his ill friend by straightening his financial problems out for him. Charles states: "He had lived till then by getting into difficulties and then telegraphing for odd sums to his lawyers.
I saw the branch manager of the Bank of Indo-China and arranged for him, to receive Sebastian's quarterly allowance and pay him a weekly sum of pocket money with a reserve to be drawn in emergencies." (Waugh, 215) One can clearly see that Charles is a true friend through his actions. Even time could not change Charle's ethics. Aristotle states: "The friendship of the good too alone is proof against slander; for it is not easy to trust any one's talk about a man who has long been tested by oneself; and it is among good men that trust and the feeling that he would never wrong me and all the other things that are demanded in true friendship are found." (Nichomachean Ethics, 1157 a 20) In this passage Aristotle is stating that a true friend is loyal to you even if people try to convince them otherwise. True friendship is a sturdy foundation that cannot falter by slander or people's negative points of view. There is an armor around a character friendship that cannot be broken by dark words. Page 3 Charles lives up to Aristotle's statement, by demonstrating through words, that he is a true friend when Sebastian is slandered by Anthony Blanche.
Instead of believing right away what Anthony is devilishly preaching about Sebastian, Charles questions his good friend about it. When he hears his friend's side of the story his mind is at ease. Charles always hears people saying negative things about Sebastian. In another instance, Julia, Sebastian's sister, is speaking rudely of her brother.
Charles sticks up for Sebastian, and states the truth. Julia exclaims: "I wish he'd behave like everybody else... If he always wants to be tight, why doesn't he go to Kenya or somewhere where it doesn't matter?" "Why does it matter less being unhappy in Kenya than anywhere else?" "Don't pretend to be stupid, Charles. You understand perfectly." "You mean there won't be any embarrassing situations for you?" (Waugh, 161, 162) From this last statement Charles displays his loyalty for Sebastian through words. Multiple counts of times, Sebastian is talked about in a negative light, and time and time again, Charles verbally sticks up for him. Sometimes he chooses to ignore the ignorant comments.
But he is a loyal friend no matter what the circumstances may be. Emerson states: "The soul surrounds itself with friends, so that it can enter into a grander self- acquaintance and solitude." (Class Notes, 2/20/02) This quote reflects on Charles' agenda for friendship. For each friend he makes Page 4 in "Brideshead Revisited" he learns more about himself. He learns about his own character.
I think he also learns that being a character friend is not that easy. Sometimes being a true friend can be emotional painful. Even though this statement may be true, friendship is ethical because it enriches and makes us more alive. In conclusion, I think not only did Evelyn Waugh write "Brideshead Revisited" in a satirical way to make you think, but to make you think about the three types of friendship. Aristotle states these friendships are character, pleasure and utility. He says: "Now those who love each other for utility do not love each other for themselves but in virtue of some good which they get from each other.
So too with those who love for the sake of pleasure, it is not for their character that men love ready witted people, but because they find them pleasant." (Nichomachean Ethics, 1156 a 10) Anthony Blanche can be demonstrated as a pleasure friend. Anthony hung out and had fun with Sebastian but talked negatively about him constantly. Mr. Sam grass, who basically used Sebastian for money, shows the characteristics of a utility friend. These friendships are fleeting, but character friendships always last longer than utility or pleasure friendships. A true friendship that builds character is demonstrated by the platonic love that Charles had for Sebastian.
Though character friendships may not last forever, they are like a silver bright star in the night that are forever embedded in our heart and in our memories.