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Written by Elizabeth Shaw, S. R. Kercenna
Obsession is present, within multiple characters, in the novel as a coping mechanism against more important and significant issues such as the meaninglessness of life. One such example is Mr. Wimbush who nurtures a keen interest for the history of his estate and its former occupants. His absorption with the past induces him to write a book about it; a historical record of all the former tenants of Crome. Such intent desire is, in fact, an outlet for his anxiety about life in both present and future. Similarly, his wife, Priscilla, develops an obsession linked to astrology and alternative spirituality as a means to flee the meaninglessness of life, and the insignificant of oneself in the larger picture of the universe.
The novel is often read as a satirical text because of the supremacy of satire and irony as a prominent theme within its pages. It is important to note that the book is partly biographic. Therefore, many of its characters are inspired from real life people and acquaintances of the author himself. Denis Stone, for instance, is believed to represent Huxley, while the party, at Crome, picture, in a vague manner, the members of the Bloomsbury group. In this line, critics often point out the similarities between Bertrand Russell and Mr. Scogan. Thus does satire form one of the eminent themes in the novel.
Love is a complex theme in the text. It forms the bulk of multiple characters’ relationships; yet, never in a straightforward way. Denis, for one, is in love with Anne but never gets to tell her about it. Being interested in Gombauld, at the beginning of their acquaintance, Mary too never gets to voice her emotions in words. Even when she falls in love with Ivor, she cannot vanquish the insurmountable walls of silence. In this fashion, Huxley develops one of the crucial and complex sides of human psychology. Through his characters, the reader becomes cognizant of the fact that most people are lost between their shadow and persona; integrity and reputation; public image and true self. We build, for our protection, strong walls to shade us from the outer world. The same walls, however, only add to our distress and loneliness. And this is the idea which Huxley wanted to convey by developing the theme of love in such a backward manner.
One of Crome Yellow’s major concerns is alienation. The characters are alienated from their environment and from one another. Denis, for one, is unable to integrate the faction of the young guests and share their fun. At the same time, he is far from being part of the elder group. In short, he is alienated, with nowhere and no one to belong to. The same applies to the other characters. Jenny, for instance, is alienated because of her deafness; Priscilla because of an obsession with astrology which no one else in the group shares; Henry because of his interest in the past, and so forth. Alienation is, thus, strongly present in the novel to highlight the inner conflicts in human lives.
The story of the book revolves around isolation. The Crome estate, in the first place, is isolated from the rest of the village. The characters are isolated, each in his own world. What renders this theme an important one is the fact that this very isolation is self imposed. Henry willingly chooses the seclusion of his own estate to any kind of direct contact with the world. Priscilla, when presented for the first time to the reader, is reclining in her sofa, in her own boudoir in spite of the fact that her house is already full of guests. Jenny isolates herself in the tower of her deafness. Gombauld does the same with his art, and Denis follows suit with his own thoughts and poetry. In short, all the characters isolate themselves because such solitude and separation is what seem, to them, the safest course in the unknown and mysterious world.
The Meaninglessness of Life
The meaninglessness of life is one of the constants of existence which human beings attempt to flee both on a conscious and unconscious levels. The insignificance of one’s own, in an unbound and indifferent universe, is a crucial theme in the novel. Denis, by means of illustration, feels like an insignificant entity in Anne’s life. What makes his situation an even more difficult one is the fact that nobody among his acquaintances seem to heed his suffering. The same applies to Priscilla who attempts to create meaning in the realm of astrology so that her insignificant life can at least be linked to something great. In this fashion, most characters seek one thing or another in their desperate quests for meaning in life.
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