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The Crock of Gold

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

Another place to see this paradise/death dichotomy is in two passages from Book One. The first happens at the very start of Charles’s flashback, when Sebastian says while picnicking, "[This is] Just the place to bury a crock of gold. […] I should like to bury something precious in every place where I've been happy and then, when I was old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember." Later, when Charles leaves Brideshead behind having "disappointed" Lady Marchmain by supplying her alcoholic son booze, he remarks: "As I drove away and turned back in the car to take what promised to be my last view of the house, I felt that I was leaving part of myself behind, and that wherever I went afterwards I should feel the lack of it, and search for it hopelessly, as ghosts are said to do, frequenting the spots where they buried material treasures without which they cannot pay their way to the nether world." This is quite a twist on Sebastian’s original meaning. The "crock of gold" was initially a part of the beautiful Arcadian landscape of Charles’s youth. But then it is the gold used to pay passage to the underworld. It’s a lot like the image of a skull in the midst of a pastoral paradise. Oh, wait…

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