Alcoholism is at the center of Brideshead Revisited and essentially destroys a beautiful, charming young man. Of course, the alcoholism itself is driven by a slew of other problems, namely family and religion. The young man in question turns to the substance as a means of escaping, retreating further and further into self-imposed isolation by means of intense bouts of drinking. As is said many times in the novel, alcohol is used primarily as an escape.
Questions About Drugs and Alcohol
- Which is the greater cause of Sebastian’s drinking problem – his family, or his religion? Does Charles identify it as one or the other?
- According to the Flytes’ Catholicism, can Sebastian be holy and an alcoholic? What about the whole "to be holy is to suffer" thing – how does that factor in here?
- In "Character Analysis," we theorize that Cordelia and Charles are the only two characters to really love Sebastian. If we’re right, why is it that these are the only two to sneak Sebastian booze while everyone else is trying to cure him of his alcoholism?
Chew on This
Each character’s love for Sebastian is tested – and either proved or disproved – through his or her reaction to his alcoholism.