The Winshaw Legacy

1515 Words7 Pages
For a student trustful of today's scientific prowess, the realization that science cannot prove anything came as a surprise to me in high school science class last year. Indeed, a skepticist would say that finding real truth is never possible given the chaotic nature of our world. Such a worldview is among the several interconnected themes in Jonathan Coe's The Winshaw Legacy. Coe uses the paradox as his primary vehicle of argumentation. The paradox is a statement or argument that seems to be prima facie self-contradictory. However, between the two self-contradictory poles lies some vestige of truth, the mutual hostage of the two opposing sides. Coe's satire is achieved as he points out the absurdities of life at the political fringes, and the dialectic synthesis occurs in the reader's mind as he reconciles the two sides, those being the thesis and antithesis. The Winshaw family, representing an outrageous contemporary group of capitalist élites, is so absurd that the magnitude of its members' absurdity crushes their believability as characters. In that sense, then, the Winshaws are allegorical of larger sectors of society that possess similar, but less absurd, characteristics. For example, consider Thomas's support of the development of the laser disk. Although it is a "palpably loss-making enterprise," (308), Thomas bankrolls its development because it produces "perfect still frames ... [which suit] his needs so admirably" (308). Certainly Adam Smith did not think of masturbation as being enlightened self-interest, though it is "the very raison d'être" of the laser disk as far as Thomas is concerned (308). His motivation represents enlightened self-interest on one hand, but on the other hand, it is so wildly absurd as to be satirical. Thomas is credible enough as a character to criticize capitalism, yet at the same time, he is unbelievable
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