Authored by Graham Greene, The End of the Affair is a fascinating must-read play featuring three major characters namely Maurice Bendrix, Sarah and Henry who help him criticize the conspiracies existing in relationships. Bendrix is a “middle aged bachelor who meets Sarah and Henry while beginning to write a new book” (Almeida Para.1). Henry, on the other hand, works with the British government as a civil servant.
He is also the husband to Sarah. Sarah indulges in multi-relationships with men. She quickly forms a relationship with Bendrix, who becomes a slave of her love. Unfortunately, their love does not last. “One day, they survive a bombing during WWII. When she discovers that he is alive, she tells him that the affair is over” (Almeida Para.1). Her decision is final, as she vows never to turn back to Maurice.
Bendrix, on the other hand, does not heed to this decision. He encounters Henry in the city who fears that his wife is seeing someone else. Although, people can influence others in a positive way, the paper reveals how Sarah’s involvements with the two key characters: Henry and Bendrix, had negative impacts.
Sarah’s involvement with Henry substantially impairs her perceptions about men to the extent that she results into adultery. Unaware of Maurice’s involvement with his wife, Henry “invites Maurice for a drink, expressing his worries that Sarah might be having an affair with someone” (Almeida Para.2).
Upon realizing this, Maurice decides to hire an investigator who confirms the fears expressed by Henry. However, on realizing that Maurice had hired an investigator, Henry also gets clues that Maurice could have been priory involved with his wife.
The setting of The End of the Affair takes place when England was recovering from aftermaths of the Second World War. Right from the onset of the play, encounters of an unhappy couple, Henry and Sarah, are evident. In the course of their relationship, things roll from excellent to sour. The two separate. Henry admits his irresponsibility as a husband: He is not a first-class and true lover to his wife Sarah.
Henry’s inability to play her marital obligations plays a significant role in making Sarah become unfaithful to him. This inability also contributes to her engagement in short term affairs. Sarah and Bendrix meet in 1939. The novelist Bendrix comes in to fulfill the function that Henry leaves unfulfilled.
The two profess to engage in an undying love for each other. As Berardinelli notes, “Henry worked long hours on the war effort, Maurice and Sarah spent time in Maurice’s flat. But on a night, when Maurice was seriously wounded in a German air raid, the relationship abruptly ended” (Para.2). As a way of reiterating, Bendrix denounces his earlier promises for undying love. Instead, he substitutes them with hatred, which she immensely directs to Sarah.
Perhaps borrowing from her experience with Henry, Sarah believes in true love for Bendrix. In fact, she says, “All today Maurice has been sweet to me…He tells me often that he has never loved another woman so much” (Greene 46). Sarah clearly comes out to express what guides her love. She has had experience in the past with Henry, a man who is still her husband.
Nevertheless, this experience has influenced her development quite negatively. She cannot trust words from a man who proclaims to love her irrespective of the number of times he utters them. The fact that she loves a man makes her believe in his love. She says, “If I stopped loving him, I would cease to believe in his love” (Greene 46). Expressing love in words would have no good to her, as men say them jokingly.
Sarah deviates from the belief that love can exist between two people without physical contact based on her experience with Bendrix. Bendrix’s perception about love erodes Sarah’s perceptions about the same to the extent that the two spend some intimate time in his flat where they engaged in sex. Sarah’s involvement with men, particularly Henry and Bendrix, inculcates an enormous feeling of insecurity in her.
Consequently, she indulges in new relationships without considering quitting the previous ones. In this regard, she reckons, “I have always wanted to be liked or admired. I feel a terrible insecurity if a man turns on me if I love a friend. I do not even want to lose a husband. I want everything, all the time, everywhere” (Greene 55). Although, she appreciates that love entails exploration of an unknown world. She has an incredible fear to explore and go through unknown encounters alone. She must seek an attachment elsewhere.
Henry acts as a man who provides security to Sarah in case the new pursuits go haywire. In case she ends into extra marital affairs, she always goes back to him as she looks for another relationship. When she leaves Bendrix, she gets to yet another affair with a man by the name Richard Smythe while still maintaining Henry as her husband. This perhaps indicates that Sarah does not intend to take chances that are evidently unpredictable in the world of love.
Sarah’s involvement with Henry shaped her attitudes towards men in such a way that she doubts their genuineness when they proclaim to love a woman. For instance, Sarah claims, “It is a strange thing to discover and believe that you are loved, when you know that there is nothing in you for anybody but a parent or a God to love” (Greene 70).
According to Sarah, therefore, the only true love that a woman can be sure of is the one between her and God. For her, love has no boundaries and ends. It can continue to exist even if the two persons who were once engaged move apart and cease to contact each other. Unfortunately, men such as Bendrix, who Sarah has had their love experience, believe that “some physical intimacy is necessarily” (Berardinelli Para. 4).
He cannot believe in something that he cannot smell, feel, see, taste or even hear. Sarah’s involvement with him presents two incongruent perceptions about love. This confirmed Bendrix’s beliefs. It fails to honor what Sarah believes about love. In fact, Bendrix declares that he “would rather be dead or see you dead than see you with another man” (Greene 23). However, their love turns out sour when the two separate for years.
Bendrix’s involvement with Sarah had the consequences of shaping Sarah’s belief about love that prompted her to consider propagating acts unfaithfulness. He evidently had involved himself in numerous relationships, which were promiscuous in nature. Bendrix confirms his promiscuity when he says, “It was as if quite suddenly after all the promiscuous years I had grown up. My passion for Sarah had killed simple lust forever.
Never again would I enjoy a woman without love” (Greene 46). It would widely possess some substance to argue that Sarah could not entirely and solely trust Bendrix. Bendrix past affairs ended without signals. Sarah would only end up deceiving herself that her relationship with Bendrix would last forever. Bendrix exemplifies this fact when he says, “…when I tried to remember her voice saying ‘don’t worry,’ I found I had no memory for sounds. When I tried to remember it, it was anonymous – just a woman’s voice” (Greene 119).
It is clear that Bendrix was set to forget Sarah since the breaking of their connectivity. Sarah says, “I’ve only made two promises in my life. One was to marry Henry; the other is to stop seeing you. And I’m too weak to keep either” (Greene 71). Sarah believed in true love that does not end even when people break contacts. However, her involvement with Bendrix may have widely contributed to the changing of this perception. Sarah, who believed in true love, also left him for unclear reasons.
In conclusion, The End of the Affair is a masterwork that presents the influence that people can have on others. Sarah is such an illustration of women negatively influenced by two men: Bendrix and Henry. The author presents the physical and spiritual components of love in an intriguing way.
He explores on the theme of adultery coupled with intimacies and jealous associated with it. To accomplish this, the influence of men on Sarah’s development is a recurring topic. By scrutinizing Bendrix and Henry’s involvement with Sarah, the paper declares the influence negative towards the Sarah’s cognitive development in issues pertaining to love.
Almeida, Tony. Plot Summary of the End of Affair, 2010. Web. 21 Oct. 2011.
Berardinelli, James. The End of the Affair Film Review, 1999. Web. 21 Oct. 2011.
< http://www.reelviews.net/movies/e/end_affair.html >.
Greene, Graham. The End of the Affair. London: Heinemann Publishers, 1951.