Literature / Parade's End

Parade's End is the omnibus name for a historical tetrology by Ford Maddox Ford about life before, during and after World War I. The novels revolve around "the last Tory", Christopher Tietjens, a statistician from a wealthy, upper-class family who serves in the British Army, and his disastrous marriage.

The books in the series are:
  • Some Do Not... (1924)
  • No More Parades (1925)
  • A Man Could Stand Up— (1926)
  • Last Post (1928)

It was adapted by Tom Stoppard as a BBC2 miniseries starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Tietjens, Rebecca Hall as his wife Sylvia, and Adelaide Clemens as Valentine.


Contains Examples of:

  • Adaptation Distillation: The Mini Series misses out the last book (set following the war).
  • Betty and Veronica: Valentine and Sylvia. While personality-wise they're certainly Betty and Veronica respectively, the fact that Christopher is married to Sylvia makes Valentine the "dangerous" choice.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Sylvia is this to General Campion by the end. Although Sylvia is this to pretty much everyone in general.
  • Bittersweet Ending: In the book. Christopher and Valentine are able to finally live together in peace and Sylvia has a change of heart, but Mark passes away at the very end. The TV series is a more straightforward happy ending.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: And how!
  • The Edwardian Era
  • Fiery Redhead: Sylvia.
  • General Failure: The British military command is seen as this by Christopher and, to some extent, Campion.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: YMMV as to which relationships "Good" and "Bad" apply to.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Christopher and Valentine, in contrast with cynical and selfish Fiery Redhead Sylvia.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Almost all of high society London thinks Christopher is a pimp, of all things.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Christopher and Valentine.
  • Hypocrite: Nearly everyone except Christopher demonstrates themselves to be one.
    • Sylvia gets enraged at the potential of Christopher cheating, after her own frequent affairs.
    • Edith Duchemin insinuates that Valentine had an abortion, rolls her eyes at her offended denial, and then has the audacity to toss her out of the carriage when Valentine points out Duchemins own adultery. A true friend.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Sylvia uses this successfully on every male she wants to, except it doesn't work on Christopher. There's some suggestion that she loves him partly because of this, although it's also a major frustration.
  • Karma Houdini: In the miniseries, not so much the book: Although Sylvia doesn't end up with Christopher as she originally wanted, she doesn't wind up any worse off at the end, despite her bad behavior - the miniseries leaves it hanging whether Campion will accept her marriage proposal, although in the script he does deny her.
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Christopher's employer expects him to fudge the numbers to help their political allies. Christopher's not happy about it.
  • Love at First Sight: Valentine and Christopher both declare that they fell in love "from the first moment."
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Leads to Sylvia and Christopher's Shotgun Wedding.
  • Manly Tears
  • Meaningful Name: Valentine, Christopher's true love.
  • Modern Major General: most of the army officers except for Christopher. Especially Captain McKechnie.
  • Moment Killer: When Christopher is in Sylvia's hotel room in Rouen and Potty tries to barge in.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Christopher and McKechnie with their sonnet competition.
  • Only Sane Man: Christopher can come across as this, given the hypocrisy of just about every other character.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Christopher puts up with Sylvia's cheating and verbal abuse for years until she has the Groby tree cut down, via Mrs. de Bray Pape in the book.
  • Rags to Riches: McMaster is very conscious of the difference between his own background and his friend Christopher's upper class privilege.
  • Sex Is Evil: Deconstructed. Valentine isn't even aware that sex can be used for anything other than baby-making at first and is horrified and disgusted at deriving joy from it, especially when she begins to have her own fantasies. She later comes to terms with her own sexual desires and even allows her students to read a supposedly scandalous book about married sex to help them develop healthy marriages.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Christopher suffers memory lapses after a head injury in the war.
  • Shotgun Wedding
  • Skewed Priorities: General Campion walks right past the men Christopher has just dragged from the trenches and demands to know why Christopher is so dirty. In the middle of a war, after Christopher survived German shells.
  • Spirited Young Lady: Valentine.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Christopher is considered an extreme example even by other Edwardians. The scene where he learns of his mother's death is a masterclass.
  • The Hero: Christopher, unlike other war novels, the story focuses more Christopher's moral and psychological growth not really on the war even through he's part of it.
  • Tragic Hero: Christopher. Mercifully averted in the end.
  • Unfortunate Names: Potty. It seems even worse to a modern audience, but even in the period in which the book was set, "potty" meant crazy or insignificant; the adjective is used this way in the book in several places.
  • Unrequited Tragic Maiden: Valentine is in love with Christopher, but he refuses to go against his morals and cheat on his wife with her until near the end.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Potty Perowne.
  • The Vicar: Reverend Duchemin comes across as the Dirty variety with his ranting about corsets and organs.
  • War Is Hell: Ford wrote the novel after his own experiences in World War I and he doesn't pull any punches, nor does the miniseries.
  • Who's Your Daddy?: The paternity of Sylvia's child is unclear.
  • We Used to Be Friends: While Christopher still treats Vinnie with politeness, its implied that Vinnie using Christopher for his job (and getting a knighthood for it) has ended their friendship.
  • World War One
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Inverted when Sylvia's boyfriend, Potty, is scared that Christopher will beat him up, and Sylvia tells Potty he needn't worry because "[Christopher] would not do anything to a girl like you."

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