War is a horrific experience made worse by those who try to control it for their own advantage. In Famous Last Words, Timothy Findley creates a world of intrigue as he describes the tales of conspiracy and corruption for world domination. That made World War II far worse than it otherwise would have been. This is shown through the relationships of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Joachim von Ribbentrop, and Benito Mussolini.
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor are prominent people in society, who want more power. The people in the Duke’s alliance invited Mr. Coty to join the alliance because, in the Duke’s words, “From time to time, Monsieur Coty and his friends are useful to us.” (141) Although the Duke dislikes this man, he pretends to like him because he needs this man in order for his own selfish schemes to work. The Duke and Duchess of Windsor use their own alliance to gain leadership over the people in Europe, and truly believing they are the right leaders. The Duke says Europe needs, “…a new kind of leader–someone like a flag, whose very presence makes us rise. Not a Mussolini, of who we are afraid. Not a Hitler who drives us to our feet. But an emblem whose magnetism pulls us upward.” (180) The Duke sees himself as being more powerful and influential, more of a leader, than either Hitler or Mussolini. He compares his potential leadership to that of a country’s flag- someone people will respect and admire. He truly believes he can be their new leader and puts himself on a pedestal. The Duke and Duchess posses many secrets. Findley explains how, “…an agent of Churchill’s was– playing on David’s Duke’s drunkenness to discover how deep his treason ran.” (198) The Duke has become very manipulative in his schemes and people want to know what he plans to do next. Thus, the Duke of Windsor was very manipulative and created an alliance where many secrets were kept and where the only benefit of the war and alliance was all his own.Order now
Joachim von Ribbentrop is one of Hitler’s workers and whom Hitler has much trust in. He creates his own alliance to ensure that he will dominate the world. He does not care what he has to do to get things done his way. Von Ribbentrop explains the importance of his alliance and how it is going to be the means that he will gain the domination he wants. One of Ribbentrop’s men speaking for him says, “.… you bring all the best people in that all the best people in that network you can find, and once you have done that-you begin to make your own world.” (137) Von Ribbentrop clearly reveals his selfish ways, in how everyone he associates with is for the advantage of himself and his schemes for world domination. Von Ribbentrop is a very selfish man who is looking out for his own safety and benefit at others’ expense. “You must always remember what it is we want….and that some of us must fall before we can have it,” (263) he says, openly admitting he is prepared to let others fall for his own personal gain. He wants Schellenberg to join forces with him. Von Ribbentrop says to Schellenberg, “…I think you and I might do very well together whatever it is you’re trying to do alone. So many plots are afoot. We live in a world of intrigue. One has to be careful not to get caught up in the coil’s of someone else’s downfall.” (322) Von Ribbentrop knows that the two of them together can be very successful and that they must be sure not to get mixed with the wrong alliances which will bring them down. A very conniving man, von Ribbentrop pretends to care about others but is very much in the game for himself.
Joachim von Ribbentrop wants very much so to prevail and is willing to do whatever necessary so that he is not found out about. Ribbentrop planned many times with Isabella Loverso, but later in the novel she says she wants to leave. Ribbentrop afraid she might reveal his plans, kills her. He says, “;#8230;within two days or three at the very most, Isabella Loverso would have told Schellenberg everything there is to know. Bang. It would all be over.” (263) He killed Isabellla because she was a threat to him, so he did whatever necessary to ensure she could not hurt him. Von Ribbentrop is always looking for new ways to find out secret information and was doing whatever possible to be aware of all that was going on around him. Findley writes, “;#8230;but now von Ribbentrop wanted every bit of information he could get.” (228) He becomes “friends” with important figures to gain information that he can use to his advantage. Von Ribbentrop is working for Adolf Hitler, who in the end will have all the control, but von Ribbentrop is the one who wants control so he can kill Hitler. He says to Rudolf Hess, “Hitler must be killed;#8230;.He must. And we must do it..” (236) He realizes Hitler has the power in which he wants so he plans to kill him and take advantage of the situation. In conclusion, von Ribbentrop searches for ways to bring others down for his own personal gain.
Benito Mussolini was a very important character in World War II who was both feared and admired. Findley writes of him, “What had been a shared ideal became a single man; a god.” (160) Mussolini had begun to take over parts of Europe and was a leader and a “god” to his followers. When two men, Matteoti and Isabella’s husband, begin to write about their leader and uncover the truths about him, Mussolini had his men kill them both. Isabella says, ” I am thinking of how it can be that mere human beings, can be so afraid of the written word they will kill to be rid of it.” (166) Mussolini is so corrupt and hungry for power that once someone questions him, or knows too much about his plans they are killed. Mussolini wanted to revolutionize Europe and be its leader so he created his own organization, which worked secretly to gain power and control. Findley writes, “But in 1919 they proclaimed their fascist Party, who’s name was derived from the groups of workers know as fasci–brought together under the hand of Mussolini to agitate for a change in social order.” (159) Mussolini’s change of social order was to rule over several nations so he could be a powerful leader. He is willing to turn everything upside down. Mussolini is a heartless man or “god” who creates his own party so that he can rise to power.
Throughout this novel the characters get themselves caught in webs of betrayal and corruption so that, at the end of the war, they may prevail and gain total world domination. Through the experiences of the characters it is learned that nobody can get ahead without causing someone else’s downfalls. Most importantly, this novel illustrates the selfishness of individuals and shows how people are willing to do whatever they need to ensure that they are solely benefited. This is clearly shown in the novel. Although the Duke, von Ribbentrop and Mussolini employed different schemes and methods, they each tried to achieve the same thing: total world domination. As a result, many peoples’ lives were lost or changed forever.