Vanity Fair

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  • Topic: Vanity Fair, Becky Sharp, William Makepeace Thackeray
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  • Published : December 12, 2012
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VANITY FAIR
William M. Thackeray | 1811–1863

Monday, October 29, 12

The Title
Vanity: excessive pride in or admiration of one's own appearance or achievements Fair: a competitive exhibition for the amusement of the public In his 1678 allegory “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” John Bunyan called London “Vanity Fair.” A well-known passage of the Bible claims, “All is Vanity.”

Monday, October 29, 12

The Title
“But my kind reader will please to remember that this history has Vanity Fair for a title, and that Vanity Fair is a very vain, wicked, foolish place, full of all sorts of humbugs and falseness and pretensions.” –p. 98 Vanity Fair is the place where the vanity of upper class of English society is put on display.

Monday, October 29, 12

Subtitle: A Novel without a Hero
All the characters, good or bad, are flawed.
OLD SIR PITT CRAWLEY: rude & unkind LADY CRAWLEY: timid & apathetic MISS CRAWLEY: snobbish & arrogant RAWDON CRAWLEY: extravagant & later penniless LORD STEYNE: corrupt & immoral Monday, October 29, 12

JOSEPH SEDLEY: imperceptive & awkward REBECCA SHARP: cunning & flirtatious AMELIA SEDLEY: good but weak and hypocritical CAPTAIN DOBBIN: honest & kind, but melancholy & foolish

Summary
This satire of a materialistic society centers on BECKY SHARP and AMELIA SEDLEY. They are boarding-school friends, whose lives are contrasted. Clever, ambitious Becky is born into poverty, the daughter of a penniless artist. She wants to marry Amelia’s brother Joseph, but her plan fails. Instead, she marries RAWDON CRAWLEY, but his father disinherits him as a result. Despite her destitute husband, Becky manages to live at the height of fashion through the patronage of LORD STEYNE. When her husband learns about Lord Steyne, he departs to become the Governor of Coventry island. Becky is ostracized and she moves to Continental Europe.

Monday, October 29, 12

Summary
In the meantime, Amelia’s father loses his fortune in a series of unfortunate business deals. CAPTAIN WILLIAM DOBBIN loves Amelia, but she marries GEORGE OSBORNE, who is killed in the Battle of Waterloo. Penniless, Amelia leaves her son in the care of his grandfather, who gives the boy a large inheritance. Amelia travels around Europe with her brother Joseph and Captain Dobbin. Eventually, Dobbin wins Amelia over through his steady devotion to her, and they marry. During their travels they meet Becky. Dobbin distrusts Becky and does not approve of Joseph and Amelia’s kindness to her. However, Joseph falls in love with Becky. He takes out a large insurance policy in her name, and soon dies under mysterious circumstance. Becky is left a large sum of money. Becky’s husband Rawdon dies, and Becky ends the novel in the role of A VIRTUOUS WIDOW, having a reputation for kindness and generosity. Monday, October 29, 12

Becky Sharp
Becky is the central character of the novel. Her only desire is to gain wealth and social status, and she will stop at nothing, even murder, to get what she wants. She is willing to use anyone she meets as a step for her to climb the social ladder. Readers may expect Becky to be punished for her actions, but ironically she ends up with the wealth and fame she sought, even after committing murder.

Monday, October 29, 12

Thackeray satirizes the vanity, pretensions, prejudices, and corruption of the aristocracy of the time. Satire: Use of humor, ridicule, or exaggeration to expose and criticize people’s behavior For Thackeray, good goes hand in hand with stupidity, and cleverness leads to treachery.

Monday, October 29, 12

Excerpt 1
1.What is Thackeray’s attitude toward Sir Pitt? How does he show it? a. Contempt b. Colloquial language shows Pitt’s lack of education. His inappropriate behavior shows his hypocrisy and lack of composure. Set up story His proposal to Becky is unsuitable.

Rebecca = Becky Sir Pitt’s language

Monday, October 29, 12

Excerpt 1
2.Pick out words & phrases that describe Pitt as...
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