William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair is a novel that revolves around the age old question, “Can money buy happiness?” Rebecca “Becky” Sharp, an orphan, raised alongside her foil, Amelia Sedley, is attracted by the rich lifestyle that Amelia has. Amelia, however, is gentle and humble, and dreams only for a happy life with her husband. Thackeray allows his characters to reveal themselves through their own words and actions, and sometimes even uses names to characterize, including Little Ricketts, who has fevers; Fogle, Fake & Cracksman, a business firm; Baron Bandanna; and The Reverend Felix Rabbits, who has fourteen daughters. The characterization and developments of two completely different young women, Rebecca Sharp – cunning and merciless – and Amelia Sedley – humble and loyal – provides two paths to the satisfaction of desire.
The irony of the elegant and seemingly perfect Vanity Fair is that the people pretend to feel emotions until their wallets are touched, then they turns to savagery. The ruthless Becky Sharp, weaves in and out of the battlefields of Waterloo and the homes of the well-to-do, making her way slowly but surely to Vanity Fair. Being of Bohemian descent, the ingenious Becky paints an acceptable backstory for herself, creating a foundation for her future. Later in life, Becky also relies on her blood to survive, as she wanders the continent, avoiding creditors and gambling. Becky manages to hide her hostility behind nerves of steel, so that even the tedious task of tending to the rich Miss Crowley is no longer a problem. Only because Becky’s true witty and selfish nature is revealed to the reader, is he or she able understand the sacrifices Becky makes in order to fulfill her desire of reaching Vanity Fair. Being endowed with considerable beauty, Becky also gives away her virtue to reach her dream. She manages to attract Rawdon Crawley, who marries her, but forfeits his fortune. He is fascinated by Becky, but also slightly...
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