Emily L. Huff
23 January 2012
William Thackeray: An Era without Morals
The Victorian Era was the great age of the English novel—realistic, thickly plotted, crowded with characters, and long. It was the ideal form to describe contemporary life and to entertain the middle class. William Makepeace Thackeray is best known for Vanity Fair (1848), which wickedly satirizes hypocrisy and greed (Victorian). In the novel, almost none of the characters who act badly or do wrong are punished. This makes the novel a very dark satire indeed, as it gives us a picture of a world with no mortality, either private or public (Themes). Thackeray had a tendency to highlight the faults in all of his characters. This displays his desire for a greater level of realism in his novels compared to the idealized characters in many modern-day novels. Thackeray was influenced by the social problems in the Victorian Era and was inspired to write Vanity Fair based off of the lack of principles in the general public. Thackeray was unlike other Victorian authors because he was not influenced by any particular event when writing his novels. Instead, it was the moral corruption of the Victorian society that inspired him. In the year 1848, he made it to the big leagues with his novel, Vanity Fair. It was the talk of the town, and Thackeray finally had a name that gained notice and reviews in journals such as the “Edinburgh Review.” He also finally found relief from the harrowing grind of writing anything that would sell so he could support his household (Fletcher). Thackeray was born in Calcutta, India where his family had made its fortune in the East India Trading Company for over two generations. In the year 1817, after the death of his father, five-year old Thackeray was sent to England to live with his aunt while he received his education. When Thackeray was eleven years old he was sent to a prestigious Charterhouse School, where he learned about...
Cited: Thackeray, William M. Vanity Fair. London: Vintage Classics, 2009.
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