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Archived Group Reads 2018 > Vanity Fair: Week 2: Chapters 10-18

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message 1: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Well, this was certainly a much more eventful segment than last week’s. We join Becky once again at Queen’s Crawley where things are beginning to get very different than they were when we first got there. Becky has used her wit and charm to make herself quite indispensable to all of the Crawleys―well all of the Crawleys who matter, anyway. Unlike her time at the Sedleys though, we’re not quite sure who she is trying to court, or perhaps she is keeping her options open. These first two chapters I thought also illustrated quite the hypocrisy and in a way the ‘humanness’ of the characters. One can’t help but contrast the impressions they want to create through the letters (Chapter 11) with their real feelings, be it Rebecca ‘beloved Amelia’ who she can’t wait to show her superiority over (and yet does seem to appreciate – which to made her more human; another instance was her actually feeling bad for the Sedleys at their misfortune―no sarcasm there), or Mrs Bute claiming to be ‘most anxious to befriend’ Becky when what she really wants is to find out her antecedents. Miss Pinkerton with her view of the ‘elegant and refined circle of the eminent Sir Pitt’, though I suspect in her case, she genuinely believes it. In other ways too we have Miss Crawley referring to Becky as her equal, yet getting her to run all her errands for her (something Thackeray himself highlights).

The other side we have Amelia Sedley, very much in love with George, but George much more absorbed in himself. At first I did think him quite indifferent to Amelia, but later on in this segment, my views changed a little and I seemed to think him one who does care in his own way about her but his first priority, perhaps only priority is himself.

When Becky accompanies Miss Crawley to town, the two threads of the story converge in a way, and Becky gets her chance to get back at George, which was I scene I found myself cheering her on in. But he doesn’t seem to have learnt his lesson despite all his discomfort, goes ahead and does the same thing again, this time with Rawdon Crawley.

Then something quite unexpected happens and we find Sir Pitt a widower again, and almost as soon in town to make Becky his wife. But what is this―she refuses can claims to be already married. And we soon learn to whom. Do we see genuine regret in her here? Something that could have given her immediate wealth, position, all she wanted given up, and all for a gamble, a chance of something better which may or may not come. And so far, it seems not to be coming.

Meanwhile dark clouds are looming over Amelia, and Old Mr Osborne is preparing to break-off the match between his son and the poor girl. But before that, Thackeray’s very first comment in Chapter 12 I thought captured the essence of how he presented Amelia in the first segment. ‘Pale and insipid’―well, perhaps she may not be that in appearance but as far as her character was concerned, or what we saw of it then, we seemed to have nothing much to say. But coming back to this segment, what Mr Osborne has foreseen as has Mr Sedley comes to pass and the family becomes bankrupt, with the reactions of others being quite as expected―most cutting them, and some showing them unexpected kindness. Dobbin is among them, ensuring that Amelia doesn’t lose her much-loved piano, and his sisters suspect his feelings to be more than just kindness. Through this we see a different side of Amelia perhaps, while she has given her heart away in a way that is literally killing her, she seems not to be looking at her fiancé through rose-coloured glasses to the extent that we were led to believe earlier. Even when George butts into Becky’s affairs again, we see some hints of this. But George surprises us, though through Dobbin’s intervention, and comes back to marry Amelia. Whether it is that little shade of caring for her that he showed earlier or simply an attempt to be a ‘hero’ and save Amelia from death, one can’t say but what turn will the story take now. What will Old Mr Osborne’s reaction be?
The story itself is also ready to take another turn with the army being ordered away to the battlefront with Napoleon back in action again. How will that affect out story. That we will have to wait another week to see.


message 2: by Kathy (new)

Kathy (kehalvor) | 21 comments I am always struck by the dominance of love stories coupled to fears of losing/hopes of gaining family wealth and standing in 19th C literature. But I suppose for these families that inherited wealth and standing there was little else. They usually weren't in business, at least the upper shelf ones, and this was all they had for themselves and their families. And I suppose the people with time to read and write novels were typically in this class. Were 18th C works and novels similarly focused? Recently read Castle Rackrent and it was somewhat different. A family through the generations but more about the tenants.


message 3: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Kathy wrote: "I am always struck by the dominance of love stories coupled to fears of losing/hopes of gaining family wealth and standing in 19th C literature. But I suppose for these families that inherited weal..."

The Trollope we read last year (buddy read) too had a similar theme. Being in business or working for a living was a strict no-no for these sections. But then, I don't know that it applies to all her books - wealth is again a theme in Elizabeth Gaskell's other book North and South but there it is the industrial class and workers that are the centre of the conflict- both working for their money, though.

In Pride and Prejudice too, the class/money and love/marriage aspect is in play- both for Bingley and Darcy.


Lois | 186 comments Definitely more eventful! I found myself rushing through the chapters wondering what would happen next.

I like the conversation between Mr and Mrs Bute Crawley...how they talked about Miss Crawley dying any minute now from her excessiveness..lol.

Poor Amelia though. I can't help feel sorry for her. I too thought George indifferent especially after that conversation with his father whereupon he insisted that George break off any alliance with Amelia in light of the dire financial situation of her father; he came away from that conversation quite happy I thought (grrr).

And instead of buying her something with the money Dobbin loaned him, he goes and buys himself a trinket? Oh, the vanity! ;)
But then when he received the tokens and notes from Amelia (when her father too insisted she break off the relation), he was quite moved; that caught me off-guard and I was totally surprised by how Chap 18 ended.

I still don't like him though and feel sorry for her assuming that George is only going to break her heart again sooner rather than later. And George's father is a terrible person, but I suppose that is what makes him a shrewd businessman.

Dobbin has risen in esteem in my eyes because of his love for Amelia. I liked how he questioned George as to whether there was an engagement between him and Amelia and how he pushed him to go meet with her when he could knowing how anxious she would be waiting for him. He doesn't shy away from defending her to his sisters or his fellow soldiers. He doesn't even correct the mistaken assumption of Mrs Sedley when the piano he purchased for Amelia at the auction arrived at their humble dwellings.

I didn't find it shocking that Becky was the mysterious companion of Miss Crawley's and nearing rolled my eyes at Thackeray's little announcement as narrator as to who it might be; but, he did surprise me when it was revealed that Becky was already married! What??? When? How?? LOL.

I can't help but feel that Miss Crawley might have forgiven the pair much quicker had Mrs Bute Crawley not been in the picture. I don't think she would have been as agitated or poisoned in her imagination if it were only her docile companion and housekeeper in the picture. It will be exiting to see what happens next on that front - will she forgive him with him going off to war and all?

And what is with Jos? He couldn't be bothered to stir himself on the news of his family's ruin? Ugh. He's weird.


message 5: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (last edited Mar 12, 2018 09:18AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Lois wrote: "Definitely more eventful! I found myself rushing through the chapters wondering what would happen next.

I like the conversation between Mr and Mrs Bute Crawley...how they talked about Miss Crawle..."


Re Jos, I think his family knew that's what his reaction would be (though they couldn't help being hurt by it)- in the first segment, Mr Sedley had already said that even if all of us die, he's just say by Gad and continue with his dinner or something to that effect (forgive my laziness in not getting up and picking up the book to find that bit).

Re George, I still felt he cared in his own weird way about her- feeling bad when his father wanted him to give her up - and in coming back to her against his father's wishes - I agree Dobbin had a role there but George doesn't seem to me the kind who do something if he wasn't inclined to - though again as I said, it may be his idea that he'd be the much adored 'hero' if he did this rather than feeling for Amelia. But in general he is completely self absorbed so any thought for others come far behind those for himself.

Becky's courtship and marriage WAS a surprise - and one can't help but contrast it with the first segment where she is openly wooing (can it happen the other way?) Jos and we know what she wants. But in this segment she is making herself agreeable to everyone, 'flirting' with all the possibles but one isn't shown where things have taken a serious turn.


message 6: by Lois (last edited Mar 12, 2018 10:36AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lois | 186 comments Lady Clementina wrote: "Re Jos, I think his family knew that's what his reaction would be (though they couldn't help being hurt by it)- in the first segment, Mr Sedley had already said that even if all of us die, he's just say by Gad and continue with his dinner or something to that effect (forgive my laziness in not getting up and picking up the book to find that bit)."

Yes, I remember that bit Lady C. Still, he just continues doing what he does, eating and drinking away; where does he think they money will come from now? Does he even think?? Urgh. I suppose he's earning from his stint in the East-India Company but he has to realize he won't have an inheritance though; or it is somehow secure?

"Re George, I still felt he cared in his own weird way about her- ... -though again as I said, it may be his idea that he'd be the much adored 'hero' if he did this rather than feeling for Amelia. ..."

I do think that is what it is as well; the reason he came back was just like you said, to be the 'hero'.

But it was this bit from Chap 13 that made me think he was actually quite happy after that conversation with his father:
"... And that's flat—unless I see Amelia's ten thousand down you don't marry her. I'll have no lame duck's daughter in my family. Pass the wine, sir—

...

He hurried upstairs to Amelia in the highest spirits. What was it that made him more attentive to her on that night than he had been for a long time—more eager to amuse her, more tender, more brilliant in talk? Was it that his generous heart warmed to her at the prospect of misfortune; or that the idea of losing the dear little prize made him value it more? "

To me it seemed like he was quite satisfied with the prospect of losing her at this point due to her misfortune. I don't think there was any doubt in his feeling here. It changed of course when he received his tokens of love back realizing now that he was going to lose her forever.

I don't understand his change of heart though, because why did it motivate him now when all this time he didn't really care all that much anyway (given that there is even a vague acknowledgement of his dalliances).


message 7: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Lois wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Re Jos, I think his family knew that's what his reaction would be (though they couldn't help being hurt by it)- in the first segment, Mr Sedley had already said that even if..."
From what I understood Jos still has his appointment in the East India Company and is home on leave because of a medical complaint. So he has the income that he gets from there.

Re George, the parts you quoted- particularly the last couple of sentences (other than him being in the 'highest spirits') suggested to me that he was trying to be nice to her because the idea that he was going to lose her made him value her a little more. Earlier when he thought there was no question of this (losing her) and she would be waiting at home no matter what, he was happy to go around playing billiards, or flirting with other women because she would be around anyway to go back to when HE chose. But still, that may just be my interpretation.

As I said, in my understanding, he did care but just not in the way one normally does, he did have feelings of some sort for her (perhaps as best as he was capable of, which isn't saying much) perhaps because she adores him so much that she will be waiting for him, will love him no matter what.


Lois | 186 comments I know there's not much to it but George's behaviour bothers me.

To me, he only wants to be 'kind' to her in these last few moments because he knows that she's going to suffer more than him at the loss of their attachment. That to me is pathetic and very sad.

I get that he cares for her but I also believe that his kindness now is only creating mixed feelings and is misleading poor Amelia.

Of course, I should probably excuse him given he's a young man and all. Also, being attached to someone for a very long time and expected to marry her can make one take the relationship for granted. But, I just can't respect someone like him, who takes that pure love given to him unquestionably until HE decides to be moved, that too, not when he first realizes the loss (he took it on quite happily) but later, when she in effect dumps(!) him.

I don't like men like George; I'd rather he died in some pathetic fashion, like falling off his horse or something.


Nina Clare | 135 comments I thought the proposal scene between Becky and Sir Pitt was so funny! Becky's announcement of her marriage was a wonderful turn in the plot. To think she could have been rich Lady Crawley, and achieved all her ambitions if only she'd hung on a little longer! I almost felt sorry for her, but then again, the thought of a honeymoon with Sir Pitt - ew!


message 10: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Lois wrote: "I know there's not much to it but George's behaviour bothers me.

To me, he only wants to be 'kind' to her in these last few moments because he knows that she's going to suffer more than him at th..."


Oh yes- I'm not saying I like him either- he has already been breaking her heart and is likely to do so again - just trying to make sense of his conduct that's all.


message 11: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Nina wrote: "I thought the proposal scene between Becky and Sir Pitt was so funny! Becky's announcement of her marriage was a wonderful turn in the plot. To think she could have been rich Lady Crawley, and achi..."

I never let my mind go there- but I think she took the first chance that was available to her, and one can't blame her for it, Lady Crawley's death was rather unexpected. And Rawdon was going to get a fairly tidy sum from his aunt.


message 12: by Lois (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lois | 186 comments Nina wrote: "I almost felt sorry for her, but then again, the thought of a honeymoon with Sir Pitt - ew!"

I don't think it bothered her one bit though O_o. Looks to me like she would have done the deed willingly (*barf*).

Funny thing is, wasn't Rawdon made aware of this possibility earlier on? I wonder, if that was one of the reasons what motivated him to marry her instead seeing as how he was already in love with her in Queen's Crawley.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Please! 😭 Wait for me! I won't have time to read all your comments this week, I'm late with my reading! How can you deal with only 24 hours in a day? 😩


Laurene | 158 comments Lois wrote: "Definitely more eventful! I found myself rushing through the chapters wondering what would happen next.

I like the conversation between Mr and Mrs Bute Crawley...how they talked about Miss Crawle..."


Enjoyed reading your comments -- wish there was a like button!


Laurene | 158 comments Nina wrote: "I thought the proposal scene between Becky and Sir Pitt was so funny! Becky's announcement of her marriage was a wonderful turn in the plot. To think she could have been rich Lady Crawley, and achi..."

Loved your comments!


Laurene | 158 comments I am amazed how Becky has been able to worm her way into the Crawley's family. A governess comes into the household and slowly works her way deeply into the family. Didn't anyone notice this happening? Mr. Pit Crawley could not go for his morning walks without her and Miss Crawley insisted upon Becky's attendance at dinner, "Lady Crawley can remain upstairs, if there is no room. But little Miss Sharp! Why, she's the only person fit to talk to in the county!" This is really significant on Thackeray's part. Actions speak louder than words. Are the other characters going to be or remain that blind to what is going on around them?

Quite behind in my reading this week. But I was reading this part -- everyone is worried about Miss Crawley's 70 thousand pounds but no one is worried about the governess over stepping her boundaries and becoming greatly entangled in the families lives.


message 17: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Laurene wrote: "I am amazed how Becky has been able to worm her way into the Crawley's family. A governess comes into the household and slowly works her way deeply into the family. Didn't anyone notice this happen..."

It's the way Becky has managed t all that no one really noticed what was happening, not until....

The Crawley home/s are also part of Vanity Fair after all, everyone is concerned with more wealth and not much else.


message 18: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Gabrielle wrote: "Please! 😭 Wait for me! I won't have time to read all your comments this week, I'm late with my reading! How can you deal with only 24 hours in a day? 😩"

Never mind Gabrielle, we'll still be here when you're done :)


Laurene | 158 comments Lady Clementina wrote: "Laurene wrote: "I am amazed how Becky has been able to worm her way into the Crawley's family. A governess comes into the household and slowly works her way deeply into the family. Didn't anyone no..."

There is a conversation between Miss Briggs and Firkin. Miss Briggs has returned from her "Christmas revels" and says "to find a stranger had taken my place in the affections of my dearest, my still dearest Matilda?" Then there was this one sentence -- "I can't tell for where nor for why; and I think somethink has bewigged everybody."


Laurene | 158 comments Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Please! 😭 Wait for me! I won't have time to read all your comments this week, I'm late with my reading! How can you deal with only 24 hours in a day? 😩"

Never mind Gabrielle, we'..."


Gabrielle -- you are not the only one who is late! And it is hard with only 24 hours in a day! :D


message 21: by Lois (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lois | 186 comments Laurene wrote: "Enjoyed reading your comments -- wish there was a like button!"

Thanks Laurene!

To you and everyone else behind in the weekly reading...not to worry but it does gets quite interesting IMO, so keep at it! :)


message 22: by Laurene (last edited Mar 16, 2018 12:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Laurene | 158 comments I feel so sorry for Mrs. Crawley, Mr. Crawley's second wife. He is proposing to Becky and she has not even been buried yet. But it is this line "the poor mother had gone to her lonely burying place; and was laid, unwept and disregarded, in a vault full of strangers, that Thackeray pulled on my heart strings.

On a lighter note -- Becky has married Rawdon. Loved the pages describing the reaction Miss Crawley had when she found out Becky married Rawdon. I could tell Thackeray was just having a chuckle with himself while he was writing them. Loved the line Becky thought to herself about Radon. "If he had but a little more brains, she thought to herself, I might make something of him; but she never let him perceive the opinion she had of him".


message 23: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Laurene wrote: "I feel so sorry for Mrs. Crawley, Mr. Crawley's second wife. He is proposing to Becky and she has not even been buried yet. But it is this line "the poor mother had gone to her lonely burying place..."

True- poor thing. But part of what Thackeray was trying to highlight was that- if you choose what Vanity Fair 'values' (wealth, position), you have to bear the consequences.

Those were fun. Becky at least knows exactly what she's getting herself into.


message 24: by Gabrielle (last edited Mar 18, 2018 01:03PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Laurene wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Please! 😭 Wait for me! I won't have time to read all your comments this week, I'm late with my reading! How can you deal with only 24 hours in a day? 😩"

N..."


Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Please! 😭 Wait for me! I won't have time to read all your comments this week, I'm late with my reading! How can you deal with only 24 hours in a day? 😩"

Never mind Gabrielle, we'..."


Thank you, Laurene and LadyC! I'm finished with chapter 19! My comments in few minutes, I'm reading all of yours first...


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments At the end of chapter XII, I'm going to make myself a tea, and I wonder: did Thackeray, at least once, make a compliment or say something kind about one of his characters?
I don’t think so.
I don’t know Thackeray, not that I'm not so old! but I have not read anything about this author yet. Was he a man of such cynicism to be able to write such a loooong book about so horrible characters each in their genre? And it seems it’s not only his characters whom he pitied, he despised, but still, he seems to despise the reader. Or rather, the female reader, because he suspects that his readership is rather feminine.
His last sentence of chapter 12:
«But oh, mesdames, if you are not allowed to touch the heart sometimes in spite of syntax, and are not to be loved until you all know the difference between trimeter and tetrameter, may all Poetry go to the deuce, and every schoolmaster perish miserably!»
Is this sentence not scornful of women, or have I misunderstood it? Doesn’t he say: don’t worry about writing verses or prose, ladies, your natural charms are enough!
The greatest vain of this fair wouldn’t it be Thackeray himself?


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments On Chapter XIII,

In the 3rd paragraph starting with «Stubble and Spooney thought that…», Thackeray describes Osborne. It looks like this young man is good in everything and looks beautiful. And the author says: «He was adored by the men.»
I’m sure he was because he had all what men could envy : all things you can see with your eyes. But women like Amelia will realize something is missing in this description, something you cannot see with your eyes: heart.

Mr Osborne the father makes me think of my late grand-father ! Its weird how you can like and dislike someone in the same time…

In this chapter, Thackeray also mention the Billinsgate Fish Market. There’s a note in my book, but I didn’t need to read it, because, years ago, when I worked in a French restaurant near London, I went to Billinsgate, at 3 am, with the chef, to buy the fish! What a memory!


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader, a worldly, selfish, graceless, thankless, religionless old woman, writhing in pain and fear, and without her wig. Picture her to yourself, and ere you be old, learn to love and pray!»
This last sentence is interesting and deep.
To love is not so easy as one believes. To love needs to have an open-mindedness, to accept the other, to reconcile with their faults, with what we think are faults.
To pray is to put oneself back in its place as a human being. It is admitting: ok, we’re maybe the most intelligent being on this planet, but let’s get down of our pedestal and admit the existence of a higher power beyond our understanding.
With some empathy and humility, maybe we can hope to become acceptable old persons.
Yes, this very small sentence by Thackeray, among all those we have already read and they are already many! this little sentence of nine words pleases me a lot.


message 28: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Gabrielle wrote: "On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader, a worldly, selfish, graceless, thankless, religionless old woman, writhing in pain and fea..."


Those are some great observations Gabrielle- gives one plenty to think about. You're right about the state of mind one needs for love- at least to love deeply and really, one has to reconcile with faults - learn to accept the person with them as much the other accept you with yours.

And yes, prayer is about humility more than anything else. This is something (humility) that many of us as people, and indeed collectively tend to forget ith our opinions of our intelligence and superiority. I often wonder about such opinions though- how do we know that we really ARE intelligent? Perhaps our fellow creatures are far more so, and we just don't understand the ways that they are, or enough of them to realise that.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader, a worldly, selfish, graceless, thankless, religionless old woman, writhi..."


This morning, during breakfast, I was telling your question : «How do we know that we really ARE intelligent?»
My daughter, who’s in last year of high school and learning philosophy, was proud to explain me two things before going to school :
Most of the philosophers thinks that we, humans, are the most intelligent creatures on earth because we can go against out determinism. Our determinism is the law of the nature. For example : we must eat to live. But only us, humans, are able to go against our nature by doing a hunger strike. Some people say that a dog can let himself die if his masters die, but it’s not a will from the dog, it’s only an uncontrolled emotion.
A human can also kill another human without any necessity, for free, not like a lion kills a gazelle to eat it. This fact, as strange as it may seems is considerated like a sign that humans are more intelligent than animals!
So yes, humans are the most intelligent creatures on earth! 😊


message 30: by Cindy, Moderator (new) - added it

Cindy Newton | 295 comments Mod
I'm just getting caught up but am really enjoying this reading! I have read this before, but it has been so many years (and my memory is so faulty!) that I really can't remember much at all. I love Thackeray's satiric wit, which often reminds me of Dickens.

Becky Sharp is definitely Scarlett O'Hara's literary predecessor, for a more manipulative, self-serving minx would be hard to find! I was glad that she missed out on the chance to be Lady Crawley. I know she has to look out for herself and that for a girl in her position, pretending to like those who can possibly prove useful to her is just being pragmatic, but her crocodile tears on leaving Amelia just annoyed me. With Becky, I get the feeling that it is not just about finding herself a nice, comfortable nest where she won't have to worry about surviving. I feel like she also desires power, and resents those who have things better than her. I feel like she wants to achieve a station that will require those she once envied to flatter and suck up to her. This would not be bad if it were only those who were cruel to her, but I think it includes people like the Sedleys. I think that just being in a position to have to accept charity from them is enough to make Becky want to "show them." Just working in Lord Crawley's home has convinced her that she is better than them.

I think Becky and Rawdon make a tactical mistake in the way they "announced" their marriage. I think that if they had confronted old Miss Crawley together and confessed in a loving and penitent manner, she would have forgiven them. Rawdon's pleas and Becky's tears would have softened her heart. Finding that Becky had crept out like a thief in the night only made the original offense more heinous. How came the clever Becky to make such a miscalculation? Oh, well, without it, the story wouldn't be what it is.

George surprised me with his decision to marry Amelia. I don't think he is a bad person but he is certainly selfish, and undeserving of such unconditional devotion as Amelia gives him. I think he is psyched up to marry her by the pathos of the moment and Dobbin's report of Amelia's condition, but that will not last long. How will he feel when the honeymoon is over and he has to face his father's wrath? Maybe he will surprise me again!


Laurene | 158 comments Gabrielle wrote: "On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader, a worldly, selfish, graceless, thankless, religionless old woman, writhing in pain and fea..."


Love, love that quote!


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Laurene wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader, a worldly, selfish, graceless, thankless, religionless old woman, writhi..."


Like button!


message 33: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Cindy wrote: "I'm just getting caught up but am really enjoying this reading! I have read this before, but it has been so many years (and my memory is so faulty!) that I really can't remember much at all. I love..."

I'm glad you're enjoying the read Cindy.

I do agree re Becky- while some part of her actions/conduct can be explained by her circumstances and lack of advantages, there is something in her that is not 'nice'- evidenced by her attitude to those who mean well- from Miss Jemima (again I'm not sure if I got her name right), to the Sedleys and indeed Amelia herself- wanting to put her in her place so to speak. Also agree with your idea of Becky wanting power- for her it isn't about bettering her position but about seeking revenge in a sense for what she feels has been the injustice she's suffered- despite having a brain (that we can't deny) and charm, she must be in service/ subordinate, while the more lacklustre Amelia or other such have all the advantages (read: money). So yes, definitely about power as you said. And that attitude plus the fact that she is in a sense devoid of much feeling (except anger and hate perhaps) makes her not a very likeable person despite one being able to understand some of her actions.


message 34: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Gabrielle wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader, a worldly, selfish, graceless, thankless, religi..."


To an extent, perhaps you're right but I still wonder if that interpretations comes from how we understand intelligence- if we are so intelligent, how is it that we continue to destroy our home (planet) just because of greed - or how we treat other creatures living, breathing with intelligence (albeit a different kind) of their own as chattels - that they have no choice but to accept it or be cowed down doesn't to me make them less intelligent or us more powerful or superior. so while I see your point, I don't think the answer is quite so simple, don't you think?


message 35: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Gabrielle wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader, a worldly, selfish, graceless, thankless, religi..."


p.s. your dog example got me thinking, Amelia too was doing something of the same kind, dying away slowly, and in a sense unconsciously. So, not that different again, may be?


message 36: by Gabrielle (last edited Mar 19, 2018 11:16PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader, a worldly, selfish, graceless,..."

Good example of someone who doesn't use her brain, only let herself lead by her emotion. Becky wouldn't do this. Is this to say that Becky is finally more human ? Weird...


message 37: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Gabrielle wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader, a worl..."


Brain vs Emotion- that's actually an issue I've been reading about in a different context - does there need to be a distinction - I agree on the need to be rational, but isn't emotion also as much a part of who we are - if we are entirely without emotion, would be be human at all?


message 38: by Nina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nina Clare | 135 comments Lady Clementina wrote: if we are so intelligent, how is it that we continue to destroy our home (planet)

I would say it's because intelligence is neutral - it can be used for good or for evil. Being intelligent (like Becky) doesn't mean you are good



message 39: by Nina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nina Clare | 135 comments Cindy wrote: I think Becky and Rawdon make a tactical mistake in the way they "announced" their marriage.

I agree - I thought Becky handled it very badly, I think it was because she made the mistake of believing Miss Crawley when she boasted that she loved romantic elopements and mesalliances. She misunderstood, or miscalculated, Miss C's true nature on that point.



message 40: by Gabrielle (last edited Mar 20, 2018 01:34AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Nina wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: if we are so intelligent, how is it that we continue to destroy our home (planet)

I would say it's because intelligence is neutral - it can be used for good or for evil. Bei..."

Yes indeed.


message 41: by Lois (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lois | 186 comments Cindy wrote: "... Becky Sharp is definitely Scarlett O'Hara's literary predecessor, for a more manipulative, self-serving minx would be hard to find! I was glad that she missed out on the chance to be Lady Crawley. ... but her crocodile tears on leaving Amelia just annoyed me. With Becky, I get the feeling that ..."

I like your assessment of Becky, Cindy. The bit about her crocodile tears, lol...it won't be surprising to know that there is more of that come! ;)

But yeah, I too was quite surprised at her miscalculation. I mean, she was already married! So, I suppose she feared being kicked out of the house and anticipated Miss C's wrath but I think she also believed it would be of a short duration. That is, before Mrs Bute Crawley showed up! LOL. I don't think she expected that turn of events (and the true story about her questionable origins).

I believe that had Miss C been left to wallow on her own, she might have relented to Rawdon sooner. At the same time though, I feel, to Miss C, despite her romantic sentiments about Rawdon marrying a poor girl, it would have been better if that girl was anyone but Becky.

I think that is what did it for this couple (and the lies about her family). Miss C now clearly understood Becky's entrapping ways and knew that she was a manipulative, conniving "wretch" (or other similar rhyming words *wink*).

"...I think he is psyched up to marry her by the pathos of the moment and Dobbin's report of Amelia's condition, but that will not last long. How will he feel when the honeymoon is over and he has to face his father's wrath? Maybe he will surprise me again!"

I feel the same about George and will be interested to see what you make of him in the next section.


message 42: by Linda (new)

Linda | 115 comments Way behind in reading! I agree with many of the comments about George. He has proven himself to be quite selfish and uncaring about Amelia. Dobbin has to plead with him to make her happy by visiting her and showing her some attention. I do agree that after Amelia sent back his gifts and broke off their engagement he let his memories of past good times get the better of him so that he showed up at her door. That was a surprise but I don’t trust him.

Becky made a miscalculation about Aunt Crawley’s reaction to her relationship with Rawdon because Becky believed her comments about social equality and her being a liberal thinker. Truth telling that Aunt Crawley’s first reaction to finding out about Rawdon and Becky was to demean Becky as a nobody, just a governess.

Becky’s bad behavior seems somewhat less heinous as I compare it to the behavior of other characters. Aunt Crawley is a hypocrite. George’s sisters are pompous and nasty to Amelia. George is totally self absorbed and tries to destroy Becky’s relationships because of her economic and social class. Mrs. Bute may be even be even more of a schemer than Becky.

So far, Amelia and Dobbin stand out as they behave out of true concern and caring for others which brings them much sadness.


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Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "Aunt Crawley is a hypocrite. ..."

You're right there Linda- when you come to think of it, most of them are Aunt Crawley claiming that Becky is the only worthwhile one around, yet getting her to do all her errands; Becky claiming to love Amelia, but who can't wait to prove her own superiority over her; Mrs Bute with her pretence of wanting to make friends with Becky when all she wants is to find out her antecedents.

True about Amelia and Dobbin too- but I fear that don't place enough value on themselves as people.


Gabrielle Dubois (gabrielle-dubois) | 463 comments Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture to yourself, oh fair yo..."


Well, it's not "Brain vs Emotion", if you please excuse me. It's emotions + brain.
Emotions can be positive or negative and brain can be used in a positive or negative way. What makes us, humans, "superior" to animals ,is that we knowingly use our brain, whether in a positive or negative way.
And yes, emotions are part of us and are very important. What makes a person sagacious or wise is that one knows when and how to control one's emotions with one's brain, if it is necessary.
Wow! We're philosophical, are we? :)


message 45: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (last edited Mar 22, 2018 10:24AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Gabrielle wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "Lady Clementina wrote: "Gabrielle wrote: "On Chapter XIV,
In the middle of the chapter, Thackeray says:
« Picture..."


I agree - its emotions plus brain- that's who we are - but often, in fact, much of the time, 'intelligence' - even worth is mentioned by brain alone, we are told to control our emotions- be stoic even, but that's not really who were are, is that.

Re superiority, my point was we may have 'brains' or 'intelligence'- ability to knowingly use our brain, but that hasn't exactly proved our superiority when what we're doing with it is destroying everything around us- not respecting other life forms, etc., So can we really call ourselves superior?

We sure are- thanks to Thackeray we get to discuss some interesting things :)


message 46: by Leni (new) - rated it 3 stars

Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 131 comments I'm so far behind! But I did read this whole section in one day, so it should be possible to catch up.

I think we have two unfortunate marriages here. But one more so than the other. Becky and Rawdon are living on debt and completely bungled their confession. But Becky is sharp and thrifty enough to manage Rawdon and find some way forward for them, I am sure.

Amelia and George on the other hand... Oh, Amelia, why couldn't you end up with Dobbin instead? You are much better matched and would be so sweet together. If Mr. Osborne really cuts George off, neither George or Amelia have what it takes to make money and a life for themselves. And I agree with how Lois sees things: George didn't offer Amelia a thought until she in effect dumped him by returning his gifts. That combined with Dobbin piling some guilt on him made the vain George set himself up as a romantic hero and go to the rescue. Lois, I doubt he will fall off his horse, but we can always hope he gets shot by one of Napoleon's troops, right? And hopefully his demise won't make Amelia drop dead on the spot too. Then she can marry Dobbin.


message 47: by Lady Clementina, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lady Clementina ffinch-ffarowmore | 1056 comments Mod
Leni wrote: "I'm so far behind! But I did read this whole section in one day, so it should be possible to catch up.

I think we have two unfortunate marriages here. But one more so than the other. Becky and Raw..."


Never mind, you're catching up. I fell a little behind myself with work and things.

Agree on Becky and Rawdon- and on George and Amelia, as far as making things work is concerned.


message 48: by Lois (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lois | 186 comments Leni wrote: "And I agree with how Lois sees things: ... Lois, I doubt he will fall off his horse, but we can always hope he gets shot by one of Napoleon's troops, right? ... "

;) One can hope! Thanks Leni.


Robin | 162 comments Gabrielle wrote: "At the end of chapter XII, I'm going to make myself a tea, and I wonder: did Thackeray, at least once, make a compliment or say something kind about one of his characters?
I don’t think so.
I don’t..."

I have now finished the novel and really liked it. However, as anyone who knows me , I am more than ready to pounce upon writing that underestimates women. I am wondering why I didn't see this i n Thackeray's writing, particularly in the section you quote. I think that I was so bound up in seeing the general disregard for the values of vanity fair, and in some ways feeling that Becky was an antidote, although she was desperate to become part of the acceptable scene. These two ideas seem at cross purposes, and that is why I enjoy Becky's character and machinations. She is so human, wanting to be able to spend, flirt and wallow in vanity fair ideals, but at the same time almost sneering at them.


Robin | 162 comments Leni wrote: "I'm so far behind! But I did read this whole section in one day, so it should be possible to catch up.

I think we have two unfortunate marriages here. But one more so than the other. Becky and Raw..."


Is it that George is typical of vanity fair values? He wants to see himself as a hero, other characters want to see themselves as worthy etc. (only Becky is honest about wanting to have the accoutrements without having to see herself as anything other than what she is (as long as others see her in a positive light). Amelia hides George's real character from herself quite wilfully in some ways. I also wonder if she is being portrayed as the antithesis to her brother, Jos? He is selfish and therefore she must demonstrate that she is the opposite? This suggests that family background (i.e. nurture) has little to do with a person's nature - is Thackeray suggesting that it is something else? It can't be gender, as the women are all quite different, with Becky and Amelia being at opposite poles. And lest we see Becky's character as formed by her experiences, we are also shown the strength in other women when it comes to pursuing their aims. Only Amelia seems to be the classic feminine character.


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