2.15.2008

Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackery [There will probably be spoilers]

Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley graduate from finishing school together,
Becky a charity case and Amelia returning to a wealthy home. Becky
connives and feigns devotion to her friend and attachment to her
brother, Jos trying to win a place in their family. When it falls
through she must take her position as a governess and then destroys the
family she works for as she tries to make a place for herself. She
leads an entire life of selfishness and greed trying to make herself
respectable in ironically the least respectful of ways.

Amelia on the other hand is attached to a gentleman who is unworthy of
devotion. They marry quickly to spite his father and at the urging of
his friend Dobbin, who encourages the marriage because he loves Amelia
and wants to see her happy. It ruins them, they are cut off and shortly
after the marriage he forms designs on Becky and is killed in the battle
of Waterloo. Dobbin then cares for Amelia and provides her with an
annuity out of his own pocket rather than let her know what a scoundrel
of a husband she had.

Both women were terrible mother's in their own way. Becky couldn't care
less for her child and never saw him, only pretending affection when
others were around while Amelia smothered her son and her devotion to
him resulted in a spoiled and proud boy.

I expected and hoped that this novel would finish with nobody getting
what they wanted and spent their whole life in a vain pursuit, but
unfortunately that isn't the case. Becky Sharp does nothing but look
out for herself, her money, her position and in the end she gets just
what she wants, a return to society.

Miss Amelia while not appearing to be nearly as selfish as Becky, she
is. She only wants William Dobbin to see to her every whim without
having to give him anything in return. She is saddened when she hears a
false report of his upcoming marriage, but still doesn't give him the
love he desires when it turns out not to be true. In the end, she is
jealous of the attention he gives to their daughter, even though she
could want for nothing.

Dobbin is also a fool. He spends his entire life in the pursuit of an
Amelia that doesn't really exist. He foolishly wastes his life clinging
to the image he remembers of her when she is young, which wasn't even an
accurate representation of her.

No one in this novel really cared for another person. Only themselves
and mirages but not really a single person was loved for who they really
were. In the end the only person who finds real happiness is Dobbin in
his children.

Do I even think Becky was happy with her return to some station? I
don't know. I think it bored her, but she would rather be with money
than without. She seemed to enjoy the life that she had after the
separation from her husband traveling with unseemly but much more lively
folk.

It appears to be a happy ending. Amelia and Dobbin have a family.
However, I think it is underlain with suspicion and most of the
characters are still uncomfortable in the end.

After I finished this. I watched the Break-Up for the first time and I
was so glad when it was over that they didn't get back together. They
were however, much happier people. And isn't that really what everyone
wants from life? to be happy?

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