Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Readalong: Vanity Fair by William Thackeray Post 2

I am participating in the readalong of Vanity Fair by William Thackeray, hosted by Allie at A Literary Odyssey. This is the second post of two for Vanity Fair.

Vanity Fair was an interesting read. I loved the first half, which I posted about here. But I began to get bored through parts of the second half. There were a lot of lists and descriptions of the aristocracy, which I just don't care about as much as the main characters stories.

However, when the story focused on the main characters, I loved the book! I wanted to know more about Becky Sharp and Amelia's lives. I was very interested in Becky's characters. I found her scheming amusing, although I would not want her for a friend in real life. I thought Becky did have at least some personal insight to her own character when she said:
'I think I could be a good woman if I had five thousand a year. I could dawdle about in the nursery, and count the apricots on the wall' ... And who knows but Rebecca was right in her speculations-and that it was only a question of money and fortune which made the difference between her and an honest woman? If you take temptations in account, who is to say that he is better than his neighbour? A comfortable career of prosperity, if it does not make people honest, at least keeps them so. (page 414)
There are many quotes in Vanity Fair that I like, especially the ones about Becky. This is one of my favorites:

He [Lord Steyne] saw at a glance what had happened in his absence: and was grateful to his wife for once. He went and spoke to her, and called her by her Christian name, so as again to bring blushes to her pale face-'My wife say have been singing like an angel,' he said to Becky. Now there are angels of two kinds, and both sorts, it is said, are charming in their way. (page 482)
I love that Thackeray just can't resist throwing in another jibe at Becky's character! She may sing like an angel, but there are two sorts of angels, so guess which one she is!

Finally, one of my other favorite characters is William Dobbin. At first I didn't like him much because he was always sacrificing himself for others instead of trying to make himself happy, but at the end of the book, that changed and I believe that he became of the hero in the 'Novel without a Hero.' Finally, on page 662, Dobbin leaves Amelia! I love it! He finally takes control of his life and decides to leaves Amelia since she isn't able to love him back:

I know what your heart is capable of: it can cling faithfully to a recollection, and cherish a fancy; but it can't feel such an attachment as mine deserves to mate with, and such as I would have won from a woman more generous than you. No, you are not worthy of the love which I have devoted to you. I knew all along that the prize I had set my life on was not worth the winning; that I was a fool, with fond fancies, too, bartering away my all of truth and ardour against your little feeble remanany of love. I will bargain no more: I withdraw. I find no fault with you. Youa re very good-natured, and have done your best; but you couldn't-you couldn't reach up to the height of the attachment which I bore you, and which a loftier soul than yours might have been proud to share. Good-bye, Amelia! I have watched your struggle. Let it end. We are both weary of it.

I know I've included quite a few quotes, but I love how they are written. These words show the personalities of the characters. While Vanity Fair  is not an easy book to get through, I do think that it is worth it. The characters are interesting and well-described and the ending for them is justified. Some of the passages are incredibly humorous, mostly sarcastic or sardonic and witty.

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