Welcome back to the What Are You Reading? Series! If you have no idea what’s going on feel free to take a look at the introductory post. If you just want to catch up, here is last month’s post! Don’t forget at the end of the post to let me know your own thoughts and interpretations of the book. [Please note that if you haven’t commented before I recommend reading the Commenting Guidelines.]
And today’s book is……. *Drum roll*
Author: William Thackeray
Genre: Literary Fiction
Originally Published: In Full 1848
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Vanity Fair follows the lives of two young ladies, Amelia and Becky, in their journey through life and English society. Becky tries to find her own way to climb up the social ladder, making many enemies along the way, while Amelia just tries to be with the love she has always wanted. As a story without a hero, there is no real happy ending for these ladies. Or is there?
So much exposition! To be honest there was a good chance that I wouldn’t finish the book on time for the sheer fact that my mind kept wondering if Thackeray remembered to place any sort of action into the story or if it would all be explanations of dress and people who had no affect upon the story. Kind of reminds me of William Goldman’s commentary in the Princess Bride. After a while, too much is too much for me.
I always like to say that all fiction is a social commentary in its own way, and Vanity Fair is no different. With a focus on the upper-middle classes of England, Thackeray shows that money could make or break a worldly person during that time, second only to your breeding. If you take a look at some of the physical descriptions, you can see who has money and who is just faking it to get by. As well, in the storyline of the financial downfall of Amelia’s father, we see what happens to those who were prosperous and how losing everything changes them. He becomes humble, if not beaten, and his wife . . . well to put it nicely, she becomes a little meaner towards Amelia. On the other hand, Rawdon so heavily relies on his aunt’s money that when she disowns him for marrying “beneath” him [Though never stated it is constantly implied in conversations among his family.] he had no idea what to do other than continue gambling in hopes to gain some sort of fortune.
To bring back our focus to our two main characters, something Thackeray wrote struck me in an unpleasant way. In the end his calls Amelia a parasite, if not in a loving way, but speaks of no such thing of Becky and her actions up to this point. No I am not saying that how Amelia treats Dobbin was acceptable. I’ve been in that kind of Friendzone before and it was hell, but though we never see Becky’s actions through her eyes during her marriage with Rawdon, she was the real parasite. Lord Stenye and Jos were two people, really victims, who were either ruined or almost so by their acceptance of giving Becky whatever she asked. Jos continued to do so even after his death. Sadly as long as Becky got what she wanted from a person, nothing else mattered to her.
I will admit that this will probably be the hardest book for me to go through, and I’ve read through all three books of The Divine Comedy. Partially because Becky’s story caused me to wish for her consequences to be sooner, but that is all the result of one thing. All of the fiction I have read up to this point has had a clearly defined hero and villian, so I decided to paint her as such because what she was doing I considered morally wrong in my mind. At first, it made me miss the point entirely, but now I think I am beginning to understand it. The reason why you see no hero is because this is realistic, and good and evil is often seen as one big grey area. I say big grey area because what one person considers a good thing another can see as a morally evil thing. For example, just about anything brought up as political debate topics.
So what did you think my friends? Did you have as much as a hard time reading this as I did? Or did you find a much fuller meaning? Please let me know in the comments! 😀
Want to find more books to read? Don’t forget to take a look at My Ultimate Reading List page to see what I’ve already covered and have yet to do!
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