Vanity Fair By William Makepeace Thackeray Critical Essays Humorous Situations in Vanity Fair

Joseph, embarrassed when he first meets Rebecca, turns red, can't talk, and yanks the bell rope loose.

Sir Pitt is a stingy, dirty, disreputable boor who can't spell, doesn't read, eats boiled mutton, and has but one candle in the house; but it stands in an ornate silver candlestick, and three footmen serve the boiled mutton. Old Sir Pitt proposes marriage to Becky:

"I'm an old man, but a good'n. I'm good for twenty years. I'll make you happy, see if I don't. You shall do what you like; spend what you like; and 'av it all your own way. I'll make you a settlement. I'll do everything reglar. Look year!" and the old man fell down on his knees and leered at her like a satyr.

Rebecca started back a picture of consternation. In the course of this history we have never seen her lose her presence of mind; but she did now, and wept some of the most genuine tears that ever fell from her eyes.

"Oh, Sir Pitt!" she said. "Oh, sir — I — I'm married already."

When the party gets ready to leave Brighton, Amelia rises to pack, while her husband lies in bed "deploring that she had not a maid to help her." When Becky wants to impress someone with her domesticity and her love for her child, she pulls out a little shirt that she is sewing for little Rawdon, but he outgrows it long before it is finished.

Jos calls on Becky in her room at the "Elephant." She has to do some quick house cleaning:

In that instant she put a rouge-pot, a brandy-bottle, and a plate of broken meat into the bed . . . she placed herself on the bed — not on the bottle and plate, you may be sure . . . she put her hand to her heart with a passionate gesture of despair, burying her face for a moment on the bed.

The brandy-bottle inside clinked up against the plate which held the cold sausage. Both were moved, no doubt, by the exhibition of so much grief . . . that spotless being — that miserable unsullied martyr — was present on the bed before Jos — on the bed, sitting on the brandy-bottle.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

Amelia considers George’s death the greatest tragedy that could befall her. Had he lived,




Quiz