Summary and Analysis
Back in England Miss Crawley hears about Rawdon and thinks what a good marriage for money he could have made. Rawdon, through Rebecca, sends his aunt gifts from the battlefield and anecdotes — both the product of Becky's imagination.
At Queen's Crawley, Miss Horrocks, the butler's daughter, accompanies Sir Pitt as he goes about drinking with all the common people. Sir Pitt's relatives hear about his activities with disgust.
All the family send tokens of love to Miss Crawley. Pitt frequents Brighton courts Lady Jane Sheepshanks, and tells Countess Southdown, Lady Jane's mother, of the advantages there would be in Miss Crawley's friendship. The countess immediately plans to convert the old lady and to dose her with medicine. Pitt restrains his future mother-in-law by cautioning gentleness, lest Aunt Crawley be offended, mentioning that she has seventy thousand pounds. The countess agrees to moderation. Briggs gives a favorable report about Pitt and Lady Jane to Miss Crawley, who invites them to visit her, whereupon Lady Jane wins the old lady's heart.
Mrs. Bute has made the fatal mistake of boring Miss Crawley. In a last attempt to court her favor, the Bute Crawleys send their son James to visit the rich aunt. Encouraged by the double-crossing Pitt, James drinks too much, makes a fool of himself, and finally smokes a pipe in the house. Miss Crawley invites him to leave.
Meanwhile Becky and Rawdon live in Paris in splendor on the money Rebecca has received from Jos for the horses. Proud of Becky's business ability, Rawdon "believed in his wife as much as the French soldiers in Napoleon." One of the French ladies writes Miss Crawley about Rebecca, so "soon to be a mother." "To hear her speak of you, her protectress, her mother, would bring tears to the eyes of ogres. How she loves you! How we all love our admirable, our respectable, Miss Crawley!"
The letter angers Miss Crawley because she thinks Rebecca has used her name to get into French society. She writes to the French lady, who doesn't understand English and can't read the letter. In turn the French lady reports a fine letter from Miss Crawley, and the hopes of the Rawdon Crawleys rise.
On March 26, 1816, Becky has a son. When Miss Crawley hears of it, she instructs Pitt to marry Lady Jane, declaring that she will leave them her money.
War news brings to the Osbornes the shock of George's death. Old Osborne tries to think the death a judgment on the boy for disobedience. Bowed under the weight of the fact that there is no chance now for reconciliation, old Osborne can neither forgive nor receive an apology. Three weeks after George's death, Sir William Dobbin calls on Mr. Osborne with a note George has written before dawn on the day of the battle. George asks protection for his wife and child and thanks his father for his former kindness.
The first indication that old Osborne has even thought about George comes in the special monument that appears in the church about two months later. Then Mr. Osborne goes to visit the battleground and his son's burial place. When he meets Amelia, he does not speak; he blames her for everything. Dobbin tries to reason with him and says he has a message from George. Old Osborne will not make any provision for his grandchild.
Amelia has nearly lost her sanity at the news of George's death but recovers when little George is born. Dobbin takes her to her mother in England. For a while he stays near and visits Amelia daily, then he rejoins his regiment.
As usual the topic of discussion and chief preoccupation of Vanity Fair is MONEY. Miss Crawley thinks of how Rawdon might have married a brewer's daughter with a quarter of a million. Miss Crawley's relatives try to keep in her favor by sending tokens of affection. Later when Countess Southdown is eager to convert and cure Miss Crawley, Pitt says, "Remember she has seventy thousand pounds; think of her age, and her highly nervous and delicate condition: I know that she has destroyed the will which was made in my brother's favour: it is by soothing that wounded spirit that we must lead it into the right path, and not by frightening it . . ."
The author adds, "Lady Southdown, we say, for the sake of the invalid's health, or for the sake of her soul's ultimate welfare, or for the sake of her money, agreed to temporize."
Pitt Crawley (Machiavel) reveals diplomacy and duplicity in getting rid of James. In calling him Machiavel, Thackeray has hinted at his double dealing. Pitt uses psychology and charm on Miss Briggs, and he wins the inheritance. As Bute Crawley says to his wife, "You are a clever woman, but you manage too well, you know." She has outmanaged herself.
Thackeray says of Lady Jane's character and attachment to Miss Crawley, "The young lady herself had never received kindness except from this old spinster, and her brother and father: and she repaid Miss Crawley's engollement by artless sweetness and friendship." This reflects the author's opinion of Lady Jane's tract-scattering, medicine-dosing mother.
Rebecca has shown by this time that she can make money and spend it. She can also climb into society. As for Amelia, her only friend is Dobbin, but she neither realizes nor appreciates his devotion.
Old Osborne, still convinced he is right, refuses any help to Amelia or little George.
The reader will remember that it was at Pitt's insistence that some education be provided for his half sisters, and as a result, Becky came into the Crawley family. Although Pitt has many selfish characteristics, this motive, at least, was generous. In spite then, of all the unworthy motives he has, Pitt does inherit Aunt Crawley's money. Whether, in the long analysis, he is a better man than Rawdon, the reader must decide.
At the end of this section, the inheritance of Miss Crawley's fortune is no longer a factor in the struggle; Dobbin has had no luck in pushing Amelia's cause with her father-in-law; Becky still climbs, with Rawdon's full belief reinforcing her.