Marriage in Vanity Fair Essays

Marriage in Vanity Fair Essays

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Marriage in Vanity Fair  

Many of the characters in "Vanity Fair" are married from the start of the novel, or are betrothed during the novel. The reasons behind the marriage vary from character to character - even within relationships. While some may have love in mind, it is the temptation of money and social status that encourages others to walk down the aisle. The perspectives on marriage also depend on the position in the relationship. Mothers and fathers sometimes have more economic ideals while their children are in love, or even have no regard for each another at all.

The protagonist of the novel, Becky Sharp, laments not having a mother to whom she could leave the arduous task of finding a fiancé. Little is said of the relationship between Becky's parents. Her father was an artist and her mother a French opera dancer. It is unlikely that, as she was orphaned at a young age, Becky was greatly affected in any way by her parents' relationship. Perhaps indirectly, she felt that because she was an orphan, her impact on society had to be all the more memorable and successful.
Before so much as being introduced to a portrait of her friend Amelia's brother, Becky is reasoning with herself, "If Mr. Joseph Sedley is rich and unmarried, why should I not marry him?" Although Becky sees an opportunity to join the Sedley family, initially of some standing in society, Jos's behaviour is not exemplary for a young gentlemen. Before his drunken behaviour at Vauxhall, he allows Becky to eat a hot chili; an example of how he does not see the pursuit of matrimony as a worthwhile occupation; not a pastime that concerns him, although he appreciates the attention that Miss Sharp pays him.

Sir Pitt Crawley has a similar lack of appre...

... middle of paper ...

...s desire for advancement in society and wealth attempts to start that relationship, it is Becky's similar motivations that are responsible for her relationship with Lord Steyne. She considers him to simply be another step up the ladder of society. However, he is inadvertently a clue to what else Becky expects from a relationship. when Rawdon attacks Steyne on his arrival back home, Becky admires Rawdon's physical strength. Again, this is a more material aspect of a relationship.
The ideals behind marriage differ, often between generations. While parents can see economic and social gain, a situation such as with George and Amelia causes problems when the parents' meddling results in the children falling in love. Becky Sharp's use for marriage seems only to be self-advancement. When a relationship ends, her regrets are based on what she has lost, rather than who.


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