Vanity Fair, By William Makepeace Thackeray Essay

Vanity Fair, By William Makepeace Thackeray Essay

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In the satiric novel, Vanity Fair, William Makepeace Thackeray exposes and examines the vanities of 19th century England. Numerous characters in the novel pursue wealth, power, and social standing, often through marriage or matrimony. Thackeray effectively uses the institution of marriage to comment on how these vanities often come at the expense of the true emotions of passion, devotion, and, of course, love.
In Vanity Fair, money and high status is the pinnacle to all solutions to nearly all of the characters ' relationships. Thackeray connects England 's merchant families, the lesser nobility, and the high aristocracy through money and marriage as parents are evidently the chief negotiators in business transactions. Mr. Osborne is perhaps the novel 's most avaricious parent; money and social eminence are all-important to Mr. Osborne, and he is willing to sacrifice his children 's happiness to connect his family name with these vanities. He forbids his daughter, Jane, to marry an artist with whom she has fallen in love with, swearing to her "that she should not have a shilling of his money if she made a match without his concurrence" (Thackeray 364). For Mr. Osborne, love has little to do with marriage and is simply a transaction that should increase family wealth and prestige. This concept was not common during the 19th century as the rise of industrialism and colonialism meant many saw that the rising in station or cementing business ties as an influx of wealth into England as marriage. Furthermore, the terminology of business is frequent in discussions of marriage in Vanity Fair, and money, not love, is the motive for marriage. Mr. Osborne states these feelings very clearly to his son: "Unless I see Amelia 's ten thousand do...


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...m, and despised them --- or at least she was committed to the other path from which retreat was now impossible”, when Thackeray points out that Becky could have led a simple, happy life, had she restrained from her relentless desire to achieve wealth and social status (410-11). Even though she never comes to this realization, the author effectively delineates an important life lesson of how one’s desires for the vanities can blind one to truer, simpler emotions through characterization of Rebecca Sharp.
The marriages and misalliances of the characters in Vanity Fair effectively convey the message of the folly and futility of chasing wealth, power, and social eminence at the expense of love and passion. William Makepeace Thackeray 's novel portrays the dangers of the hidden costs when we make such a bargain, and that the true expense is often more than we can afford.

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