Friday, June 16, 2006

Vanity Fair Discussion: Chapters 52 – 59

Much happens in these chapters. From Lord Steyne, Rawdon and Becky’s unplanned meeting to Jos and Dobbin returning home, much is resolved here. Leave a comment on what you think about Thackeray’s settlement on many of these issues.

We’re approaching the end here, for better or worse. I’ll set up a thread at the end for those that want to post a comment but aren’t sure which thread to post about it. I’ve continued the monologue in the comments.

1 comment:

Dwight said...

Much happens in these chapters, but I have little to say on this section. A few things, though:

The title for Chapter 57, where Dobbin and Jos return from India, is “Eothen.” Little known now, this is the title of a travel book by Alexander Willam Kinglake, subtitled “Traces of Travel Brought Home from the East.” In other words, a reference that is probably almost completely lost today.

I’ve mentioned Thackeray’s comments on the change in the economic landscape of the time, but I thought several things here highlighted that. The rise of the small business (and hence the merchant class), with wealth creation coming from that segment versus the inherited (so called moneyed) class seems to be emphasized in this section several times.

So we come down to Becky—is she innocent or guilty with Lord Steyne? Thackeray leaves enough open so that it isn’t definitive one way or the other. But it has reached the point between the two that it doesn’t matter whether they did or not. Robert Louis Stevenson made a comment about Rawdon hitting Lord Steyne: “If Rawdon Crawley’s blow were not delivered, Vanity Fair would cease to be a work of art. That scene is the chief ganglion of the tale; and the discharge of energy from Rawdon’s fist is the reward and consolation of the reader.” I’m not sure I would go that far, but the more I think about it, I don’t see another resolution to the build-up that would be nearly as effective.

Mr. Osborne’s acceptance of Georgy is an interesting case study in grief and guilt. As is Amelia’s doting on Georgy, then letting him go in order to support her family. I find Thackeray’s condemnation of her to Vanity Fair a little… ummmm… unfair. He commented several times about her “selfish, guilty love” of George and Georgy as her admission in the Fair. Again, I’m not sure of that but I’m interested to see what other people think about whether or not she deserves his reproach.