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Free Study Guide-Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray-Book Notes
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

Most parts of Thackeray’s remarkable masterpiece Vanity Fair are set in England, London to be more specific. After the first twenty chapters, the main characters shift to Belgium as the war is approaching and the principal characters are either in the army or associated with it in some way. The main characters move from London to Brighton and finally to Brussels. After the battle, the Crawleys move to Paris while Amelia lives in London.

The setting shifts back to London and Hampshire with Becky and Rawdon moving back to their own country. The last few chapters are set in Pumpernickel and Ostend and finally the setting shifts back to England.

LIST OF CHARACTERS

Major Characters

Rebecca

Rebecca is a selfish, bad woman who hungers after respectability. Coming from a low background, she wants all the comforts that life can offer and has the capability and determination to sacrifice everything she has for it. It is her selfishness that leaves her lonely uncared for and unloved by everyone.

Amelia

Amelia is a good woman. She too is selfish but her selfishness is reduced due to her ability to love. She is an extremely dutiful daughter, dedicated wife, possessive mother, and a helpful friend. She is made in the mould of a Romantic heroine - beautiful, delicate, sweet, and graceful.


Rawdon Crawley

He is the tall, handsome to be heir of a rich aunt. He is a man of jolly disposition and is employed in the Life of Guards Green. He has a lucky hand at cards. Later, he is a good husband and a wonderful father. He is the only character that undergoes refinement in the novel.

Capt. George Osborne

He is a smart, pampered and flirtatious character, who is very sure of his charms and good looks. He makes an infidel husband. Though a spendthrift, he is also a brave and honorable soldier is His Majesty’s -Th Regiment of Foot.

William Dobbin

Dobbin is the only consistently good character of the story. He is a devoted friend and a true lover. Though his appearance and manners are rather clumsy, his form bamboo like and feet excessively large, he has a heart of gold.

Joseph Sedley

He is Amelia’s elder brother, employed in the East India Company in India. He is a fat, pompous and very vain man. He is a coward and an escapist who always flees from difficult situations.

Minor characters

John Sedley

He is the father of Amelia and Jos, a businessman who loses all his money and goes bankrupt. The rest of his old age is spent in establishing new business in which he constantly incurs losses.

Mrs. Sedley

When rich, she is a very kind lady, later when her husband goes bankrupt, she becomes a selfish and weak woman.

John Osborne

The father of George, he is a successful businessman, and a stern and stubborn patriarch.

Georgy (George Osborne Jr.)

He is the son of George Osborne and Amelia. He is a chip of the old block.

Rawdon Crawley Jr.

He is the son of Rebecca and Rawdon. He is a very kind, disciplined and obedient gentleman.

Jane Osborne

She is the unmarried sister of George Osborne. She is a kind woman who is instrumental in the acceptance of Georgy into the Osborne family.

Maria Bullock (nee Osborne)

She is the second sister of George Osborne. She is married to an extremely materialistic and greedy man.

Miss Dobbins

They are very kind sisters of Dobbin, who help Amelia in her poverty.

Miss Pinkerton

A proud and vain woman who manages a finishing school which Rebecca and Amelia attend.

Sir Pitt Crawley

An old, frugal Baronet, he has a taste for low life. He is the father of Rawdon.

Pitt Crawley

The Machiavellian, elder son of Sir Pitt, he is deeply interested in sermons and pamphlet writing on malt and corn.

Miss Matilda Crawley

She is an old spinster with a large fortune. She knows how to enjoy life and make her relations dance to her orders.

Miss Briggs

She is an honest and simple hearted spinster who is the companion to Miss Crawley and later to Rebecca.

Mrs. Bute Crawley

She is a conniving tyrant of a woman. She is a natural opportunist and mortally jealous of her rich relations.

Peggy O’Dowd

She is a humane, courageous caring wife of a Major. She speaks with an Irish accent.

Lord Styne

He is an affluent man led by vices and pleasures.

Lady Jane

She is the wife of Pitt Crawley and a wonderful person with a large and generous heart.

Raggles

He is a butler of the Crawley’s who, with handwork rises to fortune.

Very Minor Characters

Cuff

He is a school bully who studies with George and Dobbin.

Miss Jemima Pinkerton

She is the sister of Miss Pinkerton and is fond of Becky.

Rose and Violet

They are daughters of Sir Pitt for whom Becky goes as a governess.

Reverend Bute Crawley

He is the younger brother of Sir Pitt and is a rector.

James Crawley

He is the young son of Bute Crawley, and studies at Oxford.

Tapeworm

He is a vain friend of Jos Sedley and meets him at Pumpernickel.

Lady Bareacres

She is a rich woman possessing large diamonds and is extremely proud.

Mrs. Firkin

She is Miss Crawley’s loyal servant.

Miss Swartz

She is a young and attractive heiress whom Old Osborne wants George to marry.

Major O’Dowd

He is the major who is in command of George’s regiment.

Glorvina

She is a flirtatious and enticing young lady who wishes to marry Dobbin.

Ensign Stubble

He is an injured lad who brings the news of the welfare of George after the battle of Quatre Bras.

Isidor

He is Jos Sedley’s servant in Brussels.

Pauline

She is Amelia’s cook at Brussels.

Regulus

He is Pauline’s lover.

Lady Southdown

She is the dominating mother of Lady Jane.

Miss Horrocks

She is an old servant at Queen’s Crawley who tries to rob and kill Sir Pitt.

Horrocks

He is Sir Pitt’s butler who, with his daughter, tries to kill and rob his benefactor.

Wenham

He is the emissary of Lord Styne who is eager to give evidence for Becky’s innocence to Rawdon.

Rev. Binney

He is the man who proposes marriage to Amelia.

Tom Eaves - He is the man who narrates the family history of Lord Styne.

Capt. Macmurdo

He is a helpful friend of Rawdon who goes with him to Coventry Island as his secretary.

Julia

She is the wife of the narrator of the story.

Capt. Rook and Major Lode

They are really low and cheap acquaintances of Rebecca in Ostend.

Doctor Von Glauber

He is the court doctor and treats Jos at Pumpernickel.

Jane

She is the little daughter of Amelia and Dobbin, of whom Dobbin is extremely fond. She is named after her godmother Lady Jane.

Lord Southdown

He is the father of Lady Jane.

Spavin

He is Becky’s coachman.

Tom Toady

He is a hypocritical inhabitant of Vanity Fair.

Lady Steyne

She is the wife of Lord Styne.

Mr. Bowls

He is the butler of Miss Crawley.

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