Vanity Fair is a classic novel by English writer William Thackeray, first published in serialised form in the magazine Punch in 1847. The story is told within a frame narrative of a puppet show at a play, highlighting the unreliable nature of the events of the narrative. Vanity Fair follows the lives of Becky Sharp, a strong-willed, penniless young woman, and her friend Amelia ‘Emmy’ Sedley, a good-natured wealthy young woman. Set against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, Vanity Fair charts the girls’ misadventures in love, marriage and family. Becky, manipulative, witty, and amoral, is Emmy’s opposite, while Emmy, initially presented as the novel’s heroine, is passive, sweet, likeable and a pawn to her family’s wishes. Becky, forced to become a governess by circumstances, marries wealthy, while Emmy marries George a man disinherited by his prejudiced father. Critics of the time discussed Vanity Fair’s misanthropic view of society, while later critics have called attention to the novel’s depiction of the commodification of women in a capitalist society.

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Vanity Fair (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
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