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Analysis of novels Vanity Fair by William M. Thackeray and The Way of All Flesh authored by Samuel Butler

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The result of the rise of capitalism in England made people become aware of their wealth and this caused them to be more materialistic in their attitude towards life. This is the case with Becky who at a young age already was wise in the ways of the world (street smart) and conspired to marry the brother of Amelia named Joseph because Becky saw in him as the savior and the way out of a humdrum existence and into the exalted position in society that she had desired for herself. Young Becky at this time has no qualms about using trickery and flattery to attain her self-imposed objectives in life.

She saw material wealth as the only way to compensate for the deprivations and harshness of her childhood. Becky and all the people around her were no different from the people portrayed in the Pilgrim’ s Progress in which they were all obsessed with the temporary and ephemeral. A lot of characters in “ Vanity Fair” were preoccupied with material wealth and social position to the detriment and disregard of anything else. Friendships were betrayed for the sake of the pursuit of money and prestige.

Thackeray used his story’ s characters as a biting satire to the moral values of the Victorian era and an indictment of English society which was populated by the modern-day equivalent of social climbers who want to keep up with the Joneses. The vain social climbing as exemplified by Becky was a rebuke to the English society but Thackeray cannot say so directly in his novel since Queen Victoria was very strict on the matter of criticisms against her reign.

The function of Becky’ s tragedy and those around her is to show that people are better off concentrating more on the things that really matter in life such as honor, dignity, and relationships than money. The loss of wealth may have disastrous effects such as what happened to the family of Amelia Sedley whose father became bankrupt from fortuitous events and bad decisions. Many people want to keep appearances up like the Jenkinses (Thackeray 3) and it was also how Becky was able to manage her living expenses for a year by borrowing without paying off her creditors and live well enough.

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preview essay on Analysis of novels Vanity Fair by William M. Thackeray and The Way of All Flesh authored by Samuel Butler
  • Pages: 10 (2500 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Literature
  • Level: Undergraduate
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