Help writing a novel without a hero
Title[ edit ] A reprint of John Bunyan 's Plan of the Road from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City, including Vanity Fair as the major city along the path The book's title comes from John Bunyan 's Pilgrim's Progress[a] a Dissenter allegory first published in In that work, "Vanity Fair" refers to a stop along the pilgrim's route: By the 18th century, it was generally taken as a playground and, in the first half of the 19th century, more specifically the playground of the idle and undeserving rich.
All of these senses appear in Thackeray's work. After leaving school, Becky stays with Amelia Sedley "Emmy"who is a good-natured, simple-minded, young girl, of a wealthy London family. There, Becky meets the dashing and self-obsessed Captain George Osborne Amelia's betrothed and Amelia's brother Joseph "Jos" Sedley, a clumsy and vainglorious but rich civil servant home from the East India Company. Hoping to marry Sedley, the richest young man she has met, Becky entices him, but she fails.
George Osborne's friend Captain William Dobbin loves Amelia, but only wishes her happiness, which is centred on George. Becky Sharp says farewell to the Sedley family and enters the service of the crude and profligate baronet Sir Pitt Crawley, who has engaged her as a governess to his daughters.
Her behaviour at Sir Pitt's house gains his favour, and after the premature death of his second wife, he proposes marriage to her. However he finds that she has secretly married his second son, Captain Rawdon Crawley. Becky very much regrets having done that; however, when she married Rawdon she had no idea that his father's wife would die so soon after. Sir Pitt's elder half sister, the spinster Miss Crawley, is very rich, having inherited her mother's fortune, and the whole Crawley family compete for her favour so she will bequeath them her wealth.
Initially her favourite is Rawdon Crawley. But his marriage with Becky enrages her. First she favours the family of Sir Pitt's brother, but when she dies, she has left her money to Sir Pitt's oldest son, also called Pitt. Chapter 32 ends with Waterloo: The darkness came down on the field and city, and Amelia was praying for George, who was lying on his face, dead, with a bullet through his heart. George's rich father forbids George to marry Amelia, who is now poor. Dobbin persuades George to marry Amelia, and George is consequently disinherited.
News arrives that Napoleon has escaped from Elba, so George Osborne, William Dobbin and Rawdon Crawley are deployed to Brussels, accompanied by Amelia and Becky, and Amelia's brother, Jos. George is embarrassed by the vulgarity of Mrs. Major O'Dowd, the wife of the head of the regiment. Already, the newly wedded Osborne is growing tired of Amelia, and he becomes increasingly attracted to Becky, which makes Amelia jealous and unhappy. He is also losing money to Rawdon at cards and billiards. At a ball in Brussels, George gives Becky a note inviting her to run away with him.
But then the army have marching orders to the Battle of Waterlooand George spends a tender night with Amelia and leaves. The noise of battle horrifies Amelia, and she is comforted by the brisk but kind Mrs. Becky is indifferent and makes plans for whatever the outcome if Napoleon wins, she would aim to become the mistress of one of his Marshals She also makes a profit selling her carriage and horses at inflated prices to Jos, seeking to flee Brussels. George Osborne is killed at Quatre Braswhile Dobbin and Rawdon survive Waterloo. Amelia bears a posthumous son, who carries on the name George.
She returns to live in genteel poverty with her parents, spending her life in memory of her husband and care of her son. Dobbin pays for a small annuity for Amelia and expresses his love for her by small kindnesses toward her and her son. She is too much in love with her husband's memory to return Dobbin's love. Saddened, he goes with his regiment to India for many years.
Becky also has a son, named Rawdon after his father. Becky is a cold, distant mother, although Rawdon loves his son. Becky continues her ascent first in post-war Paris and then in London where she is patronised by the rich and powerful Marquis of Steyne. She is eventually presented at court to the Prince Regent and charms him further at a game of " acting charades " where she plays the roles of Clytemnestra and Philomela. The elderly Sir Pitt Crawley dies and is succeeded by his son Pitt, who had married Lady Jane Sheepshanks, Lord Southdown's third daughter. Becky is on good terms with Pitt and Jane originally, but Jane is disgusted by Becky's attitude to her son and jealous of Becky's relationship with Pitt.
At the summit of their social success, Rawdon is arrested for debt, possibly at Becky's connivance. The Marquis of Steyne had given Becky money, jewels, and other gifts but Becky does not use them for expenses or to free her husband. He returns home to find Becky singing to Steyne and strikes him down on the assumption—despite her protestations of innocence—that they are having an affair.
Rawdon finds Becky's hidden bank records and leaves her, expecting Steyne to challenge him to a duel. Instead Steyne arranges for Rawdon to be made Governor of Coventry Island, a pest-ridden location. Becky, having lost both husband and credibility, leaves England and wanders the continent, leaving her son in the care of Pitt and Lady Jane. Two girls close up their box of dolls at the end of the story. As Amelia's adored son George grows up, his grandfather Mr Osborne relents towards him though not towards Amelia and takes him from his impoverished mother, who knows the rich old man will give him a better start in life than she could manage.
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After twelve years abroad, both Joseph Sedley and Dobbin return. Dobbin professes his unchanged love to Amelia. Amelia is affectionate, but she cannot forget the memory of her dead husband. Dobbin mediates a reconciliation between Amelia and her father-in-law, who dies soon after. He had amended his will, bequeathing young George half his large fortune and Amelia a generous annuity. After the death of Mr Osborne, Amelia, Jos, George and Dobbin go to Pumpernickel Weimar in Germany where they encounter the destitute Becky.
Becky has fallen in life. She lives among card sharps and con artists, drinking heavily and gambling. Becky enchants Jos Sedley all over again, and Amelia is persuaded to let Becky join them. Dobbin forbids this, and reminds Amelia of her jealousy of Becky with her husband. Amelia feels that this dishonours the memory of her dead and revered husband, and this leads to a click to see more breach between her and Dobbin.
Dobbin leaves the group and rejoins his regiment, while Becky remains with the group. However, Becky has decided that Amelia should marry Dobbin, even though she knows Dobbin is her enemy. Becky shows Amelia George's note, kept all this time from the here of the Battle of Waterloo, and Amelia finally realises that George was not the perfect man she always thought, and that she has rejected a better man, Dobbin.
Amelia and Dobbin are reconciled and return to England. Becky and Jos stay in Europe. Jos dies, possibly suspiciously, after signing a portion of his money to Becky as life insurance, setting her up with an income. She returns to England, and manages a respectable life, although all her previous friends refuse to acknowledge her. Characters[ edit ] Becky and Emmy as girls, from one of Thackeray's illustrations at the beginning of the book. Emmy and her family encounter Becky by chance at a charity event on the last page of the novel.
Not very beautiful, she is frequently ignored by men and women but is well-liked by most men who get to know her because of her personality. This popularity is then resented by other women. She begins the work as its heroine "selected for the very reason that she was the best-natured of all"  and marries the dashing George Osborne against his father's wishes, but the narrator is soon forced to admit "she wasn't a heroine" after all  as she remains soppily devoted to him despite his neglect of her and his flirtation with Becky.
After George dies in the Battle of Waterlooshe brings up little George alone while living with her parents. She is completely dominated by her spendthrift father, who, it is revealed, sells the annuity Jos had provided in order to finance one of failing investment schemes and by her increasingly peevish mother. Amelia becomes obsessed with her son and the memory of her husband. She ignores William Dobbin, who courts her for years and treats him shabbily until he leaves.
- My wife is reading Eat, Pray, Love -- I bet there's no antagonist there, but I can't be troubled to check.
- Who is going to be in this story?
- However, our idea of heroism shifts as the focus of the novel moves from Amelia to Rebecca.
Only when Becky shows her George's letter to her is Amelia able to move on, though she informs Becky that she has already written to Dobbin to ask him to come back. She eventually marries Dobbin. In a letter to his close friend Jane Octavia Brookfield while the book was being written, Thackeray confided that "You know you are only a piece of Amelia, my mother is another half, my poor little wife y est pour beaucoup".
Becky Sharp Rebecca [ edit ] Main article: Becky Sharp character Rebecca Sharpcalled Becky, is Amelia's opposite, an intelligent young woman with a gift for satire. She is described as a short sandy haired girl help writing a novel without a hero has green eyes and a great deal of wit. Fluent in both French and English, Becky has a beautiful singing voice, plays the piano, and shows great talent as an actress. Without a mother to guide her into marriage, Becky resolves that "I must be my own Mamma". She is extremely manipulative and, after the first few chapters and her failure to attract Jos Sedley, is not shown as being particularly sincere.
Never having known financial or social security even as a child, Becky desires it above all things. Nearly everything she does is with the intention of securing a stable position for herself, or herself and her husband after she and Rawdon are married. She advances Rawdon's interests tirelessly, flirting with men such as General Tufto and the Marquis of Steyne in order to get him promoted. She also uses her feminine wiles to distract men at card parties while Rawdon cheats them blind. Marrying Rawdon Crawley in secret was a mistake, as was running off instead of begging Miss Crawley's forgiveness.
She also fails to manipulate Miss Crawley through Rawdon so as to obtain an inheritance. Although Becky manipulates men very easily, she does not even try to cultivate the friendship of most women. She is utterly hostile to Lady Bareacres  and Lady Jane, the Dobbin sisters, and Lady Steyne see right through her. Amelia and initially Miss Crawley are exceptions to the rule.
Beginning with her determination to be her "own Mamma", Becky begins to assume the role of Clytemnestra. Rawdon Crawley[ edit ] Rawdon, the younger of the two Crawley sons, is an empty-headed cavalry officer who is his wealthy aunt's favourite until he marries Becky Sharp, who is of a far lower class. He permanently alienates his aunt, who leaves her estate to Rawdon's elder brother Sir Pitt instead.
Sir Pitt has by this time inherited their father's estate, leaving Rawdon destitute. The well-meaning Rawdon does have a few talents in life, most of them having to do with gambling and duelling. He is very good at cards and billiards, and although he does not always win he is able to earn cash by betting against less talented gamblers. He is heavily indebted throughout most of the book, not so much for his own expenses as for Becky's. Not particularly talented as a military officer, he is content to let Becky manage his career.
Although Rawdon knows Becky is attractive to men, he believes her reputation is spotless even though she is widely suspected of romantic intrigue with General Tufto and click at this page powerful men. Nobody dares to suggest otherwise to Rawdon because of his temper and his reputation for duelling.
Yet other people, particularly the Marquis of Steyne, find it impossible to believe that Crawley is unaware of Becky's tricks. Steyne in particular believes Rawdon is fully aware Becky is prostituting herself, and believes Rawdon is going along with the charade in the hope of financial gain.
After Rawdon finds out the truth and leaves Becky for an assignment overseas, he leaves his son to be brought up by his brother Sir Pitt and his wife Lady Jane. While overseas, Rawdon dies of Malaria. Sir Pitt Crawley, Baronet[ edit ] Rawdon Crawley's elder brother is ignorant, boorish, and mean. Sir Pitt is very religious and has political aspirations, although not many people appreciate his intelligence or wisdom because there's not much there to appreciate. Somewhat pedantic and conservative, Sir Pitt does nothing to help Rawdon or Becky even when they fall on hard times. This is chiefly due to the influence of his wife Lady Jane who dislikes Becky because of her callous treatment of her son, and also because Becky repaid Lady Jane's earlier kindness by patronizing her and flirting with Sir Pitt.
Miss Matilda Crawley[ edit ] The elderly Miss Crawley is everyone's favourite wealthy aunt. Sir Pitt and Rawdon both dote on her, although Rawdon is her favourite nephew and sole heir until he marries Becky. While Miss Crawley likes Becky and keeps her around to entertain her with sarcasm and wit, and while she loves scandal and particularly stories of unwise marriage, she does not want scandal or unwise marriage in her family. A substantial part of the early section of the book deals with the efforts the Crawleys make to kowtow to Miss Crawley in the hope of receiving a big inheritance.
Her portrayal is informed by Thackeray's time in Paris with his maternal grandmother Harriet Becher. Sedley the father of Jos and Amelia goes bankrupt following some ill-advised speculation. Since George and Amelia were raised in close company and were childhood sweethearts, George defies his father in order to marry Amelia. Before father and son can be reconciled, George is killed at the battle of Waterloo, leaving the pregnant Amelia to carry on as well as she can. Raised to be a selfish, vain, profligate spender, handsome and self-obsessed, George squanders the last of the money he receives from his father and sets nothing aside to help support Amelia.
After marrying Amelia, he finds after a couple of weeks that he is bored. He flirts with Becky quite seriously and is reconciled to Amelia only a short time before he is killed in battle. William Dobbin[ edit ] The best friend of George Osborne, William Dobbin is tall, ungainly, and not particularly handsome. He is a few years older than George but has been friends with him since his school days even though Dobbin's father is a fig-merchant and the Osbornes belong to the genteel class and have become independently wealthy.
He defends George and is blind to his faults in many ways although he tries to force George to do the right thing. He pushes George to keep his promise to essay on my parents my best friends Amelia even though Dobbin is in love with Amelia himself. After George is killed, Dobbin puts together an annuity to help support Amelia, ostensibly with the help of George's fellow officers.
Later, Dobbin discreetly does what he can to help support Amelia and also her son George. He allows Amelia to continue with her obsession over George and does not correct her erroneous beliefs about him. He hangs about for years, either pining away over her while serving in India or waiting on her in person, allowing her to take advantage of his good nature. After Amelia finally chooses Becky's friendship over his during their stay in Germany, Dobbin leaves in disgust.
He returns when Amelia writes to him and admits her feelings for him, marries her despite having lost much of his passion for herand has a daughter whom he loves deeply. Joseph Sedley[ edit ] Amelia's older brother, Joseph "Jos" Sedley, is a " nabob ", who made a respectable fortune as a collector in India. Obese and self-important but very shy and insecure, he is attracted to Becky Sharp but circumstances prevent him from proposing. He never marries, but when he meets Becky again he is easily manipulated into falling in love with her. Jos is not a courageous or intelligent man, displaying his cowardice at the Battle of Waterloo by trying to flee and purchasing both of Becky's overpriced horses.
Becky ensnares him again near the end of the book and, it is hinted, murders him for his life insurance. Publication history[ edit ] The prospectus for the Vanity Fair: Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Society serial, advertising it under William Makepeace Thackeray 's pen name Michael Angelo Titmarsh and under his own name. The title page of the first edition of Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero.
For best results, please make sure your browser is accepting cookies. I think this makes sense to do after you decide your story idea. Chapter 32 ends with Waterloo: Surviving texts, his notes, and letters show that adjustments were made—e. Sedley the father of Jos and Amelia goes bankrupt following some ill-advised speculation. Dobbin mediates a reconciliation between Amelia and her father-in-law, who dies soon after. Shaunta has published two young adult novels with Penguin and teaches a popular writing course called A Novel Idea.
Becky's second appearance in the character of Clytemnestraan illustration and caption by Thackeray that makes it clear he considered her to have killed Jos for his insurance money. The first three had already been completed before publication, while the others were written after it had begun to sell. Surviving texts, his notes, and letters show that adjustments were made—e. Woodcut engravings, which could be set along with normal moveable type, appeared within the text. The same engraved illustration appeared on the canary-yellow cover of each monthly part; this colour became Thackeray's signature, as a light blue-green was Dickens's, allowing passers-by to notice a new Thackeray number in a bookstall from a distance.
Vanity Fair was the first work that Thackeray published under his own name and was extremely well received at the time. As a collected work, the novels bore the subtitle A Novel without a Hero. In Chapter 5, an original "Prince Whadyecallem"  became "Prince Ahmed" by the edition.
And what is the meaning of this message? He is a few years older than George but has been friends with him since his school days even though Dobbin's father is a fig-merchant and the Osbornes belong to the genteel class and have become independently wealthy. As I read and watched these stories, Hero took notes, writing down each scene and noticing if something positive or negative was happening to the character. Becky Sharp character Rebecca Sharpcalled Becky, is Amelia's opposite, an intelligent young woman with a gift for satire. There are rules and conventions to every genre, and before you get too far into telling your story, decide what the genre is, and therefore, what rules and here you are going to follow. In that source, "Vanity Fair" refers to a stop along the pilgrim's hellp Instead Steyne arranges for Rawdon to be made Governor of Coventry Island, a pest-ridden location. She is completely dominated by her spendthrift father, who, it is revealed, sells the annuity Jos had provided in order to finance one of failing investment schemes and writingg her increasingly peevish mother.
The serials had been subtitled Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Society and both they and the early bound versions featured Thackeray's own illustrations. These sometimes provided symbolically-freighted images, such as one of the female characters being portrayed as a man-eating mermaid. In at least one case, a major plot point is provided through an image and its caption. Although the text makes it clear that other characters suspect Becky Sharp to have murdered her second husband, there is nothing definitive in the text itself.
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However, an image reveals her overhearing Jos pleading with Dobbin while clutching a small white object in her hand. The caption that this is Becky's second appearance in the character of Clytemnestra clarifies that she did indeed murder him for the insurance money,  likely through laudanum or another poison. This list is incomplete ; you can help by expanding it. A Novel without a Hero, London: A Novel without a Hero, Vols. Tauchnitz,reprinted