Monday, November 24, 2008

A Fair Fight

Unbelievably, I am nearing the end of "Vanity Fair"! Just about 70 pages to go, so I should finish it this week. Oh yeah! I'm still enjoying it, but also still having a hard time trying to fit reading into my recent schedule. Ah well. Here are a few of the thoughts I've had while reading the last 100 pages or so:

1. There's a pivotal moment in the plot when Rawdon finds his wife Becky with Lord Steyne. Steyne has carefully gotten rid of everyone around Becky...shipping her son off to a good school, and getting rid of her housekeeper. He then arranges to have Rawdon detained in jail over his debts. Rawdon manages to get out, and comes home to find Becky alone with Lord Steyne. And then...The Smackdown!! Rawdon gives Lord Steyne a taste of his fist, knocking him down, leaving a scar, and acting all manly. And what's Becky's reaction...she's into it! She gets all hot over Rawdon, who she's been scorning for the last 200 pages. Unfortunately he leaves her, because he suspects, with good reason, that she's been going at it with Lord Steyne. But it's weird, her reaction. I guess she likes a good show of testosterone.

2. And another thing about that pivotal moment...was Becky really getting it on with Lord Steyne? Were they having sex or not? It's never clear. Naturally, we are inclined to think the worst of Becky. I said previously that I didn't think she was really evil, but her behavior was getting worse and worse. The other ambiguous thing was the final outcome of the Rawdon/Steyne conflagration. Rawdon is so angry at Steyne for putting the moves on his wife that he challenges him to a duel. Or at least he tries to, but is thwarted by a smooth talking second. And then Steyne makes Rawdon governor of some tropical colony. It's not clear to me if he planned this before The Smackdown or after. Either way, Rawdon ends up taking the position (which has a nice salary and perks) and seems mollifed by arguments suggesting Becky did not sleep with Steyne. Which seems kinda wimpy to me. Rawdon, after a ballsy show of manliness, ends up letting himself be bought out. Par for the course in "Vanity Fair", I suppose.

3. In reading "Vanity Fair" and reflecting back on "The Red and the Black", one realizes just what a big deal Napoleon was for Europe in the early 1800s. After World Wars I and II the Napoleonic wars can seem a little quaint. But they weren't.

4. I really want Amelia and Dobbin to get together. Even though Amelia is an idiot for pining her life away over George and for not appreciating Dobbin, and Dobbin really should have let go of Amelia a long time ago and moved on. But they better hurry...there's only 70 more pages to make it happen.


Rohan Maitzen said...

In case you're interested, I posted a little thing on Vanity Fair at The Valve a few weeks back. The "was she guilty or not" question is something I think is really fascinating! That is such a tremendous chapter.

The Valve piece is at
this link.

Sarah said...

It's been too long since I read this, your posts have made me want to re-read it shortly.

The will they-won't they tension between Amelia and Dobbin is resolved in wonderful style- Dobbin finally shows some back bone!

Kristin said...

When I read VF last year, I had the same questions about Becky's innocence or not innocence. One of Crawley's fellow soldiers tells Crawley that people have been talking about Becky being "not so innocent" for years, which led me to believe there was some hanky-panky between Becky and Steyne. But I think later on Thackeray, in Thackeray fashion interjects that some what people were saying was motivated by malevolence. I know I just read this last year, but there are so many details, I want to read it again! What a great book.