Vanity Fair: Chapter 11,12,13,14,15,16

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Summary - Chapters Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen and Sixteen

Chapter Eleven introduces Sir Pitt’s relatives and neighbors who live at the rectory: his brother Bute Crawley and sister-in-law Mrs Bute Crawley. Bute enjoys hunting and socializing and she is thrifty and writes his sermons. Despite her thriftiness, he is always in debt. He hopes his sister will leave him half of her money. Mrs Bute Crawley hears how Becky is helping Sir Pitt more and more and writes to Miss Pinkerton to ask about her history. Miss Pinkerton replies that she has nothing to say in Becky’s disfavor except her parents were disreputable and her mother was a dancer at the Opera (and not a Countess who had escaped the revolution as she had been led to believe).


The narrative then shifts to a letter to Amelia, from Becky, in which she tells her how Dr Glauber propositioned her, but she rebuffed him as she does not want to be the wife of a country apothecary. She describes Miss Crawley’s visit and tells Amelia what a dandy Captain Rawdon Crawley is. She also relates how Mrs Bute Crawley is being kind to Becky now and invites her over to the rectory.


It is made evident that Becky wins Miss Crawley over and she tells Becky if merit had its rewards, Becky would be a Duchess. Rawdon has also been paying her attention, and more than she has told Amelia in her letter.


The narrative moves to Amelia in London in Chapter Twelve and the narrator discusses how women are often jealous of each other. The sisters of Osborne and Dobbin, for example, are insulting about Amelia.


Amelia celebrates the news that Napoleon has abdicated as this means Osborne will not have to go to war: ‘He was her Europe, her Emperor, her allied monarchs and august prince regent.’ She is truly in love with him and does not think of their relationship in economic terms.


In Chapter Thirteen, we are told that the men in Osborne’s regiment think of him as a Don Juan figure. He keeps his liaison with Amelia a secret and so they can only guess who is sending him so many letters. The truth is only revealed when Dobbin lets it slip when defending her. Osborne is furious and says ‘there’s no fun in winning a thing unless you pay for it.’ When he calms down, he says he will pay Dobbin back (the money he has borrowed for gambling), but Dobbin still wants him to visit Amelia more and make her happy. Osborne borrows money from him to buy her a present, but cannot resist a pin (for himself) which he sees in a jeweller’s window.


At home, Osborne and his father talk and he asks him about his intentions towards Amelia. Although Osborne senior and Sedley made a match for their two children years ago, Osborne senior now wonders if his son cannot marry higher than a stockbroker’s daughter. He has also learned that Sedley is having financial difficulties. Even though Sedley helped him to succeed, he now sees him as a ‘lame duck’ and does not want his daughter in the family.


In Chapter Fourteen, Miss Crawley returns to London feeling ill and is accompanied by Becky. When she begins to recover, the two of them visit the Sedley home and later invite Amelia to Park Lane. Rawdon informs Becky and Miss Crawley he has played Osborne at billiards for money, and beaten him. Other men also know how ‘green’ he is and he often loses money. Osborne is also invited to Miss Crawley’s (on Rawdon’s suggestion) and he attempts to patronize Becky, but this has no effect on her. Osborne then warns Rawdon to be on his guard with Becky, which also does not achieve the desired result.


The narrative moves on to explain that Sir Pitt’s wife has died and he asks Becky to come back to Queen’s Crawley as his wife. He asks her this before the funeral. The chapter ends with Becky weeping and telling him she cannot marry him as she is married already.


Miss Crawley discovers the news about the proposal from her companion, Miss Briggs, but does not know the reason why Becky turned him down. Becky writes to Rawdon (who, it is revealed, is her husband) and says they should make their marriage public news.


In Chapter Sixteen, Rawdon agrees with Becky that they should tell Miss Crawley everything. We are also told that Rawdon agrees with anything Becky says. Becky leaves a note for Briggs explaining her marriage and leaves to live with Rawdon. When Mrs Bute Crawley appears, she and Briggs are pleased with the events and let Miss Crawley know. They also inform Sir Pitt who Becky’s husband is and he reacts furiously.


Finally, Rawdon and Becky discuss their future in their lodgings and Rawdon asks what will happen if his aunt does not come round. She responds that she will make his fortune and is compared to Delilah patting Samson’s cheek.


Analysis - Chapters Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen and Sixteen

Through the depictions of the Crawley family, the nobility are roundly satirized as ambitious and overly concerned with money. Brothers are rivals and vie for the attention of the wealthy Miss Crawley. Sir Pitt is depicted as monstrous, in particular when proposing to Becky before his dead wife has had a funeral.


In this setting, Becky’s selfishness and ambition are overshadowed by the behavior of characters such as Sir Pitt, who is supposed to be a pillar of the community and a representative for the people. Through Sir Pitt, it is possible to see a forceful attack on this unequal society and on the authority such men have. He is shown to be immoral, self-absorbed and greedy, yet wealthy and powerful.



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