Vanity Fair: Chapter 39,40,41,42,43,44,45

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Summary - Chapters Thirty Nine, Forty, Forty One, Forty Two, Forty Three, Forty Four and Forty Five

In Chapter Thirty Nine, Sir Pitt is seen to be closer than ever to Miss Horrocks (who is also referred to as Ribbons) and she now rules the house. When Sir Pitt falls dangerously ill, Mrs Bute Crawley takes over and dismisses Mr and Miss Horrocks after she is seen attempting to unlock desks.


Sir Pitt survives for many months, but is too ill to govern the estate. Pitt takes over in Chapter Forty and after his father’s death he becomes Sir Pitt and instructs his wife to let Rawdon and Becky know of the funeral. Becky is pleased with the letter as she sees it as a form of acceptance and an entry into society. She and her companion (Briggs) prepare for the funeral and explanation is given as to how Briggs came to be in her employment. After the death of Miss Crawley, she advertised herself as a companion, which Becky has been seen to require. Before six months is over, Briggs lends Rawdon £600.


Chapter Forty One tells of Becky and Rawdon’s return to Queen’s Crawley and it is now nine years since she first went there as a governess. Although Lady Southdown is cold towards her, Jane kisses ‘the little adventuress’ affectionately. Becky manages to ingratiate herself with everyone eventually and thinks how, with money, she would have been a different person.


Chapter Forty Two returns to the Osborne family. Maria has married Fred Bullock, even though he tried and failed to negotiate more money for the match. After the marriage, she rarely visits her sister, Jane, and father. Jane is still unmarried and leads an ‘awful existence’. In 1818, she had an attachment with Mr Smee, her art teacher, but her father threw him out of the house and said she would have none of his money if she married without his agreement. As he wants a woman to keep house for him, he does not wish her to marry anyway. She has to resign herself to being an ‘old maid’ whilst he lives.


She sees Georgy for the first time when he is at the home of the Dobbin sisters and she gives him a gold chain. When Amelia realizes this, she becomes fearful of her son’s future.


In Chapter Forty Three, in Madras, Mrs O’Dowd is described as keen for Glorvina to marry Dobbin. He is ‘besieged’ but unmoved by Glorvina’s attentions as he still only cares for Amelia. He is hurt when he receives a letter from her congratulating him on his forthcoming marriage, as she evidently does not love him as he loves her, and is determined to return to England when his sister’s letter informs him that Amelia is to marry Reverend Binns.


Chapter Forty Four returns to Queen’s Crawley, as Becky charms the new Sir Pitt. He begins to think of his own wife as ‘mum and stupid’ in comparison. Although Sir Pitt will only give them a small amount of money, for little Rawdon, Becky sees that their good relationship means they will able to get credit. This includes not paying Raggles or Briggs.


At home, Becky shows no concern for her son and boxes his ear when she finds him listening to her singing to Lord Steyne. From this point, she moves from disliking him to hating him. At Christmas, Becky and her family visit Queen’s Crawley and on their first night little Rawdon tells his aunt Jane that he usually has to eat in the kitchen or with Briggs. The chapter ends ironically with Rawdon lending his brother money after he has heard a description of the outlay needed to maintain the estate.


In Chapter Forty Five, the new Sir Pitt is now a magistrate, a Member of Parliament and a county magnate. His push for popularity in the neighborhood has been partly inspired by Becky’s flattery. Little Rawdon enjoys his stay and is treated affectionately by others. When Becky joins in and kisses him, he says how she never kisses him at home.


There is some rivalry between Jane and Becky as Jane is envious of her husband’s discussions with her and Becky is similarly envious of Jane’s easy affection for little Rawdon.


In London, Rawdon is feeling side-lined and often walks to Gaunt Street, to Sir Pitt’s house which is being renovated, and sits with Jane and the children whilst Sir Pitt is ‘closeted’ with Rebecca. Rawdon is once more compared to Samson: ‘Delilah had imprisoned him, and cut his hair off.’


Analysis - Chapters Thirty Nine, Forty, Forty One, Forty Two, Forty Three, Forty Four and Forty Five

It is possible to see Becky develop her ambition to be accepted into society in these chapters. Her son and husband are increasingly overlooked as she becomes closer to the new Sir Pitt and Lord Steyne. This is emphasized when Rawdon is once more compared to a weakened Samson.


There is also a brief glimpse of Dobbin in Madras, in Chapter Forty Three, where he is feeling besieged by Glorvina. It appears as though he no longer has a chance of marrying Amelia and both believe the other is spoken for as Thackeray makes use of confusion to heighten the dramatic irony.


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