A&E Original Movie
Vanity Fair: Part 2
Overview: Vanity Fair, a Novel without a Hero, by William Makepeace Thackeray, is a novel of English society in the early 1800s set during the Battle of Waterloo. Published in serial form in 1848, Thackeray poked fun at the vanity of man; most of the novel’s characters are pompous people who are motivated by greed; humility is in short supply. The novel follows the lives of two women, Becky Sharp and Amelia (Emmy) Sedley. Becky and Emmy are in marked contrast throughout the novel. Becky is destined to become a governess, but she is clever and schemes her way out of her humble beginnings. In Becky, Thackery has created one of the most bold and determined female characters in an early Victorian novel.
History: The year is 1815. Napoleon, Emperor of France from 1804-1815, escapes from his banishment on the island of Elba, and rebuilds his army (Tape 2, VIS CODE 45:00). The Battle of Waterloo is imminent. Thackeray’s characters Rawdon, George, and Dobbin prepare to leave for battle from Brussels, where the English army awaits marching orders. The Battle of Waterloo was fought in a village south of Brussels on June 18, 1815. At Waterloo Napoleon received a crushing blow from the Allies (British, Dutch, German, and Prussian troops), who were led by Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington. The Allies lost about 22,000 men and the French about 37,000. The word “waterloo” has come to mean a disastrous or crushing defeat. The French never regained the power they once enjoyed under Napoleon. The English king during this time was George IV. Queen Victoria, queen when Thackeray wrote Vanity Fair, gained the throne in 1837 and ruled for 64 years.
1. History (Era 7, Standard 32) – Students will gain a general understanding of early 19th century life in England (country estates, seaside resorts, and London). Events leading up to the Battle of Waterloo are illustrated, including the pageant-like preparations of the English in Brussels; the Battle itself is shown in colorful montages.
2. Geography (Standard 2) – The following places figure in the film: London, England; Brighton, England; Brussels, Belgium; Waterloo, Belgium; India; Coventry Islands.
3. Language Arts (Standard 9 & 10) - William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, a Novel without a Hero, (1848), is a captivating story of English society during the Napoleonic Wars. The novel was published in monthly parts, 1847-48. It is considered a masterpiece, peopled with characters from all walks of life – kings, rogues, swindlers, gamblers, ladies, officers, and gentlemen – hence the novel’s title, Vanity Fair.
VIS CODE 2:40 7:50 - Everyone fawns over the rich Miss Crawley when she arrives at Queens Crawley. Miss Crawley requests that Becky and Rawdon flank her at the dinner table, much to the dismay of everyone else. After dinner Becky entertains the party with an English and French song. She captivates the men, but it is Rawdon she has an eye for. Becky daringly asks Rawdon if she may puff on his cigar. Discuss the dinner party. (Becky knows just how to charm each and every person she meets so that she can obtain her ends. In todays parlance, she knows how to work a room. She is a sexy woman who enjoys breaking the rules and raising eyebrows. Ladies do not smoke, and certainly they do not share cigars with men. But Becky wants Rawdon; after all, he is the one who will inherit Miss Crawleys money.)
VIS CODE 10:12 - Describe a Captain in the Army by purchase. (Wealthy families could purchase an officer position for their sons.)
VIS CODE 14:50 - Miss Crawley has decided she will take Becky with her as her chief nurse and companion. Meanwhile Mrs. Bute tells her nephew Rawdon that Becky will soon become his stepmother. Rawdon believes her and confronts Becky, who manages to get what she wants from him an admission of love. Why does Mrs. Bute interfere? (Mrs. Bute is meddlesome by nature. She and the other relatives are quite concerned that Becky, who has won Miss Crawleys heart, might become Rawdons wife, thereby doubling her chances of being named in Miss Crawleys will, and thus shrinking their inheritances. All the Crawleys are counting on Miss Crawley to die soon and each hope she will leave him/her her purse.)
VIS CODE 17:35 19:50 - Dobbin calls on Emmy, telling her that George is too busy with regimental duties to see her. George, however, is at the barracks, talking and drinking with the officers. Why does Dobbin lie for George? (Dobbin does not have much of a spine, and the popular George captivates him. He will do anything for Georges friendship. Thackery writes that Dobbin flung himself down at
Osbornes feet and loved him
.he was his valet, his dog, his man Friday (84). Viewers may become frustrated to watch Dobbin support George without questioning or seeing through his arrogance.
When the men learn George is engaged, they laugh with disbelief. Why is Dobbin ready to defend Emmy? (George ought to be the one defending Emmy, but Dobbin does because he is in love with her. Dobbin is very distressed at Georges cavalier attitude towards and treatment of Emmy, but he does nothing to stop George. )
VIS CODE 25:00 Mr. Osborne tells his son that although a marriage has long been planned between George and Emmy, peoples positions alter, and he suggests he marry higher than a stockbrokers daughter. Why is Mr. Osborne against the match? (Mr. Sedley is in financial trouble, and even though Osborne acknowledges that he got his start from Sedley, he wants George to marry above his station, preferably to a lady who will bring a large dowry.)
VIS CODE 41:00 - When Miss Crawley learns that Becky and Rawdon have secretly married, she is incensed, calling her a trollop. Rawdon and Becky are Miss Crawleys favorites. Why is she so upset? (Miss Crawley planned to leave everything to Rawdon, but by marrying beneath him, even to a woman Miss Crawley likes, he has risked and lost his aunts favor. Miss Crawley also objects to the fact that they did not tell her of their marriage, she did not broker the match, and Becky has no dowry.)