by William Makepeace Thackeray
Vanity Fair Language and Communications Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
When the young men went upstairs, and after Osborne's introduction to Miss Crawley, he walked up to Rebecca with a patronising, easy swagger. He was going to be kind to her and protect her. He would even shake hands with her, as a friend of Amelia's; and saying, "Ah, Miss Sharp! how-dy-doo?" held out his left hand towards her, expecting that she would be quite confounded at the honour.
Miss Sharp put out her right forefinger, and gave him a little nod, so cool and killing, that Rawdon Crawley, watching the operations from the other room, could hardly restrain his laughter as he saw the Lieutenant's entire discomfiture [...] the Lieutenant, by way of beginning the conversation, agreeably asked Rebecca how she liked her new place.
"My place?" said Miss Sharp, coolly, "how kind of you to remind me of it! It's a tolerably good place: the wages are pretty good--not so good as Miss Wirt's, I believe, with your sisters in Russell Square [...] You can't think what a difference there is though. We are not so wealthy in Hampshire as you lucky folks of the City. But then I am in a gentleman's family--good old English stock. I suppose you know Sir Pitt's father refused a peerage. And you see how I am treated. I am pretty comfortable. Indeed it is rather a good place. But how very good of you to inquire!" (14.86-93)
Again, Becky turns the tables in a social situation by cutting through the bull and calling it like she sees it. George is trying to be all condescending, but Becky knows he isn't really an aristocrat, and she out-condescends him mercilessly. And at this point, we are totally on Team Becky, so this scene pretty much rocks.
Rebecca was a young lady of too much resolution and energy of character to permit herself much useless and unseemly sorrow for the irrevocable past; so, having devoted only the proper portion of regret to it, she wisely turned her whole attention towards the future, which was now vastly more important to her. And she surveyed her position, and its hopes, doubts, and chances.
In the first place, she was MARRIED--that was a great fact. Sir Pitt knew it. She was not so much surprised into the avowal, as induced to make it by a sudden calculation. It must have come some day: and why not now as at a later period? He who would have married her himself must at least be silent with regard to her marriage. How Miss Crawley would bear the news--was the great question. Misgivings Rebecca had; but she remembered all Miss Crawley had said; the old lady's avowed contempt for birth; her daring liberal opinions; her general romantic propensities; her almost doting attachment to her nephew, and her repeatedly expressed fondness for Rebecca herself. She is so fond of him, Rebecca thought, that she will forgive him anything: she is so used to me that I don't think she could be comfortable without me: when the eclaircissement comes there will be a scene, and hysterics, and a great quarrel, and then a great reconciliation. At all events, what use was there in delaying? the die was thrown, and now or to-morrow the issue must be the same. And so, resolved that Miss Crawley should have the news, the young person debated in her mind as to the best means of conveying it to her; and whether she should face the storm that must come, or fly and avoid it until its first fury was blown over. (15.48-49)
Why does Becky, who is a master of communication, blow this? Is it because she is forced to reveal the information not on her own terms but as a result of Sir Pitt's unexpected proposal? How could she so misread Miss Crawley's character that she leaves the house where she has been ruling the roost? There are a few moments where Becky's mistakes seem artificially planted in the text just to make the plot move forward. This seems like one of them to us. What do you think?
The night before, Mr. Clump and Dr. Squills had had a consultation (over a bottle of wine at the house of Sir Lapin Warren, whose lady was about to present him with a thirteenth blessing), regarding Miss Crawley and her case.
"What a little harpy that woman from Hampshire is, Clump," Squills remarked, "that has seized upon old Tilly Crawley. Devilish good Madeira."
"What a fool Rawdon Crawley has been," Clump replied, "to go and marry a governess! There was something about the girl, too."
"Green eyes, fair skin, pretty figure, famous frontal development," Squills remarked. "There is something about her; and Crawley was a fool, Squills."
"A d---- fool--always was," the apothecary replied.
"Of course the old girl will fling him over," said the physician, and after a pause added, "She'll cut up well, I suppose."
"Cut up," says Clump with a grin; "I wouldn't have her cut up for two hundred a year."
"That Hampshire woman will kill her in two months, Clump, my boy, if she stops about her," Dr. Squills said. "Old woman; full feeder; nervous subject; palpitation of the heart; pressure on the brain; apoplexy; off she goes. Get her up, Clump; get her out: or I wouldn't give many weeks' purchase for your two hundred a year." And it was acting upon this hint that the worthy apothecary spoke with so much candour to Mrs. Bute Crawley. (19.30-37)
Another great exchange. Because these two doctors couldn't care less about Miss Crawley, Becky, Rawdon, or anyone else that we know in the novel, they are able to talk about their dramatic and horrendous actions in the most brutally honest, most dispassionate tone possible. Is this meant to also be indicative of how removed from their patients' emotional lives doctors are?