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Analysis

Literary Devices in Vanity Fair

Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

The idea of a fair where a bunch of different kinds of human vanities are for sale comes from John Bunyan's Christian allegory Pilgrim's Progress. (We'll pause a sec here while you check out the "W...

Setting

Nineteenth Century Pre-Victorian (Regency) EnglandThe novel is set in the early 1800s, about twenty years before it was written. This time disparity is actually a much bigger deal than it sounds....

Narrator Point of View

It's hard to completely pin down this narrator, right? Sometimes he's a voice. Sometimes he's a real guy. Sometimes he is even in the story itself! Maybe it would be helpful to just list all of t...

Genre

Satire and ParodyThackeray is working in a long, long tradition of satire as beat-down. What an author is supposed to do is hold up to readers examples of their terrible, ludicrous, immoral, and o...

Tone

Thackeray's narrator usually functions as our worldly and semi-jaded guide through the social world of the novel. He has been there, done that, and come back to show us the T-shirt. Through a com...

Writing Style

Although Thackeray is not the kind of writer who cultivates a totally idiosyncratic style, it's still relatively easy to recognize his writing because of how funny it is, and how willing he was to...

What's Up With the Title?

Almost 200 years before this novel was written, a guy named John Bunyan wrote the megahit allegory Pilgrim's Progress. It's not a very subtle allegory – the main character is named Christian (get...

What's Up With the Epigraph?

What's Up With the Ending?

Lots of 19th-century writers grumble about how totally bogus endings in novels usually are. And it's true. At the end of a work of fiction, readers expect one thing and one thing only – a fittin...

Tough-o-Meter

There's a couple of things that make this novel sort of tough.First of all (and there's no beating around the bush on this one), it's long. Really, really long. So pack some snacks, plan out your b...

Plot Analysis

Poor but resourceful orphan Becky and rich but passive Amelia set out from school into the real world.This is a classic beginning to many Victorian novels: take two girls (check), usually a brunett...

Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Our two heroines are fresh out of school, new to the world, and both, in Booker's words, in a "lowly and unhappy state." Why? Well, Becky needs to get herself a rich husband so she can be set for...

Three-Act Plot Analysis

Becky secretly marries Rawdon and thus loses her chance at the Crawley money and estate. Amelia secretly marries George, whose father disowns him and who is immediately bored with her.Rawdon disco...

Trivia

When the novel first came out as a book, Thackeray drew a bunch of illustrations to go with it. They were so bad and so universally made fun of that he took them out of every edition that follow...

Steaminess Rating

If you've got the right kind of mindset and can spot the double entendres, this novel is actually pretty racy, especially for Victorian times, when anything sexual had to be put into euphemized, wi...

Allusions

Hester Chapone (1.3)Gaetano Donizetti (4.69)Crebillon the younger (10.5)Charles Pigault-Lebrun (15.9 William Guthrie, New Geographical, Historical, and Commercial Grammar (3.26)Shakespeare, The Tem...
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