by William Makepeace Thackeray
Vanity Fair Women and Femininity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
Whilst her appearance was an utter failure (as her husband felt with a sort of rage), Mrs. Rawdon Crawley's debut was, on the contrary, very brilliant. She arrived very late. Her face was radiant; her dress perfection. In the midst of the great persons assembled, and the eye-glasses directed to her, Rebecca seemed to be as cool and collected as when she used to marshal Miss Pinkerton's little girls to church. Numbers of the men she knew already, and the dandies thronged round her. As for the ladies, it was whispered among them that Rawdon had run away with her from out of a convent, and that she was a relation of the Montmorency family. She spoke French so perfectly that there might be some truth in this report, and it was agreed that her manners were fine, and her air distingue. Fifty would-be partners thronged round her at once, and pressed to have the honour to dance with her. But she said she was engaged, and only going to dance very little; and made her way at once to the place where Emmy sate quite unnoticed, and dismally unhappy. And so, to finish the poor child at once, Mrs. Rawdon ran and greeted affectionately her dearest Amelia, and began forthwith to patronise her. She found fault with her friend's dress, and her hairdresser, and wondered how she could be so chaussee, and vowed that she must send her corsetiere the next morning. She vowed that it was a delightful ball; that there was everybody that everyone knew, and only a VERY few nobodies in the whole room. It is a fact, that in a fortnight, and after three dinners in general society, this young woman had got up the genteel jargon so well, that a native could not speak it better; and it was only from her French being so good, that you could know she was not a born woman of fashion. (29.54)
This is probably Becky's cruelest moment, if only because Amelia is so incredibly helpless and easy a victim. Usually when Becky delivers one of her stingers, we are psyched – who doesn't like to see someone like Mr. Wagg or the Countess of Bareacres put down? But here we see the other side of Becky's style. Notice how the language slips into Becky's vernacular. It's the narrator telling us what happened, but the words "dearest," "chaussee," and "very few nobodies" are the ones used by Becky herself. Why does the narrator take on Becky's voice? How is the reader affected by this?