Even within the relatively narrow confines of the roles available to middle- and upper-class women near the beginning of the 19th century, Vanity Fair presents a wide variety of ways to be a woman. As with the men, these are usually taken to extremes: an excess of feminine daintiness and passivity, an excess of strategizing opportunism, or an excess of cold ruthlessness. At the same time, there are a few models of exemplary behavior as well. For younger women, the novel prescribes an emphasis on nurturing motherhood, while older ones do best when cheerfully serving domestic responsibilities.
Although Becky is the most accomplished actress in the novel, every one of the women we see is forced to play some kind of role in public. Authenticity (you know, letting your true colors shine through, just being yourself and letting it all hang out) does not exist in the world of Vanity Fair, and women are necessarily performing who they are at any given time, especially in public.