Study Guide

Mr. Osborne in Vanity Fair

By William Makepeace Thackeray

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Mr. Osborne

George Osborne's father is a stern, vulgar, self-made business man. He is obsessed with promoting his son into the aristocracy and disowns him after George insists on marrying old family friend Amelia. Mr. Osborne never forgives her, but he does soften enough to love and provide for his grandson, George Jr.

Sure, the novel is filled with all sorts of disappointing aristocrats, but Mr. Osborne proves that the middle class doesn't get off lightly either. In the persona of this boorish, glowering man, Thackeray scoffs at all those rich snobs who want to elbow their way into society. And yet even this gross piece of humanity gets a redemptive story arc when he forgives his dead son George through taking in his grandson George Jr. Why does Thackeray allow Mr. Osborne to soften towards his grandson? How would the novel be different if he never let Mr. Osborne's anger and disappointment dissipate?

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