Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 11

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Chapter 11

Arcadian Simplicity

  • OK, now a bit about the other side of the family – Sir Pitt and Miss Crawley's younger brother Bute Crawley, who is a minister. And what a minister! He likes drinking, gambling, hunting, and going out to dinner. His wife writes all his sermons and tries to deal with his gambling debts. He's basically waiting for his sister, Miss Crawley, to die and leave him her money. Since Sir Pitt is hoping for the same, you can imagine how friendly that makes the two of them. (Hint: not so much.)
  • Mrs. Bute as a matter of course bribes all the servants from Queen's Crawley to tell her what is going on there. She soon learns about Becky and how well she has been getting along with everyone. This makes Mrs. Bute worry – most likely, she is worried that Sir Pitt will marry Becky.
  • Mrs. Bute writes a letter to Miss Pinkerton. (Remember her, Becky's nasty old headmistress?) Turns out Mrs. Bute went to Pinkerton's school too, and wants some dish about this new governess.
  • Miss Pinkerton sends back a super passive-aggressive note all about Becky's low-class birth (daughter of an artist and an opera singer...heavens!), basically implying that Becky herself is probably two steps away from being a prostitute.
  • Meanwhile, Becky writes Amelia another letter with news and adventures:
  • Lady Crawley has been sick, and her doctor proposed to Becky. Becky turned him down, pretty angrily – "as if I was born, indeed, to be a country surgeon's wife!" (11.25).
  • At the same time, Miss Crawley, Sir Pitt's rich sister, has come to visit. She's a real character: she overeats, overdrinks, and is used to being overindulged because of her money.
  • When she visits (once a year), Sir Pitt and Bute pretend to get along. Mr. Pitt, the prissy one, leaves for London (she hates him), and Rawdon comes to town.
  • Becky tells Amelia that Rawdon has paid her a compliment. When he saw her dancing, he said, "By Jove, she's a neat little filly!" (11.31). He's quite a charmer.
  • After the letter ends, the narrator tells us that Rawdon and Becky have quite the little flirtation going on. She's been puffing on his cigar and everything.

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