Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 15

By William Makepeace Thackeray

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Chapter 15

In which Rebecca's Husband appears for a Short Time

  • Sir Pitt is totally floored. Who on earth is Becky married to already?
  • Becky squirms under questioning and asks to just come back to Queen's Crawley anyway.
  • Sir Pitt thinks he has it figured out – "the feller has left you, has he?" (15.6) – and offers to take Becky as a mistress.
  • Becky is like, um, no.
  • Instead she gets down on her knees and begs to come back as...drum roll...Sir Pitt's daughter! Guys, it's intense here.
  • Turns out Briggs and Firkin have been watching this whole scene through the keyhole...but they ran upstairs to tell Miss Crawley when they saw Sir Pitt propose and missed the whole already-married revelation.
  • Miss Crawley comes downstairs and is just made crazy by the level of insanity. Level one: Sir Pitt proposed to a poor, lowborn governess. Level two: she refused him! Level three: he is totally not upset by her refusal!
  • Becky pretends to pass out in a chair to avoid talking to anyone for a little bit.
  • Sir Pitt leaves with no hard feelings, apparently.
  • Firkin writes a quick letter to Mrs. Bute Crawley telling her the news.
  • Briggs and Miss Crawley gossip and realize that Becky must have a previous engagement (at least) because otherwise no way would she have refused such an offer of marriage. Miss Crawley assumes it's someone of Becky's social station – "some apothecary, or a house steward, or painter, or young curate" (15.30) and decides that she will set them up in life a little bit.
  • Briggs tries to get Becky to tell her who the other man is. Then Miss Crawley tries. Becky won't tell, but is very sad and miserable and asks for Miss Crawley to always be her friend. Oh, good call, if there is anyone whose promises of friendship are reliable, it's Miss Crawley.
  • Briggs and Miss Crawley leave Becky alone.
  • She cries, for real this time, mostly over the missed opportunity.
  • Still, she is a smart and self-sufficient young woman, so she puts it behind her and starts to plan for the future. How should she break the news of her husband's identity to Miss Crawley? How best to do it so that the old woman doesn't get too angry?
  • She writes a letter to her husband telling him all the details of the day. Her husband turns out to be...Rawdon Crawley! OK, fine, that wasn't nearly as much of a shock as the ending of the last chapter. They can't all be nail-biters.

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