Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 28

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Chapter 28

In which Amelia invades the Low Countries

  • The army men cross the Channel to Belgium in government boats, and Jos, Amelia, Mrs. O'Dowd, and the other civilians follow them later.
  • Jos makes the most of this time, which will provide him with stories and party conversation for the rest of his life. He has a special military-looking coat made, grows a huge military-looking mustache, and is even sometimes confused for someone official.
  • Jos's British servant refuses to make the trip, so Jos ends up hiring a little Belgian man who addresses him as "my lord," which so makes him happy.
  • The Belgian occupation is a very lovely, peaceful time, according to the narrator. The army men are not forcibly quartered, and instead pay their way. This endears them to the Belgians. Plus, there are many rich and aristocratic tourists coming to see the fighting, who also end up spending a bunch of money there.
  • George starts to be embarrassed at the vulgarity and commonness of some of the women that Amelia has been forced to hang out with. Amelia, being a more normal and less stuck-up person, doesn't really care.
  • Mrs. O'Dowd cracks everyone up (unintentionally) because, for her, everything in Belgium is vastly inferior to its Irish equivalent. She is constantly comparing and commenting.
  • The narrator points out that Napoleon picked a terrible time for the second invasion, since all the armies were still massed on the continent and ready to expel him again. If he had just waited until the allies started fighting amongst themselves, history – and the novel – would have been totally different.
  • Amelia is delighted by her time in Brussels. George takes her out every evening and buys her presents, which is enough to make her happy.
  • Abroad, some of the social divisions that are very sharp in England are allowed to mellow. So one night, George actually dances with the daughter of the Countess of Bareacres (their name implies that their estate is not doing so well financially. Get it? Their "acres" are "bare" since all the trees have been sold for lumber already).
  • George invites the Count and Countess to dinner.
  • The Countess and her daughter decide they will see the Osbornes here in Brussels but will snub them back in England.
  • George is delighted to be hobnobbing with these horrible people.
  • At this dinner, the Countess and her daughter do their best to totally ignore Amelia. She writes her mother a letter describing how awful the evening was. What does Mrs. Sedley take from this letter? That Amelia got to have dinner with a Countess. Snobbery is universal and hard to shake.
  • Now a little bit about General Tufto, Rawdon's employer. He is a very old man who is comically and grossly obsessed with his appearance. He dyes his eyebrows and mustache, wears a wig, and even wears padded clothing to look more built than he really is.
  • Amelia, George, Mrs. O'Dowd, and Major O'Dowd see General Tufto coming down the street one day. He stops and buys a bouquet of flowers.
  • George points out that if he is here, that means Becky and Rawdon are, too.
  • Amelia's heart skips a beat and she is suddenly miserable again.

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