Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 39

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Chapter 39

A Cynical Chapter

  • Hey, how about those Crawleys back in the country?
  • Here's an update.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bute are totally enraged that Miss Crawley only left them 5,000 pounds after she died (Mr. Pitt got 65,000).
  • But Mrs. Bute makes the best of it, making her ugly daughter go out into society as much as possible in order to find a husband. They act so non-poor and non-bankrupt that they manage to almost convince everyone that they did actually end up with some of the inheritance.
  • Mr. Bute and Mr. Pitt had a huge fight and are no longer on speaking terms.
  • And what about Sir Pitt, you ask? Ugh, get ready to be grossed out.
  • At some point after their marriage, Mr. Pitt and Lady Jane went to visit him.
  • They found: 1) many of the estate trees cut down and sold for lumber (picture how attractive that would be); 2) most of the servants gone and the mansion and grounds abandoned and neglected; 3) Sir Pitt totally gross and no longer even pretending to be anything other than a drunkard; and finally 4) Miss Horrocks, the butler's daughter, installed as housekeeper, running the house and hoping to be the next Lady Crawley.
  • Ewww!
  • Sir Pitt gives Jane some of dead Lady Crawley's jewels, which he's been hiding from Miss Horrocks. Totally appalled, Pitt and Jane run away as fast as they can.
  • Everyone is also freaking out that Sir Pitt might actually marry this horrible young woman.
  • To Sir Pitt, it's just all very funny. All his old friends shun and ignore him, which he also laughs off. All he does is get drunk with Mr. Horrocks every night and hang out with Miss Horrocks every day.
  • Then finally one day he has a fit of some sort. (Victorians didn't really differentiate between all the different kinds of ways old age could kill you, so "fit" could mean stroke, heart attack, or whatever else you can imagine.)
  • He loses his ability to speak and then falls into a coma.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Bute hurry to the house and find Miss Horrocks trying to open the cabinets in his study with a bunch of keys. Mrs. Bute accuses her of being a thief and threatens to have her arrested, but then she and her father are allowed to quickly and quietly go away and are never heard from again.

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