Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 59

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Chapter 59

The old Piano

  • Mr. Sedley is shaken into some rather pathetic business-type activity by the idea that Jos is coming. He starts going through his papers as if Jos is going to do some kind of audit, then cries because Mrs. Sedley is dead and won't be able to ride on Jos's carriage. He's really a very sad old man at this point.
  • But Jos doesn't come; he sends a letter saying he will be there in a day or two.
  • Before coming to London, Jos has to get a whole bunch of new clothes and spends the day shopping. He is as vain and metrosexual about his appearance as ever.
  • Then, when he is finally on the road, he stops at every single inn along the way and eats and drinks an enormous amount of food. Obviously this makes his travel slow going.
  • Finally he gets to the Sedley house.
  • Amelia tells him about their mother's death. He sees how decrepit his father is and is moved by all of this. He's always been a pretty generous guy and now decides to really take care of them well.
  • Jos tells Amelia that she will make a nice hostess at his house until she has a house of her own (meaning that she will marry Dobbin). Amelia shakes her head and says no way, because she will never stop loving old dead George.
  • But still, it's always nice to be loved, and Amelia acts pretty nice to Dobbin because of his love for her. She tries hard not to lead him on, and thus relegates him strictly to the dreaded friend zone. She decides that she thinks of him as a brother. Ouch!
  • Jos rents a nice house in a neighborhood where other people formerly stationed in India now live.
  • Amelia is really happy to leave the gross little house they've been renting all this time. She's also happy to leave behind the Clapps, who apparently have not been the best of landlords. She leaves all her furniture except the piano which someone (ahem, Dobbin) bought back for her at the auction of all their stuff when Mr. Sedley first went bankrupt.
  • Dobbin is totally excited to see that she kept it and asks about it. Amelia, who all along has thought it was George who bought it for her, is like, "Oh, I love it so much since George bought it for me."
  • Dobbin is completely defeated and crushed.
  • Based on his reaction, Amelia suddenly realizes that George never bought her any such thing. Um, because he was a selfish jerk.
  • She apologizes to Dobbin for not realizing it was him, but then she no longer wants to play the piano again.
  • Dobbin finally busts out with all his love. He tells her he's loved her forever and ever and asks why she doesn't care about him.
  • Amelia cries. Like always. About everything.
  • The narrator snipes a little something about her really, really not being worth it.
  • She then does her thing about only loving dead George and asks Dobbin to be her friend. She criticizes him for not coming sooner, since maybe he could have prevented George Jr. from having to go live with Mr. Osborne. (Um, how exactly?)
  • Dobbin doesn't have anything to say to this and just asks to be able to see her often, to which she agrees. The narrator sums it up nicely by quipping that Dobbin was now "at liberty to look and long – as the poor boy at school who has no money may sigh after the contents of the tart-woman's tray" (59.40).

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