Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 61

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Chapter 61

In which two Lights are put out

  • Not long after Mrs. Sedley's death and Jos and Dobbin's return, Mr. Sedley takes a turn for the worse. Clearly he's about to die.
  • Amelia takes care of him during his final days, and Mr. Sedley loves her more and more for it. Finally he apologizes for how he and her mother were angry with her over her excessive devotion to George Jr.
  • Aw, folks – closure.
  • The narrator talks a bit about how a good death is quiet, calm, resigned, and reconciled.
  • Mr. Sedley dies.
  • Mr. Osborne is one of the few people who even remembers who Mr. Sedley was, and his death really affects him.
  • Also, he figures out two things: 1) Dobbin has a really impressive military career, even though he is modest and doesn't really talk about it; and 2) Amelia and her family were basically supported almost solely by Dobbin while Mr. Osborne refused to acknowledge their existence. Mr. Osborne is floored by this discovery.
  • He makes up with Dobbin and invites him to dinner a few times.
  • Then Mr. Osborne leaves his card with Jos. Jos comes over to dinner at the Osborne mansion a few times.
  • Seems like a slow reconciliation is in progress.
  • But, it's not to be. Remember how the title says that two lights are going to be put out? Sedley was one. You can probably guess who number two will be.
  • Yes, that's right. Just before he can make up with Amelia, Mr. Osborne has a stroke or something – some kind of medical issue where he can't talk but lives for a few more days.
  • Finally he dies.
  • It turns out that Osbourne changed his will again just before he died. He leaves half of his property to George Jr. and the other half is split between the two Osborne sisters. Wow, crazy, since originally George was written out of the will entirely.
  • Also he leaves Amelia 500 pounds a year, which is a pretty amazing fortune (she's been living on about 50 a year before), and enough to Dobbin to buy him his next rank, Colonel.
  • Amelia is happy to hear that Mr. Osborne apparently forgave her and dead George before he died, and she in turn forgives him too.
  • She and George Jr. go to visit the old Osborne mansion before it's taken apart and sold.
  • As soon as everyone learns how much Amelia now has, they start being nice to her again. Suddenly old friends come out of the woodwork to visit her.
  • But she's bored to pieces with the company of Jos's friends and Mrs. Frederick Bullock's friends. (Remember her? She's the other Osborne sister.)
  • So a trip abroad is proposed!
  • (And yes, we promise this novel will end eventually. Just not quite yet.)

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