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WILLIAM

MAKEPEACE
THACKERAY

18 July 1811 – 24
December 1863
Calcutta, British India
Died 24 December 1863 (aged 52)
London, UK
Occupation Novelist, poet
Nationality English
Period 1829–1863
(published posthumously)
Genre Historical fiction
Notable work-Vanity Fair
Spouse Isabella Gethin Shawe
Children 3, including Anne Isabella
(1837–1919)

PORTRAIT OF THACKERAY IN
HIS STUDY, C.1860
THE NOVEL “WITHOUT A HERO”

• Hero= a character of great qualities, the main character of the plot,


towards which the readers feels the most sympathetic
• Vanity Fair breaks this pattern of the “necessary” hero
• the novel doesn’t have a hero because every character in the book has
different flaws which don’t allow a human being to be a role-model
• Every single character in the novel is touched with fault, despite his or
her innocent appearance
• Even Dobbin and Amelia, which are the least scrupulous characters in
the book have their own reasons to be blamed
• They are ridiculed for their almost constant passiveness
• Dobbin could be a potential hero, but he is mocked for his dog-like
loyalty
• Amelia is seen as plain and insipid, her outstanding love for George is
also put in a mocking light and she is always obedient and humble
• The narrator is presented
in the first pages as the
showman of the puppet-
theatre
• A particular universe,
where the purpose of the
show-master is to expose
the hypocrisy and the
issue with society
• The entire society is seen as a stage,
where the best performer rises the
highest on the social scale
• The characters often put up a show not
only in society, but also in private,
losing their own self
• What the puppet-master really tries to
do is to expose the artificial, void and
false world in which our characters and
the narrator himself lived, a world
driven by the greed of money and high
position in society
• The idea of a puppet-show is emphasized once again at
the end of the book:

‘Ah! Vanitas vanitatum! Which of us is happy in this


world? Which of us has his desire? Or, having it, is
satisfied?- Come, children, let us shut up the box and the
puppets, for our play is played out.’
THE CONCEPT OF CARNIVAL

• The narrator states that he is


Manager of Performance
• the carnivalesque atmosphere is
set up through the use of some
elements: physical (eating,
drinking, smoking) (seen
especially in the scenes with
Joseph Sedley) , communal
(fighting, dancing), jocular
(laughing, fiddling), licentious
(jilting, making love), burlesque
and corrupt (cheats,
pickpockets, quacks)
• The title itself is taken from John Bunyan’s work,
“Pilgrim’s Progress”, in which Vanity Fair is the
name of an endless carnival in a town called
Vanity (reference to the prevaling sins and vices
of the characters)
• The concept of “carnivalesque” was theorized
by the philosopher and critic Mikhail Bakhtin
• It refers to a general atmosphere in a world dominated by humor and
chaos
• The main characteristic of the carnival: surpassing the limit between
audience and performers, art and real life, through a play-like form
• Exactly like a carnival, our novel is filled with displays of excess

• Pieter Bruegel the Elder, The Fight Between Carnival and Lent (1559)
THE END