PORTION IV - Пособие составлено на кафедре английского языка заочного отделения. Составитель: Соловьёва М. В


Chapters 23-34

Ex. I. Learn the following word-combinations.

  1. to rise in smb’s estimation (p. 243) – подняться в чьих-либо глазах

  2. to summon (up) one’s courage (p. 243) – собраться с духом

  3. to bring about smth (p. 246) – вызывать, быть причиной

  4. to be of smb’s making (p. 246) – быть белом чьих-либо рук

  5. to disinherit smb (p. 246) – лишить кого-либо наследства

  6. to play fast and loose (p. 246) – действовать безответственно, быть ненадёжным

  7. to the following effect (p. 259) – следующего содержания

  8. to be entitled to smth (p. 259) – иметь право на что-либо

  9. to be in store for smb (p. 266) – предназначаться для кого-либо; готовить, сулить в будущем

  10. to do smth to perfection (p. 302) – делать что-либо в совершенстве

  11. with a clear conscience (p. 314) – с чистой совестью

  12. to cease doing smth / to do smth (p. 316) – прекратить делать что-либо

  13. to note down with a pencil (p. 320) – записать карандашом

  14. in case of extremity (p. 323) – в крайнем случае

  15. if the worst comes to the worst (p. 333) – в самом худшем случае

  16. to give up one’s fortune (p. 334) – отказаться от своего состояния

Ex. II. Reproduce the situations from the novel in which the word-combinations listed in Ex. I appear.

Ex. III. Explain the signification of the following sentences from the novel:

  1. As his hero and heroine pass the matrimonial barrier, the novelist generally drops the curtain, as if the drama were over then. (p. 280)

  2. All looked as brilliant and harmless as a Hyde Park review. (p. 295)

  3. Meanwhile Napoleon, screened behind his curtain of frontier-fortresses, was preparing for the outbreak which was to drive all these orderly people into fury and blood, and lay so many of them low. (p. 295)

  4. …what a specially bad time Napoleon took to come back from Elbe, and to let loose his eagle from Gulf San Juan to Notre Dame. (pp. 297-298)

  5. Our friend George was in the full career of the pleasure of Vanity Fair. (p.310)

  6. If this is a novel without a hero, at least let us lay claim to a heroine. (p. 322)

  7. … nor does the Continental domestic like to be treated with insolence as our own better-tempered servants do. (p. 327)

  8. Such a bull in a china shop I never saw (p. 353)

  9. A true Whig, Miss Crawley had been in opposition all through the war. (p. 366)

  10. … and she was perfectly sure he would gain a gold medal, and be a Senior Wrangler. (p. 373)

Ex. IV. Expand the idea:

  1. … in the affairs of thee world and under the magnetism of friendship, the modest man becomes bold, the shy confident, the lazy active, or the impetuous prudent and peaceful. (p. 237)

  2. Woman forgives but too readily, captain. (p. 240)

  3. Some few score of years afterward, when all the parties represented are grown old, what bitter satire there is in those flaunting childish family-portraits, with their farce of sentiment and smiling lies and innocence so self-conscious and self-satisfied. (p. 250)

  4. To watch the behaviour of a fine lady to other an humbler women is a very good sport for a philosophical frequenter of Vanity Fair. (p. 300)

  5. Next to conquering in war, conquering in love has been a source of pride, time out of mind, among men in Vanity Fair, or how should school-boys brag of their amours or Don Juan be popular? (p. 309)

  6. Time out of mind, strength and courage have been the theme of cards and romance, and from the story of Troy down to to-day, poetry has always chosen a soldier for a hero. I wonder is it because men are cowards in heart that they admire bravery so much, and place military valor so far beyond every other quality for reward and worship? (p. 325)

Ex. V. Give a written translation of the following passages into Russian; learn one of the passages by heart (account for your choice).

  1. “Turning one over after another … … had this old worldling to suffer under!” (pp. 251-252)

  2. “There were but nine days past since Amelia … … from the other distant shore. (p. 281)

  3. “Major O’Dowd, who had served … … and when he persisted in marrying the odious Peggy Malony.” (p. 288)

  4. “But it may be said as a rule that … … the moral is surely a good one.” (p. 294)

  5. “Those who know the present Lieutenant General Sir George Tufto … is a wig.” (p. 300)

  6. “When Ney dashed upon the advance … …in which Pauline had so often welcomed him?” (p. 340)

  7. “It is to be feared that … … that the spinster would relent.” (pp. 380-381)

Ex. VI. A) Make an Active Vocabulary List (8 words) (See Ex. VI in Portion I); b) Make a topical vocabulary list based on Portion IV pertaining to:

  1. theatre;

  2. military operations.

Continue your topical vocabulary lists on the themes from Portions I, II, II (see Ex. VI in Portions I, II, III).

Make use of these words and word-combinations in the discussion of Chapters 23-34

Ex. VII. 1. Find: a) obsolescent and obsolete words in Portion IV (pp. 373, 382); b) poetic words (pp. 262, 273)

2. Look up phraseological units with the noun “play” and the verb “to play” in “the English- Russian Phraseological Dictionary” by A.V. Kunin.

Ex. VIII. Analyse the functions of the stylistic devices employed by the author in Chapters 23-34:

  1. epithet (pp. 257, 263, 271, 298, 334, 250 – compound epithets, 266 – a reversed epithet, 297 – a string of epithets)

  2. metaphor (pp. 250, 295, 298, 307, 261, 281 – sustained metaphor)

  3. simile (pp. 269, 295, 301, 302, 310, 340)

  4. climax (p. 291)

  5. allusion (pp. 318, 375 – an allusion to a mythological fact, 294 – an allusion to a literary fact)

  6. periphrasis (pp. 298, 308)

  7. antithesis (pp. 237, 247, 382)

  8. antonomasia (pp. 299, 260)

  9. parallel constructions (pp. 241, 262, 294, 324, 334)

  10. enumeration (pp. 255, 258, 269, 307, 320, 325, 350, 370)

  11. repetition (pp. 241, 262, 271, 320, 325, 334)

  12. polysyndeton (pp. 258, 370, 373)

  13. represented speech (p. 262)

  14. irony (pp. 239, 255, 257, 267, 292, 304, 321)

Ex. Compare the style of the letters on pp. 259, 273 and account for the difference.

Ex. X. Read the extract from Chapter XXVIII looking up all the unfamiliar words in the dictionary by I.R. Galperin: “Those who like to lay down the history book… … actually came to Osborne’s ears in the city.”

^ Ex. XI. Analyse the extract from Chapter XXVIII (see Ex. X). Make use of the sample of text analysis in Ex. XI Portion I.

Ex. XII. Answer the following questions. In your answers use the words and word-combinations from the novel listed in the exercise.

Content-factual information

  1. How did Dobbin try to make up the quarrel between old Mr. Osborne and his son? (plenipotentiary, to transact all the business, part oft he marriage, to reconcile smb to the alliance, to face the head of the Osborne house with the news, to make friends of the rest of the family, to have smb on one’s side, to come round to smb, to have the courage to do smth, to come to the point, delightful, romantic, to hold one’s engagement, to be on smb’s side, to take possession of smb, to speak with perfect fluency, a brave champion, misfortune befalls smb, to touch smb’s heart, to forsake smb, to desert smb, to pass one’s honeymoon, to count on smb, to befriend smb with his father, a runaway match, to rise in smb’s estimation, to debate the story, to wear a look of sentimental wonder, to undertake a task, to perform a task, to dispatch a note to smb, to encourage smb to transact a marriage, to hang one’s head, to send in one’s submission, to teach smb better manners, to summon courage to do smth, differences between smb, to part in charity, to bring about a marriage, sufferings of suspense, to be of one’s making, a high-minded man, to marry for money, to disinherit smb, in case of disobedience, to call smb names, to play fast and loose, to give oneself airs, to start up in undisguised anger, to abuse smb n smb’s hearing, to spare smb, to be in a fit, to make a new will, to indulge in hopes, to bring smth to an end.)

  2. What letter did Dobbin bring to Brighton and how did George and his young wife react to the sad news? (to mask one’s apprehensions, to bring down dismal news, to have an effect upon smb, in smb’s handwriting, to look alarmed, the letter was to the following effect, to cease to consider smb to be a member of the family, final and irrevocable determination, to decline to receive any messages, letters or communications from smb, in consequence of one’s sentimentality, there is no denying that the position is a hard one, to keep up one’s position in the world, to have one’s comforts, to refuse any communication with smb, to fling smb off, to leave smb to poverty, to share poverty and privations in a company with the beloved object, a warm-hearted woman, to check one’s pleasure, a radiant face, an immense deal of money, to counteract the depression occasioned by the disinheriting letter, to amuse the company with accounts of the army in Belgium, to be in store for smb).

  3. How was Amelia introduced to the officers of George’s regiment an to the officers’ wives? (to join one’s regiment, to reply with a blushing smile, to adore and admire smb, simple, artless behaviour, modest kindness of demeanor, to win smb’s unsophisticated heart, to rise immensely in smb’s opinion, to go in command of the regiment, a stout, jolly lady, to present smb, to be delighted to see smb, to grasp smb’s hand warmly, vivacity, an amiable lady, to look upon smb as a sister, to be in smb’s company, to be introduced to a large party of relations, to feel amused and grateful, an incongruous family, to make an agreeable impression, to find fault with smb, to sow one’s wold oats, to have a little triumph, to make smb’s eye sparkle, a gay and graceful manner, to receive smb’s attentions, to answer smb’s compliments, to watch smb affectionately, to glow with pleasure at smb’s kindness, to adopt smb with acclamation, to take one’s eyes off smb, to be ashamed of the company, to exchange into some better regiment, artificial shamefacedness, to come into contact with smb)

  4. Describe Amelia’s meeting with Rebecca in Brussels. Why did Amelia refuse to answer Rebecca’s demonstration of affection? (a dim, uneasy, sentiment about smb fills one’s mind, to kiss each other at parting, to be quartered, one’s heart falls, to ride to perfection, to acknowledge smb’s presence by a gracious word and smile, to meet smb’s cordial greeting with more than corresponding warmth, to have smb for a friend, to take the compliment to oneself, to return the salute with a gracious smile, to pay one’s respects to smb, to be charmed to see smb, gentle eyes, to fix one’s eyes anxiously on smb, to fly to one’s friend with an affectionate rapture, to embrace smb in the presence of the whole house, humbug, in perfect silence, to writhe and twist about like a snake, to act at the general over the way, a timely observation, to be overpowered by smth, one’s worldly rival, a brilliant apparition, to scold smb violently for smth, not to say a word in reply, bashful, awkward, to be doubly affectionate, to take notice of smb’s coolness, not to care a pin for smb, to accept an invitation, to laugh and sneer at smb’s expense, to be free about women, to be a source of pride, to run counter to one’s fate, to carry on a flirtation with smb, to avoid smb in public, to fling smb off with scorn, to be an utter failure, to be dismally unhappy, to greet smb affectionately, to patronize smb, to find fault with smb’s dress, a delightful ball, to lecture smb on smth, to commit follies, to stop sb from gambling, to ruin oneself, to play at cards, to cry one’s eyes out for smb, to wound smb, to be powerless in the hands of one’s remorseless enemy, to frequent parties, to be wild with elation, with a clear conscience, to set little store by smb’s love, to be unworthy of smb, to be fit for marriage, a brief married life, to shrink back, to strike smb with terror, to return smb’s look with steadiness, a false friend, to do smb wrong, to make smb wretched, to draw back one’s hand, to refuse to answer any demonstrations of good will or affection)

  5. Describe the interview between Rawdon and his aunt. What were the consequences of the meeting? (to pass smb by with frigid and killing indifference, to despair, to cease to love smb, to decline to receive smb, to hold a couple of fingers to smb with a good-humoured air, to turn scarlet, to be confused at the meeting, to be sulky, suspicious, to muse upon smth, to get very fat and old, to be coarse in appearance, to vulgarise smb, to work oneself into a nervous rage, in one’s delicate condition, to take the trouble to do smth, indecent, to seize upon smb, to burst into a scream of hysterical tears, to console smb, a spinster, one’s refusal of reconciliation, furious, to burst out laughing at smb’s discomfiture)

  6. How did James Crawley’s career “as a candidate for his aunt’s favour” end? (to send smb over to a place as an ambassador, to be very near getting one’s degree, to have the advantage of Oxford and a university education, handsome fellow, to depart in a despairing mood, to pay a few of smb’s pressing bills, to put up at an inn, a gawky lad, to present oneself to smb, good looks, to pay one’s respects to smb, to praise smb to his face, to take up one’s quarters at a hotel, to invite smb to stay under one’s roof, to persist in being gracious to smb, there are no limits to smb’s kindness or compliments, to accompany smb in smb’s drive, to find oneself in a predicament, one’s tongue unlooses with the port, agreeable frankness, to relapse in one’s usual timidity, to yawn in a pitiable manner, to seem a very silent, awkward, bashful lad, to be of a generous disposition, to tell fatally against smb’s character, to pay smb’s bills, an odious crime, everything goes against smb, lively, facetious, a jocular manner, in preference to smb, to be perfectly satisfied with oneself, to think the matter an excellent joke, to pass a disturbed night, to pollute the house by tobacco)

Contents-conceptual information

  1. Account for the titles of Chapters XXIII and XXXIV. Remember that the title of text is the content-conceptual information of text in a condensed form.

  2. Comment on the author’s ironical description of George’s regiment (to pay for every step in one’s profession by some more than equivalent act of daring and gallantry, a sheep-faced man, meek, to be obedient to one’s wife, to agree with everybody on every conceivable point, to pass through life in perfect ease and good-humour, to preside over the ladies of the regiment, creditable warriors, to swarm with brilliant English equipages, to be crowded with well-to-do English travellers, orderly people, a state of orderly defence, prodigiously good-eating and drinking, most comfortable vessels, to make a well-known journey, to be in profusion, gambling, to spend a great deal of money on a festival).

^ Ex. XIII. Write an essay “The Waterloo Battle”.

Use the following words and word-combinations from the novel:

To tell stirring narratives about the great campaign of Waterloo, the field of Waterloo, the Waterloo proceedings, the famous fight of Waterloo, to be at the battle, to part from smb, to bring forces into the field, to be on the march, to crush smb, to withdraw, to be taken prisoner, to beat the emperor, to rally the army, to crush utterly the advance of the army, a speedy extermination of the enemy, return as prisoners in the rear of the conquering army, to decide the destinies of Europe, a speedy end of the campaign, to bring the war to a close, to dash upon the advance of the allied troops, to carry one position after the other, to change the aspect of the combat, to retreat, to dislodge from one post to another, to occupy a post, to check smb’s movement, the advance of the British in their rear, to be in full flight, to perform prodigies of courage, to withstand the onset of the whole French army, to attack smb, to conquer smb, to hold one’s ground, the entire repulse of the French after a six hours’ battle, to writhe in pain on the hard-fought field, a victim oft he war, to lose officers and men, a severe and doubtful struggle, a prelude to the greatest combat, to win the great battle, to recount the history of the famous action, to receive and repel the furious charges of the French horsemen, to prepare for a final onset, to sweep the English from the height

Ex. XIV. Read “Vanity Fair, Part II and answer the following questions, making use of Appendix and the words and word-combinations listed in Ex. XII in Portions I-IV.


  1. Comment on the title of the novel.

  2. What is the historical background of the novel and what role do the historical events of the time play in the private life and fate of the characters of the novel?

  3. What makes the novel one of the best satirical works in English literature?

  4. What is the author’s attitude towards the representatives of the ruling classes of English and to their mode of life?

  5. How does the author describe women’s education in England at the beginning of the 19th century?

  6. How are the officers of the British army depicted in the novel?

  7. Prove the correctness of the author’s characterization of Becky as “wit without virtue” and that of Amelia as “virtue without wit”.

  8. Are there any positive personages in the novel? Is Dobbin a positive character?

  9. Is Joseph Sedley a humouristic or a satirical character?

  10. Which of the secondary characters do you find the most expressive and vivid?

  11. Comment on the language and style of the novel. What means does the author employ to portray the characters?

  12. Speak on the literary activities of W.M. Thackeray.


Thackeray, William Makepeace

(1811 – 1863)

English novelist whose social satires are classics of English literature, was born at Calcutta, India. Young Thackeray was brought to England from India as a child and sent to a private school.

In 1829 Thackeray went to Trinity college, Cambridge. In 1830 he left Cambridge without taking a degree.

In 1834 Thackeray settled in Paris to study art seriously. In 1837 Thackeray went to London and became a regular contributor to Fraser’s Magazine in which in 1841 “The History of Mr. Samuel Titmarch and the Great Hoggarty Diamond” was published. This work was filled with the wit, humour, satire and pathos which found a more ordered f not a fresher expression in his later works.

Thackeray became a contributor to “Punch” within the first year of its existence; he may be said to have established his reputation by the “Snob Papers” (1846) now knows as “The Book of Snobs”.

“Vanity Fair”, the work which placed Thackeray as a novelist of the first rank, was published in 1846-1848.

This novel was followed by “Pendennis” (1849 – 1850), “Esmond” (1852), “The Newcomes” (1854 – 1855), “The Virginians” (1858 – 1859), “Lovel and Widower” (1861(, “The Adventures of Philip” (1862), “Denis Duval” (1867).

In 1859 Thackeray undertook the editorship of the “Cornhill Magazine”. He resigned the editorship in 1862, though he continued to write for the magazine until he died.

Thackeray dies while the story “Denis Duval”, which promised to be a first-rate work in the “Esmond” manner, was in progress.

He was buried in Kensal Green, and a bust was put up to his memory in Westminster Abbey.

British and Commonwealth Literature. Ed. by David Daiches. Harmondsworth, 1971, pp. 517 – 518

Here is what ^ John Forster, a friend of Thackeray’s in the eighteen-forties, wrote about “Vanity Fair”.

“Vanity Fair” is the work of mind at once accomplished and subtle, which has enjoyed opportunities of observing many and varied circles of society. Its author is endowed with penetrating discrimination and just appreciation of character and with a rare power of graphic delineation. His characters have a reality about them which we do not remember to have met with in any recent work of fiction. They are drawn from actual life, not from books and fancy and they are presented by means of brief, decisive, yet always most discriminative, touches. It never is necessary to have recourse to supplementary reflections and associations, to make amends for dimness and indistinctness in the portraiture. This, for the most part, holds true of all Mr. Thackeray’s characteristic sketches.

“Vanity Fair” must be admitted to be one of the most original works of real genius that has of late been given to the world. The author contemplates many phases of society from a point of view entirely his own.

Thackeray, The Critical Heritage. N.Y. 1968, p. 54

^ Robert Bell, miscellaneous writer and journalist, wrote in 1848:

The follies, vices and meannesses of society are the game hunted down by Mr. Thackeray. He keeps almost exclusively amongst the middle-classes, not the fashionable circles, but the people who ape them. The life that is here painted is not that of high comedy, but of satiric farce; and it is the business of the artist to show all its deformities, its cringing affectations, its paltry pride, its despicable finery, its lying, treachery, and penury of soul in broadest light.

The special section of society painted in this book resembles, in more particulars that mere debauchery of life, the conduct of masquerade where a character is put on as a disguise, ad played out with the best skill of the actor, until drunkenness or the death-bed betrays his secret.

Thackeray. The Critical Heritage. N.Y., 1968, p. 54

An extract from a review in the “Spectator” (July, 1848) by ^ Robert Pintoul, a journalist in Edinburgh and London.

“Vanity Fair” is said by its author to be a novel without a hero, which is undoubtedly a truth, but the heroines do not make up for this omission since one is without a heart, and the other – without a head.

The manner in which Amelia yields to her extreme attachment to a selfish, worthless, neglectful young man as well as Dobbin, is rather mawkish than interesting.

Rebecca Sharp, is the principal person of the book, with whom nearly all the others are more or less connected, and a very wonderfully drawn picture. She is, as a woman, scheming for self-advancement, without either heart or principle, yet with a constitutional vivacity and a readiness to please, that save her from the contempt or disgust she deserves. A similar want of attractive sympathy runs through the make characters either from grossness, weakness, sordidness, or vice.

Sir Pitt Crawley – the selfish, low-minded baronet, the coarsest of the coarse old school, who cannot spell, and who living meanly, acting harshly and cruelly, and exercising great shrewdness in money matters, is notwithstanding always a loser – is a capital portrait, and, though exceptional even in his day, still might be found in life.

There are numerous other characters, which, if not quite so powerfully painted as these, are quite as truthful individually.

…Thackeray once wrote of himself: “I take a sort of pleasure in saying destructive things in a good humoured jolly way.”

Thackeray. The Critical Heritage. N.Y. 1968, p. 64

Thackeray. The Major Novels by Juliet Mc Master.

Toronto, 1971, pp. 13-39

^ Narrative Technique: Vanity Fair.

…There are the various roles that the author chooses to play within the world of his characters – so at one point we hear how he actually met Dobbin and Amelia in Pumpernickel. And there are the roles he adopts as historian, and commentator with the attitude, ranging from worldly wise to sentimental that go with him, one of these roles is that of the writer amused at the fictional extravagances of his colleagues, and delighting in showing them up to his reader by passages of burlesque and portentous talk about conquering heroes. Somewhere there is Thackeray the man who talks to the reader with a quite human set of preferences about his characters, almost as though they were autonomous beings and who occasionally gives us details about his own family and activities, and the conception of his story. And comprehending them all is Thackeray the artist, who is, one suspects, rather wiser, than Thackeray the man, though the great wisdom of the man is that like Socrates, he knows his limitations. Thackeray may infringe the rules of consistency, but in the process he can connect the novel’s world with his reader’s and involve us personally in the lives of his characters…

Another means by which Thackeray cements the relationship between himself and the reader, which to so large an extent sustains his created illusion, is his use of burlesque. It is characteristic of the novelist who depends on irony and an intimate communication with his reader, like Fielding, Jane Austen, and Thackeray, that parody is an initial creative impulse.

There are still some passages of direct parody in his novels, but for the most part Thackeray gave us direct parody in his novels for a light texture of burlesque supported by a sophisticated pattern of allusion and frequent remarks on his determination to write about men and women, not heroes and heroines, about the everyday occurrences of ordinary life, not the wild coincidences and providential resolutions of romance and so on.

“Vanity Fair” deserves its subtitle of “A Novel without a Hero”, because the specifically unheroic nature of man – and of woman too, is his subject.

It is to be the reader’s business in Vanity Fair, to distinguish between the true and the false, both in life and in literature. The progress of his plot does not depend on any crucial development of a character’s consciousness; it is the reader who must do the developing.

…The author’s emphasis on the incongruity betwee romance and reality, or between the pose and the truth, is both subject and technique in “Vanity Fair”.

…Another of Thackeray’s strengths is his power of understatement: “No more firing was heard of Brussels – the pursuit rolled miles away. Darkness came down on the field and city, and Amelia was praying for George, who was lying on his face, dead, with a bullet through his heart.”

A piece of information to which other novelists might have devoted chapters of ranting and posturing is relegated to a subordinate clause; herein lies its power.

…”Vanity Fair” is a great novel not in spite of the authorial presence but because of it, for it is what gives the novel its immediacy of appeal as well as its universality of application.

^ W.M. Thackeray

Thackeray’s criticism is strong, his satire is sharp and bitter. He is a genius in portraying negative characters; his positive characters are less vivid, but all of them are true to life. Thackeray used to say that he wished to describe men and women as they really are.

In his novels Thackeray gives a vivid description of the upper classes of society, their mode of life, manners and tastes. He shows their pride and tyranny, their hypocrisy and snobbishness and their selfishness and general wickedness, his knowledge of human nature is broad and his portrayal of it is keenly analytical. The picture of life of the ruling classes of England in the 19th century as drawn by Thackeray remains a classical example of social satire up to the present day he developed the realistic traditions of his predecessors, the enlighteners, Jonathan Swift and Henry Fielding in particular, and became one of the most prominent realists and satirists of his age. The world to him is Vanity fair where men and women to sue his own words “are greedy, pompous, mean, perfectly satisfied and at ease about their superior virtue. They despise poverty and kindness of heart. They are snobs.”

Thackeray loathed snobbishness, and in his works he used satire to expose the pretensions of the snobs and social climbers whom he depicts in his novels.

* * *

“Thackeray possesses great talent … What a wealth of art, how precise and thorough are his observations, what a knowledge of life, of the human heart, what a bright and noble power of love, what a subtle humour, how precise and distinct are his depictions, how wonderfully charming his narration.”


^ The Origin of the Novel

The subtitle of the book shows the author’s intention not to describe separate individuals, but English bourgeois-aristocratic society as a whole. The title of the book is borrowed from “The Pilgrim’s Progress”, an allegorical novel written by John Bunyan, one of the greatest writers oft he second half of the 17th century.

The hero of Bunyan’s novel comes to a great city where there is a fair, where everything is on sale. “…a fair wherein should be sold all sorts … of vanity, and that it should last all year long. Therefore at this fair, are all such merchandise sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honours, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts, as … wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not.

And, moreover, at this fair there are at all times to be seen jugglings, cheats, games, plays, fools, apes, knaves, and rogues, and that of every kind.”

Everybody there thinks only of his own interests. Such qualities as honour and dignity are of no value. To achieve his aim a man is ready to kill or devour any human being, no matter whether he be friend or enemy. The same idea is expressed by Thackeray in his masterpiece “Vanity fair.”

The social background of the novel which influenced all the characters in their thoughts and actions, is high society at large. Thackeray attacks the vanity, pretensions, prejudices ad corruption of the aristocracy (the Crawleys); the narrow-mindedness and greed of the bourgeoisie (the Osbornes, the Sedleys). Her mercilessly exposes the snobbishness, hypocrisy, money-worship and parasitism of all those who form the bulwark of society.

The interest of the novel centres on the characters rather than on the plot. The author shows various people, and their thoughts and actions in different situations. There is no definitive hero in the book. In Thackeray’s opinion there can be no hero in a society where the cult of money rules the world…

Thackeray divides society into “rogues” and “dupes”. The characters are different, but their fates have much in common. They are victims of a society where evil rules the world. Shallow people … shallow lives, shallow interests … The author compares his characters to puppets, and society as a whole to a puppet show.

^ Thackeray’s style

A notable characteristic of Thackeray’s style is the frequent interruption of the narrative in order that he might, as he himself says, talk to the reader about the characters.

Thackeray seldom tells the reader what he thinks of this or that character directly, he does it indirectly, his attitude is usually expressed either by different personages in the novel (see Becky’s letter to Amelia) or by means of vivid and graphic descriptions which invite the reader to share the author’s opinion.

“Vanity Fair” is one of the greatest examples of 19th century critical realism. It is an exceedingly rich novel. The action is carried forwards by a series of plots and subplots; the setting is detailed and varied, the characters are real individuals, puzzling combinations of good and bad, who have been remembered and talked about from Thackeray’s days to our own. Towering over all, is Thackeray’s ability to expose in his novel the cruel laws of capitalism, which rule the capitalist world up to now.

^ Dickens and Thackeray

“Of all the European writers of the present time Dickens alone ca be placed on a level with the author of Vanity Fair.”


Dickens is magnificently successful in depicting common people, but he is ill acquainted with the upper classes while Thackeray is the penetrating analyst of both middle class and aristocratic society.

Thackeray’s realism is different from that of Dickens; it is less combined with fantasy and lyricism, it is more exact and objective. While Dickens idealizes his positive characters (sometimes they are too good to be true and the author’s attitude towards them is somewhat sentimental). Thackeray portrays his characters more realistically. They are not static; his women characters, in particular, develop as the story progresses. Thackeray describes things and human beings as existing outside his mind, they are shown as natural results of their environment and the society which bred them. He depicts his characters as if viewing them from afar. This was a new feature in literature, which was followed by many other writers and was later called objective realist in literature. Dickens was more optimistic than Thackeray was. He tried to reform people and thought that that was the way to make them happy. In Thackeray’s opinion the existing state of things could not be changed though he saw that bourgeois morals had fallen into decay, and he subjected these morals to severe criticism, which is the chief merit of his works.

Unlike Dickens, Thackeray is unable to see man reformed in the future.

Thackeray’s pessimism marks the beginning of the crisis of bourgeois humanism, which began in the middle of the 19th century and found its full expression in the literature of the second half of the age (the 19th century).

English Literature. M. Hecker, T. Volosova, A. Doroshevish, M., 1975


Ф.Г. Овчинникова. Л., 1961, стр. 5-30

Вершины реалистического мастерства и непревзойдённой силы обличения достигает Теккерей в романе “Ярмарка тщеславия”. Все его критические наблюдения над современным обществом объединяются здесь в широкой панораме романа-хроники.

Следя за судьбами добродетельной беззащитной Эмилии Сэдли и энергичной, ловкой женщины Ребекки Шарп, читатель знакомится с многолюдным миром “Ярмарки тщеславия”, т.е. со всей так называемой “респектабельной Англией”.

Название “Ярмарка тщеславия” заимствовано из религиозно-нравоучительного сочинения “путь паломника” Джона Беньяна (1628–1688) (John Bunyan “The Pilgrim’s Progress”), повествующего о злоключениях простодушных паломников на торжище житейской суеты (или, иначе, ярмарке тщеславия). Аллегория эта изображает складывающееся на глазах автора буржуазное общество как бесчеловечный и преступный мир, где всё корыстно и продажно.

“Путь паломника” был хорошо известен в середине 19 века каждому грамотному англичанину, так что название романа сразу указывало на связь идейного замысла романа с обличительной аллегорией Беньяна.

Особую роль с романе автор отводит Ребекке, сделав все её стремления и поступки сконцентрированным выражением хищнического эгоизма буржуазного общества.

Подзаголовок “Ярмарки тщеславия” – “Роман без героя” – указывает на отсутствие в романе положительного героя – выразителя идеалов писателя. Отказ писателя от положительного героя был честным признанием моральной несостоятельности буржуазного общества.

…Теккерей серьёзно задумывался над путями и средствами достижения жизненной правды. Требуя от автора романа проникновения во внутреннюю сущность характеров и явлений жизни, он, не отказываясь от сатирического заострения образов, считал необходимым условием сохранения определённой меры внешнего правдоподобия. Писатель никогда не доводит сатирическое заострение до гиперболы. В обрисовке большинства персонажей романа он сочетает сатирическую характеристику с изображением естественных человеческих черт, одним из его излюбленный сатирических приёмов оказывается сатирический комментарий к характеристике и поступкам действующий лиц или нравам и порядкам буржуазного общества.

Теккерей – воспитатель общества и моралист – неизменно присутствует в своих произведениях, то и дело вступает в непосредственную беседу с читателем, разъясняя сущность происходящего события. Он как бы делает вид, что принимает за истину и норму моральные принципы и обычаи этого общества и разоблачает их, доводя до абсурда.

Целям сатиры служат также смысловые имена и названия, которые он даёт действующим лицам или местожительству, оттеняя их характерные свойства.

Разнообразные и смысловые художественные приёмы помогли Теккерею создать в “Ярмарке тщеславия” жизненно верное и сатирически заострённое изображение буржуазной Англии своего времени, не утратившее обличительной силы до наших дней.

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 – 1863) was a relatively little known author when, in January 1847, his ^ Vanity Fair began to appear in the popular Punch magazine in twenty monthly parts. If the serial made no immediate impact, it was probably because its early episodes and subtitle, ‘Pen and Pencil Sketches of English Society’, suggested a work of loosely connected sketches in the typical Punch satiric manner, to whose conventions Thackeray further conformed by supplying his own illustrations or ‘candles’. Significantly, the author’s letters during the first stages of composition show that the ‘Sketches’ were evolving in ways that he had not anticipated. His gathering serial audience was being similarly surprised – into admiring enthusiasm. After reading an early number, Thomas Carlyle’s wife Jane wrote to her husband that Thackeray’s work was ‘very good indeed, beats Dickens out of the world’. Soon after, the serial’s first ten numbers were favourably greeted by the Edinburgh Review. It was, however, left to Charlotte Brontл, an avid reader of Thackeray’s serial, to champion its author as a new star in the firmament. Her preface to the second edition of Jane Eyre, prepared in December 1847 (when the Vanity Fair serial was roughly at mid-point), greeted Thackeray’s achievement and prompted her to explain: ‘I have alluded to him, Reader, because I think I see in him an intellect profounder and more unique than his contemporaries have yet recognised; because I regard him as the first social regenerator of the day… [and] because to him … I have dedicated this second edition of “Jane Eyre”’. Thackeray’s serial having been a considerable succиs d’estime, the novel was published in volume form in 1848 with a new and provocative subtitle, ‘A Novel without a Hero’.

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