Vanity Fair Essay

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In the following essay, Peck explores "the relentless nature of Thackeray's onslaught on the middle class" in Vanity Fair.

This revolting reflex of society is literally true
enough. But it does not shew us the whole truth. Are
there not women, even in Vanity Fair, capable of nobler
things than are here set down for them? (Robert
Bell. Fraser's Magazine, 1848)



Everywhere we turn in the early reviews of Vanity Fair we encounter this kind of criticism; the reviewers are enthusiastic but appreciation of the brilliance of Thackeray's performance is always qualified by reservations about his view of human nature. Modern critics have, of course, moved beyond the moral quibbling evident in the early reviews. Essentially, criticism of the novel now follows one of three courses: there is appreciation of the complexity of its moral and social vision, or praise for Thackeray's handling of the narrative voice, or, and...

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This section contains 6,224 words
(approx. 16 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Vanity Fair Study Guide
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Vanity Fair from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.