The Role of Captain Dobbin in Vanity Fair

Tall, awkward, and not particularly easy on the eyes, Dobbin is different than his upper class peers,a stuttering standout amongst the beautiful, eloquent, and impeccably dressed. What role does Dobbin play in  Vanity Fair? How does his character contribute the Thackeray’s commentary on the upper class?

On one hand, Dobbin could be used to soften the readers’ view of the upper class. His acts of kindness, such as buying back Amelia’s piano after her family lost everything, and gentle spirit could prove that not everyone rich and privileged is shallow and selfish. He serves as an encouraging contrast to his louder, more worldly peers.

On the other hand, Dobbin’s behavior could be viewed disfavorably, his flaws no different from those of the rest of the upper class, just manifested in another way. His undying love for Amelia could come off as pathetic, his obsession with her self-indulgent. In going out of his way to see her whenever possible and construing his actions to please and impress her, Dobbin’s motives could be seen as just as selfish and shallow as the rest of high society.

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