The Narrator and Hypocrisy in Vanity Fair

Throughout the novel, the narrator breaks the linear telling of the story to provide snarky comments and interesting side-notes. In Chapter 38, he remarks that he knows no “sort of lying . . . more frequent in Vanity Fair than” how hypocritical people are- pretending to be virtuous when really all they do is successfully deceive the world as to their true character but does the narrator mean this in a praising way? Or is he meant to be neutral or even critical of this type of behavior?

The quote comes from a passage regarding Mrs. Bute, who it seems that the narrator dislikes. She’s mean to her children, horrible to her husband and still manages to keep up outward appearances. However, Becky isn’t winning the world’s greatest mother award any time soon and she, too, takes advantage of her kind husband all for the sake of rising in society, and yet, the narrator seems to elevate her above Mrs. Bute. But why? Is it because Becky’s the underdog? Is it even still fair to say that Becky’s doing it because she has the task of making a life for herself while Mrs. Bute, a born wealthy woman, is just rude? Or does the narrator have absolutely no preference for anyone and merely chose this instance to highlight hypocrisy in the Vanity Fair? And the ever-lingering question: can we trust this narrator or is he as much a hypocrite as those on which he passes judgment?

12 thoughts on “The Narrator and Hypocrisy in Vanity Fair

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