A Novel without a Hero?

One of the titles for Vanity Fair is “A Novel without a Hero.” Is this true? Does Vanity Fair not have a hero? My inclination would be to say Dobbin is the hero of the novel. He is the most honorable and selfless character in Vanity Fair. All others pale in comparison to him because every character seeks only their good. There is no question that Dobbin is nobler than all the other characters. However, is he part of Vanity Fair? Does he qualify to be a part of its selfishness and shallowness? On one hand, Dobbin shows how he unselfishly gives of himself and of his means for Amelia and Georgy (and even George). He constantly provides for them and his only aim is to make Amelia happy. For example, he convinces George to marry her because he knew it was what she wanted most, even though it was contrary to his own desires. Yet, is he selfish in constantly and obsessively thinking about Amelia? Almost every action he takes is somehow related to her. Amelia thought about no one but George and his happiness and she is looked down on for it. Shouldn’t our opinion of Dobbin be the same? He lavished love on a person who did not deserve it. Both Amelia and Dobbin loved a person who was not worth their time. So, since Amelia is part of Vanity Fair, shouldn’t Dobbin be too? Can a person truly be a hero and still be part of Vanity Fair?

9 thoughts on “A Novel without a Hero?

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