Why does Woolf state that women have more inward “ghosts to fight, many prejudices to overcome” than men? Is it because of sex differences during the early 1900’s or is it because men can publicly share their inner conflict? Is she stating that being a man is easier than a woman? Or is it hinting that women have more complex self-conflict and doubt because of societal pressures and norms strongly advising them to act a certain way? It certainly has to be one of these factors and to imply that men are less complex than women avoids the question. I think Woolf means that women have more ‘ghosts’ because they are often kept in the dark. Many women are self-sufficient and yet even in our modern times of proposed equality women have more intensive gender roles than men do. I think this is what Woolf is trying to capture is that women have more pressure to act within the confines of society while men have relative freedom to take chances and pose a lesser risk to their well being if they do. Women, on the other hand, are outcast for going against the grain, so to speak, and that is why they have prejudice to overcome.
What purpose does Thackeray have in the novel by not presenting a hero? Is it because he thinks that Hero’s are overrated? Or is it that a hero has no place in upper society? Or is it simply because there are no real heroes in life?
There isn’t a heroic figure in Vanity Fair because Thackeray is presenting more than a novel on upper society but a take on life itself. The construct just happens to be the upper classes because those were the people who people looked to as a source of what life should be like while the truth is far from that. Thackeray is painting a picture of life as he knew it and in the mix imparting some wisdom about life. In Vanity Fair, there are no heroes, but there are plenty of examples of the different types of people. The self centered (Becky), the caring (Amelia), the father (Rawdon), and many others as well. There are role models and not so great models of behavior. It shows the ups and downs and unfortunate events that occur in life. The loss of a loved one, missed opportunities, lying, cheating, stealing. All of it apart of the human condition and all of it implicit in the way that Thackeray knew life.
Beginning in chapter 36, is there an ongoing struggle of good vs evil or light vs dark occurring? In chapter 36 and the following few chapters, the course of events seems to present themselves in the light of there being some sort of struggle between good and evil or light and dark beginning with how Becky deals with their creditors and her affair with Lord Steyne. This continues on into the relationship that Rawdon has with his son, a reformed soldier that is eventually shown to be a caring and adoring father or an example of what is decent in the world. On the other hand, Becky is the evil, moral stricken wrench that is ripping off creditors and neglecting her husband whom is only looking to do what’s best for their child. The battle seems to continue outwards with Josephs refusal to participate in his parents ‘shady’ business and Amelia’s refusal to medicate Georgy in defiance of her mother.
What purpose does the conflict between Becky and Amelia serve throughout the novel? Is it merely to highlight the differences between the two, to paint Amelia as the nice, lovely girl that everyone wants and Becky as the heartless cruel wretch willing to do anything to climb the social ladder? Or, does it serve a literary purpose of plot advancement? The relationship between Becky and Amelia is complex and even malicious at times but the two of them continue to be friends, or rather acquaintances, despite the conflict and tension between them.
In Chapter XXXI, the conflict between Becky and Amelia seems to come to a climax when Amelia is nearly worried to death about the safety of George and Becky is contemplating how she could climb the ladder further if Rawdon died. The climax occurs when Amelia lashes out at Becky and says “His (George) love was everything to me. You knew it, and wanted to rob me of it. For shame, Rebecca; bad and wicked woman – false friend and false wife” (309). This quote blatantly shows Becky as the person she is and points out that Amelia has been hurt by her actions. This seems to show that the relationship between Becky and Amelia serves as a contrasting marker by which to judge their morality.