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Vanity Fair

The novel Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray satirizes middle-class English society of the early 19th century.


The story opens at Miss Pinkerton's Academy for young ladies, where we meet the protagonists Becky Sharp, an intelligent and cunning young woman determined to make her way in society, and Amelia Sedley a good natured and kind rich girl. The book accompanies Becky and Amelia's life through happy times and sorrowful days between London, Brighton, the countryside and... the Battle of Waterloo.


With a very few exceptions, none of the characters in the novel are good; they are all flawed in very human ways. Vanity Fair can be seen as an exposition of human flaws (vanity itself being chief among them) and paints a fairly bleak view of the human condition.

The term "vanity fair" originates from the allegorical novel Pilgrim's Progress published in 1678 by John Bunyan, and from the fair held in the town of Vanity in that work.

Vanity Fair is also the name of a large-circulation American glamour magazine. See Vanity Fair magazine.