"For all her energy and wit, Becky is selfish, destructive and ultimately evil". Discuss.

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"For all her energy and wit, Becky is selfish, destructive and ultimately evil". Discuss.

William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair initially gives a bad impression of Rebecca Sharp - amorality, apathy, avarice and "artfulness" are all part of the nasty picture. Indeed, a reader would be forgiven for simply saying "she's evil" or "she's nice" - the narrator's meaning seems so ambiguous, with Becky coming across as a simultaneously likeable but clearly ruthless character. This essay aims to form a more balanced view of Becky.

Indeed, you would certainly be forgiven for forming this opinion of Becky based on a summary of the play. If at first the reader's view of Rebecca is softened slightly by her wit and charisma - especially when compared to the pathetic Amelia Sedley. However, as the book goes on, Rebecca appals the reader with her abandonment of her background, her friends and even her child for her goal of social climbing in Vanity Fair". The latter is possibly the turning point of the reader's view of Becky - the way she completely ignores her own son, Rawdy ("He is hidden upstairs in a garret somewhere or has crawled below into the kitchen for companionship"), ridicules her own husband for being so "soft" as to be bothered with him, and leaves all his care to a maid. Her own son bores her, and she destroys any innocence or good nature he originally had. "Seeing that tenderness was the fashion", Becky kisses little Rawdon with high society friends around her "for the camera", so to speak; that is the most affection Rawdy ever gets from Rebecca, and

Becky hates him even more when he remarks, shocked, that "You never kiss me at home, mamma". Lord Steyne and Becky gang up on little Rawdon, so much that the poor fellow is reduced to physically putting up his fists to defend himself from Lord Steyne.

Becky also appals the render with her sheer callousness: her willingness to toy with her friends' emotions in order to advance her social situation. This apathy towards emotional life suggests a certain naivety and inexperience in social matters.
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Perhaps Becky is rather naive, then. You would certainly never think it at first - she proves that she's adept in sexual trickery during the very early stages of the book - but emotionally naivety can be hard to detect.

Yet a lot of the signs point to her thinking she has the upper hand, just before it all comes crashing down on her head - Lord Steyne's "favours" are a case in point. If Rebecca had had any foresight or emotional knowledge she would have realised that this was the inevitable consequence of such "blackmail" and ...

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