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Vanity Fair - Summary

Vanity Fair is a movie based on William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic novel by the same name. The story follows the life of an orphan who grows up in England in the early 1800s. The movie is about Rebecca "Becky" Sharp (child Angelica Mandy, adult Reese Witherspoon). Orphaned at a young age, Becky attends Miss Pinkerton's Academy for Young Ladies until she is grown. 

Upon leaving the academy she accepts a position as a governess to Sir Pitt Crawley’s (Bob Hoskins) daughters. Sir Pitt Crawley also has two adult sons—Pitt Crawley and Captain Rawdon Crawley. Sir Pitt’s elder half-sister, Miss Matilda Crawley (Eileen Atkins), comes for a visit and is impressed with Becky when she finds that Becky speaks French. Becky explains that her mother was French and also shares that her father was an artist.

Miss Crawley takes Becky to live with her in London. In London, Becky begins a relationship with Captain Rawdon Crawley and secretly marries him. When Miss Crawley finds out about the marriage, she throws Becky out and cuts off all contact with her nephew. 

Becky’s best friend, Amelia Sedley (Romola Garai), introduces her to many wealthy people in England. Becky meets Amelia's brother Joseph "Jos" Sedley (Tony Maudsley), Amelia's boyfriend Captain George Osborne (Jonathan Rhys Meyers), and Captain William Dobbin (Rhys Ifans). Amelia elopes with George, who is disinherited by his father due to the marriage.

While these events take place, Napoleon escapes from Elba and is once again in control of France. Rawdon, George, and William are suddenly deployed to Belgium as part of the Duke of Wellington's army. Becky and Amelia decide to accompany their husbands.

In the ensuing Battle of Waterloo, George is killed. Amelia bears him a posthumous son, who is also named George. William begins to express his love for the widowed Amelia by small kindnesses toward her and her son. 

Becky also has a son, named after his father. The army discharges Rawdon; now has no income. Heavily in debt, due to his gambling, Rawdon is in trouble as creditors try to seize the family’s few possessions.

Wealthy Lord Steyne (Gabriel Byrne), who admires the artwork of Becky’s father, comes to the rescue and pays off the creditors. Lord Steyne re-introduces Becky into London society but expects a relationship with her in return.

Although Becky refuses Steyne's advances, her husband believes she is unfaithful to him and leaves her. The army offers Rawdon a post as the garrison commander on Coventry Island, which he accepts. While stationed on the island he dies of tropical fever. Will Becky find happiness again?

Travel back in time to learn about the Napoleonic Wars. Meet author William Makepeace Thackeray and Becky Sharp, whose life is portrayed in the story.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5139stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 01, 2004

Updated Last Revision: Nov 09, 2016


To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"Vanity Fair" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 01, 2004. Dec 15, 2017.
       <http://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/Vanity-Fair/Summary>.
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