Trivia Quiz for Vanity Fair (1847-48) by William Makepeace Thackeray
For West Seattle “Classic Novels (and Movies)” book club, 2/26/23
Vanity Fair: A Novel Without a Hero (first pub. in serial form 1847-1848)
With answers at end
A. The Complicated Unfolding: Characters and Relationships.
1. Secrets revealed. People’s secrets come to light in many ways—gradual and abrupt—in the pages of Vanity Fair. Which one of the following is not true?
a. Becky Crawley, née Sharp, was born into the French aristocracy as a member of the Montmorency lineage.
b. Amelia Osborne, née Sedley, never realizes that her husband was an unfaithful, callous cad until the end of the book when Becky tells how he lied and cheated, to her face.
c. During his years of service abroad, Major Dobbin provides, anonymously, the revenue that keeps Amelia Osborne’s family out of financial ruin.
d. The climate of Coventry Island, where Col. Rawdon Crawley attains his highest rank in His Majesty’s government, will prove fatal to him.
2. Mysteries remain. Despite the many dénouements in the second half, significant doubts nag at the reader. Some things we know, however. Which one of the following enigmas is resolved?
a. Will Colonel Dobbin remain loyal to his lady-love, Amelia Osborne?
b. Will Lady Becky Crawley be content to lead a respectable life and avoid swindling people forever?
c. Will Georgy Osborne marry a member of the Bareacres clan?
d. Is it true, as the narrator writes, that “girls like a rake better than a milksop”?
B. Irony, heavy at times. Thackeray’s narratorial voice, and the novel’s characters, do not hesitate to manipulate and lie to each other, often with funny/cringe-inducing results.
Match the comment to the person speaking or being described. The characters: a. Rawdon Crawley; b. Amelia Sedley; c. Jos Sedley ; d. George Osborne; e. Sir Pitt Crawley; f. Becky Crawley
3. “It was only from her French being so good, that you could know she was not a born woman of fashion.”
4. “But he was as lonely here as in his jungle at Bobbley Wollah.”
5. “What’s the good of being in Parliament, if you have to pay your debts?”
6. “Alas, alas! I fear poor X had not a well-regulated mind. What were her parents doing, not to keep this little heart from beating so fast?”
7. “Since he’s been home, they say he’s a regular Don Giovanni, by Jove.”
8. “’If he had but a little more brains,’ she thought to herself, ‘I might make something of him,’ but she never let him perceive the opinion she had of him… laughed at all his jokes.”
C. 9. Education, sometimes heavy-handed. Vanity Fair could be considered a moralistic book, for all the maxims and lessons it contains. Which of the following is not in Vanity Fair ?
a. “The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face. Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly at you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion.”
b. “If you are guilty, tremble.”
c. “Before a man goes to the devil himself, he sends plenty of other souls thither.”
d. “What a charming reconciler and peacemaker money is!”
e. “Rich baronets do not need to be careful about grammar, as poor governesses must be.”
f. “Never be squeamish, but speak out your compliment both point-blank in a man’s face, and behind his back, when you know there’s a reasonable chance of his hearing it again.”
g. All are in Vanity Fair.
10. Funny sayings and words! Funny names, vocabulary and euphemisms. Thackeray’s narrator invents funny sayings and neologisms to make us laugh. Which of the following is not in Vanity Fair ?
a. Snoring is called “the gentle but unromantic music of the nose.”
b. An aristocratic estate is called “Humdrum Hall.”
c. While being wooed by Glorvina O’Dowd, Dobbin remains “in a state of the most odious tranquility.”
d. An insincere servant is named “Uriah Heep.”
11. Historical context: Does it matter? Vanity Fair takes place in England and Belgium during the period 1814-1830 or so, yet on the eve of Waterloo the narrator claims “When the decks are cleared for action we go below and wait meekly” (297).
Are the characters unaffected by historical events such as the Battle of Waterloo (where the British beat the French with allied forces) and the French Revolution of 1830, which overthrew the Bourbon monarchy?
Yes, they are unaffected by historical events.
No, they are greatly affected by historical events, even if the book does not describe those events taking place.
9. g. (Thackeray has lots of advice for readers!)
10. d. Uriah Heep is a character in Dickens, David Copperfield.
11. No, they are greatly affected by historical events, even if the book does not describe those events taking place.
Come back next month for our quiz on Faulkner, Light in August!