Vanity Fair

This classic novel by William Thackeray, written at around 1650s, is probably the most painfully read book on my part. I bought it one or two years prior to my leave for the States; that is, about 7 or 8 years ago. I did not just put the book in my bookshelf, like I have done with the complete work of Shakespeare, and the Origin of Species, for future reading: I embarked on reading the text for a few times in these years – the first time finished no more than 100 pages, the second time more than 200, the third time about 50. I just could not finish it. It is just not so easy to comprehend the author’s writings, not mentioning all those time-specific names and customs. But I felt that I could not waste my time any more, and I have to finish it, after watching its Hollywood adaptation, starring with my favorite actress, Reese Witherspoon, as Becky Sharp and the later Mrs. Rawdon Crawley, for two times, and deeply aroused by it.

vanityfairSo I have read it. I enjoyed it quite much. The plot is a little different than that of the Hollywood film, e.g., at the end Becky did not have a happy ending with the fat Jos in India riding elephants. No, no, in Vanity Fair, one gets what one is deserved. So Becky Sharp, the charming, clever, manipulative, resourceful, ambitious, and devilish girl who succeeded in marrying the young Dante with a great potential of gaining 70,000 pounds from the old spinster, Miss Crawley, and, after the temporary setback due to the old lady’s unforgiveness toward the eloped couple, lived a pompous life on nothing, or actually, on other poor soul’s money, and rose up in the society with the built up connections with Lord Steyne, was thrown down to the bottom right at the night when she climbed to the peak of her reputation among the gentlemen and ladies, by her husband, the long time neglected, usually despised, and frequently used as a slave and pauper, Colonel Crawley, who burst furiously in anger when, released from the jail for his debt in gambling, and upon walking into his own rented house, saw the beautiful Becky with the infamous Lord Steyne, and separated his wife in the after mornings. Becky, in this sense, is similar to the famous Miss Xifeng Wang, of the Red Chamber Dream, who is also beautiful, smart, manipulative, and considers anyone else her inferior, and takes advantage from anyone else. And finally, such person gets ruined by her own deeds.

Or, in another sense, these people, Becky Sharp and Xifeng Wang, are like those managers that, because of their previous successes, they are promoted to positions beyond their capacities, and prove themselves to be incompetent, as declared by the Peter Principle. Only, in these cases, there are not a higher manager but they themselves, who do the job to promote themselves in the social ladder toward the peak, and self-destruction, without understanding exactly what is their aim in the life.

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