Vanity Fair | Study Guide

William Makepeace Thackeray

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Vanity Fair | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • Early 1810s

    Amelia and Becky complete school, and Becky launches her plan to marry into wealth.

    Chapter 1
  • A few weeks later

    Becky turns down Sir Pitt's marriage proposal because she has already married Rawdon.

    Chapter 14
  • Around the same time

    Dobbin has persuaded George to marry Amelia, but George's father disinherits him.

    Chapter 24
  • Not long after

    Dobbin, George, and Rawdon are deployed to Brussels to prepare for the fight against Napoleon.

    Chapter 28
  • Soon after; Brussels

    George wants to run away with Becky but spends the night before battle with his wife.

    Chapter 29
  • June 1815

    George dies fighting, but Dobbin and Rawdon survive.

    Chapter 32
  • Months later; England

    Amelia returns to her parents, dotes on her son, and drives Dobbin away.

    Chapter 35
  • At the same time

    Rawdon adores and raises his son, while Becky flirts her way into elite circles in Paris and London.

    Chapter 37
  • A few years later

    Amelia lets Mr. Osborne raise Georgy.

    Chapter 46
  • About the same time

    Becky gains Lord Steyne's patronage, and she and Rawdon live on credit to appear wealthy.

    Chapter 48
  • A few months later

    Rawdon is jailed for debt, and the truth about Becky begins to dawn on him.

    Chapter 53
  • After Rawdon makes bail

    Because Rawdon struck him, Lord Steyne gets Rawdon sent to a remote island as governor.

    Chapter 55
  • When Georgy is about 12

    Dobbin returns from India to profess love for Amelia again, but she still loves George's memory.

    Chapter 59
  • Soon after

    Before he dies, Mr. Osborne leaves half of his estate to Georgy and an income to Amelia.

    Chapter 61
  • After Mr. Osborne's death

    Dobbin, Jos, and Amelia travel to Germany and encounter Becky.

    Chapter 63
  • In Germany

    Dobbin's disapproval of Becky leads to a fallout with Amelia.

    Chapter 66
  • Soon after

    Becky shows Amelia the letter George wrote to her, and Amelia realizes Dobbin is the better man.

    Chapter 67
  • After the revelation

    Dobbin and Amelia return to England and marry.

    Chapter 67
  • Meanwhile, in Europe

    Becky and Jos stay behind, but Jos dies shortly after signing his life insurance over to Becky.

    Chapter 67
  • Shortly afterward

    Becky moves away to Bath and lives a circumspect life, shunned by her former friends.

    Chapter 67

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Before the Curtain–Chapter 4 In this short preface, the narrator presents himself as the "manager of the Performance" at a traveling fair—what toda... Read More
Chapters 5–7 The narrator takes readers to Swishtail Seminary to introduce William Dobbin, another central character in Vanity Fair... Read More
Chapters 8–11 In this chapter, readers hear Becky Sharp's voice for more than a few sentences at a time as she writes a long letter ... Read More
Chapters 12–14 The narrator takes leave of Becky Sharp's story and brings the narrative back to Amelia Sedley in London. He acknowled... Read More
Chapters 15–18 Sir Pitt Crawley is indignant at Becky Sharp's revelation that she is already married, and asks, "Who'd ever go to mar... Read More
Chapters 19–22 Mrs. Bute Crawley installs herself at Miss Matilda Crawley's London home as her nurse and confidante, part of her camp... Read More
Chapters 23–25 The narrator observes that even the most reserved person may become "wise, active, and resolute" when acting on behalf... Read More
Chapters 26–29 George Osborne, Amelia Sedley, Jos Sedley, and William Dobbin stay in a lavish hotel on their way back from Brighton, ... Read More
Chapters 30–32 The narrator claims not to be a "military novelist," and as such, hangs back from the regiment's experience at the fro... Read More
Chapters 33–35 Back in Brighton, Miss Matilda Crawley follows the news of the war and continues to lament that Rawdon Crawley, who ea... Read More
Chapters 36–38 The narrator ponders how people are able to make ends meet each year in Vanity Fair. To live and survive is an expensi... Read More
Chapters 39–42 Back in Hampshire, Reverend and Mrs. Bute Crawley are adjusting to their lack of expected inheritance from Miss Crawle... Read More
Chapters 43–46 The scenery of the novel shifts abruptly to India, where Major O'Dowd is stationed with Mrs. O'Dowd, his sister Glorvi... Read More
Chapters 47–50 The narrator learns about Lord Steyne, the marquis who has become close with Becky Sharp, from a character named Tom E... Read More
Chapters 51–53 After Becky Sharp's introduction to Lord Steyne's friends, she quickly finds a way to receive an invitation to their p... Read More
Chapters 54–56 As Pitt Crawley and his family begin to wake up the next morning, Rawdon Crawley enters their house on Gaunt Street in... Read More
Chapters 57–60 Tensions between the elder Sedley and Osborne men are reflected in Georgy's attitude toward Mr. John Sedley. Mr. John ... Read More
Chapters 61–63 Mr. John Sedley and Mr. John Osborne both pass away suddenly, but not before Mr. Osborne tells Georgy that Mr. Sedley ... Read More
Chapters 64–67 Although the reader may be curious as to what has transpired for Becky Sharp since her last appearance in the story, t... Read More
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