Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair Summary and Analysis of Chapters 55 - 60

Summary, Chapter 55 - 60

When Becky wakes, late the next morning, she runs over to Sir Pitt and begs him to help her reconcile with Rawdon. She claims that she was only holding the money because Rawdon is a spendthrift and can't be trusted with it. Also, she claims that she only courted Lord Steyne in order to get a governorship for her husband. Lady Jane walks in on Becky kissing Sir Pitt's hand, and she screams at her husband, demanding that he make a choice between the two women. After his wife leaves, he promises that he will help Becky.

Rawdon is breakfasting with Macmurdo when his friends approach him with congratulations. They say he is in the paper, and he checks, finding that he has been awarded a governorship by Lord Steyne. Mr. Wenham arrives, Lord Steyne's messenger, and he attempts to convince Rawdon of Becky and Lord Steyne's innocence. Rawdon refuses to believe him and demands a duel. Macmurdo steps in, encouraging Rawdon to take the position and forget about the duel. He finally agrees and moves to Coventry Island. Little Rawdon goes to stay at Queen's Crawley over the holidays, and Rebecca has disappeared.

Georgy is the boss at his new home and at school. He is intelligent, demanding, and wears very fine clothing. He becomes best friends with a Mr. Todd. John Osborne hopes to marry Georgy to one of the Todd daughters. Georgy visits his mother often and gives her a portrait of himself, which she keeps under her pillow.

Mrs. Sedley dies, and Amelia is left to spend all her time caring for her father. Georgy throws a fit about having to attend his grandmother's funeral, since he will have to miss a play in order to go. One day, Jos and Dobbin come to visit, and Georgy confesses to Dobbin that his mother, Amelia, talks about Dobbin all the time.

Old Osborne tells little Georgy terrible things about his mother's family. He calls his former friend, Mr. Sedley, an old bankrupt. He claims that the only reason the Sedleys can get by at this point is because he pays Amelia a steady allowance. Georgy rejects his grandfather's mutterings.

Dobbin, on his way back from India, has a fever, and he spends the entire time on the boat talking about Amelia to Jos Sedley. Jos convinces Dobbin that Amelia is not getting married, and it is this news that motivates Dobbin back to health.

Dobbin insists that they go to the Sedley residence immediately, But Jos wants to get a good night's sleep in the hotel. The next day, Dobbin trembles as he approaches the Sedleys' door. Ms. Polly Clapps, the landlord's daughter, answers, and she recognizes Dobbin. She used to call him Major Sugarplums.

Too afraid to ask whether or not Amelia is married, Dobbin asks Polly to take him to her. Polly tells him Amelia and Mr. Sedley are at Kensington Gardens. They walk over, and on the way, they run into Reverend Binney and his wife, Miss Grits. Dobbin is overjoyed to see the man Amelia was supposed to marry with another woman. Amelia and Dobbin enjoy a very pleasant reunion, during which they hold hands, and Amelia talks endlessly about Georgy.

Mr. Sedley is nervous about seeing his son. He wakes up very early, puts on his best suit, and tries to get his business papers in order. Meanwhile, Jos is making sure that he doesn't lack for anything on his way to London. He buys a number of expensive vests, arranges for servants, and stops everywhere he can to eat and drink. Amelia has argued with Polly, who is convinced that Dobbin is in love with Amelia.

Jos finally arrives at his home on the third day. His father tells him that his mother died, and the family grieves together. Then Jos, who has been encouraged by Dobbin, assures his family that he will take care of them from now on.

The Sedleys find a new house. The only furniture that Amelia takes with her is the piano that Dobbin secretly bought for her at auction. Later, Amelia realizes that it is possible she is wrong about the piano, and that perhaps it was Dobbin who bought it for her. Dobbin finally confesses his love for Amelia. Amelia apologizes for not being able to love him back, explaining that she only has one husband and can never stop loving him. She tells Dobbin that she thinks of him as a brother and that she is grateful for all the things he has done for her over the years. Amelia asks him to continue to be a friend to her and to her son.

The Sedleys experience a bit of good fortune. Jos Sedley moves into a small, but well-furnished, home. Georgy meets Dobbin and Jos. Georgy becomes very fond of Dobbin, but he has fun joking at the expense of Uncle Jos, who does not like the young boy's humor. "George had a way of blowing out his cheeks, and putting his hands in his waistcoat pockets, and saying 'God bless my soul, you don't say so'," just like Jos.

Amelia reenters society. According to the narrator, "we are introduce her into a polite circle; not so grand and refined as that in which our other female friend, Mrs. Becky, has appeared, but still having no small pretensions to gentility and fashion." People who used to visit her come to see her once again. She reconnects with Dobbin's sisters and George's sisters. She also begins to entertain Jos's associates, and in so doing, she learns a great deal about politics and business. Dobbin worries at first about her having male callers, but then he reassures himself that she is a virtuous woman.

Analysis, Chapters 55 - 60

Somehow, Rebecca manages to negotiate a governorship for Rawdon. Because Rebecca is seen pleading with Sir Pitt, it can be assumed that with his help, she has managed to secure a future for her husband and an end to the fighting. Lady Jane catches the two talking, and requests that her husband choose between them. Amazingly, he agrees to help Becky even after all the scandal and even after this ultimatum.

Thackeray has continued to reveal to the reader that Becky is a force of nature. She is found, at the beginning of chapter 55, in bed late in the morning. A few hours later, she has approached a very influential man with a plan to save her marriage, and a few hours later, all is well and according to plan. And she has left town.

The story moves back to the Osbornes and the Sedleys. Old Osborne is his same bitter self, telling Georgy awful things about his family. It appears that he has not gotten over the relationship he had with his late son. Thankfully, Georgy is bright enough, or perhaps just proud enough, to ignore what his grandfather tells him.

Georgy is also smart enough to mention to Dobbin that Amelia talks about the major all the time. And Jos convinces Dobbin that Amelia is not getting married. The narrator seems to be setting up his readers for the eventual coming together of Amelia and Dobbin.

The piano that Dobbin secretly purchased for Amelia is a consistent symbol of Dobbin's private devotion to her. It reappears at the end of the novel, in a rather timely fashion, for Dobbin soon after reveals his love for Amelia. But Amelia is not ready to give up George yet, so she has to turn Dobbin down.

At the same time, these three chapters are positive ones for Amelia. She and Dobbin finally reveal their feelings openly to one another. Jos comes home, realizes his family's impoverished condition, and decides to step up and take care of them. Amelia returns to society.

It appears that the factor driving this improvement is revelation and truth. The Sedleys had managed to keep their condition rather private, especially from Jos, who could easily have helped them. Dobbin has hidden his feelings from Amelia until this point. And it can be argued that it is this confession that acts as a crucial turning point in Amelia's life.

The extent of vanity in this book is revealed in Jos and Mr. Sedley's behavior. Mr. Sedley has turned around completely in his view of his son since he lost all his money. He is actually nervous about seeing him, despite the fact that he used to make fun of him. Jos is nervous, too; he makes sure to buy some new fancy outfits before he goes to visit his family.

Vanity is also evident in Amelia's reintroduction into society. The people who used to be friends with Amelia begin to visit her again. It seems that she lost all of her company with her family's money.