Becky Sharp (character)

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Illustration by Thackeray to Chapter 4 of Vanity Fair: Becky Sharp is flirting with Mr Joseph Sedley.

Rebecca or Becky Sharp is the main character of William Makepeace Thackeray's satirical novel Vanity Fair (1847–48). A cynical social climber who uses her charms to fascinate and seduce upper-class men, Sharp is contrasted with the clinging, dependent Amelia Sedley. She befriends Amelia at an expensive girls school where Becky is given a place because her father gave there drawing lessons and she helps the younger girls with their French. Becky then uses Amelia as a stepping stone to gain social position. Sharp functions as a picara—a picaresque heroine—or by being a social outsider who is able to expose the manners of the upper gentry to ridicule.

Becky is born to a French opera dancer mother and an art teacher and artist father Francis. She is small and slight, pale, sandy-haired with large, odd and attractive eyes, childlike.

Becky learns from an early age to entertain men (at this point, her father's friends and tradesmen) in her father's bohemian studio in Soho. It's unclear exactly what this means, but a few times Becky mentions cryptically that she hasn't been a child since she was eight.

- "But she never had been a girl, she said; she had been a woman since she was eight years old."[1]

At her alcoholic and abusive father's death, at seventeen Becky is accepted at Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladies to teach French in exchange for schooling, free board and room, and a little money. Among Rebecca's talents are music, both piano and voice. She can sketch, talk high-class French like a native Parisienne, dance, act, mimic. She also has an excellent taste for fashions.

At nineteen she leaves Miss Pinkerton's school with Amelia.

See also[edit]