Becky Sharp – Heroine?

While preparing for our Edith Wharton tribute at the Malverne Public Library, I decided to read Thackeray’s most celebrated novel, Vanity Fair.  vanity fair

I admit the only reason I decided the open this book is that Undine Spragg (the heroine from Edith Wharton’s The Custom of the Country) is often compared to Thackeray’s heroine (or is it non-heroine?), Becky Sharp.

I’m only 125 pages into the book and must admit…I love Becky Sharp.

Uh oh.  Is that a bad thing?  I don’t know. I’ll have to read more to see if my opinion changes.  I know, I know, she’s a shameless social climber.  But I haven’t met any other characters in the book that deserve my respect…yet.

I certainly don’t admire any character traits in Undine Spragg, the heroine of  The Custom of the Country (and that’s an understatement).  Undine is everything I try NOT to be:  overly ambitious, materialistic, selfish, vain.  She has no scruples and her lack of maternal instinct is downright depressing.

Undine Spragg, Becky Sharp, Scarlett O’Hara.  These are the characters taking up the space in my brain these days.


With admiration or contempt, they are incredibly interesting and complicated heroines.

2 thoughts on “Becky Sharp – Heroine?

  1. I know what you mean about Becky Sharp, Mary. She and Undine certainly don’t have to be admirable or likeable to be interesting. There’s something fascinating about their energy and ambition. And Becky has wit, which Undine lacks.


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