Thackeray: Vanity Fair
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, with its rich cast of characters, takes place on the snakes-and-ladders board of life. Amelia Sedley, daughter of a wealthy merchant, has a loving mother to supervise her courtship. Becky Sharp, an orphan, has to use her wit, charm, and resourcefulness to escape from her destiny as a governess. This she does ruthlessly, musing: I think I could become a good woman, if I had £5000 a year'. Thackeray's story is set at the time of the battle of Waterloo, in which the Sedley fortunes are lost and Amelia is back to square one while Becky rises with contemptuous ease.