W.M. Thackeray And “Vanity Fair” Sample College Essay

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 – 1863) was born in India to a prosperous middle-class family. When he was just 3 years old, his father, an English official in Calcutta, died. As a result, Thackeray was sent to England for his education, attending school and later Cambridge University. While studying, Thackeray developed a strong interest in creating cartoons and writing poetry, particularly parodies.

Unable to tolerate the academic atmosphere at the University, he left before finishing his degree and instead decided to study art in Germany, Italy, and France. Upon returning to London, he made the choice to complete his education by enrolling in a law course in 1833. Unfortunately, his father’s investment in an Indian bank failed, leaving him with no money. As a result, he had to give up on his studies and find work for financial assistance.

Thackeray opted for journalism as his occupation and became well-known for his amusing articles, essays, reviews, and short stories. In 1836, he wedded Isabella Shawe and they had three daughters together. Nevertheless, their marriage was overshadowed by sadness caused by Isabella’s illness and deteriorating mental state. Thackeray made the decision to give up his work in order to take care of her and offer solace, but unfortunately she never recovered her health. Eventually, an older woman assumed the responsibility of caring for Isabella. She lived for many years after Thackeray passed away.

William Makepeace Thackeray is a representative of Critical Realism in 19th century English literature. In his novels, Thackeray vividly describes both middle class and aristocratic society, including their lifestyle, manners, and preferences. He exposes their pride, tyranny, hypocrisy, snobbishness, selfishness, and wickedness. Thackeray’s sharp understanding of human nature allows him to analyze and satirize his characters. His criticism is forceful and his satire is sharp and cutting.

He is adept at realistically depicting negative characters, showcasing an exact and objective realism. Thackeray continues the tradition of realism established by his predecessors, Jonathan Swift and Henry Fielding, and emerges as a prominent realist and satirist of his time. His characters undergo development throughout the story instead of remaining static, portraying the natural consequences of their surroundings and the society they were brought up in. He presents his characters through a detached perspective, a novel aspect in literature later termed objective realism.

Thackeray’s lack of belief in the potential for reforming mankind and his pessimism mark the emergence of the crisis of bourgeois humanism that characterizes the literature of the second half of the 19th century. According to Thackeray, the world is a “Vanity Fair” where individuals are characterized by their greed, arrogance, pettiness, and a contentment with their supposed virtue. They disdain poverty and kindness, displaying snobbish behavior. Thackeray coined the term “snob” in his “Book of Snobs.” A snob is someone who flatters their social superiors and looks down upon their inferiors. The book features a gallery of snobs, demonstrating that snobbery was pervasive among the ruling class in England at that time. Thackeray states that a society that claims to be polite but dismisses art and literature is inherently snobbish. Those who despise their neighbors or forsake their own friends to pursue those of higher social standing are also snobs. Likewise, those who feel shame over their poverty or profession, or who boast about their lineage or wealth are categorized as snobs. “Vanity Fair” stands as a prime example of 19th century Critical Realism.

Thackeray not only succeeded in portraying the epoch in which he lived, but also in depicting human nature, people’s lives, and the passage of time. The subtitle “A Novel Without a Hero” emphasizes that the author does not focus on individual characters, but instead on English bourgeois-aristocratic society as a whole. Thackeray presents a diverse range of individuals, showcasing their thoughts and actions in various situations. The author believes that a society dominated by the worship of money cannot have true heroes. “Vanity Fair” is a social novel that explores the laws governing bourgeois-aristocratic society, where everything is bought and sold. The author compares the characters in the novel to puppets and society itself to a puppet show. Thackeray criticizes the vanity, pretentiousness, prejudices, and corruption of the aristocracy (such as Lord Crawley and Lord Steyne), as well as the narrow-mindedness and greed of the bourgeoisie (such as the Osbornes and the Sedleys). Overall, the author presents a satirical depiction of England during that time.

The novel revolves around two girls with contrasting personalities: Rebecca (Becky) Sharp and Amelia Sedley. Becky, being the offspring of a destitute artist, is depicted as an unscrupulous and audacious woman. Conversely, Amelia, the daughter of an affluent urban merchant, embodies integrity but lacks cleverness. The portrayal of Becky’s character skillfully highlights her attractiveness, intelligence, and talent. She possesses a keen wit and a deep comprehension of human behavior. Ultimately, Rebecca personifies the core essence of Vanity Fair.

Her sole purpose in life is to infiltrate high society at any cost, disregarding the notions of love and friendship. She is willing to marry any man who can provide her with wealth and a title. Eventually, she marries Captain Rawdon Crawley, the son of Sir Pitt Crawley, in hopes that her husband will one day inherit a substantial sum from his affluent aunt. However, her aspirations remain unfulfilled. Through flattery, deceit, and treachery, Becky manages to ascend the social ladder, yet finds no happiness in her newfound status. In contrast to Rebecca Sharp, Amelia Sedley is known for her sincerity, generosity, and kindness.

Thackeray portrays Amelia as lacking the intelligence to recognize the true nature of those around her, thus she cannot be considered the novel’s heroine. She remains naive and unsuspecting of the manipulative actions of her cunning friend, Rebecca. Amelia’s love for George Osborne, her thoughtless and self-centered husband, causes her best years to become ruined. Thackeray uses subtle irony to depict Amelia’s character. Despite experiencing poverty and despair following her father’s bankruptcy, she manages to secure her position among the snobbish middle class after receiving an inheritance from a relative.

Thackeray’s satire reaches its peak when he portrays Sir Pitt Crawley, a typical snob from Vanity Fair. As the owner of Queen’s Crawley, he is a baronet with both money and a title. In Becky’s words, Sir Pitt can be described as an old, vulgar, cruel, and untidy man who wears shabby clothes and smokes a dreadful pipe. He speaks with a rural accent and swears frequently. Furthermore, he is known for being stingy and never giving money to anyone. Lord Steyne also falls into the category of aristocratic snobs.

He is both cynical and clever, completely corrupted to his core. He achieved his title and wealth by marrying a wealthy woman from a high social status and is highly regarded as an influential member of society. Thackeray’s writing style is characterized by frequent disruptions in the narrative, allowing him to directly address the reader regarding the various characters. Instead of explicitly stating his thoughts about them, the author often conveys his attitude through the actions and dialogues of the characters or through vivid descriptions that prompt the reader to adopt the author’s perspective.

The Three Views Of Conflict Compare And Contrast

What is conflict? There are many definitions for conflict. A conflict is defined by Robbins & Judge (2011) as “A process that begins when one party perceives that another party has negatively affected, or is about to negatively affect something that the first party cares about”. In this paper the three views of conflict will be discussed, then compared and contrasted. They are: (1) traditional view ;( 2) human relations view and (3) interactionist view. In addition functional conflict and dysfunctional conflict are discussed with examples of criminal justice agencies that are in the midst of one of these types of conflict.

Traditional View According to Robbins & Judge (2011), the traditional view of conflict assumes that all conflict is bad and should be avoided. When there is poor communication in a group or a lack of openness, the end result is conflict among the members of the group. For example, a new officer is transferred from a patrol into the tactical unit, as the patrol finger print technician. Another officer that’s in the same squad takes an immediate dislike to the new officer. She sabotages the officer’s work and constantly startS arguments with her and other officers in the unit.

This conflict is counterproductive, because there is no team work; there is constant tension among the memberS in the unit, which creates a hostile work environment. Human Relations View According to Robbins & Judge (2011) the human relations views conflict as a natural and an inevitable outcome in any group. In other words, when you have people working together there will always be conflict of some sort. The main focus of the human relations view of conflict is to resolve conflicts that occur in the group, because conflict is dysfunctional and counterproductive.

According to (Perrow, 1986; Andrade, Plowman & Duchon, 2008), The human relations view of conflict works to find constructive methods for resolving conflicts productively so that their disruptive influence can be minimized (Robbins & Judge, 2011). For example, in the case of the female co-worker that was a constant source of conflict and tension, the situation was resolved by removing her from the unit. After her removal, productivity increased and all the other officers resumed working as a team. Interactionist View

According to Robbins & Judge (2011) the interactionist view beliefs conflict in some situations is helpful. In some cases a minimal level of conflict can help keep a group viable, self critical and creative (Robbins & Judge, 2011). The interactionist view does not view all conflict as good, but rather as: functional or dysfunctional. When an organization is in conflict and the works is constructive and supports the goals of the group it is viewed as functional conflict. However if the conflict hinders the group’s performance and is destructive, it is viewed as dysfunctional conflict (Robbins & Judge, 2011).

The way to differentiate functional conflict from dysfunctional conflict is to look at the type of conflict. The first type is task conflict, which relates to the content and goals of the work (Robbins & Judge, 2011). The second type is relationship conflict; this conflict focuses on how group members relate to one another. The third type is process conflict which focuses on how the work gets done. In summary, these three conflict views, not all conflicts are counterproductive. Conflict can be either functional or dysfunctional as seen in the interactionist view of conflict.

When conflict occurs in a group that causes constant strife and discord, the group cannot function properly; this is known as dysfunctional conflict. However, conflict that is productive to the group is known as functional conflict. New York Police Department in the midst of functional conflict. The New York City Police Department is an example of an agency in midst functional conflict. New York City’s police department deals with conflict on a constant basis. This is mainly because of the war on terror. New York City has been the target of terrorist attacks both in 1993 and in 2001.

In addition, the NYPD counterterrorism unit works endlessly to fend off attacks from terrorist. The city of New York functions everyday in the midst of conflict. New York City’s police department is an excellent example of a criminal justice agency working amidst functional conflict. It is because of this conflict that this agency works together with other agencies (FBI, Homeland Security) to fight against terrorism and to protect its city and its citizens. New Orleans Police Department in the midst of dysfunctional conflict New Orleans police department is an example of a criminal justice agency in the idst of dysfunctional conflict. The New Orleans police department’s reputation for corruption is no secret. The Department of Justice in 2011, report, brings to light the department’s corruption, unprofessionalism, lack of training and lack of centralized authority.

In the executive summary of the report the DOJ says: “The NOPD has long been a troubled agency. Basic elements of effective policing—clear policies, training, accountability, and confidence of the citizenry—have been absent for years. During hurricane Katrina the officer’s that swore to protect and service the public abandoned their posts, leaving the city of New Orleans without adequate police service, putting the lives of the citizens and the officers that did remain in grave jeopardy. This is a clear example of dysfunction, and lack of competent leadership in the face of conflict. However, that being said, the city of New Orleans’ Police Department was dysfunctional long before Hurricane Katrina and that is the reason why they folded in the time of crisis.


Department of Justice. (2011). Retrieved from Department of Justice website: http://www. justice. gov/crt/about/spl/nopd_report. pdf Fox, J. (2011). In it up to their necks. New Statesman, 140(5048), 44-48. JOHNSON, S. (2010, December 9). Ex-New Orleans cop sentenced for Katrina shooting cover-up. New York Amsterdam News. p. 4. Miller, J. (n. d. ). New York city is safer 10 years after 9/11, thanks to the nypd read more on newsmax. com: New York city is safer 10 years after 9/11, thanks to the ny. Retrieved from http://www. newsmax. com/Miller/Remembering-9-11-NYPD/2011/09/11/id/410461 Horowitz, C. 2011, February 3). New york magazine. Retrieved from http://nymag. com/nymetro/news/features/n_8286/ Elliot, J. (2012, July 15). Interview by Raz G [Web Based Recording]. Counter terrorism and the nypd. NPR, United States. , Retrieved from http://www. npr. org/2012/07/15/156815759/counterterrorism-and-the-nypd Andrade, L. , Plowman, D. , & Duchon, D. (2008). Getting Past Conflict Resolution: A Complexity View of Conflict. Emergence: Complexity & Organization, 10(1), 23-38. Robbins, S. P, & Judge, T. A. (2011). Organizational Behavior. Upper Saddle River NJ. Prentice Hall

Book Report: Nineteen Minutes

The book I recently finished reading is Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. It is set in Sterling, New Hampshire, a small town. The story begins by portraying a typical day at the local high school, where students are attending their classes. However, during this ordinary day, there is an abrupt explosion in the parking lot as a student hurries out of class for an orthodontist appointment. The explosion turns out to be a bomb that was detonated in Matt’s car. This unexpected incident causes confusion among the students and shortly after gunshots are heard. Simultaneously, Patrick, the only detective on the Sterling police force (which appears quite impractical having just one), receives a radio alert regarding the shooting at Sterling High School.

Patrick witnesses a grim scene on the floor: a group of students bathed in blood. Among them lies a lifeless boy, his skull pierced by a fatal gunshot. Meanwhile, Josie, his girlfriend, regains consciousness but finds herself unable to recall the events leading up to this tragedy. The narrative of the book fluidly moves between past and present, shedding light on incidents both preceding and following the shooting.

In the past, we discover that Peter, the individual responsible for the violent act, shares a history of friendship with Josie. Yet, Peter’s life was marred by relentless bullying, with Josie often standing up for him. As time passed, however, their bond gradually weakened and Josie aligned herself with the popular clique.

Peter felt like an outsider both at home and with his family. He believed that his parents favored his older brother Joey, which made him feel even more alienated. However, when Joey tragically passed away in a car accident during his senior year, it widened the gap between Peter and his parents. Additionally, Peter’s sister Josie started dating a guy named Matt in her sophomore year, which caused her to completely cut ties with Peter. Matt, along with his group of jock friends, relentlessly bullied Peter and frequently taunted him with derogatory slurs like “homo”. This constant harassment led Peter to question his own sexual orientation. Furthermore, Matt proved to be a possessive and jealous boyfriend who openly admitted that he did not appreciate “sharing Josie” with others.

One day, Peter approached Josie after school to ask a question, resulting in him being beaten by Matt. The Judge is faced with a dilemma as she must preside over a major case in town while also being a mother to her grieving daughter, Josie. She is determined to balance being a good mother and a fair judge, but she cannot hear Josie’s account of what happened to prevent it from influencing her judgment. Following the arraignment, the Judge experiences a breakdown when she witnesses a mother holding a portrait of her deceased daughter, making her realize how close she came to losing Josie.

Having removed himself from the investigation, Peter becomes more supportive of Josie. It dawns on him that he has developed romantic feelings for Josie, prompting him to compose an email expressing his emotions. Unfortunately, before Josie even has a chance to read the email, a friend of hers intercepts it and disseminates its content throughout the entire school. This final betrayal is the breaking point for Peter, and a month later, the tragic shooting occurs. Following the incident, Peter is incarcerated while the trial proceeds. He voluntarily waives the probable cause hearing and confesses to having killed ten individuals and injuring nineteen others.

Peter’s defense attorney argues that his actions were justified due to his post-traumatic stress disorder and presents evidence of battered person syndrome. Nevertheless, Peter is convicted of eight counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder, leading to a life sentence in prison. Sadly, only one month later, Peter tragically ends his own life by strangling himself with a sock. Shockingly, during the last stage of the trial, Josie admits to accidentally shooting Matt after picking up a gun that had fallen out of Peter’s bag.

Peter later fired the fatal second shot. At the end of the book, Josie received a five-year sentence for accessory of manslaughter. Unlike my other book, Nineteen Minutes provided a compelling illustration of some laws within our legal system. The case in the book was complex as Peter caused multiple deaths and injuries. However, his attorney’s defense strategy invoking battered person syndrome resulting from post-traumatic stress disorder proved to be astute and influenced the jury’s deliberation.

Upon researching battered person syndrome and drawing parallels from the book, I have concluded that its use in a case conveys the message, “It was my sole means of self-defense and escape.” This notion resonates with me within the context of the book and has also piqued my curiosity. I perceive a precarious equilibrium between employing this defense to gain credibility and encountering skepticism and backlash for its utilization.

I found only one case where people used battered person syndrome as a defense. It involved a woman who killed her abusive husband. This particular case intrigued me greatly. It taught me a valuable lesson, which is to avoid having friends with psychological issues and abusive boyfriends, as the combination can lead to disastrous outcomes. Additionally, it made me realize that anything can happen in court. The book I read highlighted numerous ways one can defend themselves when they have done something wrong, which I found astonishing. At first, I thought the accused didn’t stand a chance, until an unexpected defense strategy caught everyone by surprise.

Finally, I discovered that one could use a sock to take one’s own life. It might be advisable to inform the prison not to give socks to inmates wearing blue paper suits, as they could potentially commit suicide with them. I must admit, I couldn’t stop reading this book. It was truly remarkable! It encompassed elements of drama, romance, friendship, heartbreak, bullying, and various relationships…everything you could ask for! Jodi Picoult never fails to incorporate the thoughts of multiple characters throughout her novels, which is a style I personally adore and find incredibly captivating. Although some individuals may not enjoy reading in this manner, I believe it helps to connect the dots in a fascinating way.

Jodi Picoult clearly conducted thorough research to ensure the accuracy of the law terminology used in the case portrayed in this book. The convincing conviction of Peter and Josie added a realistic touch that required extensive research. It is evident that the research for this book was time-consuming. I would advise against recommending this book to parents or students who have experienced a school shooting. However, those who enjoy suspense and being shocked should definitely give this book a read. As always, Jodi Picoult does an outstanding job.

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