Social Forces are the “Forces of the environment that include the demographic characteristics of the population and its values.” (Richard J. Ch.3) The social forces can affect the conceptual framework of marriage, education, social class, and politics. In the Nineteenth Century, many authors addressed those social forces in forms of novels. Among those authors were William Makepeace Thackeray and Thomas Hardy. This essay will compare and contrast the nature and function of society and social forces on Thackeray’s Vanity Fair and Hardy’s Tess D’Urberville.
William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair expose the social forces of the Nineteenth Century’s Victorian Era while focusing on how it affects and motivates the aristocratic members of its society into materialistic/capitalistic pursuits.
Society and its social forces remain a central theme in Vanity Fair throughout the novel. The social forces are presented mainly in the character of Rebecca Sharp. The race to aristocracy or maintaining an aristocrat status is the main objective for Becky to pursue her overwhelming dream of a high social standing. With Social standing being a major social force in the novel, marriage to Becky was regarded as means to an end. In the beginning of the novel, Becky was interested in Joseph Sedley regardless of his awkward characteristics and unattractive manners. The only factor she cared for was his wealth noticing that “… all Indian nabobs are very rich”. (p. 15) she planned to play her charm on Joseph in hopes to acquire his wealth and boost her social standing. She believes that "If Mr. Joseph Sedley is rich and unmarried, why should I not marry him? I have only a fortnight, to be sure, but there is no harm in trying" (P. 16)
When her plan to partner Joseph didn’t go as planned, she strategically finds an alternative within the Crawley family. Her manipulative character sparks different emotions from the Crawleys’ but succeeds in impressing the wealthiest of its members, Aunt Matilda Crawley. Meanwhile, she figures that Matilda’s fortune will eventually be in the possession of her favourite nephew, Rawdon.
Thackeray examines Rebecca’s character in the event of Sir Pitt’s proposal while she was secretly married to his son, Rawdon. When she refused Sir Pitt, Thackeray described her refusal in a tone of regret as she considers Sir Pitt as a potential asset considering his wealth, age, and needs in comparison to Rawdon. The narrator describes Rebecca emotions as she “gave away to some sincere and touching regrets that a piece of marvellous good-fortune should have been so near her, and she actually obliged to decline it.” (P. 138)
Thackeray also mentions Sir Pitt’s second wife, Lady Rawson, in an attempt to warn the reader of what may become of Becky Sharp. Lady Rawson gave up her previous relationship which was based on love to end up marrying Sir Pitt for his wealth and social standing. Although wealth was granted to her, her life lacked any sort of...