Vanity Fair Episode 3: Unequal Marriage

Having charmed the Crawley family, Becky has now left horrible Hampshire behind, trading Queen’s Crawley for Miss Crawley’s London mansion. Apparently, Becky’s become a sort of pet/doll/gentlewoman companion to Miss C, who delights in dressing her up in pretty clothes and makes her sit by her bed and sing lullabies until Miss C goes to sleep. Miss Briggs, the woman who’s been Miss Crawley’s companion for 30 years, feels a bit put out at having been so summarily replaced, but Becky wins her over by… serving her wine at dinner? And commiserating over the fact that Miss C is a bit of a pain. So, now Briggs is all Team Becky too. These people are pushovers.

Rawdon, of course, is completely won over, and he and Becky are apparently stealing away for secret dates. His crush is so obvious even Amelia picks up on it when Becky brings the Crawleys to the Sedleys for a surprise visit.

The visit itself is something of a disaster. Miss Crawley is so offensively racist to Sam that Amelia feels compelled to go apologise to him, which is when Amelia learns that her father’s so hard up he’s had to sell all their wine. George, meanwhile, is struck by how nice Becky looks in her fashionable new clothes, but if he’s hoping to make any inroads with her, well, that’s not going to happen. She shuts down his overtures of friendship HARD.

Over at Queen’s Crawley, Sir Pitt’s struggling to keep on top of all the estate’s business dealings. Just as he’s starting to get really frustrated, his poor wife takes a nasty fall down the stairs and dies. He stands over her body for a few moments, considering this situation, and then goes

He hits the road to London, where he busts into Miss Crawley’s house and proposes marriage to Becky, promising to make her his sole heir. Tempting, but it turns out Becky’s already married! Too bad. Pitt takes it fairly well, as does Miss Crawley, until they find out that the bridgroom is none other than Rawdon. And then these two




By the time word gets out, Becky has fled to Rawdon’s garret dwelling to start her honeymoon.

Meanwhile, things are going from bad to worse for Amelia. Her father’s so thoroughly bankrupt they have to auction off the contents of their house and move to some little cottage in the suburbs. At the auction, Dobbin bids on and wins Amelia’s piano, then sends it to her anonymously. She, of course, thinks it’s a gift from George, though why she should think he’d send that anonymously I don’t know. Doesn’t seem like his style. Her father, however, tells her that this relationship has to end now, because George’s father is basically the reason they’re in this mess. Amelia weeps, but obeys, writing George a letter breaking their engagement.

George has his marching orders, because Napoleon’s escaped from Elba and everyone’s heading to the Continent soon, and perhaps that’s what puts him in a kinder frame of mind, because he’s not so happy when he hears about this breakup. He’s even more disturbed when his father tries to set him up with an heiress. At a dinner at the Osbourne home, George hears the heiress went to Miss Pinkerton’s (sigh) and asks if she knew Amelia. Of course she did! They were besties! George gets all into his own honour and announces to her and his family that he and Amelia are engaged to be married.

He and Dobbin head out to fetch Amelia from her family’s new home. Her father still won’t support the match, despite Dobbin doing his best to talk him around, so neither of Amelia’s parents will be at the wedding. That seems harsh. Amelia spends her last night as a single woman with Becky, who’s actually rather sweet and quite friend-like to her, with seemingly no ulterior motive.

Becky’s probably in a good mood because she’s been working on Miss Briggs, trying to enlist her help in mending fences with Miss Crawley. Rawdon finally manages to get a meeting in the park with his aunt. He apologises, but she doesn’t seem interested in hearing it. She does, however, offer him some financial help and tells him to report to her lawyer’s office the day of George and Amelia’s wedding.

At least Rawdon has that to look forward to, because it doesn’t seem like this marriage is going so well. He’s already chafing at Becky’s condescending attitude towards him, and it looks like currently these two are basically fixing all their disagreements with sex, which simply can’t last.

George and Amelia marry, and Rawdon shows up late, face like a thundercloud, to tell Becky that his aunt has given him the princely sum of £20. That’s somewhere in the neighbourhood of £1500-£1700 in today’s money. He whines that that won’t even cover the rent (London prices were just as punishing back in 1815, apparently!) but Becky’s like, ‘Eh, only losers pay rent!’

After the wedding, when she, Rawdon, Dobbin, and the newly minted Osbournes are outside the church, she suggests she and Amelia accompany the men to the battle. Dobbin blanches and says that’s a terrible idea, but Becky and Amelia, having absolutely no clue what horrors war and battles bring, are all excited to go, and their husbands back up the plan, so it looks like we’re all going to Waterloo!

3 thoughts on “Vanity Fair Episode 3: Unequal Marriage

  1. I just realized that this adaptation does not feature Pitt Crawley (Jr.) and Lady Jane Crawley. Instead, it features on Bute Crawley and his wife Martha.

  2. I know I’m late but someone please explain how they went bankrupt when in episode 1 Amelia said her dad has no money, her brother jos funded everything

    1. It’s been a while since I read the book, but I’m pretty sure that the explanation in there is that Jos is off in India and didn’t realise how hard up their family was back home (since it took months for news to get from England to India, and I think his father was downplaying things out of pride).

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