Chapter

Was She Guilty or Not?

Hilary M. Schor

in Curious Subjects

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199928095
Published online May 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199980550 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199928095.003.0005
Was She Guilty or Not?

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This chapter takes up the story of Bluebeard’s wife, her curiosity and her fatal knowledge, in William Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. What happens when Thackeray opens the locked door is very different from anything else we (or any other heroines) have seen so far. Thackeray’s greatest invention in retelling our wicked fairy tale, and in rethinking the novel, is that his Bluebeard is neither a hero nor a villain, but a heroine, and a highly ingenious one to be sure. Rather, Thackeray enters what Thomas Carlyle called “the Bluebeard Chambers of the heart”—and a curious heart it is. For in Vanity Fair, Bluebeard is called Becky Sharp. Combining the power of Bluebeard with the curiosity of Fatimah, Becky comes with a secret cabinet, magic jewels, a fatal key, and a closet of dead husbands.

Keywords: William Thackeray; Vanity Fair; curiosity; Bluebeard; knowledge

Chapter.  17321 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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