William Makepeace Thackeray is a famous writer of 19th century, who began his career as a satirist and parodist. He achieved the pinnacle of success with Vanity Fair, his most read novel. Here, he has deftly played on human faults, exposing the vanity of every man, woman and child, showing true colors of society.
His middle name may be Makepeace, but I am sure he can easily begin a war with his sharp tongue and acidic phrases. As I read Vanity Fair of this Calcutta born writer, I could hardly stop myself from marveling at his extraordinary pungent wit and scathing yet true remarks. Read on and get a taste of his profound cutting wisdom:
1. A comfortable career of prosperity, if it does not make people honest, at least keeps them so. An alderman coming from a turtle feast, will not step out of his carnage to steal a leg of mutton; but put him to starve, and see if he will not purloin a loaf.
2. I am tempted to think that to be despised by her sex is a very great compliment to a woman.
3. Picture to yourself, oh fair young reader, a worldly selfish, graceless, thankless, religion less old woman, writhing in pain and fear, and without her wig. Picture her to yourself, and ere you are old, learn to love and pray!
4. If success is rare and slow, everybody knows how quick ruin is.
5. We are Turks with the affections of our women. We let their bodies go abroad liberally enough, with smiles and ringlets and pink bonnets to disguise them instead of veils and yakmaks. But their souls must be seen by only one man, and they obey not unwillingly, and consent to remain at home as our slaves- ministering to us and doing drudgery for us.
6. When one man had been under very remarkable obligations to another, with whom he subsequently quarrels, a common sense of decency, as it were makes of the former a much severer enemy than a mere stranger would have been.
7. To account your own hardheartedness and ingratitude in such a case, you are bound to prove the other party’s crime. Its not that you are selfish, brutal and angry at the failure of a speculation – no, no – it is that your partner has led you into it by the basest treachery and the most sinister motives.
8. From a mere sense of consistency, a prosecutor is bound to show that the fallen man is a villain – otherwise, he, the prosecutor is a wretch himself.
9. Who has not remarked the readiness with which the closest of friends and honestest of men suspect and accuse each other of cheating when they fall out on money matters? Everybody does it. And, everybody is right, I suppose, and the world is a rogue,
10. One of the great condition of anger and hatred is that you must tell and believe lies against the hated object, in order, as we said, to be consistent.
11. The business of her life – was to watch the corpse of love.
12. A long engagement is a partnership which one party is free to keep or to break, but which involves all the capital of other.
13. Get yourselves married as they do in France, where lawyers are the bridesmaids and confidantes.
14. The bustle, and triumph, and laughter and gaiety, which Vanity Fair exhibits in public, do not always pursue the performer into private life, and the most dreary depression of spirit and dismal repentance sometimes overcomes him.
15. The best ink for Vanity Fair use would be one that faded utterly in a couple of days, and left the paper clean and blank so that you may write on it to somebody else.
16. By humbly and frankly acknowledging yourself to be in the wrong, there is no knowing, my son, what good you may do.
17. Long custom, a manly appearance, faultless boots and clothes, and a happy fierceness of manner, will often help a man as much as a great balance at the Banker’s.
18. Under the magnetism of friendships, modest men become bold, shy confident, the lazy active, and the impetuous prudent and peaceful.
19. To watch the behavior of a fine lady, to the other and humbler women is a a very good sport for a philosophical frequenter of Vanity Fair.
20. Women only know how to wound so. There is a poison on the tips of their little shafts, which stings a thousand times more than a man’s blunt weapon.
21. I wonder, is it because men are cowards in heart that they admire bravery so much, and place military valor so far beyond every other quality for reward and worship?
22. At half past two, an event occurred of daily importance to Mr. Joseph; the dinner hour arrived.
23. Who has not seen how women bully women? What tortures have men to endure, comparable to those repeated shafts of scorn and cruelty with which poor women are riddled with tyrants of their sex?
24. Wounds tingle most, when they are about to heal.
25. Before a man goes to the devil himself, he sends plenty of other souls thither.
26. Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children;and here was one who was worshiping a stone!
27. She was not brilliant, nor witty, nor wise over much nor extraordinarily handsome? But wherever she went, she touched and charmed.
28. A woman may possess the wisdom and charity of Minerva, and we give no heed to her, if she has a plain face!
29. The old man had not a single friend to mourn him, having indeed, during the whole course of his life, never taken the least pains to secure one.
30. Remorse is the least active of all a man’s moral senses.
31. We grieve at the idea of being found out and at the idea of shame and punishment, but the mere sense of wrong makes very few people unhappy in Vanity Fair.
32. Thriftless gives, not from a beneficent pleasure in giving, but from a lazy delight in spending.
33. There can be no MERCENARY motives in those whose DISAPPOINTMENTS are well known.