Amelia is characterized as not only kind and gentle, but also insipid, lacking in intelligence and overly trusting. The novel begins with Amelia and Becky leaving Miss Pinkerton’s Academy together and from the first it is evident that Amelia fails to see Becky’s personality in full.
Although this is a novel ‘without a hero’, Becky is undoubtedly at the center. She is often referred to as the ‘little adventuress’ and is concerned about her fortune and standing before considering the feelings of others. She epitomizes Vanity Fair, because of her selfishness, but Thackeray is careful to show that all of the main characters are also hypocritical and self-concerned. She is a comic creation and is a useful means for satirizing the classes she aspires to join.
She works as Miss Crawley’s companion. After her employer’s death, she is taken on as Becky’s ‘moral sheepdog’.
Dobbin (William Dobbin)
Dobbin is the faithful friend of Osborne and is in love with Amelia throughout the novel. He is perhaps the most moral of the main characters, yet he too is often described as hypocritical.
This is the son of Amelia and George Osborne. He is cosseted by his mother and paternal grandfather, but appears to become less superior under Dobbin’s influence.
Joseph is the brother of Amelia and is a comically pompous figure. He is described as vain and a glutton, and is easily flattered by Becky’s compliments.
Lady Jane Crawley (née Sheepshanks)
Jane is the wife of Sir Pitt (the second) and is one of the few kind characters. This is made evident in her sympathy for Rawdon and his son.
Little Rawdon Crawley
Little Rawdon is the son of Becky and Rawdon and is largely ignored by his mother.
The influential Lord Steyne is a close ally of Becky’s until Rawdon discovers them in a compromising position. He is a powerful, unforgiving figure who uses an underling to threaten Becky to stay away from him.
Miss Matilda Crawley
She is the wealthy half-sister of Sir Pitt and Reverend Bute Crawley. She is initially enamoured with Becky until she discovers she has married her favorite nephew, Rawdon.
Mrs Bute Crawley
This is the ambitious, cunning wife of Reverend Bute Crawley. She perceives correctly that Becky and Rawdon are separate threats to her husband inheriting money from Miss Crawley and is instrumental in these two becoming close (and then marrying).
Osborne marries Amelia against the wishes of his parents, as Amelia’s father is no longer wealthy. Dobbin encourages him to go ahead with the marriage to her as he (Osborne) has been linked with her since childhood.
This is the father of George and grandfather of Georgy. He is a proud, stubborn man who unfortunately attempts a reconciliation with Amelia when it is too late. He dies before it is made possible.
Brother of Rawdon and son of Sir Pitt, Pitt Crawley inherits his aunt’s wealth and goes on to be Sir Pitt after the death of his father. He marries Lady Jane Sheepshanks.
Rawdon, the younger brother of Pitt Crawley, becomes an increasingly sympathetic character despite living for free (that is, in debt) at the expense of others. He marries Becky in secret and eventually separates from her when he believes she has been unfaithful to him with Lord Steyne.
Reverend Bute Crawley
This is the brother of Sir Pitt and half-brother of Miss Crawley.
At the beginning of the novel, this character (the father of Amelia and Joseph) is a wealthy stockbroker. When he is made bankrupt, many of his friends (including Osborne senior) desert him and he and his wife are forced to move from Russell Square.
Sir Pitt Crawley (senior)
Sir Pitt Crawley employs Becky as a governess for his two daughters. After the death of his second wife, he proposes to Becky before the funeral takes place. He is described as uncouth, violent and bitter.