Becky Sharp’s Identity Pursuit in Vanity Fair From Lacan’s Theory of Mirror Stage

Yechun ZHANG


William Makepeace Thackeray is one of the representatives of English critical realism in the 19th century. Vanity Fair has been generally regarded as his masterpiece, which reveals human nature and universal self-identity pursuit. Based on Jacques Lacan’s theory of the mirror stage, this paper probes into the protagonist Becky Sharp’s identity pursuit. First, the paper analyzes the awakening of Becky’s sense of identity pursuit. Although this sense is bitty and fragmentary in this period, it accelerates Becky’s steps for identity pursuit. Meanwhile, the appearance and state of this sense correspond to people’s state of pre-mirror stage. Next, the paper explores Becky’s identity pursuit. According to the mirror stage, the identity pursuit needs to be recognized by others, especially the mother. However, the early death of Becky’s mother leads to its primordial lack, so that Becky has to turn to others for recognition. Finally, the paper discusses Becky’s loss in her identity pursuit. Lacan points out that whether successfully distinguishes the specular image (Ideal “I”) from ego (Real “I”) or not is a key point of post-mirror stage. Living in the patriarchal society, Becky’s humble origin, economic quandaries and the requirements of ideal female image in the Victorian age cause her to encounter obstacles. Therefore, it is no doubt that Becky’s efforts for identity pursuing end in failure.



Vanity fair; Becky sharp; Theory of the mirror stage; Identity pursuit

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