Vanity Fair, a novel by William Makepeace Thackeray, has been adapted numerous times over the last century. This is in great part because of its main character Becky Sharp. The alluring and ambitious woman has for years captured the imagination of many people around the world, but there has always been speculation as to who exactly is the character based on. After all, anyone who could have inspired such an ambitious woman would definitely be a superwoman herself. But as it turns out, the character is actually not inspired by any one person.
Becky, as portrayed in the novel, is a woman who easily manipulates and uses people. A show based on the book will also be premiering on Amazon Prime in a few days. Despite this, there are many experts who have connected Becky with other women through history. Mostly, these are women who backed away from tradition and became famous or successful due to their diabolic and to some extent unconventional behavior.
Becky has also been played by various stars in the screen adaptations of the novel. In the 2004 film adaption by the same name, for example, the character is played by Reese Witherspoon. However, the film depicts Becky more sympathetically. The seven-part miniseries that will be airing on Amazon Prime is taking a different approach. In the series, Becky will be played by Olivia Cooke. She’s expected to bring out the cunning social climber that has come to characterize Becky over the years to life. The series has already aired in the UK though on ITV and this is the first time that US audiences will be getting a sneak peek.
The Vanity Fair Reader’s Guide has been one of the most notable audiences that have dismissed the idea that Becky could be based on any real person. In a bio about William Makepeace Thackeray, the publisher, Penguin Random House, noted that Thackeray often used his wife as the main inspiration for some of the heroines that have been depicted in his books. The heroines are often virtuous and weak. However, looking at the attributes of Becky, it’s clear to see that indeed she’s really far from virtuous and weak.
In addition to this, the 19th century author has never intimated to anyone or spoke in public that the character was based on anyone in particular. There are some scholars who have also suggested that the character could have been inspired by a governess who lived in the neighborhood of Kensington Square. The authors say that the governess was the companion of a very selfish and rich old woman. Nonetheless, most of these accounts are technically hearsay and no one has really been able to put a finger on this mystery.
Despite this, the cunning and ambitious Becky Sharp has become one of the most captivating characters in the last century. It, therefore, makes a lot of sense that people will easily be curious to know whether the character is based on a real person and if yes who that person is.