A critical analysis of the women in Thackeray's later novels

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Thackeray's female characters, especially in the earlier novels, have attracted considerable critical attention, but in general the critics have concentrated almost entirely on superficialities, giving little attention to the women as individual creations. Thus the women characters of Thackeray's novels have suffered at their hands both from the harshness of their moral judgments and from being considered mere stereotypes. There is no systematic study of the women characters in the later novels, and this study is an effort to fill that gap. Although the critics of Thackeray have attempted to choose either his worldly women or his domestic angels as the center of value for his fiction, he is working for a blend of the two even in his earlier work. There are personal roots as well as social roots for this concern and these are manifest in Vanity Fair, Pendennis and Henry Esmond. The Newcomes is his first serious attempt to make this blend, and The Virginians is another attempt at solving this. Philip is his final and most radical effort to reshape the nineteenth century view of women.