Pride and Prejudice

Vanity and Pride

“Pride,” observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her

reflections, “is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I have

ever read, I am convinced that it is very common indeed; that human

nature is particularly prone to it, and that there are very few of us

who do not cherish a feeling of self-complacency on the score of some

quality or other, real or imaginary. Vanity and pride are different

things, though the words are often used synonymously. A person may

be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of

ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.”

-chapter 5, page 18

Pride is defined as a high opinion of one’s own worth, or a pleasure and satisfaction in something concerned with oneself. When one has pride, one is proud of their accomplishments, abilities, achievements etc, without attitude or superiority.

Vanity can be defined as an excessive amount of pride in one’s appearance, qualities, abilities, achievements etc. Vanity is seen as conceit in a person. It is a word that conjures up a negative connotation and suggests a degree of blindness. Someone who is considered vain has a certain attitude towards others, generally a feeling of superiority.

In the previous passage, Mary Bennet distinguishes between vanity and pride. What do you think she is suggesting in that?

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As said in the words of Mary at the beginning of the novel, "human nature is particularly prone to [pride]" (Volume I, Chapter 5). In the novel, pride prevents the characters from seeing the truth of a situation and from achieving happiness in life. Pride is one of the main barriers that creates an obstacle to Elizabeth and Darcy's marriage. Darcy's pride in his position in society leads him initially to scorn anyone outside of his own social circle. Elizabeth's vanity clouds her judgment, making her prone to think ill of Darcy and to think well of Wickham. In the end, Elizabeth's rebukes of Darcy help him to realize his fault and to change accordingly, as demonstrated in his genuinely friendly treatment of the Gardiners, whom he previously would have scorned because of their low social class. Darcy's letter shows Elizabeth that her judgments were wrong and she realizes that they were based on vanity, not on reason.