Vanity and Pride “Pride,” observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of herreflections, “is a very common failing, I believe. By all that I haveever read, I am convinced that it is...

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

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

 

2 Answers | Add Yours

litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

I think that pride was an important concept in Victorian England. It still is today. By distinguishing between pride and vanity, Mary is commenting that some people have a lot of faith in themselves, while others care more about what other people think. Having a high opinion of oneself can be dangerous. It seems to me that there is a value judgement here. Pride is bad, but not as bad as vanity.
rrteacher's profile pic

rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I think she means exactly what she says in the last line. Pride is our sense of self-worth, which ought to be independent of what others think of us. Vanity, on the other hand, is wrapped up in others' opinions of us. Austen is probably referencing a philosophical debate with which she almost certainly would have been familiar- the relationship, described by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, between amour-propre, or vanity, and amour de soi meme, which still references others, but is more concerned with one's internal qualities.

We’ve answered 318,973 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question