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|Motifs in Conversation - Vanity
Written by Kathryn Ann
(5/10/2010 8:26 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, How JA uses conversation scenes (Long), penned by BarbaraB
One conversation I like to look at is in chapter 5, when Charlotte visits Longbourn to discuss the Assembly and we hear a bit about pride and vanity. Charlotte is not offended by Darcy's pride becaue there is an excuse for it. Elizabeth claims that she could esily forgive his pride had he not mortified hers (with his ungracious comment and refusal to dance with her). And Mary says something that actually makes some sense, and is picked up again in a later convesation:
"Pride," observed Mary ... "is a very common failing ... 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 synonimously. 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."
Pride and Vanity come up again in chapter 11 when Elizabeth teases Darcy with pride and vanity as weaknesses he avoids...
And again in chapter 36, when Elizabeth recognizes her own actions and beliefs stemming from her vanity: She grew absolutely ashamed of herself. Of neither Darcy nor Wickham could she think without feeling that she had been blind, partial, prejudiced, absurd.
"How despicably have I acted!" she cried; "I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! who have often disdained the generous candour of my sister, and gratified my vanity in useless or blameable distrust. How humiliating is this discovery! yet, how just a humiliation! Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind. But vanity, not love, has been my folly. Pleased with the preference of one, and offended by the neglect of the other, on the very beginning of our acquaintance, I have courted prepossession and ignorance, and driven reason away, where either were concerned. Till this moment I never knew myself."
I very much enjoy seeing how Austen brings up vanity and pride again and again in this novel. Interesting to me also, that it takes Darcy's letter to her for Elizabeth to know herself. Hmmmm....
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