Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously


Pride relates to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think

“His pride,” said Miss Lucas, “does not offend me so much as pride often does, because there is an excuse for it. One cannot wonder that so very fine a young man, with family, fortune, everything in his favor, should think highly of himself. If I may so express it, he has a right to be proud.”

“That is very true,” replied Elizabeth, “and I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.”

“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 the 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.”

“If I were as rich as Mr. Darcy,” cried a young Lucas, who came with his sisters, “I should not care how proud I was. I would keep a pack of foxhounds, and drink a bottle of wine every day.”

“Then you would drink a great deal more than you ought,” said Mrs. Bennet; “and if I were to see you at it, I should take away your bottle directly.”

by Jane Austen (16 December 1775 – 18 July 1817)
from Pride and Prejudice (1813)
Chapter V

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12 Responses to “Vanity and pride are different things, though the words are often used synonymously”

  1. bla bla bla bla Says:

    Hi! I ‘m working on Pride and Prejudice at the moment for my GCSEs but I can´t explain what this quote really means and what Jane Austen is trying to show the readers with this!! I would thank a short explanation!

  2. E. A. Able Says:

    I have some ideas, but I don’t want to do your homework. Why don’t you take a stab at it, and then I’ll chime in?

  3. bla bla bla bla Says:

    I’ve thought about Austen justifying Darcy’s behavior and trying to include characters like Mrs Bennet as vain and even criticizing the rest of the characters for “pressuring” Darcy suggesting he must be vain and not show how he really is??

  4. E. A. Able Says:

    I’ve wondered if Austin meant to use the characters of Darcy and Elizabeth to encourage examination of the class structure of her time. Darcy and Elizabeth start off as upper crust vs middle class, and end up seeing themselves and each other through fresh eyes.

    It seems to me that both Darcy and Elizabeth do some opinionated pressuring, before they repent and then admit they’re in love. 🙂

  5. E. A. Able Says:

    Mrs. Bennet is pretty silly.

  6. bla bla bla bla Says:

    but is this shown by that quote??

  7. bla bla bla bla Says:

    I don’t understand what how that is related to the quote… :S

  8. Just Sayin' Says:

    This quote is actually from Chapter V (5).

  9. E. A. Able Says:

    You’re right! How did I miss that? I’ll change it from IV to V. Thanks for the correction.

  10. Now-It-All Says:

    Darcy and Elizabeth judge from first impressions

  11. Now-It-All Says:

    Although Ms. Bennet seems like a nut, she’s actually a very caring mother. In this time period a mother looked after her daughter in order to get them married off to decent, wealthy men. She is only doing what’s right for her daughter… therefore, she is NOT silly

  12. E. A. Able Says:

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments!

    I think silly is a matter of degree. Mrs. Bennet’s concern for her daughters is not silly. Over-reacting is what is silly, though often understandable! The combination of going over the edge and caring deeply about her daughters’ futures is part of what makes Mrs. Bennet’s character so endearing. (Smart author.)

    Though our methods and means change as our cultures change, I’ll bet that some of the same dynamic has been around as long as there have been families.