Pride and Prejudice - Vanity

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Vanity

Jane Austen’s famous work, Pride and Prejudice, is entwined with each character’s social, political, and personal vanity, especially Lady Catherine de Bourgh and Elizabeth Bennet. Without these comedic elements this piece would never have come as far as it has.

In Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, social vanity is created by one’s social standing in society. Lady Catherine de Bourgh has a very high standing and expects everyone should care for her opinion. “Lady Catherine seemed quite astonished at not receiving a direct answer; and Elizabeth suspected herself to be the first creature who had ever dared to trifle with so much dignified impertinence.” She believes that since her standing is high, she must have a lot of knowledge and good advice. Her opinion of herself is comedic to the reader. If Lady Catherine wasn’t so pompous she would be like any other character, and not as funny as she is. “When the ladies returned to the drawing-room, there was little to be done but to hear Lady Catherine talk, which she did without any intermission till coffee came in, delivering her opinion on every subject in so decisive a manner as proved that she was not used to have her judgment controverted2.” Elizabeth, on the other hand, knows her social standing is low but ignores the fact because she doesn’t think it has any affect on her life, and expresses her opinion openly. “’Upon my word,’ said her Ladyship, ‘you give your opinion very decidedly for so young a person.’” The reader often enjoys hearing what Elizabeth will say next, for she is very thoughtful and stead-fast, and it is amusing to see the reactions she receives from other characters.

In the political sense, vanity comes from one’s connections. Lady Catherine thinks that connections are all that matters in life. Lady Catherine threatens Elizabeth by saying, “You will be censure, slighted, and despised, by every one connected with him. Your alliance will be a disgrace; your name will never be...
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