When Elizabeth Bennet reads Mr. Darcy’s letter of explanation in Pride and Prejudice, she is ashamed of her own pride and vanity: “ ‘How despicably I have acted!’ she [cries]; ‘I, who have prided myself on my discernment! I, who have valued myself on my abilities! . . . Had I been in love, I could not have been more wretchedly blind! But vanity, not love, has been my folly.’ ” She ends with this: “Till this moment I never knew myself.”
Elizabeth Bennet feels especially humiliated by her misjudgment of Mr. Wickham. She, who prides herself on her ability to judge well, fails to discern his true character. She judges him by his outer appearance and his “person, countenance, air, and walk.” She is charmed by his “agreeable manner” and is a “happy woman” when he sits with her, after catching the attention of “almost every female eye.” Ultimately, Elizabeth’s own pride deceives her.
Have we thought irreverently of Thee, have we disobeyed Thy Commandments, have we neglected any known Duty, or willingly given pain to any human Being? Incline us to ask our Hearts these questions Oh! God, and save us from deceiving ourselves by Pride or Vanity.