If you’re like me, you’ve been trying to forget everything you ever knew about the Seven Deadly Sins since that guy exploded from eating too many Spaghetti-Os in Seven. But authors can’t forget the cardinal seven, because vice, my dear boy, is what makes characters interesting. Pride might be the least fun of the mortal no-no’s (hello, lust and gluttony), but it sure does make for an interesting—and long—fall. Brush up with this Pride (this kind, not this kind) reading list.
“Othello,” by William Shakespeare
Othello’s self-image can’t take the thought of Desdemona stepping out on him, so he kills her. Or, in Cassio’s words, “reputation, reputation, reputation.”
“Doctor Faustus,” by Christopher Marlowe
Billy Shakes wasn’t the only Elizabethan rapping on pride. Marlowe’s Faustus exhibits an array of sins (at one point, personified, they parade before him), but the doctor’s mortal ambition and refusal to repent until it’s too late are his ultimate downfalls.
Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
I mean, it’s in the name. We all know Elizabeth’s pride almost prevents her from recognizing Darcy’s marshmallowy, ardent center. Luckily for everyone involved, she pulls her head out of her arse.
Wuthering Heights, by Emily Brontë
Heathcliff’s love of Catherine can be read as a reflection of his love for himself. “I am Heathcliff,” she declares. His heart and pride are so broken by her marriage to Edgar, it sets off a dizzying vortex of revenge and that other deadly sin, wrath.
The Picture of Dorian Gray, by Oscar Wilde
Dude thinks he’s so pretty in the flower of his youth (and is so afraid of that flower wilting) that he Freaky Fridays his soul into a painting. It’s all downhill from there.
The Fountainhead, by Ayn Rand
Contrary to most authors on this list, Rand saw pride as a positive not a tragic thing—the Randian secret to success. Her heroes were always looking out for Numero Uno.
The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
Papa Bear was another author you might call “comfortable” with pride. Santiago is aware that his pride drove him too far out to sea, but it’s not a dishonorable pride.
A Man in Full, by Tom Wolfe
If The Bonfire of the Vanities skewered the self-appointed “Masters of the Universe” of the boom years, then A Man in Full fictionalizes the descent of the equally outsized egos of the bust years.
Amsterdam, by Ian McEwan
When Clive, an exalted composer, chooses to rush off and jot down elusive strains of his new symphony rather than intervene in an attempted rape, it’s an act of pride, not malice. Kind of like that Phil Collins song.
What’s your favorite sinfully proud read?