The 7 Deadly Sins Reading List: Pride

The Seven Deadly Sins

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.

The Metamorphoses, by Ovid
Self-loving Narcissus and slightly overconfident-in-his-own-abilities Icarus are the Greek grandaddies of pride.

“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.

Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
Scarlett is proud alright, but she ain’t too proud to beg. Too bad Rhett doesn’t give a damn.

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.

The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishigur0
Stevens, Ishiguro’s proud butler, can’t admit the failings of his former boss because they would reflect failings on his own part. It’s dignipride.

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.

Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
Henry VIII had enough self-regard to completely dismantle the religious underpinnings of his country for the privilege of upgrading to the newer model. Epic balls.

 What’s your favorite sinfully proud read?

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