The pervasive sin in Little Dorrit is excessive, usually unjustified pride. It is a psychological state shared by the majority of the characters, and it is always a hindrance. How so? Well, characters with too much pride have difficulty forming emotional connections with those around them. They often react in a huff to anything that happens, rather than taking reasonable actions. They also have trouble valuating the people and situations they come across accurately. And, ironically enough, their overweening pride prevents them from conducting themselves in a manner that could turn them into the kinds of people who could justifiably be proud of themselves and their accomplishments.
Questions About Pride
- Who is the most self-important and proud character in the novel? Who is the least? How can you tell?
- Are there different kinds of pride? What constitutes bad pride? Good pride? Does the novel distinguish between the two?
- Does pride tend to be associated with either male or female characters? Why? Are there some characters who do not follow the gender divide? How does this cause other characters to view them? How does it cause readers to view them?
Chew on This
The social hierarchy of the novel rests entirely on people being able to maintain overly inflated opinions of themselves in the face of evidence to the contrary. Just as the Parliamentary satire shows Circumlocution Officers blithely spewing meaningless but impressive-sounding self-congratulations, so in private, the elite spends most of its time complimenting itself.