Study Guide

The Vanity of Human Wishes Pride

By Samuel Johnson

Pride

Pride is an ambiguous quality. On the one hand, it can be good to be proud. On the other hand, too much pride can spell trouble. In "The Vanity of Human Wishes," Johnson's speaker dwells on the dangers of pride by demonstrating how it can often corrupt people and lead them to bad ends.

Not only that, but the speaker suggests that it's often our pride that gets in the way of our judgement. When we're too proud, we can't make good decisions. Our judgement is clouded by our warped sense of how important we are. We're not that important, in the grand scheme of things, and the poem suggests that we need to maintain a sense of humility if we are to live well and wisely.

Questions About Pride

  1. How does pride lead us astray, according to the speaker of this poem?
  2. Are there are any ways in which pride can be considered a good thing?
  3. What's the relationship between pride and fate?
  4. What are some of the ways in which we can avoid the pitfalls of pride, according to this poem?

Chew on This

Pride is a very bad thing—it only brings us trouble.

The speaker feels that the only way we can avoid pride is to devote ourselves to God.

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