It is strange to consider a person so enamored of their own beauty that they become prideful to the extent that they self-destruct. But when we look out our windows at the society milling about us, it’s easier to believe, the more we see.
Conceit leads to pride, pride to entitlement, entitlement to greed. It’s a story as old as history.
Yet, we live in a society that celebrates the beautiful. We have this strange notion that what is beautiful must also be good and virtuous, and so when the beautiful step out of line, we are often slow to censure them. Beautiful children have a greater success rate in most areas of school life than those children who are not quite as beautiful. There are less beautiful people than ugly people in prison. Beautiful people get hired more often–even though sometimes less qualified–than those who are plain Jane/Johns. Beautiful people are more easily believed–even when they are lying. Beautiful people can cause others to follow them. And of the beautiful people in our society, we are most enthralled by the beautiful celebrity. These people are above the regular masses you and I might call “normal” Joes and Marys. The world where celebrities live is not the same world I live in.
Beautiful, conceited, and entitled… It is a dangerous combination. And in the paper I am working my way through, this combination can lead to damnation–at least it did for Milton’s Satan and for Lewis’ Jadis. The three aspects of this combination must work upon each other in order to become dangerous, because one can be beautiful and conceited, yet still work tirelessly for the poor or give of their wealth to charity, etc. For the combination to become dangerous for the individual, it must be in the form of a “triple threat”. One must have a strong sense of entitlement that emanates only from their own beauty and conceit, and is not based on personal accomplishment or any other purposeful action. For example, one cannot feel entitled to money because one worked for it. One must feel entitled to receive money simply because he or she is beautiful and therefore valuable because of his or her beauty. It is a type of mindless vanity that cannot be reasoned with using ordinary language. It is ordinary, and thus, meaningless to this type of person.
With Milton’s Satan and Lewis’ Jadis, we see that type of mindless pride at work. For them both, their pride is so much a definition of who they are, that it becomes all that they are. And in the end, it leaves them in despair. Despair seems to be the end product of pride for these characters, in that pride on its own can not replace what they truly need to exist.