I am currently re-reading Jane Eyre (such a wonderful book!), and I ran across this quote:
"I have not much pride under such circumstances: I would always rather be happy than dignified."
This is a very wise attitude, I think. One thing that always bothers me when I am reading Lucy Maud Montgomery, for instance, is her value for pride and dignity. In the Emily books, Emily's main attribute, other than her love and skill for writing, is her pride. She is portrayed as always 'holding her head high' metaphorically and literally. It is rather sad, really-- the books are wonderful, but at the same time dangerous because pride is a folly to which the age of girl that the books are written for are particularly susceptible. Emily in these books goes for many, many years unhappy and lonely, because her pride will not permit her to encourage the man she loves; indeed, it will not let her admit to herself that she loves him. But the author never (in my memory-- it has been several years since I last read these) shows a dislike to this pride-- actually, you can tell she rather approves it.
Charlotte Bronte, on the other hand, shows a very wise attitude to pride, which is really the subject of Jane Eyre. The book shows many different types of pride, both proper and improper, and the conclusion reached is that the only pride worth having is the pride of morality-- the pride that keeps us above sin. As Jane says when explaining to Mr. Rochester, after they almost marry, why she must leave--
"I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned by man."