The Seven Deadly Sins : Envy
With its religious connotations throughout the book, Flowers in the Attic was always going to have the “hidden” religious themes such as the Seven Deadly Sins.
In this section i will be exploring each sin and what section of the story they appear in , how they affect the characters and why ….
Envy (Latin, invidia)
Envy (jealousy, malice) —
Grieving spite and resentment of material objects, accomplishments, or character traits of others, or wishing others to fail or come to harm. Envy is the root of theft and self-loathing. Dante defined this as “love of one’s own good perverted to a desire to deprive other men of theirs”.
Sinner : Cathy
The greatest example of Envy rears it’s ugly head on the night of the Christmas party.
Corrine arrives beautifully adorned in a green dress , breathlessly telling her children of the party her father is throwing her.
The colour of the dress is linked to the symbology of the colour green – green is the color of the deadly sin Envy and through Cathys eyes and the exquisite detailed narrative we can, as readers feel Cathys own envy, longing and frustration having been locked up and missing out on so much ….
I was envious of the arrogant;
I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For they have no pain;
their bodies are sound and sleek.
They are not in trouble as others are;
they are not plagued like other people.
Therefore pride is their necklace;
violence covers them as a garment.
Their eyes swell out with fatness;
their heart overflows with follies.
They scoff and speak with malice;
loftily they threaten oppression.
They set their tongues against heaven,
and their tongues range over the earth.
Therefore the people turn and praise them,
and find no fault in them….
Such are the wicked;
always at ease, they increase in riches.
All in vain I have kept my heart clean
and washed my hands in innocence.”
(Psalm 73:3-13, NRSV
This Psalm I feel really speaks for the seed of fear, doubts and negativity that has been planted in Cathys mind regarding her mother and this night and this dress with the adorning emerald jewellery just fosters her envy.
Envy is the most joyless of the Seven Deadly Sins, and trying to get to the bottom of it is like wrestling with a shadow. The glutton enjoys his banana split, at least for a moment, but the envious appears to derive only a gnawing sense of comparison, competition, and injustice from his secret sin. At its best, envy remains a hidden pool of ingratitude and resentment, secretly applauding the downfall and sorrow of others.
This festers inside Cathy the more time goes on and where it is proven her suspicion s are correct, her envy towards her mother is still a driving force behind her actions especially later on in the series particularly in Petals on the Wind .
She may require revenge for all that has happened but it is her envy, planted so long ago in 1957 that spurs her to dress in a replica gown in 1972 and exploit her mother the way she did. For the sad truth is despite all the sorrow, heartbreak and wrong doing , she loved her mother, so much so she wanted to be her – just like she did that Christmas Eve when she witnessed her in that Green dress.