The self-consciousness and attitude of Catherine are what interested me the most. Her actions at the first ball were very curious; she seemed acutely aware of her own appearance and standing relative to everyone else. I get the feeling that Catherine expects to be showered with praise and attention from the line, “Not one, however, started with rapturous wonder on beholding her, no whisper of eager inquiry ran around the room, nor was she once called a divinity by anybody.” The line could be interpreted as if a narrator was plainly describing the events, but I believe it shows a comparison between how she expects/hopes to be treated and how she is treated. She put every effort into her appearance and she deserves to be rewarded for it. There is a hint of disappointment in that sentence as well. Catherine also comments on her own appearance and station much more than she does on any other bystanders in the room. Once she does receive short words of praise from two men, her night is complete and she can retire happily.
The phrase “her humble vanity was contented” strikes me as ironic, because a heroine such as Catherine seems to be anything but humble. At one point, it is her turn to “be noticed and admired”. These are not the words of a humble woman. Perhaps she is outwardly humble, maintains appearances as she should, but we get the unique look at her inner thoughts where she can be vain and self-centered. Even comparing her contentment from the two compliments to the contentment of a “true-quality heroine” being sung fifteen sonnets is not a humble comparison. This is another example of how she expects or hopes to be treated vs. how she is treated. The self-proclaimed heroine deserves to have fifteen sonnets sung in her honor, but she will be content with two measly praises. I want to think that these comparisons are simply a narrator juxtaposing this young woman with heroic aspirations to a real heroine, but it feels like Catherine is disappointed that she isn’t getting the attention that she deserves.