In Thomas More's "Utopia," he says: "[How can anyone] be silly enough to think himself better than other people, because his clothes are made of finer woolen thread than theirs. After all, those fine clothes were once worn by a sheep." By envying another's life or wishing to change lives (even for a moment), you sacrifice your own value.
Dressed to ImpressChandler works for an architect and earns $18 per week. Out of each weekly paycheck, he saves $1 for 10 weeks so that he can spend an evening as a rich bachelor. With $10, he can easily afford to "play the wealthy idler to perfection."
After ironing out his suit, Chandler heads out of his lodging-house to enjoy dinner and the lingering stares of strangers. He walks along, perfectly assuming his role in this "vespertine dress parade."
Basking in the admiration of those around him, Chandler encounters a young woman who rounds the street corner and slips on the ice. In an instant, Chandler is by her side and helps her stand, as her ankle is sprained and she can barely walk.
Playing and ParadingThe young lady, Miss Marian, assents to this plan and hobbles to the restaurant with Chandler. At the restaurant, he easily uses his $10 to afford an impressive dinner for them both.
However, though he admires her simplicity, the "frenzy of Fuss and Feathers" seizes his mind, and he loses all control. He begins to regale her with fictional information "of clubs, of teas, of golf and riding and kennels and cotillions and tours abroad."
He revels in his companion's appearance of wonder and truly believes she is impressed. Despite her surprised appearance, she asks: "This way of living that you speak of [...] sounds so futile and purposeless. Haven't you any work to do in the world that might interest you more?" Yet even this question fails to shake his parading.
Unfortunately, Chandler creates an undesirable impression upon the young lady. Though they both wish to know each other better, Chandler senses that his rich appearance would never win her, since she will think she is beneath him. They part, Chandler to his modest lodging house and Marian to a very different abode.
Through this comical contrast, Henry proves how ridiculous it is to play a part for the sake of admiration or relief from your own life. He echoes C.S. Lewis's words in "Prince Caspian": "You doubt your value. Don't run from who you are."
When you play a part that is not your own, you abandon the innate value that blooms within you. The next time you envy another's situation, clothes, life, or car, remember that your value belongs only to you and has never, and can never, be replicated.