Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Personality Quirks: U is for Umbrageous

You may know someone who has “taken umbrage” or even have done so yourself, but I wager you’ve never thought of an umbrageous personality. This personality quirk is in the same family as yesterday’s truculent, but perhaps umbrageous is not thought of as negatively. After all, umbrage is typically situational rather than a constant state like truculence. On the other hand, we’ve all met those thin-skinned folks who seem to be looking for an excuse to be offended.

Umbrage come to us from the Latin umbra meaning ‘shadow’. In late Middle English its sense was a ‘shadowy outline’ which led to ‘ground for suspicion’ which brought us to today’s ‘offense.’

In the first scenario, creating an umbrageous character means finding situations/events for your plot that most people would pass off as inappropriate or uncomfortable. But an umbrageous character would take such offense as to be vocal and unpleasant about the situation/event. Perhaps someone tells an off-color story or a gender-insensitive joke. Many of your characters will look away or walk away without comment. Your umbrageous character might take on the speaker and bring shim to task. Heesh feels the offense so deeply that it must be addressed. Perhaps heesh sees shimself as the police officer for civil speech. How do other characters react to the outrage and passion of the umbrageous character? Do they cheer shim on or do they avoid shim as much as the original speaker?

In another scenario, you could also create an umbrageous character who doesn’t publicly address the creator of the situation/event. Rather, think Super Hero/Heroine. A Batman/Batgirl or Superman/Superwoman who takes umbrage and retaliates at a higher level of response. Heesh sets out to right the world’s wrongs. What motivates super heroes/heroines if not umbrage. You could create a nice paranormal or fantasy tale for your stage.

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  1. I had never thought of tone-policing, or calling it out, as umbrageous until this post. What an interesting way to look at both sides of the equation. Thank you!

    Sharon E. Cathcart
    Award-winning Author of Fiction Featuring Atypical Characters

  2. Interesting. Yes, I've met people who consider themselves the "civility police," and rather ironically assert their judgments in a fairly uncivil manner. Seems like that is the core paradox of the umbrageous character.
    Laurel's Leaves: U = Unexpected