Character Traits Entry: Conceited

Definition:
An overly favorable view of oneself and one's abilities, vanity, egotistism

Causes:
Being in an environment where others reinforce one's abilities or gifts with excessive praise (the star athlete, the genius with braggy parents, etc); a belief that bloodline, wealth or fame equals a higher self worth; overshooting confidence when battling low self-esteem or insecurity

Characters in Literature: 
 Malfoy in Harry Potter, Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice

Positives:
The conceited character will often be the first to step up in a difficult situation, eager to prove himself or assert himself as superior. It is easy to egg this person on if needed, and they have both the drive and determination to get the job done. Conceiteds are noticeable and talked about, (not always in a positive way) but this trait stands out in a crowd and often accompanies wittiness. They can be counted on to put forward ideas and opinions when leadership or decision-making is needed.

Negatives:
Conceiteds have an opinion about everything, and often voice it. They are quick to anger or even become violent if their ego is called into question. Their own needs always come first and they avoid seeking help. If assistance is needed, they obtain it through manipulation to avoid appearing weak. Conceiteds find it almost impossible to be objective about themselves and only have the drive to improve if they feel they are already above all others and simply wish to 'widen the gap'. Very few Conceiteds have genuine friendships--they view relationships as stepping stones.

Common Portrayals:
The loud braggart, the jock who talks continually of his own contribution to the team; the coworker who believes she is the hub of the operation and shows false patience (adopting crossed arms or a fake smile, etc) as others speak or pathetically try to 'contribute' in some way; the professor who continually cites his degrees & books written; the socialite who name drops well-known personal connections and deliberately displays wealth to reassert importance.

Cliches to Avoid:
The 'perfect storm' character: wealthy, beautiful and popular (& flaunts it); conceited, overbearing men who turn out to be cowards; the flashy and rude celebrity; the handsome star quarterback airbag

Twists on the Traditional Conceited: 
  • Conceited characters are often dismissed as shallow. Why not pair this negative trait with a noble goal, desire or undertaking?
  • Bring about the epiphany of how this trait holds a person back by exposing your conceited character to another with the same trait.
  • Show a Conceited battle this trait because of a desire to learn and grow, or connect with others in a meaningful way
Conflicting Characteristics to make your Conceited unique or more interesting:
Nobility, Selflessness, Caring, Lazy, Honest, Humble, Shy, Loyalty


17 comments:

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Great post! Thank you. (On the other hand, egotists don't talk about other people ...) Take care.

tracikenworth said...

Great one!!

Michelle Gregory said...

so glad you're doing this.

Bonnie Doran said...

Thanks for this blog! What a great resource for describing emotion. I was getting tired of everyone frowning.

Lisa Gail Green said...

Again, I LOVE that you give examples of what you can do to change up the cliche! :D

MDK said...

I'm so glad to see character traits thesaurus. This takes me back to the high school days when I had to deal with conceited high school kids. I wasn't the conceited one, though. This jogs the memory a bit. Thank you.

Bethany Elizabeth said...

It's so true that 90% of the time pride is portrayed in a novel, it's paired with some unbearable trait like cowardice or stupidity. Sometimes proud people fit a situation perfectly, sometimes they don't, but they're certainly not all stupid cowards. :)

Angela Ackerman said...

Thanks everyone! I have to say, this is a really fun thesaurus collection to do, and really makes me think about what a trait's impact is on behavior.

Angela

Marion Sipe said...

What a great post! I need to read more of these! :-D They really get me thinking.

L.J. said...

This was such a great post! I'm reconsidering some of my characters now. Thanks!

Jan Markley said...

Conceit is an interesting trait, narcissism would be interesting to explore as well.

Kristen said...

Another great one!
I put a link to the Bookshelf Muse in my blog today--just quoting some of your categorizing ideas.
Thanks!

Christina Farley said...

You brought up some interesting things. It's true. Just because someone is conceited doesn't mean they have to be shallow. Interesting perspective!

Emma said...

Yes.. mister darcy.. one of my favorite characters, just because his conceited appearance clashes with his loyal and caring nature.. I guess that is what makes him an interesting character.

Matthew MacNish said...

That's so funny you picked a photo of Brenda Song. My younger daughter loves that Zach and Cody show, but I can't stand it!

Karen Lange said...

Wonderful! I will keep this handy not just for my writing, but to ensure that I don't become too full of myself. Thanks for sharing. :)

Leslie Rose said...

It used to floor me how my teen daughter could be maddeningly conceited one minute, and then a puddle of insecurity the next. Love the dimensions you address in the post. Thanks.

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