|Excessive Pride and Self-Confidence as Motive in Storytelling: Characterization and Plot Example|
Friday, August 12th, 2016
An example of excessive pride and self-confidence in story excerpt from "Nemesis".
After he was fired from his job as audiovisual technician, Fred demanded early retirement, threatening to sue, and received forty-percent of his salary. A pittance of what I’m worth, he thought. Fred’s dismissal humiliated his wife Veronica. “Get a job,” she said, irritated to have him perpetually at home.
“I think I’ll start writing a syndicated column for the newspaper,” Fred said, emboldened by his recently acquired disgust–through his intent viewing of TV extremist news–of how seriously deficient America had become.
“You’re lazy,” Veronica said.
“Lazy people do not reach my levels of success,” he said.
Veronica was thin and had a nervous tick that shut her left eye making her right eye widen and exposing the white of the globe as if in unilateral fright. She would leave Fred after twelve loveless years. “You’re a jackass,” she said.
“Don’t be your unreasonable self, Veronica. It only demeans you.”
“A halfwit,” she said.
“Now it’s name calling, is it?” Fred said.
“It’s not a name. I’m not addressing you. I’m telling what everyone knows. You're an incompetent, unemployed, self-absorbed, idiot–the only human in existence who has pride in his failures. And I hate you.”
In an instant Fred assessed the entire scene as some hormonally induced, paper-lantern feminine crisis not worthy of his attention. She’d come around. She always did.
This excerpt is from the short story “Nemesis” about an arrogant man with excessive pride (hubris), failure to heed warnings, unshakeable belief in being right, inconsiderate of others’ views, and stubbornly ignorant of knowledge, who causes the death of the only love of his life. You can READ [5085 words] or LISTEN TO [34 minutes] the story here: http://www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/original-stories-william-h-coles/nemesis/
The Greeks knew excessive pride and self-confidence invited destruction (hubris–>nemesis). For the writer of stories, hubris is a human trait that can vitalize plot development and characterization. Look at these examples of hubris inviting destruction:
1. A famous athlete has extramarital affairs and said he thought that normal rules did not apply to him and that his excellence in his sport entitled him to whatever he wanted with no consequences. He lost respect of family, fans and sponsors and his career is ruined..
2. A president believes his status makes him invincible until his involvement in the illegal breaking and entering scandal forces his resignation.
And you might also enjoy these classical literature examples of pride and downfall: Oedipus Rex, All the King’s Men, Frankenstein.
The award winning novel McDowell incorporates full use of hubris that results in destruction of a famous doctor's career and freedom. He becomes a hunted convict that ironically allows new opportunity to regain some value to his life with unselfish caring for others. It’s a prime example of hubris and nemesis followed by a rebirth. It’s a good read. Available in all formats including audio.