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Personality

  • He sharpened his wits on the edge of her nerves.

  • Our impulses are our birthright. To alter personality would be unjust, almost criminal, for the impulses that make a fool or worse of us in certain circumstances may be necessary for our happiness.

  • One is not oneself every day—fortunately.

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • ... Gabriel has a personality like a hexagon. People need touch only one side for an illusion of closeness.

  • She drew people to her like a lighted doorway.

  • ... it was a pity he couldna be hatched o'er again, an' hatched different.

  • There are characters which are continually creating collisions and nodes for themselves in dramas which nobody is prepared to act with them.

  • ... he was of that pleasant temperament which believes whatever it is comfortable to believe; he was always able to explain facts to suit his mental necessities.

  • He tried, poor fellow, to assume his grand manner, but all in vain; he was like a drenched and dripping rooster, trying to crow in the rain.

  • Poor Eleanor! Always doing the wrong thing, with greatness.

  • Marcia was incredibly organized, obsessively neat ... I mean she folded her underwear like origami.

    • Linda Barnes,
    • "Lucky Penny," in Marilyn Wallace, ed., Sisters in Crime ()
  • As a child ... I thought if I could whistle it would spread open and light up my whole life and make me a different person. I thought it would be my best and bravest companion. I thought nobody who could whistle would ever be completely unhappy or very badly frightened, and I was probably right on all points. ... The whistler never looks back, regrets nothing, apologizes for nothing, and may never stop walking till he comes to the sea.

  • ... Fairst's way is not to rush at you with an outstretched hand. His chestnuts wait within burrs.

  • ... the change ... simply magnified her existing qualities. She was like a dried sponge put in water: she expanded, but she did not change her shape.

  • I believe she keeps on being queenly in her own room, with the door shut.

  • But her personality was a little tarnished: she was in want of social renovation. She had been doing and saying the same things for too long a time.

    • Edith Wharton,
    • "The Last Asset," The Hermit and the Wild Woman ()
  • Variety, individuality, peculiarity, eccentricity and indeed crankiness are agreeable to the British mind; they make life more interesting.

  • 'Nan is thirty-three.' 'A dangerous age.' 'All Nan's ages have been dangerous. Nan is like that.'

  • I believe your personality is formed at a very early age. Fame can magnify that personality, for good or bad, but it can't change it. So when people say to me, 'Don't change,' I'm thinking, To what? To who? Who else would I be?

    • Oprah Winfrey,
    • in Bill Adler, ed., The Uncommon Wisdom of Oprah Winfrey ()
  • She might struggle like a fly in a web. He wrapped her around and around with beautiful sentences.

  • Miss Ophelia was the absolute bond-slave of the 'ought.'

  • Opal lived in her house like an egg in a shoe box, curves enhancing corners.

  • Joicey, trying to be reasonable, always melted Shel's heart — like a bird trying to plow, a baby wanting to pitch hay.

  • Bandying words with Jud Clasby would be like trying to outgrunt a pig.

  • ... William Tavener never heeded ominous forecasts in the domestic horizon, and he never looked for a storm until it broke.

    • Willa Cather,
    • "The Sentimentality of William Tavener," in Virginia Faulkner, ed., Willa Cather's Collected Short Fiction, 1982-1912 ()
  • Runners are poor walkers.

  • Valentine's tiresome sister has lost her job. And created over this as if she had lost her hair, her teeth, her legs, her good name, and her latchkey.

  • She was only a shell containing the opinions of her friends.

  • ... Annabel, who frequently confused her dramatic instinct with her emotion, derived not a little pleasure from making a scene.

  • It's amazing, Asa said to himself, that hardness and sentimentality, as close as streaks of fat and lean, can run through a character.

  • Three armies might have been brought to combat with half the encouragement it took to bring the timid Matilda to the harp.

  • A personality is our way of being for others. We hope that others will meet us half way or more, gratify our needs, be our audience, soothe our fears.

  • He had the Gaelic gayety and melancholy, like the streaks of fat and lean in Irish bacon.

  • Violence, passion, indignation, loyalty, integrity, incorruptibility, shameless egoism, generosity, excitability, energy, a hundred horse-power drive — none of it very subtle: Ethel [Smyth] didn't deal in pastel shades, she went for the stronger colors, the blood-red, anything deep and pumping out of the arteries of the heart.

  • She had something of the stance of a Spanish fighting bull, and I felt a nervous impulse, as I retreated rapidly before her, to make it quite clear that I had never been a matador and had, indeed, always felt a peculiar affection and regard for bulls.

  • She invents dramas in which she always stars.

    • Anaïs Nin,
    • 1931, The Diary of Anaïs Nin, vol. 1 ()
  • She was the same through and through. You could go on cutting slice after slice and you knew you would never light upon a plum or a cherry or even a piece of peel.

  • What's the matter with this country is the matter with the lot of us individually — our sense of personality is a sense of outrage ...

  • She had to confess inexperience; her personality was still too much for her, like a punt-pole.

  • [She is] like a bear you have to keep throwing buns at.

  • Some people are molded by their admirations, others by their hostilities.

  • Like all such official types, he specialized in being his own antithesis: strong but understanding, boisterous but grave, pragmatic but speculative when need be. The necessity of encompassing such opposites had left him with a little wobble of uncertainty in the center of his personality ...

  • ... she had the brusque, brutal air of a person detailed to cut Gordian knots.

  • Altogether, he's about as genial as the north side of a meeting-house.

  • ... like other potentates with a long habit of arbitrary authority, she covered her perplexity with a smart show of decision.

  • To have 'It,' the fortunate possessor must have that strange magnetism which attracts both sexes. He or she must be entirely unself-conscious and full of self-confidence, indifferent to the effect he or she is producing, and uninfluenced by others. There must be physical attraction, but beauty is unnecessary.

    • Elinor Glyn,
    • title story, "It" and Other Stories ()
  • [On Gabrielle, her house servant:] She has inspired moments a half dozen times a year. The rest of the time she is spiteful like a petty criminal. If it didn't take so much time it might be diverting.

    • Alice B. Toklas,
    • in Samuel M. Steward, Dear Sammy; Letters From Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas ()
  • She [my mother] was a very elegant woman. When a flying saucer landed on the lawn, she turned it over to see if it was Wedgwood.

    • Joan Rivers,
    • with Richard Merryman, Still Talking ()
  • ... he certainly seemed ... to have more in him of heaven than earth; as if indeed he were only lent, not given.

  • ... he never showed his temper at all, but you couldn't be with him ten minutes without being morally certain that he had a very bad and sullen one, which he merely kept concealed for reasons of his own.

  • Aunt Celia is one of those persons who are born to command, and when they are thrown in contact with those who are born to be commanded all goes as merry as a marriage bell; otherwise not.

  • Mildred was a big woman, angry and insecure, an abrasive woman, who marched through life hoarding grudges like bad debts on which she could eventually collect.

  • Her greedy black eyes and the way she held her head on one side made her look as if she were always guessing the price of something.

  • The destruction of the personality is the great evil of the time.

    • Ellen Key,
    • "The Conventional Woman," The Morality of Women ()
  • He is like a great fire, where all can come and be warmed and comforted.

  • Infallibility requires a great deal of charm to carry it off. Unfortunately, Albert was deficient in charm.

  • Romer's mother, looking intensely cross — it was her form of deep thought — was re-embroidering ... She had that decadent love of minute finish in the unessential so often seen in persons of a nervous yet persistent temperament.

  • How gifted he is! He describes people in detail, and by the yard, without giving one the very slightest idea of their appearance. He has a real genius for platitudes.

  • But she could carry off anything; and some people said that she did.

  • ... Harry drowned his sorrows in talk, as other men drown theirs in wine, or in sport, or in taking some violent step. He intoxicated and soothed himself with conversation.

  • I'm completely uninhabited.

    • Jane Ace,
    • in Goodman Ace, Ladies and Gentlemen, Easy Aces ()
  • ... Mr. Archer was the deep kind, like something in a dictionary that had a dozen different meanings you'd never think of.

  • ... my trouble / is that I have the spirit of Gertrude Stein / but the personality of Alice B. Toklas ...

  • A personality cannot be changed; it can only be revealed. To find out what we really are, what it is that makes us rare and wonderful and different from everybody else in the world, we must peel off the layers of fear, withdrawal, self-doubt, confusion and habit that grow around and harden over our inner core until we are as hidden from our own knowledge as we are from everyone else's.

  • ... she is so stiff and stand-offish. She is like a drawn bow, and we are afraid we'll get an arrow through our bodies if we come too near.

  • This woman always has plenty to say but she never says anything unless it's already been said by somebody else. With her it's always 'my husband maintains' or 'according to the Daily Express' or 'a man on television was saying last night,' and never I say or I think.

  • Mabel Pettigrew thought: I can read him like a book. She had not read a book for over forty years, could never concentrate on reading, but this nevertheless was her thought ...

  • Her parents had searched through the past, consulted psychiatrists, took every moment to bits. In no way could she be explained.

  • There are people who are almost in love, almost famous, and almost happy.

    • Juliana Krüdener,
    • in J. De Finod, ed., A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness ()
  • ... he was the sort of man who looked like he was wearing a tie even in a sports shirt. He could be rigid in a hammock.

  • My friend Cassie is the sort of trendsetter they ought to hire over at People. ... She had a Cuisinart and a schefflera when everyone else had a crèpe pan and a philodendron.

  • Is there any other slavery and chain like that of temperament?

  • ... Dr. Meyrick, who though glad to talk, was also quite content, apparently, to judge from the radiant placidity of his look, to examine his wine, study his menu, and enjoy his entrées in silence, undisturbed by the uncertain pleasures of conversation.

  • If you are not inherently well organized, she had learned, it is important to be as inflexible as you can.

  • Muriel had little patience with gaucherie, though inspiring it.

  • People radiate what is in their minds and in their hearts.

  • His tone was about as informative, and as welcoming, as a blank wall with broken glass on the top.

  • He's as finicky as the five-times-table, and about as lively.

  • ... she had become a kind of emotional tapeworm hanging cosily in the mid-gut of other people's affairs and digesting any entertainment to be derived therefrom.

  • I have a friend, physically magnificent, who combines within himself the intellect of a philosopher, the diplomacy of a statesman, the executive ability of the general of an army, the courtesy of a Chesterfield — and the emotions of a rabbit.

  • ... a man would need to be a mental kangaroo in order to keep up with her.

  • Mrs. Hopewell had no bad qualities of her own but she was able to use other people's in such a constructive way that she never felt the lack.

  • They were drinking ginger ale on her front porch and she kept rattling the ice in her glass, rattling her beads, rattling her bracelet like an impatient pony jingling its harness.

  • ... he made no joke in his own home and he was seldom merry even with his own children. He was such a one as seemed to save all his good humor and his merry, lovable looks for strangers and for those who were not of his own house.

  • People's energies flag after they've been with her for awhile — she knows that.

  • Uncle Phineas, I believe, is one of those people whom his family appreciate more after they have been without him for rather a long time.

  • When he mounted the stairs to his father's office he mounted them three at a time. You heard him crashing down again, whistling as he came. Except for the whistling, if someone had thrown him it would have sounded the same way.

  • He knows the name of a chair in dozens of languages, but he does not know how to sit down on even one.

    • Queen Christina,
    • in Margaret Goldsmith, Christina of Sweden: A Psychological Biography ()
  • I never saw so intelligent a man have so much trouble in getting out a connected sentence. Ever since I have known him, he has desired to have a long talk with me, but he never gets started; and yet each time he meets me with renewed zest for the outpouring. It is like getting congealed liquid from a demijohn; you know the jug is large and full, but getting the contents out is the problem.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1880, in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • A dead chicken's got more spirit in company than he has!

  • ... Shahid has grown increasingly committed to the art of indignation, waking up in the morning with an expression of incipient disgust already in stock for all the affronts he will surely encounter during the course of the day.

  • Mrs. Carey looked as if she were mentally holding on to hanging straps that weren't there.

  • ... he was a man with whom insult passed for wit and vulgarity for humor.

  • In the family it is said Gabe 'doesn't notice much — his head is in the clouds.' He accepts this criticism as complimentary: 'In the clouds? Oh, thank you. I try.'

  • He had a round face with owlish eyes and a handshake so full of good intentions it required two hands to execute.

  • The trouble with Clare was not only that she wanted to have her cake and eat it too but that she wanted to nibble at the cakes of other folk as well.

    • Nella Larsen,
    • "Passing" (1929), An Intimation of Things Distant ()
  • He was a bit like a corkscrew. Twisted, cold and sharp.

  • She moved like a hedgehog, Mr. Bagthorpe was fond of saying, and was about as much use about the house.

  • ... I couldn't help thinkin' if she was as far out o' town as she was out o' tune, she wouldn't get back in a day.

  • He'd been a ceramics major because he wanted to get dirty, a philosophy major because he wanted to be allowed to think dirty, a forestry major because he wanted to be one with the dirt, and a psychology major because he wanted to help people deal with their dirt. But nothing suited him.

  • She was ... one of those anxious, obliging souls whose mouths seem to have been made for the sole purpose of having someone else put words into them.

  • 'He's not himself at all today,' Mr. Somerset told me. People say that about Jeremy quite often, but what they mean is that he is not like other people. He is always himself. That's what's wrong with him.

  • Mrs. Sandbo herself looked like wall paper, as if she had no sizable depth but a crisp, flat surface, the back of which would be gritty.

  • ... he blinked his near-sighted eyes at us with the pleased and self-congratulatory air of a hen who has just laid a particularly fine egg.

  • There are personalities so powerful that they leave their stamp on any place they inhabit. Their presence is always there, like a spoor, whether or not they themselves are.

  • She had the loaded handbag of someone who camps out and seldom goes home, or who imagines life must be full of emergencies.

  • ... it was a well-known conceit of hers to speak French whenever English would do.

  • What if there's no such thing as PMS and this is just my personality?

  • ... he was a great mimic ... Why, I've seen that man look more like a lobster than a lobster does ...

  • Whenever anything contained the merest hint of a double meaning, Timmy always pounced on the wrong one.

  • ... the unfortunate Major was one of those miserable people who seem to live in a state of perpetual enmity with everything and everybody.

  • There are some men who possess a quality which goes way beyond romantic or even sexual appeal, a quality which literally enslaves. It has very little to do with looks and nothing at all to do with youth, because there are some quite mature and unathletic specimens who have it. It's an expression in the eyes, or an aura of being in control, and responsible, or something easy and powerful in the stance, or who knows.

  • ... you know a person is having a severe personality crisis if you see a high school class ring on a finger beyond the first semester in college. Male or female. It's a big sign saying nothing has mattered to my life since senior year.

    • Nikki Giovanni,
    • "Pioneers: A View of Home," Sacred Cows ... And Other Edibles ()
  • My specialty is detached malevolence.

  • He smelled submission in Quoyle, guessed he was butter of fair spreading consistency.

  • ... one way to keep people close to you is by not giving them enough. ... with people who give a lot of themselves, you sometimes lean back — but with people who give little you often lean forward, as if they're a spigot in the desert and you're the empty cup. It is the tropism of deprivation: We lean toward those who do not give.

  • He isn't a very strong character. Obstinacy and a certain tenacity of mind serve him instead of will.

  • Ethel patted her hair and looked very sneery.

  • ... the gentlewoman is touchy. This affliction has given a color to her whole life. Her biography has a certain martial dignity, like the history of a nation; she dates from battle to battle, and passes her days in an interminable civil war.

  • 'Twenty-three and a quarter minutes past,' Uncle Matthew was saying furiously, 'in precisely six and three-quarter minutes the damned fella will be late.'

  • [On a friend who was seeing a psychiatrist:] Without her issues, she said, 'I'd be a personality-free zone.'

  • Personality is the magic key that will open all the doors to opportunity and success.

  • She is a good-natured soul, phlegmatic, law-abiding, and totally devoid of nerves or imagination. She could sleep on a clothes-line suspended by pegs from the ears ...

  • She had the immovable obstinacy and the terrifying determination with which gentle natures are sometimes endowed.

  • He was as easy to live with as an alarm clock set to ring at regular intervals.

  • Departures and arrivals tend to emphasize people's personalities.

  • If Constance doesn't have a disaster every day, she thinks she's not living right. The trouble is, you can't always tell whether the sky is really falling, or it's just another bad-hair day.

  • 'Jolly good! Super!' He occasionally adopted the mannerisms of an effusive scout-master.

  • She seems to be in chronic mourning for all the relatives who have died within her memory and in a state of chronic resentment over the neglect of all those who haven't died.

  • That was Felicitas. Ask her to pour oil on troubled waters and she'd light a match.

  • It is difficult to explain to a person of temperament, of too-strong personality, exactly what you object to in her behavior. ... Such people always carry with them that definite personal-authority bang that disrupts the atmosphere already existing in a room. For them everything must pass through, and be colored by, the color of their personality. But one gets so weary of 'personality.'

  • Being interested is more important than being interesting.

  • Of an unbending rectitude, unmerciful in his judgments, analytical, penetrating, and accumulative, he was at an early age destined for two things — success and unpopularity.

  • When you're not blonde and thin, you come up with a personality real quick.