I’m looking for the word for the sort of bitterness and exasperation as excellently exhibited by Eric Birling of J. B. Priestley’s An Inspector Calls:
When Eric works out that Sheila has informed their mother of his alcoholism behind his back:
Eric: You told her! Why, you little sneak.
When Eric finds out that his mother has inadvertently instructed the Inspector that he should be punished severely:
Eric: You haven’t made it any easier for me, have you, mother?
The word “sardonic” comes to mind, but this doesn’t quite describe it; he’s not making a wry comment to mock somebody or as an attempt at humour. He’s frustrated to angry in both examples.
What word can I use to describe this? (Bonus points if it has a noun, adjective and adverb form.)
thesaurus.com provides a number of good alternatives for “sardonic”, and I like caustic or acerbic as adjectives to describe these remarks.
The remarks are said with the intention to cause pain by use of sharp humour.
Caustic (from Collins):
- (Chemistry) capable of burning or corroding by chemical action: caustic soda.
- sarcastic; cutting: a caustic reply.
- (General Physics) of, relating to, or denoting light that is reflected or refracted by a curved surface
Acerbic (also Collins
harsh, bitter, or astringent; sour
I’m not clear on whether you want an adjective for the emotion felt by Eric or a word to describe his statements, but “acerbic” might fit both. He’s feeling disappointed and betrayed and is using sarcasm as defence.