Thursday, June 25, 2009

Power Play

shift of power--a dramatic point where one character or group achieves a strategic advantage; a moment in a story when a character breaks free of a previously held obligation, belief, loyalty, or romantic attraction; an awareness by a character of a change in status which results in his being a peer or superior to other characters.

There is an inherent aura of strength in a character pursuing a purposeful goal. The reader anticipates and is not surprised to see said character responding to setback and reversal. When the character purposeful character suffers a loss of power, loses control, there is a tangible shift of emotion. What will those, formerly subordinates of the character in focus, do in response? It all depends, you say. Depends on the kind of person the character was before the loss of power. Will it be sympathy, a desire to punish, to humiliate? Perhaps it will even be a concerted attempt to help the disposed character regain lost power.

Look what happened to Edmond Dantes; his entire story arc is a shifting of power base to the point where, before events that led him to becoming the Count of Monte Cristo, he was determined to starve himself to death. Look at Mr. Martin, after the shift of power he effected in James Thurber's short story, "The Cat-Bird Seat."

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