Saturday, April 30, 2005

Themes of Betrayal

Ever met a person who always has some sort of conspiracy theory? No matter how careful people are around this type of person, no matter how much they all walk on eggshells, the person in question always seems to develop a theory that while not all of the world is a stage, all of the men and women in it are, without exception, players. In fiction, I've been exploring the idea of betrayal and how to set up a classic betrayal subplot without making it immediately obvious to the reader just which character is doing the betraying. And, mind, the character being betrayed is not the type I just mentioned, not the type to entertain suspicions about everyone. But he is in a position where betrayal can have deadly results.

I rented the film version of Othello with Laurence Fishburn and Kenneth Branaugh to provide some insight and inspiration for setting up the subtle nuances of the betrayal subplot. For some reason, just reading the plays doesn't provide the same creative spark as watching skilled Shakespearean actors interpreting the play and bringing it to life. I think even Shakespeare would be pleased with the performances. I never knew Iago was so devious; Othello isn't a play I spent much time on in college, and I aced Shakespeare. But wow, what lengths Iago went to just for vengeance. It's amazing that people can find the time or the energy for such intricate machinations, and yet apparently they do. Shakespeare was nothing if not masterful at plumbing the depths of the human condition, fair or foul.

It's been interesting to explore the differences between perceived betrayal and actual betrayal. I've been debating whether to have my betrayed character come to his own realization of what is happening or leave him in doubt until hit over the head with a clue-by-four as to which of the two potential betrayers is the real one. Ah-hem. Will the real traitor please stand up? I don't want to portray the betrayed one as clueless, but on the other hand I can see no possible way he could really figure this out based on the evidence. He'd have to go more on gut instinct, which would be a huge risk for everyone involved--a risk he can't afford to take. That's about the best way I can describe this without making it a horrible spoiler, but you'll see what I'm referring to whenever the books come out.

Happy thoughts for the last day of April. How did Kaa put it in Jungle Book? Trussst in meee, oh, trussst in meee....

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