We’ve already touched on the idea of conflict when discussing the relationship between plot and structure (see blog on structure – here). We noted that conflict was central to any plot and that it may manifest itself in many different ways. It could be between two individual protagonists. It could be between two groups or two organisations. It could be psychological and take place within an individual. It could be a clash of ideas, or forms of behaviour. It could involve natural forces. However, although conflict is the essence of plot, conflict can go beyond any particular plot or set of plots. A plot is perhaps better thought of as a particularly coherent form of conflict that extends across a significant period of time. Other forms will exist but may be less coherent or more transitory. As long as they are not too contradictory (i.e. either unresolved or irresolvable from the perspective of the audience) they will add positive interest.
Within ‘Casanova in Paris’ we have the four key conflicts which constitute our various plot lines: Casanova’s investigation into who is trying to destroy Duverney; Gabrielle’s rejection of the social norms of the day; the power struggle between Bechard and de Bernis; the Republic of Venice’s attempt to recapture Casanova. There is, however, plenty more going on. Casanova’s desire to find meaning and purpose in his life collides against his vanity, ego and childhood experiences of rejection. Stefano is haunted by his own self-loathing. Bechard has his religious demons and bad conscience. Duverney is consumed by paranoia. The economic struggle to look after his family and, in particular, his disabled son, has led ‘Paul’ down the path to becoming a spy for Bechard. We have the Marquise d’Urfé’s rejection of heterosexual norms. And playing out on the international stage is the Seven Years War, creating the conditions for Casanova to make money through the Paris lottery and thereby facilitating his bargain with de Bernis.
Whatever form it may take, it is conflict and its resolution which is central to the interest of the audience, largely because of the drama it provides but also in part because it often gives us an insight into a character’s motivation.
‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 9 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.
26 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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