A good example of how a character can edit the identity that they wish to portray to others (just as everyone does in their ordinary life, albeit not with quite the same dramatic consequences) is Bechard. In The Shadows of the King – Part 1, we find him in the company of Guillaime, ‘Paul’, the Southerner, the Abbess and praying before God. In his meeting with Guillaime he has no official relationship over Guillaime apart from the legal authority he would have over any citizen in his capacity as an agent of the king. Consequently, he plays upon his role as protector of the king to induce Guillaime to work for him as well as, far more tacitly, the fact that he is someone who has the power at his disposal to make the lives of those who are uncooperative very unpleasant. With ‘Paul’, the relationship on the surface is more straightforwardly that of a boss and his employee. However, Bechard plays up the role not just of a boss but one who is relatively benevolent and well-intentioned. He uses this persona to keep ‘Paul’ reassured as to his safety just prior to murdering him. With the Southerner the employee/employer relationship is significantly different. Although Bechard has hired the Southerner he is still very much his own man and, moreover, a man who is privy to Bechard’s clandestine vendetta. As a consequence, Bechard demonstrates his respect by taking on more of the part of a first among equals. In his relationship with the Abbess he once again hides behind his role as defender of the king and uses this to justify the unambiguous wielding of his raw official power. Before God, of course, he is very much the junior partner, confessing his sins and shifting into the role of religious penitent to obtain God’s forgiveness.
‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ is freely available here.
27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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