Round or flat?

Characters fall on a continuum between round and flat.  At the ‘round’ end of the spectrum characters are dynamic and less predictable.  They have a wider range of qualities, some which may even appear contradictory.  They will have a richer inner life and can experience regret and self-reflection.  Their personalities are capable of change.  They are, in short, closer to real people.  An example would be our Casanova himself.  He idealises love but fears commitment.  He is a libertine but possesses a strong sense of moral integrity.  One moment he is supremely confident, another he is plagued with doubt. He is highly sophisticated yet his closest friend is a man like Stefano, who he has described as ‘a sordid freak’.

At the ‘flat’ end of the spectrum you have characters who will never change.  Frequently these are stock characters (the jealous husband, the gangster’s moll, the inept boss, the femme fatale).  They behave in predictable ways in particular circumstances.  They are static.  This may be because they are stupid, insensitive, lack insight or lack knowledge.  From the creator’s perspective, they have the quality of a cliché in so far as their very lack of originality is a virtue: it allows the creator to carry out functions, move the plot along and provide information to an audience with great efficiency.  Their flatness also helps to highlight the depth and verisimilitude of the round characters.  Usually they are minor characters with limited audience exposure.  An example in ‘Casanova in Paris’ would be Madame de Boufflers.  She is a courtesan whose dominant traits are sycophancy, promiscuity and hypocrisy and who gives the audience an insight into the cynical and mercenary nature of the royal court.

 

‘The Prologue’, and chapters 1 to 11 of ‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ are now freely available here.

27 long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.

 

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