Like all narratives, ‘Casanova in Paris’ is filled with props: letters, mirrors, carriages, cards, books, masks, hammers, stakes, coins and on and on. These have all kinds of uses. Most obviously, they help to establish the scene. For a story set in the past, they are crucial for indicating the time period. Their importance will generally go far beyond that, however. All sorts of meanings can be wrapped up in them. A pistol left on a table, for example, may conjure up various speculations in the mind of the reader: has it been used? will it be used? who is the owner? why do they possess it? They may contain some sort of metaphorical significance. They might emphasise a particular theme. They might reflect an aspect of a protagonist’s character. From a practical, compositional perspective props can be useful devices to enable movement and add dynamism, while characters interact.
Perhaps the most important prop in ‘Casanova in Paris’ is Casanova’s cane. It reaches back into his past and has its own origin story or, at least, the story if how it came into Casanova’s possession. It is tied to a crucial moment that has forever shaped Casanova’s troubled relationship with his mother and has embedded within it a mystery which is not resolved until the end of part one (that is, the identity of his mother’s lover). It is, in this way, a constant reminder to the audience of his inner psychological state. Like Casanova himself, a deceptively elegant exterior masks a dangerous interior. So connected are the two that the cane alone is sufficient to indicate his presence even if Casanova himself is not visible on the page. From the beginning the audience knows that it is a weapon, setting up expectations and foreshadowing violence.
‘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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