Any story can, and probably will, contain a variety of turning points which shift the course of events, the directions of the lives of individual characters and the sympathy or antipathy of the audience. In so doing, more turning points may be created of greater or lesser significance and these changes layer upon, and nest within, each other adding dynamism, movement and richness. A turning point can be conceived of as a deflection by some cause from one trajectory into another, rather like a snooker ball being hit as it journeys from point A to point B. The ball may slow down, accelerate, follow an entirely different path and it may, itself, deflect the journeys of other balls along other routes or set in motion balls that had previously been at rest. It is worth pointing out that a turning point is not necessarily a plot element although the two, of course, may coincide.
One example of a turning point in ‘Casanova in Paris’ is the attempted assassination of Louis XV by Robert Damiens. This event generates an atmosphere of fear and suspicion which Bechard exploits to advance his campaign against Duverney. Using the excuse of protecting the king, he coerces Guillaime Desmarais, lover of Duverney’s granddaughter, to take part in this vendetta. Bechard convinces him that Gabrielle and her grandfather are part of a conspiracy against the monarchy, embroiling him in an affair that destroys the lives of both lovers. This growing abuse of power on the part of Bechard, meanwhile, leads deBernis to engage Casanova to find material that will undermine his enemies’ position (the two spymasters being rivals for the king’s favour). Engaging Casanova in turn drags Marie, Giuseppe, and Stefano into the frame, leads to the confrontation with the Southerner and so on and so forth: a whole chain of effects spreading in different directions, effecting a range of different people in different ways. Ultimately, and ironically, it is through Guillaime that Casanova is able to uncover Bechard and bring him down.
‘Casanova in Paris: The Shadows of the King’ is freely available here.
Long form articles on Casanova’s life and times are freely available here.
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