‘Casanova in Paris’ is not a particularly violent graphic novel although there are number of episodes of violence alongside threats of violence. The incidents that do occur, however, are not gratuitous and each has a distinct part to play in the development of character and/or plot.
Unsurprisingly, most of the violence centres on the two main villains of the piece, the Southerner and Bechard. Broadly, the violence of the Southerner and Bechard highlights what is at stake for those caught up in the action, adding significance and tension to the narrative. While through their use of violence both demonstrate their cruelty and callousness towards others, there are differences that highlight other facets of their personalities. For Bechard, when he tortures or kills it’s functional, it’s business, it’s a means to an end. For the Southerner it is functional as well, but it also gives him pleasure in itself. For him it is a creative act, a piece of theatre in which he is the writer, actor, director and producer. Another difference is that, in an attempt to purge his sin, Bechard commits violence against himself. In this way it is made clear that Bechard knows that his actions are immoral in contrast to the Southerner who has no real sense of right and wrong. The idea of pain as a purgative, especially through fire, was a commonly held belief that underpinned the brutal judicial punishments meted out by the state as illustrated by the execution of Damiens. From this perspective it was a kindness: better to endure a process of temporary suffering through which the soul can be cleansed and enter the kingdom of heaven than to be damned eternally to the torments of hell. There is thus an ironic parallel between the suffering of the criminal, Damiens, and that of the agent of the state, Bechard.
‘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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