So, here we are at the second of the two twilight zones in our story: The Ordeal and Reward. Unless we can engineer an experience that drives each character to the edges of his or her desire, we cannot find out what they are really made of.
Every character has 3 layers and these layers get revealed as the story progresses. 1. Objects and actions
First there is the outer layer of objects and actions. This layer is important for the beginning of the story because through the things a character owns and the things he or she does, we get a good idea of what they are like. We can start to identify with him or her.
After the Call to Adventure, the character’s underlying needs, the reasons for his or her actions and attraction to certain objects becomes clear:
Jemimah likes beautiful things, but what she desires is eternal beauty and wealth.
Mariana hates violence and wants peace, but what she needs is purpose and meaning.
Charles likes weapons and action, but what he wants, is to be in control.
Ouma Nollie likes her cats and talks to the echoes, but what she needs is the silence and darkness to discern the truth.
Elizabeth likes to run her kingdom strictly and allows herself little time for fun, but what she needs is power and order and someone who can help her to maintain it and grow it.
2. Underlying needs and desires
Through the adventure each character gets totally focused on fulfilling his or her desire. We see Jemimah on the back of a dragon becoming more beautiful and more determined as she rides towards Id. Mariana, strapped to the dragon as Jemimah’s captive is passively awaiting her destiny, sure that it awaits her in the land of Id.
Charles gathers all his weapons and all his men to take Id captive and bring him to justice.
Elizabeth goes to await Charles’ arrival. He will complete her and help her get back the control and power in her kingdom. Like a true saviour he will come over the water and deliver her enemy so that she can set it right.
And Nollie is so pleased with the order of things as she watches her words come true, she awaits the return of her peace and quiet.
Our ordeal must work in such a way that each character’s worst nightmare comes true instead of the fulfilment of their deepest desire. This is to peel off the ego layer and reveal the characters’ true nature and core value. 3. Core value – authentic self
In each of their final confrontations, the Id and the ego must see each other fight it out and both give way to a less dualistic existence and a more integrated self. This coming together of opposites is referred to by Joseph Campbell as the ‘sacred marriage’. This is Little Red becoming one with the wolf as she is swallowed. She is then saved by her opposite: an adult man and so comes out more whole than when she went in.
Jemimah is rewarded by Id for capturing Mariana and he gives her the fountain of youth. Beautiful forever, she discovers an emptiness and a loneliness and cannot bear the thought of this feeling continuing to infinity. To be truly beautiful she must choose mortality and time and friendship…
Mariana must face taking violent action to break free from her passivity and fulfil her purpose, or she will die without finding meaning.
Charles must be stripped of weapons and the ability to act so that he can accept aid and let go the incessant need for control. In this way he may gain control of his addiction to control…
Elizabeth must face the truth about herself: that she feels inadequate to follow in her father’s footsteps and therefore feels that she needs a companion. Charles must arrive in chains as captive not victor. She must find completeness and enough-ness in herself to regain her kingdom.
Nollie will have to accept a more active role in the everyday goings on of other people and return in some measure to life above ground – or does she?
And suddenly I know exactly what needs to happen…
Can’t wait for next week!