Le Mat

Le Mat – the Fool – all or nothing.

Frivolous or delirious, enthusiastic or frenzied. A character like the Fool can drive a story. There is a tension – that the reader can enjoy – watching the emotional high-wire display.

The Fool has a quality of thoughtlessness, of indifference to consequences. It might be perceived as generosity; it could be classed as careless, even selfish. Either way, he – or she – is a motor in the story, driving the action forward, intriguing the reader who wonders: ‘How will the Fool react?’

A novelist creates an imaginary story. Each character is buffeted or carried along or held back by the invented events. An interesting question for the novelist is how deeply the character understands the dramas and dilemmas that they encounter.

You see, all the time the Fool is a victim of circumstances, without self-awareness, the character does not deepen in the readers eyes. Yes, they can entertain and amuse. Yes, they can enact a role, play a part in the evolving plot.

But if the author allows the Fool to realise the consequences of their lack of discipline and extravagance, the attributes of the reversed card come into play. Once we recognise our own faults, we can become insecure, indecisive, apathetic, hesitant. Stymied by lack of self-confidence, we can become negligent, evasive.

I suppose, writ large, this dichotomy describes a bipolar state.

All or nothing.