Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Bitter Responsibility

T. S. Eliot did not include the story of Grizabella the Glamour Cat in Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. According to his widow, he thought her story was too sad for children. I admire him for that.

I have not yet created a bitter character because of the history he or she would have to suffer.  I think that writers are responsible for the characters they create, even the monsters.  In the epic poem Beowulf, bitterness and despair were the driving forces behind Grendel’s fatal attack on Heorot.

Then a powerful demon, a prowler through the dark, nursed a hard grievance.
It harrowed him to hear the din of the loud banquet every day in the hall.

Grendel was created to be an outcast, despised and rejected by men. His story is too sad for children and adults.

I am current struggling with a story in The Book of Rhino. One of the characters is motivated by bitterness and resentment. His behavior is central to the plot, but I don’t like doing this to him.  He doesn’t deserve it.  No one deserves to be made bitter – that includes people.

So if I find it so difficult to make a fictional character bitter, what about a real person? Do I guard against creating bitterness in a fellow human being? It’s something to think about.

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