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Thoughts on Nancy; was Re: Least Favourite Character!


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Posted by Alex Forbes on September 03, 2018 at 13:53:30 user Pitsligo.

In Reply to: Re: Least Favourite Character! posted by Mike Jones on September 03, 2018 at 07:32:28:

WILD SPECULATION:

It is a quietly accepted phenomenon that writers are prone to creating in one character or another our own romantic ideal. Likewise, when we endow those characters with flaws --as all characters should have, if they are to be interesting-- we tend to give them flaws we think we could accept in our romantic partner and compensate for with our own strengths. Knowing about it, wary of it, it's one of those traps most of us try not to fall into. Second drafts are a good time to make sure that characters are definitively their own people.

With as much attention as he lavished on the character, I wonder whether Nancy was, on some level, AR's romantic ideal. Her seasickness (pretty minor) and propensity to dominate and direct a social environment (not always bad, especially when done to a rewarding end) might have been traits AR would, in the quiet of his own mind, find attractive as small things that he could sympathize with and compensate for.

This would not be even remotely paedophilia, of course, especially if AR lived within those stories as someone of that age range. By that, I mean that I often live within my stories, as I write them, as a 20-something-year old (roughly half my current age); similarly, my main characters are about that age. It is an age I feel mentally comfortable in. Others of my characters are an older me, just as CF was an older AR, but as a writer I enjoy the privilege of existing in the story in simultaneous different roles --just as we have hypothesized that AR did with Dick and Dot as well as CF.

If AR was most comfortable to slip into the mindset of an early-teen, as his sublime ability to write an adventure for children might indicate, Nancy might be the ideal that he would find interesting --a fantasy crush, if you will, who might even reciprocate his interest in stories that he never wrote down.

If so, Mike Jones's observation that Nancy was, in some part, Evgenia, could be quite accurate. Perhaps a modified Evgenia, without the aspects he found grating (note that Nancy was not discouraging of endeavors, as Evgenia was of AR's writing: his "critic on the hearth"), or with them diminished, and perhaps with positive traits Evgenia didn't posesses. But it would stand to reason that his imagined romantic ideal would overlap considerably with his romantic partner.

The other possibility is that AR created Nancy as his daughter. Was Nancy an ideal of what he hoped for for Tabitha? I know *nothing* of Tabitha, or any genuine details of her relationship with her father, so can't really explore any Nancy/Tabitha similarity. Nor am I a father myself, to speak of parental fantasies authoritatively. That said, it seems likely that AR fantasized how his daughter might ideally move through her childhood, as any parent would. That AR and Tabitha were in some part distant, or estranged, could even have facilitated the creation of Nancy-as-Tabitha: what must it have been like for him, feeling the internal demands of his writing in conflict with what society idealizes as the preeminancy of parental joy? Would Nancy have been the daughter he actually could enjoy without the emotional dissonance of the art/family conflict? Idealizing her as the superlative child --a Golden Child-- would be a reasonable thing to do even without the conflict. A couple minor flaws, because all characters have them, and... Nancy. Perhaps?

Again, all that is WILD speculation.

Alex


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