steepholm (steepholm) wrote,

A Plotting Triad

Love's Labour's Lost. Five acts of fun, games and silliness in the court of Navarre. Then, just when everyone's winding up for a jig, news comes from France that the Princess's father is dead. Curtain.

Cheers Friends. Monica is annoyed with Ross, Rachel, Phoebe and Joey for not getting to her carefully prepared Thanksgiving supper on time. She locks them out of the apartment, but eventually they burst in, only for Joey (iirc) to go flying into the middle of Monica's wonderful meal. Disaster! But the phone rings, and she no longer cares, because she and Chandler have been offered a baby for adoption. End of show.

Dennis Hamley's The War and Freddy. It's WWII, and young Freddy, who is staying with a neighbouring boy, has to endure nightly games after lights out in which he is forced to play the Germans against the neighbour's British, and inevitably to lose (because to win would be unpatriotic). Eventually he gets his own back. Triumph! But then his mother (who's been visiting his sick grandmother) arrives to report that she is dead and that Freddy will be needed at the funeral. End of story.

They all have in common: a) the abrupt and dramatic change of mood, occasioned by an unsignalled piece of news; b) the placing of what has gone up to that point into the perspective of the Really Big Things (birth and death), and c) the Finis before we've really had time to recover. The effect is that even the shaping and sense of proportion we associate with art buckles under the arbitrary impact of fortune's blows: et in Arcadia ego.

Is there a term for this sort of thing? Are there any other examples? Examples from other forms - music, perhaps?
Tags: books, maunderings
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