Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Pressure Cooker

Yesterday, I wrote about a person being split in two. A more realistic situation is that of a person being declared dead, then returning home to find that his wife has married someone else. I would never want that to happen to me, but I like the concept because there’s no clear cut solution that works well for everyone involved. The woman married one man, expecting to grow old with him. She moves on to another man, so when the first returns she’s in love with two men. Of course, neither man wants to give up on his claim to her affections.

Stories like these are like a pressure cooker. As the story builds, the pressure grows greater and greater. Eventually, the story will burst. Something will have to happen to release the pressure, but it isn’t clear where that will be. As in real life, the break will occur in the weak spot, but it may take a lot of pressure to find where that spot is. The two equals will face off against each other and the pressure will keep building. That’s exactly what we want to happen. Then when the pressure is at its greatest one of the two will cave under the pressure. Something about his character will cause him to do something that takes him out of the running.

But there’s a danger that one will take out the other. One of the men may kill the other. The pressure took him out of contention, but it doesn’t help the other guy. That gives us a tragedy because the woman is left with no one. The great thing about it is that it allows us to ask what we would do if we were in a similar situation.