I’ve mentioned before that I often take inspiration for my female characters from Pre-Raphaelite artwork, especially the works of John William Waterhouse, whom I adore. (By mentioned I don’t necessarily mean here on this blog; knowing me, it was probably part of a twittersation that has gone off into the nether regions of the internets by now!) One character who has shown up in several posts on Under Loch and Key is Charity Kochsato, the Violet Duchess of Drakeshead.
My favorite work of art, hands down, is The Lady of Shallot by Waterhouse. I’ve even used it as my profile picture on facebook for brief periods (I’m a big believer in having a genuine picture up most of the time– it’s friendlier, and more honest.) The painting is based on a piece of Arthurian legend. In short, she was in love with Lancelot, but when he didn’t love her back, she Ophelia’d and went off in a boat to die.
The story has variations that include more or less fantasy. Some versions have her actually being Lancelot’s betrothed or even his wife, but he either reneges on the deal or ignores her. Other versions have her under a spell where she can only look in mirrors, not at real life outside her windows. But she catches a glimpse of Lancelot, and falls instantly in love and must see him. She dies because she dares to break the enchantment to try to be near him.
Whichever interpretation of the legend you like, the picture is beautiful. It is filled with so much angst, you can almost see a sparkly vampire in the background.
Charity looks like the woman in the picture. Beautiful, long red hair, but filled with a longing and angst she struggles with her whole life. She also has the similarity that she wants desperately to be loved, but unlike Lady Elaine (the sometimes-name of The Lady of Shallot) she does not commit suicide; she accepts an arranged political marriage in the belief that, although she is unlovable, in an arranged marriage it will be her spouses’ duty to show her, if not love, at least a modicum of affection and respect. (I wrote about this for this week’s Red Dress Club prompt about “what your character wants most” and you can read it if you like.)
Yesterday, I began a twitter account for Charity. Today, I woke up to find that Leah Petersen wrote a blog post entitled “Why all Writers are Secretly (or not so much) Schizophrenics.” Coincidence?
But that’s the scariest cup of cappuccino I’ve ever seen.
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