Character Analysis

29 Jan

I have never had much constancy.

My original profession was in molecular biology, but after a few years the research projects assigned me became boring. The focus of my thought moved toward the many puzzles of human personality.

I became a psychologist, one with a philosophical bent. What I was after was a fuller, deeper understanding of an individual person’s mind, motivations, and feelings. Several years of study were spent by me in searching for answers.

In recent time, though, my interest has shifted once more. It is literary creativeness that has captured me. I have written and published a series of speculative novellas and novelettes in the course of my study of the subject. At first, this work brought me great excitement and joy. But lately a number of headaches have arisen for me. There are now problems that make all my literary work seem futile and useless. I have come to see myself as superfluous.

Let me describe what the nature of the trouble is.

At the beginning, I believed that I knew my characters better than any of them did. Certainly, my judgments were more accurate and valid than those of my protagonists. But at present a cloud of doubt has thrown a dark shadow over the old confidence in my thoughts. I see myself as a less than capable reader of the characters whom I created.

What if the exact opposite happens to be the truth?

What if genuine insight belongs to my main characters rather than to me, the author? What if my own characterizations are deficient and inferior? What then?

But a brilliant idea occurred to me, perhaps in a dream at night.

Why not make myself a future protagonist in some new work of fiction so I would be able to evaluate myself from that point and angle? That might provide me a true test of my understanding of the characters.

I decided to invent a group of characters and compose a story for them to act out.

There was no one as original and unique on the psychological faculty of the regional university as Professor Jed Day.

His extremely individualistic course was one that was named Mental Catoptics. It dealt with his innovative theory of neurological mirrors and reflections. Imitation of what the senses perceived and the brain absorbed was the basis of understanding the shaping of personality.

Jed Day had for years wondered about his unpopularity among the colleagues in his own department. Why was their picture of him so distorted and inaccurate? he asked himself numerous times.

Was it he himself as an individual or the strange and unconventional concepts that he used in his research, his writings, and his lecturing?

Hostile psychologists opposed his every attempt to expand his system of thought into more advanced catoptic courses. He was blocked in carrying out new plans and projects.

The Director of Psychological Science, Dr. Alot Quix, set very strict boundaries to how far Jed was to go in propagating his unorthodox ideas.

“We have to be careful and cautious,” insisted the administrator. “There can be no adventures or experimentation in the education of the younger generation. I want you to show great self-control in what you are doing, A lot.”

The latter made no verbal reply, but stayed silent. But Quix then decided to make a surprising announcement.

“It has been decided by committee that we will hire a specialized theoretician to supervise and reorganize the speculative and theoretical courses such as yours. Her name is Allegra Tin. She has a fine record of scholarly publication and advanced research. One of her major responsibilities will be to coordinate your courses in catoptics with the rest of the psychological curriculum.

“You will have the opportunity to meet her soon, because she is due to arrive among us in a few days. I depend upon all of us to make our newest recruit feel welcome and a part of our organization.”

She was a towhead with a whitish face of exceptional beauty. Her eyes were a brilliant silver blue.

Dr. Tin spoke in a low, powerful alto voice, full of solid self-confidence.

She sat opposite Jed Dey in the faculty dining room soon after the two of them were introduced to each other.

“The primary goal of my career has been the consolidation and melding together of all mental science,” she proudly and candidly proclaimed. “I am a fierce opponent of any separation of the various areas of psychology.”

Jed made a disarming smile. “How would my own course in catopics fit into the general framework that you plan to build here?” he boldly asked, at the same time realizing that the young woman was going to become the greatest obstacle and enemy he had ever faced in his professional life.

“Everything will depend upon what I find when my survey of the conditions of all our courses is carried out to completion,” she answered him in a confident tone. But Jed noticed that there was steely determination on her silver blue eyes.

For the rest of the day and most of the following sleepless night, Jed thought about a single, particular subject: how was he going to defend his teaching of catoptic psychology from this dangerous female who had just appeared on the academic scene?

Dr. Tin would have to act through and with the cooperation of Alot Quix, no two ways about it. That was increasingly evident to him, coming to dominate all of his thinking. But she would have to win the approval of the Director of Psychological Science in order to have her way and make the changes that she envisioned. That still remained her task.

He had to find a means of defeating the cleverness exhibited in her character and behavior. Quix had to be insulated and diverted away from her personal influence. How was he going to accomplish that?

It was best for him to deal with the potential risks from this woman as soon as possible, Jed decided.

Both of them, Tin and Quix, had to be handled by himself with sensitivity and wisdom, he told himself.

Jed knew exactly where to find the Director in the evening: the drinking spot named the Old Groggery. It was in the bohemian district adjacent to the University.

He located Alot Quix in a dimly lit corner sipping a small glass of avocado wine.

“Hello there,” said Dey, stepping over to the educator and taking the chair opposite him. “Why don’t you and I talk together a little?” he proposed.

The Director said nothing in reply, but only stared blankly at the new arrival.

Jed proceeded at once to the topic that at the time concerned him the most.

“We shall have to make major adjustments now that she is here with us, won’t we?” he declared, his face serious and his voice cool and controlled.

Quix gave him a look that combined surprise and confusion.

“What are you trying to tell me?” he bluntly demanded.

Jed hesitated for a time, picking the appropriate moment to give his answer.

“I have many times crossed paths with her type,” he said in a whisper. “She clearly is an ambitious operator. Her central goal is to climb by ruthlessly changing and destroying our courses whenever she can. The upshot is that she wants to take over and exercise the authority of Psychology Director.”

For a brief period, Quix silently digested and considered what he had just heard.

“Aren’t you jumping to wild conclusions?” he finally asked.

Jed had anticipated and prepared for such a doubting question.

“I have seen signs of her hunger for advancement and advantage, and I also predict that you will do so as well. Watch Dr. Allegro Tin and you too will catch the core of what is motivating her.”

Neither of them said any more on the topic of what her character consisted of. Their exchange came to an abrupt end.

She made progress reports at the end of each week in the office of the Director. On one particular occasion, he goal was to convert Alot Quix to the idea of abolishing the course in captoptic psychology.

Allegra, once seated in her superior’s office, immediately went on the attack.

“I have examined Dey’s course and conclude that it is, as it stands, useless. Mirror theory is not enough for an entire academic course. The whole subject can be covered adequately in a few sessions of a more general course on alternative perspectives in psychology. That is the way that this area is covered at most other universities.”

“What you are proposing will result in quite radical change in how we have organized the material,” remarked Quix.

But she went on as if not having heard what he had just said.

“If I had to characterize the personality of Jed Dey, it would be to label him as obsessive and possessive. He has made himself a blind fanatic on the subject of psychological catoptics. It has occupied his mind to the exclusion of the rest of the science of the mind. It has taken over all of his thinking. The man is ignorant of the extent of the monomania that controls his mind. Jed Dey has become like a robot with no room or time for anything else.”

The two of them stared at each other with eagerly inquiring looks of avid curiosity.

“What you have told me is very troubling, I have to admit,” confessed the Director in a heavy, troubled tone. “You must allow me to think over and consider all of this, Dr. Tin. The future of the captoptic course hangs in the balance. I will have to make a careful study of the major revision you are proposing for the future.”

Two days of difficult consideration followed for Director Quix. Finally, he succeeded in mapping out a plan to deal with his dilemma.

Both psychologists were sent notes ordering them to be at his office early the following morning.

Allegra Tin arrived first, sitting in silence till Jed walked in and took a chair. Neither of them spoke a word to the other.

At last, the Director addressed both of them, gazing at neither but elsewhere.

“Thank you for coming here on short notice. I have important matters to inform you of. Some clear decisions have been reached and can now be announced.

“I have had to listen to sharp, severe accusations from both of you.”

He turned his face and his eyes toward Jed.

“You have been characterized as a rigid maniac, mesmerized by the theory of the catoptical mind. Using my knowledge of the archtypes of Carl Jung, you would fit into the category of the Fanatic. Solidly unchangeable ideas have come to dominate all your thinking. You possess no mental flexibility at all. Your mind is a totally closed one.”

The Director then looked at Allegra with a fixed, frozen stare.

“You have been called an ambitious, ruthless manipulator. Selfish egotism rules all your thinking. The Jungian archtype of the Schemer is applicable in your case, I have decided after much thought.”

Quix then threw his eyes on both of them simultaneously, his focus somewhere in the middle between the two psychologists.

“Can both of you be correct on the issue of the mirror course? I have come to the conclusion that there exists another, greater possibility than either of you being solely, exclusively correct. Perhaps neither one of you is speaking the absolute truth completely. It may be that each contender in this contest is mistaken to some degree.

“Yet whatever the truth of the situation happens to be, my decision has to be based on established scientific truth and not wishful fantasy or imagination.

“So, I have come to a decision about what will have to be done with the course on catoptic psychology.”

All at once, the Director became solemnly silent.

Both Allegra and Jed stared at him, waiting for his verdict.

Quix turned first to Allegra. “You are the one who is going to teach the course on mirror theory next semester,” he announced.

The Director then set his eyes on Jed Dey.

“You shall now become the re-organization consultant and be in charge of the arrangements for the restructuring of all our courses on the mental sciences. I will be deeply interested in what each of you happens to come up with in your new posts, with new responsibilities and duties. Whatever it should be, I expect new and exciting initiatives that promise to shake up what now exists among us in the field of psychology.”

He suddenly broke out with an explosive smile. “I think it would be helpful to each of you in your new posts if you have constant, continuous consultations. Each of you can be of immeasurable assistance to the other.”

With that, Alot Quix rose to his feet and quickly left his own office.

Jed and Allegra looked at each other in wonder and confusion.

What were they to do? What could either say to the other?

In a short while, they began to talk about trivial subjects. Soon the pair were planning how they were going to work together on the curriculum.

The Fanatic and the Schemer both realized that they could only succeed together, as a team of two.


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