Pretty Woman: A Steadfast Character who also changes?

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Pretty Woman: A Steadfast Character who also changes?

Postby Sean » Aug 22, 2008 10:23 am

I've re-immersed myself into Dramatica after a few years away from it and finding its concepts really energizing.

One area I'd love some help on is the nuances between Change characters and Steadfast characters who change a lot. These 'steadfast changers', so to speak, are defined instead as making growth instead. This feels a little like a semantic distinction at times or is there a structural component to the dinstinction that I'm missing?

Take Pretty Woman, for example, which otherwise runs through the Dramatica matrix pretty effortlessly. (Revitalized fairy tale archetypes, we got 'em!)

Richard Gere is the Main Character of the Objective Story: Businessman hires Hooker to help him close a big deal, which makes the other Businessman (Ralph Bellamy) the Antagonist.

Gere is also, I'm pretty sure, the Main Character (Change) of the Subjective Story with Julia Roberts being the Impact Character. She is ultimately Steadfast in that she holds out for her childhood dream of being the Princess ("I want the fairy tale"), leaving him to make the big Change in Act III, when he -

a) Does business in a new "Miss Vivienne" way, bonding with the Antagonist in a nifty resolution of his paternal issues ("I'm proud of you") and kicking out his toxic henchman (Jason Alexander.)

b) Re-directs the limo to Julia's apartment for his "leap of faith" moment as he embraces her 'all or nothing' belief.

The grey area, I guess, is that she goes through a fundamental change too. She even says at the end of Act II , "I changed. And I can't change back. I want more." It's after she has kissed him on the mouth — gasp — and said, "I love you," breaking the golden rules laid out by her hooker flat-mate. After this breakthrough, she declines his offer of living in a mistress flat in NY, declines to stay one more night, even when she would no longer be his hooker, and basically holds out for 'all or nothing.'

Being a repressed male (he's never walked barefoot on grass!), he decides 'nothing', so they say goodbye.

Back home, we see she the effects of him on her - she's given up being a hooker and is packing her bags to go to San Fran and "get a job and finish high school." The movie could end here (as it did, I think, in the original dark script, 300) with Richard Gere continuing on to the airport. In this case, he would be the Steadfast Main Character (outcome bad), and Julia the Change Impact Character. (It would also wipe out ALL $250 million of the box office!)

When Jack Lemmon does the same as Julia in Act III of The Apartment - regains his self-respect, gives up his job and packs up to leave - it is defined as his big Main Character Change. He even has the same reward when Shirley MacLaine shows up to be with him, just as Gere shows up to be with Julia.

Is it a question of emphasis or sequence? Why is Julia Roberts' version in the end simply growth and not also change? Is it that her change comes earlier? Does her change somehow fall into their Subjective (Main v. Impact) throughline?

I only ask because the rule seems very emphatic that only one of the Main and Impact characters can be the Change character.

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Re: Pretty Woman: A Steadfast Character who also changes?

Postby Chris Huntley » Aug 25, 2008 11:02 am

The matter of character Resolve is a comparison of the beginning of the story to the end of the story. Has the character fundamentally altered his or her way of dealing with the personal issue with which he/she struggles in THIS story? Yes = Change. No = Steadfast. The PATH to Change or Steadfast can be a straight line (boring, predictable) or a wobbly line (interesting, more realistic). There is ebb and flow in both change and steadfast characters as their resolve is challenged and it waffles.

Each act challenges the subjective characters in new ways -- the old ways of balancing the inequity no longer works and new techniques and approaches are necessary to restore "balance" (or at least the semblance of balance). This is the wiggle room you have noticed in your examples, the strengthening and weakening of the characters' resolve. It is natural and good for them to examine and reexamine their resolve when things change. Ultimately, the characters either change or remain steadfast. THAT is what the Dramatica question asks you to identify.
Chris Huntley
Write Brothers Inc.


Re: Pretty Woman: A Steadfast Character who also changes?

Postby Sean » Aug 25, 2008 6:24 pm

Thanks Chris. That's a very good clear definition for resolve:

"Has the character fundamentally altered his or her way of dealing with the personal issue with which he/she struggles in THIS story?"

Julia Roberts - No. Richard - Yes. Couldn't be clearer.

Has she grown in other ways? Absolutely. but that doesn't affect her status as Steadfast.

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