Four Weddings And A Funeral

Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for Four Weddings And A Funeral. Unlike most of the analysis found here—which simply lists the unique individual story appreciations—this in-depth study details the actual encoding for each structural item. This also means it has been incorporated into the Dramatica Story Expert application itself as an easily referenced contextual example.

Story Dynamics

8 of the 12 essential questions

Change
Main Character Resolve

Charles changes from disbelieving he will ever be able to make a lifelong commitment with anyone, to finally stepping out on faith and asking Carrie to spend the rest of her life with him.

Stop
Main Character Growth

Charles needs to stop sabotaging his relationships.

Be-er
Main Character Approach

Charles prefers to solve problems by changing his mind or adapting to a given situation rather than doing something about it.  For example, Charles makes no move to change tables at Lydia and John’s wedding, even after seeing that he will be sitting at a table filled with “Ghosts of girlfriends past;” When he is stuck in the closet of Lydia and Bernard’s honeymoon suite, he chooses to quietly adapt to the situation and wait it out, rather than disturb the newlyweds; finally, he almost convinces himself to marry someone he doesn’t love because it is easier for him to pretend it is OK than to tell everybody that the wedding is called off.

Linear
Main Character Mental Sex

Charles tries to solve problems by looking at causes and their effects.  Unfortunately for him, there isn’t always a clear cut relationship between the two which makes solving his problems very difficult.  For example, when he first discovers that Carrie is engaged to Hamish, he immediately (in his conversation with Matthew) tries to figure out what he’s been doing wrong.

Decision
Story Driver

The story is about commitments and marriages.  The decisions to enter into each marriage drives the action forward.

Optionlock
Story Limit

Though each member of the group’s biological clock may be ticking away, it is the narrowing of their choices for potential significant others that brings the story to an end.  Besides, the title itself sets up the limit.  Once the four weddings and the funeral have happened, the story should naturally reach its conclusion.

Success
Story Outcome

Everybody becomes happily “committed”—they each find a long-term relationship to which they can commit themselves.

Good
Story Judgment

Charles overcomes his personal dilemma (fear of commitment) and spends the rest of his life with Carrie as a happy family man.  The last still photo on screen is that of a cheerful, contented Charles with Carrie and their new son.

Overall Story Throughline

""Go Forth and Conjugate!""

Psychology
Overall Story Throughline

The story revolves around a group of close-knit friends’ developing maturity towards commitment in relationships.  The dynamics of the group’s interrelationships and manipulations go a long way toward exploring these issues.

Becoming
Overall Story Concern

Everyone in the story is concerned with becoming married.  Not just in the literal sense, but in all that it implies: committed, cared for, monogamous, and happy-ever-after.

Commitment
Overall Story Issue

The story is about the commitment of marriage and how the responsibilities to oneself and one’s friends conflict with that commitment.  Objectively, commitment is generally seen in a positive light in this story.  All of the marriages (with the notable exception of Carrie and Hamish), turn out very well.

Responsibility
Overall Story Counterpoint

Overall, in Four Weddings and a Funeral, responsibility is presented as a disadvantage.  At the first wedding, when Lydia is despondent over the fact that she was promised sex and hasn’t engaged in any, Bernard takes on the responsibility and offers himself up as the solution, only to be immediately shot down (“I’m not that desperate,” says Lydia); Henrietta corners Charles in the hallway and assumes the responsibility of explaining to him exactly what his problem is, putting him in a very embarrassing position; Scarlett points out that Tom hasn’t asked her to marry him, so he cheerfully assumes that responsibility (Scarlett politely declines); Charles’s decision to marry Henrietta is outright disastrous.

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Commitment vs.Responsibility

The overall theme of Four Wedding’s objective story can be summed up in the comparison between commitment and responsibility.  Matthew and David both speak of marriage as wonderful, IF you love the person with all your heart.  Ultimately, the argument is brought home that marriage can’t work if it’s done out of some sense of obligation or responsibility, no matter what the rationale.

Disbelief
Overall Story Problem

There is a general disbelief in the group that the world holds a “special someone” for each of them.  This disbelief lets them pass up perfect opportunities, miss following through on relationships, and often prevents them from even looking for happiness.

Faith
Overall Story Solution

Everything seems to come together when Charles makes that leap into the void by committing to (NOT marry) Carrie, even though he clearly has no idea what will happen in their future.  This action symbolically clears the way for all of them.  The next few images shown are wedding photos of the entire group.  The implication is that “that special someone” was in fact there for each of them.

Avoid
Overall Story Symptom

We see almost every character, at one time or another, “skulking around:”  Carrie, hiding behind a chair to avoid the obnoxious George at the Lucky Boatman; Scarlett hiding under the table at Lydia and Bernard’s wedding; Charles hiding in the closet of the honeymoon suite.  Also, Charles and Scarlett are late for almost every event, and have to sneak on in to avoid bringing attention to themselves.  At Charles’ wedding, Tom does his best to prevent Henrietta from entering the church; and so forth.

Pursuit
Overall Story Response

Everyone is in pursuit of the perfect mate.  From the first wedding, Charles pursues Carrie, though it seems as though she is avoiding him;  Henrietta seems to find Charles wherever he is hiding; Carrie makes a directed effort to get Charles up to her room, after being pursued by George at the hotel.  Gareth, sensing that all of his friends are avoiding the question of marriage gives them the order, “Go forth and conjugate—find husbands and wives!”

Responsibility
Overall Story Catalyst

At the first wedding, when Lydia complains that she was promised sex, Bernard volunteers to um… Ultimately this leads to their decision to get married.  Gareth takes the initiative and commands his friends to seek out husbands and wives, and they do.  David takes the responsibility (when even Charles won’t), of stopping Charles’ wedding.

Self-Interest
Overall Story Inhibitor

After the second wedding, comes the “day off.”  It’s a short break in the story, when for the moment, there are no weddings, no funerals, and nothing happens.  Charles plans to take advantage of the fact that “for the first time in my life it’s Saturday and I don’t have a wedding to go to.”

Conceptualizing
Overall Story Benchmark

As the story progresses, the friends gradually start to visualize themselves as potential spouses or partners as opposed to just as failures doomed to remain single.  Fiona stops wallowing in unrequited love, lets go of Charles and opens up to the possibility of “falling in love with someone who fancies me for a change.”  Scarlett stops seeing herself as someone who falls for blokes who think she’s stupid and pointless, and sees a possible future with Chester.  Charles, who at first doesn’t think he has what it takes to have a committed relationship, gradually starts to see himself as potential groom, then finally as someone who could be with Carrie for the rest of his life.

Additional Overall Story Information →
Overall Story Throughline Synopsis

A group of thirtysomethings learn about love and commitment by attending the weddings (and a funeral) of other friends and acquaintances.

Overall Story Backstory

Charles has a history of ruining perfectly good relationships with perfectly nice (though sometimes crazy) women.  He and his friends have, over the years, become very supportive of their collective single state and are, for the most part, proud of it.

Main Character Throughline

Charles — Bachelor

Mind
Main Character Throughline

In his speech at Angus and Laura’s wedding, Charles states flat out that although he is in awe of those who can make the kind of commitment marriage requires, he knows he couldn’t do it.  His views on commitment are, so far as he or anyone else can tell, completely fixed.

Subconscious
Main Character Concern

Charles is driven by emotions that he cannot fully understand.  Every time Charles nears an opportunity to have a committed, long term relationship, his basic drives come into conflict with his beliefs about himself and marriage.  After their first night together, Charles’ desire to stay with Carrie comes into conflict with his belief in his own ability to commit.  At the second wedding, Charles’ desire for Carrie comes into conflict with his respect for her commitment to Hamish.  After they shop for the wedding dress, Charles nearly tells Carrie that he loves her, but stops short of whisking her away, because she is about to be married.  When she shows up at his wedding, Charles grapples with the fact that his desire for Carrie has come into direct conflict with the commitment he has already made to Henrietta.

Dream
Main Character Issue

It is clear from Charles’ speech at the first wedding, that he dreams of someday having a long term relationship, but sees it as highly unrealistic.  When Fiona tells Charles about Carrie, she tells him that she’s “quite out of your league.”  Fortunately, Charles doesn’t let this stop him.

Hope
Main Character Counterpoint

After the funeral, Charles starts to wonder if it is too much to hope that “this one true love stuff” will ever happen to him.

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Dream vs.Hope

When it comes to love, does one hold out for one’s dreams or does one simply hope for the best under the circumstances?

Disbelief
Main Character Problem

Charles states at the very first wedding that he does not believe in marriage, or rather that he doesn’t believe in him marrying.  This is echoed by all of his ex-girlfriends throughout the story and acts as the single greatest impediment to him getting together (on a permanent basis) with Carrie.

Faith
Main Character Solution

Charles must break with his limiting past beliefs, and trust unquestioningly that when you love someone with all your heart, somehow, everything will turn out for the best.

Oppose
Main Character Symptom

Charles thinks that the source of his own troubles is his general disapproval of his friends’ potential mates.  He has a loose tongue and his expressions of opposition to his friends’ relationships get him into uncomfortable positions.

Support
Main Character Response

Although personally opposed to the idea of marriage, Charles is very supportive of those that make the commitment.  He never misses a wedding.

Dream
Main Character Unique Ability

Although he waffles back and forth, ultimately it is Charles’ faith in the dream that his perfect match is out there, which leads to his leaving Henrietta at the altar and ending up with Carrie.

Delay
Main Character Critical Flaw

Charles is almost defined by his bad timing.  He’s late for every wedding and is committed to putting off the marriage game for as long as possible.

Memory
Main Character Benchmark

Charles forgets the rings at the first wedding, his appointment with his brother, and is late for every wedding including his own (or so he thinks).  As a barometer, this shows that Charles really isn’t making progress, per se, but must abandon an old pattern in one fell swoop.

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

According to the screenplay, Charles is “33, fairly good-looking, fairly ironic.”  Charles says that he is “in bewildered awe of anyone who makes the kind of commitment” necessary to get actually married. Henrietta refers to him as a “serial monogamist” who will “never really love anyone, because you never let them near you.”

Main Character Throughline Synopsis

Charles sees himself as doomed to be forever single, until he meets the woman who will ultimately change his view of himself, love, and commitment.

Main Character Backstory

We are told little about the whys and wherefores of Charles’ past.  There isn’t any indication of what he does for a living.  He does confess to having slept with a total of nine women, most of whom pop up like “Ghosts of girlfriends past at every turn.”

Influence Character Throughline

Carrie — American Girl

Universe
Influence Character Throughline

Carrie is viewed almost exclusively in terms of her circumstances.  At first she is almost an icon, seen from afar as an unapproachably beautiful American who only goes out with very glamorous people.  When she next appears in Charles’ life, she is engaged to be married, again seemingly untouchable.  When she shows up at Charles’ wedding, she is separated, alone, and in need.

Future
Influence Character Concern

Carrie’s very existence forces Charles to reevaluate his belief that he has no future as a married man.

Choice
Influence Character Issue

Every time Carrie shows up, Charles is forced into some sort of decision.  He must choose between going with his friends back to Tom’s, or going back to the Boatman to find Carrie; between meeting his brother for a movie and going shopping with Carrie; between Henrietta and Carrie at his own wedding.  In fact, when Carrie finds him at the gift shop, she specifically says to him (ostensibly referring to the wedding dress), “Come with me.  You have an important decision to make.”

Delay
Influence Character Counterpoint

The other side of Carrie’s impact is that whenever Charles puts off making a choice, he loses her.  When Carrie asks when he plans to announce their engagement, Charles sputters until he realizes she’s joking.  She leaves for America.  When Carrie shows up at his wedding, Charles tries to delay his wedding, but unless he makes a choice he will end up with Henrietta.

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Choice vs.Delay

Ultimately it is shown that one has to trust one’s choices (and heart).  Delaying will only exacerbate the problem.  For Carrie, this means that putting off contacting Charles after her separation from Hamish almost results in Charles’ marriage to Henrietta:
Charles: . . . Why didn’t you get in touch with me?
Carrie:  Well, you know, I did think about it.  Wanted to. . . but I was in a state . . .Then I heard about this [Charles’ wedding] so I thought better not. (Curtis 109-110)

Oppose
Influence Character Problem

Although Carrie never speaks against Charles, her very presence flies in the face of his belief that there is no one special person out there for him.

Support
Influence Character Solution

Carrie seems quite content to enlist Charles’ aid from time to time.  She uses him to help her escape George; She asks Charles to keep her company when Hamish goes back to Scotland; She asks him to help her pick out a wedding dress.

Avoid
Influence Character Symptom

It often seems as though Carrie is avoiding Charles.  When Charles tells John that his wife is sleeping with Toby de Lisle, Carrie makes a graceful escape and Charles has to deal with John alone; She sneaks out of the hotel lobby, leaving him to deal with George; She almost leaves for America before Charles wakes up; After introducing Charles to her fiancee, she leaves him by himself.

Pursuit
Influence Character Response

It really seems that Carrie is doing the pursuing in this relationship.  At the end of the first wedding, she finds Charles and asks where he is staying; she seeks him out after Hamish has left for Scotland; she finds him at the expensive store, at Charles’ wedding, and finally in the rain outside Charles’ house.  If she didn’t pursue him the way she did, she wouldn’t make the impact she does.

Choice
Influence Character Unique Ability

It is Carrie’s ability to force Charles into choice-making situations that gets him once and for all to decide to follow his own heart, leave Henrietta at the altar, and end up with Carrie.

Hope
Influence Character Critical Flaw

When Carrie marries Hamish, Charles’ dream of spending his life with her is smashed.  He then has to contend with the idea that he may have to be more realistic in his romantic pursuits.

Past
Influence Character Benchmark

After the wedding dress expedition, Carrie tells Charles that she has promised Hamish that she will be faithful once they are married, in essence this means her past will be behind her once she is committed.  At her wedding she says that she’ll let keep Charles posted if things don’t work out with Hamish, and finally at Charles’ wedding, she indicates that her marriage to Hamish is in the past.  Taken as a whole, the implication is that she is now available and has put her past behind her.

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

A beautiful American girl.  She used to work for Vogue, and now lives in America.  Charles meets her at Angus and Laura’s wedding and eventually doesn’t marry her.

Influence Character Throughline Synopsis

Carrie is the one person capable of shattering Charles’ firm conviction he will never marry.  Charles has reached the conclusion that HE is the problem with his love life.  But from the moment Carrie enters his life, Charles is forced to consider the idea that the real problem may simply be that he hasn’t yet met the right woman (until now).

Influence Character Backstory

We aren’t told much about Carrie’s past.  Fiona describes her as “American… Slut… Used to work for Vogue.  Lives in America now.  Only goes out with very glamorous people.”  Carrie herself claims to have had sex with thirty-four men and says she was raised on a farm.

Relationship Story Throughline

""I ThinK I Love You, But What Am I So Afraid Of?""

Physics
Relationship Story Throughline

Charles and Carrie’s relationship revolves entirely around external activities: weddings, of course, but also their own sexual encounters and pursuits, shopping for wedding dresses, and so forth.

Obtaining
Relationship Story Concern

The biggest issue between Charles and Carrie is their timing gets in the way of attaining happiness with each other.  Charles can’t have her because she is engaged, or married.  And when Carrie becomes available, he’s getting married.  At the cafe, Charles is thrown by the sheer number of men Carrie has had in her lifetime.  Also, Carrie asks Charles to help her shop for the dress she’ll wear at her (not their) wedding.

Self-Interest
Relationship Story Issue

Self interest, where it concerns Charles and Carrie, is shown in a very good light.  It translates into following your heart.  After the first wedding, when Charles is heading back to Tom’s “castle” with the others, he decides to go after his own interests, and seek out Carrie at the Lucky Boatman, instead of joining his friends.  In the car after the second wedding, Charles, thinking of Carrie’s commitment to Hamish, wonders if going up to her room is such a good idea.  Thankfully, Carrie is not thinking of her husband-to-be and Charles and Carrie spend the night together.  At Charles’ wedding, David convinces him that he needs to marry the one he loves with whole heart.  In other words, forget Henrietta, and do what he really wants to do.  This turns out to be the best possible move.  After Charles’ wedding, Carrie apologizes for showing up, but clearly it was the right thing to do.

Morality
Relationship Story Counterpoint

Putting others before oneself proves to be far from beneficial in the relationship between Carrie and Charles.  After the first wedding, when Carrie approaches Charles and asks where he’s staying, he at first chooses to not disappoint his friends, and nearly blows his chance at getting together with her.  After they have been shopping for a wedding dress, Charles tells her (more or less) that he loves her, but thinking of her and her commitment to Hamish, will not allow them to follow through.  At his own wedding, Charles won’t allow himself to follow his own heart (until his brother David walks him through it) and nearly marries Henrietta so as not to disappoint her and the other wedding attendees.

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Self-Interest vs.Morality

Although Charles is accused by Henrietta and his old girlfriends of being self-interested, it is ultimately self-interest which successfully brings Charles and Carrie together.

Uncontrolled
Relationship Story Problem

The problem between Charles and Carrie is that their relationship is very haphazard.  Different people, circumstances, and situations keep them apart all too easily.  Because Charles leaves it to Carrie to take charge, he always seems to flounder in her wake.

Control
Relationship Story Solution

Charles has no luck in meeting Carrie at the first wedding until Carrie takes control of the situation and asks where he is staying.  Their subsequent meetings are always precipitated by Carrie’s manipulating him into keeping her company.  Charles finally decides to “face the music” and takes control of their relationship, asking Carrie if she could see her way to “not” marry him.

Avoid
Relationship Story Symptom

Charles and Carrie seem to avoid the real question of commitment by walking out on each other on those “mornings after.”  At Charles’ wedding to Henrietta, Carrie and Charles agree that their timing has been disastrous.  Indeed, it always seems as though the universe is conspiring to keep them apart.  One or the other of them leave each time they spend the night together; she gets engaged; he must meet his brother; and so forth.

Pursuit
Relationship Story Response

Charles pursues Carrie at the first wedding (“Nice hat!”)  Carrie pursues Charles (“Where are you staying tonight?”) Charles runs after Carrie after they go dress shopping (“In the words of David Cassidy, ‘I think I love you’”); Carrie shows up at Charles’ wedding.  Unfortunately when they catch each other, neither will hold on for very long.

Morality
Relationship Story Catalyst

If Charles was thinking only of himself, he probably wouldn’t have gone to any of the first three weddings.  But he does.  And every time he does, he runs into Carrie.  On his “day off,” Charles goes to the expensive store to pick up a wedding gift for Carrie and Hamish and meets Carrie there.  Carrie selflessly shows up at the funeral and at Charles’ wedding.

Commitment
Relationship Story Inhibitor

When Carrie first brings up the idea of commitment, Charles sputters before realizing that she’s joking.  She says they both missed a great opportunity and they don’t see each other again for months;  After Carrie announces her engagement to Hamish, they do have sex, but Charles, honoring her commitment to Hamish, leaves at dawn.

Understanding
Relationship Story Benchmark

As the story progresses, Charles and Carrie understand more and more how perfect they are for each other, and ultimately why they have to be with each other to the exclusion of all others.

Additional Relationship Story Information →
Relationship Story Throughline Synopsis

Despite falling in love with each other right from the start, Charles and Carrie have a problem.  Because of apparently bad timing, it looks as though they will never live happily ever after with each other.  But the growth that occurs during their brief moments together changes Charles, ultimately leading him to leave a potential bride at the altar and commit himself once and for all to Carrie.

Relationship Story Backstory

Charles and Carrie meet at the beginning of the story, thus do not share a past.  They are, however, predisposed to each other as they both have experienced many relationships yet are idealistic enough not to settle down until they have found their soul mate.

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Becoming
Overall Story Goal

The goal, objectively, is for the friends (and more specifically Charles) to become committed.

Obtaining
Overall Story Consequence

Much of the focus of Charles and the others is not so much as wanting to live happily ever after, but trying desperately not to fail by entering into an incompatible and potentially damaging relationship.  Gareth’s words of encouragement at Carrie and Hamish’s wedding spurs them on to avoid these consequences: “Go forth and… find husbands and wives!”

Future
Overall Story Cost

Charles’ speech at the top hints at the idea that the potential for divorce between any happy couple should not be completely ruled out.  When Charles mistakenly tells John that his wife may have been “bonking old Toby de Lisle,” it is hinted that their marriage may not last terribly long either.  Gareth’s premature death reinforces this idea, because if even Matthew and Gareth’s happiness can’t last, what chance do any of the others have?

Subconscious
Overall Story Dividend

The sex is very nice: Carrie and Charles, Bernard and Lydia, Carrie and Charles again. Scarlett finds her prince in Chester; Tom his Deirdre; and so forth.

Conceptualizing
Overall Story Requirements

All of the friends at one point or another envision how Charles may make a commitment.  Matthew sees Charles looking at Carrie at the first wedding and asks if it is love at first sight; Fiona sees it at Carrie’s wedding; even Charles himself must see that it is possible (as he does when Carrie shows up at his wedding) before he can actually make the commitment.

Understanding
Overall Story Prerequisites

All of Charles’ friends seem to understand what is happening to Charles well before he allows himself to admit it.  Although Charles claims he is watching the bloke Carrie is dancing with at the first wedding, Matthew knows better; Fiona understands that she has to let Charles go because he is clearly in love with Carrie; David understands that Henrietta is not the right one for Charles, and forces Charles to look at that fact.

Past
Overall Story Preconditions

Charles must endure Henrietta and the rest of the “Ghosts of girlfriends past,” that keep popping up in his life.

Memory
Overall Story Forewarnings

At Carrie and Hamish’s wedding, Charles tells Henrietta that perhaps they “should have got married.”

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Becoming
Overall Story Signpost 1

The wedding itself is an objective look at how one couple transforms from their single state to one of wedded commitment.

Overall Story Journey 1 from Becoming to Conceptualizing

As soon as the first wedding is over, everyone sets out on what seems to be the real purpose of weddings: figuring out how to find that special someone.  Charles asks Fiona about Carrie, the girl in the black hat; Serena asks Matthew about David; Charles asks Matthew about the right approach to take to ask a girl out.

Conceptualizing
Overall Story Signpost 2

Lydia and Bernard break from their kiss (as everyone’s leaving the first reception) as though she has just seen Bernard for the first time (and she likes what she sees).  This is the deciding moment that swings us into the second wedding.  Also, just before Carrie leaves for America, Carrie envisions the future they might have had together, telling Charles “I think we both missed a great opportunity here.  Bye.”

Overall Story Journey 2 from Conceptualizing to Being

Father Gerald, after going over the wedding ceremony in his head, does his best to fulfill the role of priest; Scarlett, under the table with her new friend, shares her concern that she may be stuck in her current situation forever; Charles receives indicators from his old girlfriends that his own situation will never change; Fiona seems resigned to the fact that she’ll never get the man she loves.  These ideas intensify for most of the friends up to the point of Gareth’s funeral.

Being
Overall Story Signpost 3

After Gareth’s funeral, in his conversation with Tom, Charles points out that while no one was looking, Gareth and Matthew were “to all intents and purposes married all the time.”  An illusion has been shattered.  The poem Matthew reads speaks of the temporary nature of even True Love.  Charles and Tom begin to wonder if temporarily adopting a lifestyle is the best they can hope for.

Overall Story Journey 3 from Being to Conceiving

There’s a very temporary feeling about Charles’ wedding to Henrietta.  While Charles seems to have resigned himself to the fact that he must play at being a bridegroom, there’s something slightly false to the whole proceeding, because we have known all along (or so we were led to believe) that in the end Charles would end up with Carrie.  When she ultimately does show up, the question changes to HOW this will all be resolved.  While Tom delays Henrietta, Charles, Matthew, and David try to come up with an idea.  David says Charles has three choices: go through with it, call the whole thing off, or. . . but for the moment he can’t think of a third option.

Conceiving
Overall Story Signpost 4

Ultimately, just before Charles has to say “I do,”  David stops the proceedings.  He has come up with the answer.  He reminds Charles that finally, he’s got to marry the one who he loves with all his heart.  Later, outside his house, Charles presents Carrie with the idea of “not” marrying him and spending the rest of her life doing it.  She agrees.

Main Character

Conscious
Main Character Signpost 1

At the first wedding, Charles makes a speech which indicates that he is fully aware of the fact that he will never marry or have a long term relationship of his own.

Main Character Journey 1 from Conscious to Subconscious

Although Charles is aware that he may never have a long term committed relationship, the moment he sees Carrie in the crowd, he is driven (however unsuccessfully) to pursue her.  He asks Fiona who Carrie is, and though he denies that it’s “love at first sight” to Matthew, he is driven to find a way to approach her.

Subconscious
Main Character Signpost 2

On the way back to Tom’s house, Charles is driven to make the decision to abandon his friends and go after Carrie (an “Odd decision,” he admits).

Main Character Journey 2 from Subconscious to Memory

Three months later, at the second wedding, Charles sees Carrie again.  He is ecstatic, until he realizes that she is engaged.  He starts immediately to delve back into his memories (and is confronted by a table full of them) to wonder if he has in fact already met the “right girl,” and if his problem lies within himself.  His conversation with Carrie in the cafe forces him to remember how many relationships he has had himself (then he suddenly remembers his appointment with his brother).

Memory
Main Character Signpost 3

At Gareth’s funeral, Charles looks back on his own life and relationships, reassessing his own needs, hopes, and dreams.

Main Character Journey 3 from Memory to Preconscious

Somewhere during the ten month lapse between the funeral and his own wedding, Charles reconciles his bad memories of Henrietta, and the two of them become engaged.  But when Carrie shows up at the wedding, unaccompanied and quite single, memories of what happened between them flood back, and Charles has to deal with his fight or flight impulses.  Does he marry Henrietta or run?

Preconscious
Main Character Signpost 4

Ultimately Charles must step into the proverbial void, leaving Henrietta at the altar and choosing something greater, without thinking of the consequences (or thinking at all).  In fact, when he does think about it, as he does in the back room, he can’t make any decision.

Influence Character

Progress
Influence Character Signpost 1

Although he describes himself as in “bewildered awe” of those that can make the kind of commitment necessary to marry, Carrie’s presence at the first wedding starts to force Charles to reassess the progress he has made thus far in terms of relationships.

influence Character Journey 1 from Progress to Future

Charles tries fruitlessly to make progress toward meeting Carrie or making a date with her.  But she always seems to be talking or dancing with someone else.  When she asks Charles where he is staying, she opens up the possibility that they may indeed have a future together, at least for the night.  At the Lucky Boatman, she keeps hinting at their possibly getting together, if only Charles is willing to surmount the obstacles (meaning George, and Charles’ own seeming inability to be proactive).

Future
Influence Character Signpost 2

Carrie asks Charles point blank when he is planning to “announce the engagement.”  Although he realizes this is a joke, it forces Charles to address the idea that there may in fact be a future with this girl, provided he takes the right steps.

Influence Character Journey 2 from Future to Present

When Carrie shows up at the second wedding, she is engaged.  Any future she and Charles might have had seems to have been eliminated.  Yet later that night, when she asks if Charles will keep her company, she is indicating that they can at least enjoy the present together.

Present
Influence Character Signpost 3

Carrie’s showing up at the gift store and inviting Charles to the dress shop forces Charles to realize that the time they spend together (in the present) is more important than anything (even meeting his brother, the only thing he HAD to do that day).  He almost takes the opportunity to tell her exactly how much he loves her, but censors himself.

Influence Character Journey 3 from Present to Past

At her own wedding and at Gareth’s funeral, Carrie lets Charles know that she appreciated what he said in the street.  When Carrie shows up at Charles’ wedding, she tells him that she and Hamish have left each other.  Thus a major obstacle that stood between them is now forever behind them.  It’s now up to Charles to do what he must.

Past
Influence Character Signpost 4

Carrie appears at Charles’ house and he is forced to realize the little they have shared together is much more powerful than all the relationships he has had in the past.  Once he has successfully left all that behind, he can now finally commit to Carrie for the rest of his life.

Relationship Story

Understanding
Relationship Story Signpost 1

There is a level of understanding present at the start of Charles and Carrie’s relationship that is absolutely necessary for their growth.  In fact Carrie, through watching Charles’ actions at the first wedding, seems to instantly understand Charles better than he does himself.

Relationship Story Journey 1 from Understanding to DoingCarrie uses her seemingly innate understanding of Charles and takes the action necessary to get them together. For instance, she understands that although he is smitten with her, he will not take the first step to get them together, so she approaches him and asks where he is staying. At the Lucky Boatman, she trusts that Charles will understand when the waiter says that his "wife" is waiting for him in Room Twelve. She understands that she needs to guide him into making the first move in her room. She also seems to understand from his speech that he is afraid of commitment, which is why she teases him with the announcement of their engagement.
Doing
Relationship Story Signpost 2

Carrie and Charles spend the night together at the Lucky Boatman and make love.

Relationship Story Journey 2 from Doing to Obtaining

On the morning after they have made love for the first time, Carrie switches the question to one of attainment.  “I assumed that since we had slept together and everything, we’d be getting married.”  In other words, do they now keep each other’s company forever?  When the answer, for now, is no, she goes back to America.  When they meet again at Bernard and Lydia’s wedding, Charles has clearly reconsidered the question, but it is too late.  Carrie is engaged to Hamish.  Despite this fact, they make love again after the reception, but Charles leaves early in the morning, knowing that he can’t have her.

Obtaining
Relationship Story Signpost 3

They meet again while Charles is looking for a wedding present, and Carrie invites Charles to help her decide on a wedding dress.

Relationship Story Journey 3 from Obtaining to Learning

Charles learns just how many men Carrie has slept with, and Carrie learns Charles’ true feelings (“I think I love you”).  Charles learns at Carrie’s wedding (when she says publicly that she’ll keep him posted), and at the funeral (when she tells him she liked what he said in the street) that there is a glimmer of hope for them, however unlikely.

Learning
Relationship Story Signpost 4

Charles learns that Carrie is no longer married.  This information changes everything, and ultimately forces him to make a decision that will affect the rest of their lives.

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics

OS: MC: IC: RS:

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