Comprehensive Storyform

The following analysis reveals a comprehensive look at the Storyform for Quills. 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

Main Character Resolve

Abbe de Coulmier changes from an administrator in the asylum to an inmate:
Dr. Royer-Collard: Circumstances have turned you surly.  Interred too long with the beast, you’ve now become one. (Wright 75)

Main Character Growth

Abbe de Coulmier needs to take the upper hand in his relationship with The Marquis to be successful in restraining the inmate’s prose.  This does not happen.

Main Character Approach

Abbe de Coulmier takes on his responsibilities with great energy and enthusiasm.  He actively looks for positive ways to solve problems, as illustrated in his conversation with Dr. Royer-Collard regarding rehabilitating The Marquis:
Coulmier: I implore you, do not insist that I negate my principles.  Let me continue in my charitable course. (Wright 20)

Main Character Mental Sex

Abbe de Coulmier evaluates events as cause and effect.  He sees each problem he has with The Marquis as a new issue, to be handled separate and apart from the last.  This problem solving method fails, as The Marquis is able to counter his efforts with his own holistic methods.

Story Driver

Dr. Royer-Collard is hired to restore Charenton to its former glory; Her reputation ruined, Renee Pelagie decides to beg and bribe the doctor to stop her husband from writing his stories; Each time The Marquis comes up with a new way to put his stories into circulation, the doctor and Abbe must decide on a different course of action to stop him; and so forth.

Story Limit

Coulmier only has a finite number of ways (and The Marquis’ body parts) to stop The Marquis from telling his tales.

Story Outcome

No one is able to envision a way to stop The Marquis from disseminating his stories: “In the last scene, the boxes containing the body parts of the Marquis tremble with pleasure.  One hand snakes loose from its box . . . and begins to write” (Back cover—Dramatists Play Service, Inc.).

Story Judgment

The Abbe de Coulmier unwittingly and unhappily ends up an inmate of the asylum.

Overall Story Throughline

""The Inmate is Running the Asylum""

Overall Story Throughline

Quills explores the art of manipulation.  Dr. Royer-Collard coerces his wife into moving away from Paris to the provinces by promising “her a chateau to rival Fontainbleau” (Wright 8); Renee Pelagie and Dr. Royer-Collard play a cat-and-mouse game to each get what they want—she desires to return to her social position, he says he wants money for the institution that houses her infamous husband:
Dr. Royer-Collard: . . . If you were to buttress your entreaties, with, perhaps, the means to oblige them . . . Is it not true, that the recent sale of his (The Marquis’) mansion at La Coste has granted you a sudden windfall?
Renee Pelagie: A trifling nest egg, hardly a fortune.
Dr. Royer-Collard: If you are truly determined to step out of the long, dark shadow of your husband’s celebrity . . .
Renee Pelagie: Don’t toy with me doctor! (Wright 13); The Marquis manipulates the staff to care for his creature comforts:
Coulmier: As you know, most esteemed Marquis, the staff has done its utmost to render you comfortable here.
The Marquis: It’s true, dear-heart, you’ve spoiled me pink. (Wright 23); The Marquis provides Madeleine and her mother with the lurid stories they crave in return for kisses from the young girl; Cracking a riding whip, Madame Royer-Collard manipulates the architect, Monsieur Prouix, into serving her needs.

Overall Story Concern

Dr. Royer-Collard and the Abbe de Coulmier envision ways to end The Marquis’ prolific pornography; The Marquis is derisive of the authorities plans to silence him:
The Marquis: . . . It was easy to devise my undoing, wasn’t it?  Wasn’t it?  A regular parlor game.  Each of you, chirping like giddy magpies.  “Solitary confinement!  Perhaps we’ll dock his dessert. . . ” (Wright 56); The Marquis is adept at envisioning new ways to disseminate his stories; Madame Royer-Collard envisions a way to leave her husband, with the help of her architect:
Monsieur Prouix: I worry, Marguerite, that you don’t really love me at all, but merely mean to use me to your own convenient ends, as a vehicle to escape your husband’s tyranny.
Madame Royer-Collard: You’re brighter than you look. (Wright 58)

Overall Story Issue

Dr. Royer-Collard accepts a post at the Charenton Asylum, without full awareness of how things stand.  Renee Pelagie hints to him what the situation is at Charenton that affects them all:
Renee Pelagie: You are new to Charenton, are you not?
Dr. Royer-Collard: I am.
Renee Pelagie: Perhaps you are not yet familiar with my husband, and his unusual case. (Wright 10)

Overall Story Counterpoint

Dr. Royer-Collard explains the circumstances that concern him in retaining his position at Charenton:
Dr. Royer-Collard: More than my marriage is at stake, Monsieur Prouix.  If my wife runs rampant here in Saint Maurice, the Ministry will call my very competence into question.  I can hear them now.  “We’ve entrusted over five hundred madmen to his care.  How can he keep the lunatics at bay, when he can’t even harness his own wife? (Wright 9)

Overall Story Thematic Conflict
Situation vs.Circumstances

Dr. Royer-Collard and Coulmier discuss the situation regarding The Marquis, and the circumstances that compel them to end the inmate’s tales:
Coulmier: Already he’s catalogued every known vice—and some hitherto unknown!
Dr. Royer-Collard: Imagine if this wound its way among the inmates. . . . Understand that his reformation is an urgent priority.
Coulmier: I’ll do all that I can.
Dr. Royer-Collard: Do More.  Otherwise, I’ll be forced to report to the Ministry that the inmates are indeed running the asylum. (Wright 20)

Overall Story Problem

Madame Royer-Collard’s pattern of sexual escapades is a problem for her husband; The drastic measures Dr. Royer-Collard orders Coulmier to take with regard to The Marquis is a problem for the kindly administrator; Sade’s pattern of pornographic acts and his proliferation of written pornographic works is a problem for France:
Dr. Royer-Collard: . . . I have the strictest orders, in a writ signed by Napoleon himself, to contain the man indefinitely. (Wright 10); Renee Pelagie points out the problems that are arising since the Chief Physician has not restored order to the asylum:
Renee Pelagie: Your charge here is to bring order to an unruly hospital.  And instead—on your watch—the patients revolt . . . (Wright 48)

Overall Story Solution

If Dr. Royer-Collard could lift the restrictions he places on his wife, perhaps she would not be so prone to infidelity; Dr. Royer-Collard following Napoleon’s orders to contain The Marquis, and in turn, Coulmier following the Dr.‘s orders to prevent The Marquis from writing, causes problems that would most likely not have occurred if he had been allowed to continue on with his anarchistic work.

Overall Story Symptom

Doctor Royer-Collard perceives Monsieur Prouix to be an architect he can take into his confidence; in Monsieur Prouix’ view, Madame Royer-Collard is passionately in love with him; Madeleine gives the appearance of a girl who knows her way around a cell block; Renee discerns her money is being put to Doctor Royer-Collard’s personal use instead of toward refurbishing Charenton; and so forth.

Overall Story Response

In actuality, Madame Royer-Collard cuckolds Doctor Royer-Collard with Monsieur Prouix to show her husband he can’t keep her in a gilded cage; Upon her death, Madeleine’s body is examined and her virginity is determined intact; While Doctor Royer-Collard attempts to demonstrate to Renee that her money is being put to good use, she sees the way things really are and threatens him with her lawyer; and so forth.

State of Being
Overall Story Catalyst

The Marquis explains how his true self has facilitated his writing career:
The Marquis: Hell itself is the crucible in which I forged my craft. . . . There, stripped of all postures, man’s true self surges to the fore! (Wright 28-29); The Marquis’ essential nature is repugnant to society, and the reason why his wife is ostracized.  This humiliation coupled with her own social nature is what compels Renee to offer Dr. Royer-Collard money to keep The Marquis from spreading the word; It is Madame Royer-Collard’s sexual nature that necessitated her husband to accept the post at Charenton in the first place; Bouchon cannot control his essential nature once he hears The Marquis’ latest tale and tortures Madeleine to death, compelling Dr. Royer-Collard to accelerate the process of destroying Sade; and so forth.

Overall Story Inhibitor

Because Dr. Royer-Collard is accustomed to having his orders implemented with success, he does not immediately envision the most effective way for Coulmier to silence The Marquis; Madeleine is conditioned to question authority and side with The Marquis.  This is why she does not immediately tell Dr. Royer-Collard the truth about how The Marquis is disseminating his stories, thus slowing progress toward stopping him; and so forth.

Overall Story Benchmark

The more Dr. Royer-Collard and his colleagues attempt to rebuild the reputation of Charenton, specifically by reforming The Marquis, the more it is clear the asylum embodies the very essence of The Marquis.

Additional Overall Story Information →
Overall Story Throughline Synopsis

Dr. Royer-Collard accepts the position of Chief Physician at the Charenton Asylum.  He is there to restore the institution to its former stellar reputation.  At the same time, he hopes to curtail his wife’s tendency to stray by hiring a renown architect to build her a fabulous chateau.  Upon his arrival, he is entreated by Renee Pelagie to stop her husband, Charenton’s most notorious inmate—The Marquis de Sade, from churning out pornography.  Dr. Royer-Collard accepts a bribe from The Marquise and proceeds to charge the Abbe de Coulmier with the responsibility of rehabilitating The Marquis.  Each attempt to stop The Marquis is met with an ingenious foil.  The Marquis and his keen audience do not take the censorship of his work lightly; riots and carnage ensue.  Madness eventually overtakes Coulmier as he is successful in destroying The Marquis’ body, but not his mind.

Overall Story Backstory

Charenton Asylum, home to the notorious Marquis de Sade, is in need of a leader and financial aid:
Dr. Royer-Collard: I am the newly appointed Chief Physician of the Charenton Asylum.  It is my solemn duty to restore this ailing institution to its former glory. (Wright 7)

Main Character Throughline

Abbe de Coulmier — Asylum Administrator

Main Character Throughline

Abbe de Coulmier’s situation in life is that of a minister in an insane asylum.  It is at Charenton that he explores good and evil; morality and immorality.

Main Character Concern

Coulmier is concerned with treating patients, specifically The Marquis, just as he always has in the past.

Main Character Issue

Coulmier accepts as his fate the responsibility of taking charge of madmen.

Main Character Counterpoint

It is Coulmier’s destiny to come up against The Marquis.  Once Coulmier begins his course to rehabilitate the madman, it is inevitable that he will lose himself in the journey.

Main Character Thematic Conflict
Fate vs.Destiny

Coulmier understands and accepts the inevitable aspects of insanity he must come in contact with in the course of his career, until he grapples with The Marquis.
Coulmier: I pray that Fate never again ushers me through these portals, or casts my shadow against your [Charenton’s] door. (Wright 67) What he doesn’t expect is that once he takes on The Marquis, HE is destined to become the madman.

Main Character Problem

As Coulmier has always handled his charges in a humane manner, it is a problem for the priest to carry out orders to reform The Marquis in ways that are repugnant to him.

Main Character Solution

Had Coulmier revolted against Dr. Royer-Collard’s insistence he go against his very nature to accomplish a job, he might not have ended up padlocked in a cell.  If he had also allowed some confusion reign in his thoughts, he may have had the flexibility to accept The Marquis’ point of view.

Main Character Symptom

Coulmier’s focus is on the process of considering all the anti-ethical methods he is compelled to employ for The Marquis’ rehabilitation, including murder:
Dr. Royer-Collard: You’ve broken his body, true.  But what about his mind?  For all we know, it still composes.  What will his next story be, Abbe?  Perhaps a tale about a timorous priest . . .
Coulmier: I dare say, Doctor, we can’t control his thoughts.  We can only mute their expression.
Dr. Royer-Collard:  Then we have not truly cured him, have we?
Coulmier: What murderous act would you have me commit?
Dr. Royer-Collard: Finish the job you’ve begun.
Coulmier: These hands cannot . . . will not . . . extinguish life.
Dr. Royer-Collard: I had hoped they were the hands of a hero. (Wright 67)

Main Character Response

Coulmier directs his efforts with the authoritative certainty of one who has dealt with the insane for many years, and in addition trusts that his supervisor knows what is the best way to handle The Marquis:
Coulmier: Dear Heavenly Father.  I could not render this last act if it weren’t for the knowledge that I’ll be setting this pagan free. (Wright 71)

Main Character Unique Ability

At this particular point in time, it is Abbe de Coulmier’s fate to be the one charged with the responsibility of rehabilitating The Marquis.  He is unable to meet the demands fate places upon him, and he fails in solving both the objective and subjective story problems.

Main Character Critical Flaw

The Abbe de Coulmier’s mistaken thinking that he can rehabilitate The Marquis undermines his efforts to resolve the story problems.

Main Character Benchmark

The more Coulmier determines he will not be able to administrator to inmates in the way he has done in the past, the more is anxious for a future outside of Charenton:
Coulmier: Good-bye, Doctor.  I’ll spend one final night in my quarters here, and tomorrow set out for regions beyond. (Wright 67)

Additional Main Character Information →
Main Character Description

Kind; slightly obtuse

Main Character Throughline Synopsis

The Marquis tells the story of the Abbe de Coulmier:
The Marquis Head: . . . “There was once a virtuous man called the Abbe de Coulmier.  It was his life’s work to cater to the feeble, with a kind heart and a gentle hand.  Sometimes, when the sun struck his hair just so, or he tilted his head at a certain angle, you could almost discern the halo that rested there.  Then, one dark day he encountered a rogue.  A rogue with a habit, it seems, for writing stories. . .” (The head of The Marquis begins to laugh.  The hands twitter, and clap with glee.  Alone in his cell, Coulmier crawls to the window and calls again to the guard) 
Coulmier:  A quill, my good man!  A QUILL!  A QUILL! (Wright 80)

Main Character Backstory

Abbe de Coulmier has been administrator at Charenton for quite some time.  He believes in using “humanitarian strategies” for dealing with the inmates.

Influence Character Throughline

The Marquis de Sade — Notorious Inmate

Influence Character Throughline

The Marquis’ fixed attitude toward freely expressing himself is illustrated in a letter to his wife: “Fanaticism in me is the product of the persecutions I have endured from my tyrants.  The longer they continue their vexations, the deeper they root my principles in my heart” (Wright 6).

Influence Character Concern

The Marquis de Sade’s impact primarily concerns what people recall about his dark deeds—which creates a notoriety of mythical proportions—and his stories that are passed on—creating trouble:
Renee Pelagie: His little fable traveled far.  One of your wards told the cook; the cook told his wife; she told the cobbler; and so on and so on, ad infinitum!  Even now, the story is lumbering toward Paris, like some carnivorous, hump-backed beast.  Who knows what lascivious behavior it leaves in its wake. (Wright 49)

Influence Character Issue

The Marquis’ literature, although distasteful to some, has the impact of forcing the reader to take an honest look at their own imaginations:
The Marquis: The experience . . . is a collaborative affair.  The author provides the stimuli; the reader the response.  All I can control is the art itself; my subject, culled from life, and told with an eye toward truth, or—at least—truth as life has taught me to perceive it. (Wright 53)

Influence Character Counterpoint

The Marquis uses falsehood as bravado, for example when he claims to have had sex with Madeleine.

Influence Character Thematic Conflict
Truth vs.Falsehood

The Marquis is a great proponent of the truth, however, he uses honesty as a manipulative tool—as an excuse to indulge in perverse behavior.  The truth does not “set him free,” in the physical sense, it is exactly that which confines him.  His use of falsehood is minor; more emphasis is put on his uncovering others’ dishonesty.

Influence Character Problem

The Marquis is driven by knowledge, which in the case of Madeleine causes a problem.  It is his authoritative certainty that overrules her hesitancy and effects her death.:
Madeleine: Only one thing troubles me . . .
The Marquis: Fear of discovery?
Madeleine: No.  Fear of the inmate Bouchon, the agent closest to me in line. . . . he holds a torch for me. . .
The Marquis: What of it?
Madeleine: Well, sir, given the potency of your stories, and the fragility of his brain . . . it might cause a combustion; that’s all.
The Marquis:  What are we to do, dearest?  Shuffle the patients in their cells?  That’s not within our power.  Now, accept the danger or withdraw.
Madeleine: I accept. (Wright 44)

Influence Character Solution

As an example of how “thought” could solve The Marquis de Sade’s personal drive, if he had taken Madeleine’s fears into consideration, she may not have fallen victim to the lunatic.

Influence Character Symptom

The Marquis compels Coulmier to see how people can hold different points of view in regard to morality, which provokes Coulmier:
The Marquis: Morality is a convenience, nothing more! . . . There was a time I was brought to trial . . . the judge blamed my behavior on my Noble birth.  “You aristocrats,” he bellowed, “feasting on the helpless, nourishing your vices on the spoils of the poor!  Soon, the worm will turn!”  Well!  When the Bastille was stormed and liberated by the mob, they told me I was one of their own. . . Who, I implore you, was right?  The judge?  The mob?  One insisted I was a perpetrator, the other, a victim.  Each claimed it was a matter of moral principle. (Wright 25)

Influence Character Response

The Marquis expounds on his take of the reality of morality to Coulmier:
The Marquis: Who, I implore you, was right?  The judge?  The mob?  One insisted I was a perpetrator, the other, a victim.  Each claimed it was a matter of moral principle.  What in this story is constant?  Some abstract morality, applied to the tatters of my tiny life?  I think not!  Only me! (Wright 25)

Influence Character Unique Ability

No matter what else The Marquis may be, he is honest, and this straightforwardness disturbs Coulmier’s structured view of art and pornography.

Influence Character Critical Flaw

It is Sade’s destiny to live most of his life out in some sort of confinement, because of the time he lives in and the nature of his writing:
Coulmier: It’s true, is it not Marquis, that most of your adult life has been spent in prison?
The Marquis: My past addresses read like a Primer in Crime. (Wright 28)

Influence Character Benchmark

The subconscious is the standard against which The Marquis de Sade’s concern of memory is measured in that the more he is censured, the more The Marquis is driven to proliferate his pornography—to make certain no one forgets his stories or himself.

More Influence Character Information →
Influence Character Description

Brilliant, perverse, witty, anti-hypocritical

Influence Character Throughline Synopsis

The Marquis de Sade is a man with an infamous reputation for creating pornography and committing perversions.  Depending upon the political climate, he is held up as either a madman or martyr.  The latter part of his life is spent in the Charenton Asylum, creating and disseminating his pornographic prose. The authorities of the institution make every attempt to stop him, to no avail.  The man is destroyed, but not the author.

Influence Character Backstory

The Marquis de Sade is one of the most infamous men in France, as illustrated in a conversation between Dr. Royer-Collard and Sade’s wife:
Dr. Royer-Collard: With all due respect, Madame, all of France is familiar with your husband. . . . I have the strictest orders, in a writ signed by Napoleon himself, to contain the man indefinitely.
Renee Pelagie: I don’t know which has plagued me more.  His grotesque resume of crimes, or their notoriety.  When he mutilated that poor beggar, her backside forked through like a pastry shell . . . His orgy in the school yard—those pitiful children, that lethal pox—(Wright 10-11)

Relationship Story Throughline

""Art vs. Censorship""

Relationship Story Throughline

The Abbe de Coulmier endeavors to stop The Marquis from penning his tales, however, with each attempt The Marquis finds a new way to invoke his muse.

Relationship Story Concern

Coulmier and The Marquis come into conflict over their different understandings of art and censorship.

Relationship Story Issue

The Marquis takes great pleasure in using his senses to the fullest.  He entreats Coulmier to do the same; to get in touch with his own sensuality:
The Marquis: Care for a splash of wine, Abbe?
Coulmier: Here?  Now?  It’s not yet noon.
The Marquis: Conversation, like certain portions of the anatomy, always run more smoothly when lubricated. (Wright 23)

Relationship Story Counterpoint

Coulmier construes The Marquis’ stories as pornography; The Marquis desires his work to be interpreted as literature.  This is illustrated in a conversation they engage in after Coulmier has read one of Sade’s tales:
The Marquis:  By candlelight you licked the words off the paper, and rolled them around in your mouth.  You swallowed.  You succumbed.
Coulmier: My interest was professional, sir, not prurient.
The Marquis: Did you read every word?  Or did you run straight away to the dog-eared pages?
Coulmier: It stirred in me a most pressing desire.
The Marquis: To copulate?
Coulmier: To bathe.  It’s offensive, in every realm.  A compendium of perversities. . . . I fear, Marquis, that sacrilege comes . . . naturally to you . . .
The Marquis: But Darling, my novel does not ascribe to the Bible’s precepts, and—as such—it should not be held to them in your critique.
Coulmier: How, then, should I evaluate it?  As political allegory, perhaps? . . .
The Marquis: Where does the novel profess to be a political tract?
Coulmier: What, then, does it desire to be?
Coulmier: Frankly, it even fails as an exercise in craft.  Note the tireless repetition of the words “nipple” and “pikestaff.” (Wright 24, 26)

Relationship Story Thematic Conflict
Senses vs.Interpretation

The conflict between senses and interpretation is explored throughout Coulmier and The Marquis’ relationship:
The Marquis: Must we record only those phenomena that ennoble us as creatures?  What unites us, my precious? . . . Primal desire—that’s unchanging!
Coulmier: . . . Pray tell, what other constants do you cite?
The Marquis: We eat, we shit, we kill, and we die.
Coulmier: Your selectivity confirms your contrary nature.  We are also born, we fall in love, we give birth.  May I suggest that you endeavor to write a new novel which embraces those verities? . . . it might perform a cathartic function upon its author.
The Marquis: How so, my dear?
Coulmier: It might assuage your libertine dementia.  Your current prose only aggravates it.
The Marquis: If Mother Nature didn’t want me to tickle my own fancy, she would not have provided me with two industrious hands.  I write with one, leaving the other palm free to enjoy the fruits of the first.
Coulmier: He who lives in darkness cowers in the light, while he who lives in the sun radiates it.  Step into the sun for awhile, Marquis.
The Marquis: . . . He who sits in the sun is often blinded by it.  Then, vulnerable and incognizant, he is devoured by the forces of darkness.  Better to stare the fuckers in the face, yes?
Coulmier: And therein lies the path to Happiness?
The Marquis: Therein lies survival. (Wright 28)

Relationship Story Problem

The Marquis explains why a structured lifestyle is the source of conflict between him and Coulmier:
The Marquis: Happiness for you, my little kumquat, is achieved through strict adhesion to Society’s mandates.  Most men follow this hackneyed passage; like eager children set loose on a scavenger hunt, they dart about in search of the assigned baubles—wives, offspring, gainful employ, handsome homes—and when they have accrued them all—viola!  The promised treasure is won—Happiness ensues!  But for me, happiness springs from a different course. (Wright 28)

Relationship Story Solution

The Marquis suggests his way of life as an alternative for Coulmier:
The Marquis: . . . But for me, happiness springs from a different course.
Coulmier: Which is—?
The Marquis: To slice through social artifice, shatter her false conventions, and become one with Nature’s Cimmerian Tide, where only the ruthless excel, and where brute force yields its own treasure!  Past etiquette, past decency, past morals . . . (Wright 28)

Relationship Story Symptom

Coulmier and The Marquis focus their attention on Coulmier’s demand that the inmate censor his writing, and The Marquis’ belief that the demand is an unfair one:
Coulmier: I’m afraid I have to place certain censures upon your quill, dear Marquis.
The Marquis: Not content to be my jailer, you’re now my editor as well? (Wright 24)

Relationship Story Response

As Coulmier announces to The Marquis that he will confiscate his writing materials to stop the proliferation of pornography, the mad author offers a different direction:
Coulmier: We must assuage these perverse fantasies.
The Marquis: But don’t you agree that my only salvation is to vent them on paper? (Wright 29)

Relationship Story Catalyst

The subjective story accelerates as The Marquis’ innate impulse to put his “perverse fantasies” (Wright 29) on paper, and hence into circulation, compels Coulmier to step up his efforts to stop him:
Coulmier: I’m afraid I’ll have to confiscate your paper, and your quill. . .
The Marquis: . . . My writing is involuntary, like the beating of my heart . . . I CAN’T HELP IT! (Wright 29)

Sense of Self
Relationship Story Inhibitor

Coulmier and The Marquis’ perception of themselves slows the progress of their relationship.  It is extremely important to The Marquis to maintain his self image, so important that he tries to block Coulmier from discovering any vulnerability.  Coulmier’s perception of himself as a highly moral priest inhibits his understanding of The Marquis’ propensity for pornography.

Relationship Story Benchmark

The more Coulmier takes away from The Marquis, the more he achieves an identity with him:
Dr. Royer-Collard: And how is the patient faring?
Coulmier: Poorly.  At each extremity, a new wound. . .
Dr. Royer-Collard: And you?  It must’ve been an ordeal.
Coulmier: At first, it was unbearable. . . . Though repulsed, I was fueled by the necessity of my actions.  And my horror hardened into resolve.  Steel purpose.  I felt a growing . . . interest . . . in the proceedings. (Wright 66)

Additional Relationship Story Information →
Relationship Story Throughline Synopsis

Coulmier and The Marquis begin their relationship as administrator and inmate, respectively.  Coulmier is benevolent toward his notorious charge, making sure The Marquis enjoys his creature comforts while interred.  When it is brought to his attention that The Marquis has been busy producing pornography, Coulmier willingly accepts the task to reform him.  It is during this process that The Marquis provokes Coulmier into questioning the accepted definition of morality, and the act of censoring an artist’s work.  The Marquis’ flagrant use of pornography, and his limitless imagination in how to produce it, drives Coulmier to using the utmost extreme measures to end the man’s writing career—which in turn drives himself over the edge.

Relationship Story Backstory

Abbe de Coulmier is the only member of the hospital staff that has willingly supervised Charenton’s most notorious patient, The Marquis de Sade.  This came about as follows:
Dr. Royer-Collard: The Ministry informs me that The Marquis falls under your exclusive dominion.
Coulmier: My brethren found him too taxing a patient.  A few of the priests were so dispirited, they left the order.  Father Lely now slaughters pigs in Provence.  Father Couvrat is a chimney sweep.  And the late Father Buffier is rumored to have buried himself alive rather than minister to The Marquis, in hopes of achieving martyrdom through less rigorous means.
Dr. Royer-Collard: And you?
Coulmier: I welcome the challenge. (Wright 14-15)

Additional Story Points

Key Structural Appreciations

Overall Story Goal

Envisioning a plan that can be implemented to stop The Marquis from disseminating his stories to the general public is the objective story goal.

Overall Story Consequence

The goal of implementing a plan to stop The Marquis from spinning his tales fails, resulting in Doctor Royer-Collard understanding he is not fit to remain in his post as Chief Physician, and he also understands from reading one of The Marquis’ tales that his wife is carrying on with the architect.  The Abbe de Coulmier understands he is now as mad as The Marquis:
Coulmier: Let them conduct their experiments with all due haste.  I need . . . proof, Doctor . . . proof positive for the sake of my soul . . . I am not of his ilk.
Dr. Royer-Collard: When the lab provides its findings, then I’m certain you shall be released.
Coulmier: Released?  (A fast blackout, followed by the rumbling echo of the door as it slams . . . the turning of a padlock.) (Wright 78)

Overall Story Cost

Society’s memory of The Marquis’ notorious acts cost Renee Pelagie her social position:
Renee Pelagie: Perhaps you are not yet familiar with husband, and his unusual case.
Dr. Royer-Collard: . . . His name?
Renee Pelagie: I cannot bring myself to say it, Doctor.  Its cost has been so dear. . . . I dared hope that my husband’s incarceration would allow him to fade from the country’s memory . . . . But something prevents this happy turn of events. (Wright 10,12)

Overall Story Dividend

Renee Pelagie eventually retrieves the social position she has enjoyed in the past:
Renee Pelagie: . . . Only yesterday I attended a christening. . . . From “Satan’s Bride” to “Godmother” in one fell swoop!  Society may be a capricious mistress, but in me she has found a most willing slave!  Ta-ta! (Wright 74)

Overall Story Requirements

Renee Pelagie must become desperate enough to return to society that she is willing to pay to have her husband stopped; Dr. Royer-Collard and Abbe de Coulmier must become so incensed by The Marquis’ depravity that they are provoked to devise a plan to stop his writing; and so forth.

Overall Story Prerequisites

Renee Pelagie must obtain the funds necessary to bribe Dr. Royer-Collard; Dr. Royer-Collard must obtain the position of Chief Physician of the Charenton Asylum; Abbe de Coulmier must possess sole custody of The Marquis.

Overall Story Preconditions

Examples of preconditions imposed on the story’s requirement of becoming are Renee Pelagie’s desire to return to her place in society; Sade’s ability to discern peoples’ basic drives and desires:
The Marquis: Surely, if such phenomena exist in nature, then they are fair game in fiction . . .
Coulmier: You expect me to believe these atrocities occur?
The Marquis: We don’t run in the same circles, do we, my cherub? . . . If they can be dreamt, they can be done. (Wright 24-25)

Overall Story Forewarnings

As an example of how the future describes the imminent approach of the story consequences, The Marquis’ tale of a romantic triangle is a thinly disguised account of Madame Royer-Collard’s affair with the architect—and its meaning is not lost on Dr. Royer-Collard:
Coulmier: I can’t help noticing that this particular tale has affected you more than the rest.
Dr. Royer-Collard: Though I’m loathe to admit it, as a result of his persistence, his writing has improved.  It now boasts a certain . . . prescience . . . it didn’t have before. (Wright 62)

Plot Progression

Dynamic Act Appreciations

Overall Story

Overall Story Signpost 1

Dr. Royer-Collard implements a plan to keep his wife happy—building a mansion—and must attend to the financing of this plan as well: “I’ve been forced to devise the most creative financing imaginable” (Wright 30); The doctor discusses how an architect visualizes and accomplishes the finished product:
Dr. Royer-Collard: Yours is an enviable profession, Monsieur. . . . You fabricate the design—each plank, each joist, each pilaster—but you leave the execution to others.  Your own grand plan put into action . . . and you never hoist a stone, or drive a nail.  That’s the true measure of a man’s authority, isn’t it? (Wright 31); Renee Pelagie must enter into Dr. Royer-Collard’s creative financing scheme as part of her plan to return to her former social standing:
Renee Pelagie: It’s beyond perversity.  That honor should carry a price-tag!
Dr. Royer Collard: Picture it.  A summer’s picnic, linens strewn, an array of succulents, old friends once again deigning to kiss your hand. (Wright 13)

Overall Story Journey 1 from Conceptualizing to Becoming

Monsieur Prouix designs and begins construction on Dr. Royer-Collard’s chateau, becoming Madame Royer-Collard’s lover as well; Dr. Royer-Collard commands Coulmier to envision and implement a way to curtail The Marquis’ pornography, forcing the priest to become the kind of rigid authority figure that is emotionally anti-ethical to him.

Overall Story Signpost 2

Monsieur Prouix designs Dr. Royer-Collard’s chateau to embody the attributes of Madame Royer-Collard:
Monsieur Prouix: . . . I flatter myself that the chateau shall be a tribute to her beauty; its golden cornices, the hue of her hair.  Its alabaster stone, the tint of her bosom.  Its portals, spread ever wide, as frank and inviting as her very nature . . . (Wright 31)

Overall Story Journey 2 from Becoming to Being

The staid Charenton Asylum becomes the scene of a riotous blood bath:
Renee Pelagie: . . . Charenton became a bawdy house!  A brothel for the feeble-minded!  A cat-house for loons! (Wright 49); The guards of the asylum abandon their role of caretakers: “And what were the guards doing, I ask you?  Stifling the fray?  Ha!  They were running for their very lives” (Wright 48).

Overall Story Signpost 3

High society members happily indulge in slumming, entertained by the riot at Charenton; Renee Pelagie believes Dr. Royer-Collard to be as deceptive as her husband for swindling her; When The Marquis suggests the lunatic who tortured Madeleine is fully responsible for her death, Coulmier replies “Bouchon is not a man; he’s an overgrown child” (Wright 53).

Overall Story Journey 3 from Being to Conceiving

To continue on in his role of Chief Physician of Charenton, Dr. Royer-Collard must think of ways to finance the asylum.

Overall Story Signpost 4

Dr. Royer-Collard must conceive of new ways to keep Charenton financially stable.  He first asks Renee Pelagie to continue her generosity; when she refuses he comes up with the idea of publishing the deceased Marquis’ stories:
Dr. Royer-Collard: We intend to publish The Marquis’ manuscripts. . . . We need not divulge Charenton’s name.
Coulmier: That is the very calamity we sought to prevent!
Dr. Royer-Collard: And now it is our only recourse . . . . against our ruination.  Our revenues have dropped precipitously. . . . With profits from the sale of his books, we’ll establish a trust in perpetuity. (Wright 77)

Main Character

Main Character Signpost 1

Coulmier gives Dr. Royer-Collard a brief history of their infamous inmate, to explain why The Marquis is his exclusive charge.

Main Character Journey 1 from Past to Progress

The methods Coulmier has used in the past to treat inmates have been fair and humane.  As he attempts to reform The Marquis, he is bidden by Dr. Royer-Collard to use unorthodox measures—He entreats his superior:
Coulmier: I implore you, do not insist that I negate my principles.  Let me continue in my charitable course. (Wright 20)

Main Character Signpost 2

Coulmier is making little progress in the task set forth by his superior:
Coulmier: He is indeed a maniac, and matchless at that!
Dr. Royer-Collard: You assured me that his writing had ceased.
Coulmier: I hoped it had. (Wright 34)
And Later:
Coulmier: I have not been emphatic enough with you, Marquis.  Your degrading habits continue, unabated. (Wright 36)

Main Character Journey 2 from Progress to Present

Coulmier finds he has not been making progress in curtailing The Marquis’ pornography, and he must now reluctantly put aside his kindliness and take a firm stand:
Dr. Royer-Collard: The time has come to adopt more punitive means.
Coulmier: If only I trusted in their efficacy!
Dr. Royer-Collard: When a child pilfers from the candy dish, what do we offer for his reformation?  Do we remove temptation altogether, depriving him and ourselves of sweetmeats?
Coulmier: No, sir.
Dr. Royer-Collard: . . . Do we promise him an everlasting afterlife, plucking harps, should he return the bonbon to its rightful seat?  Or do we toss him over our knee, yank down his breeches, and thrash him with the rod?
Coulmier: The latter, unfortunately.  And so he learns to fear punishment, rather than to pursue virtue for its own reward.
Dr. Royer-Collard: You’re a sentimental man. (Wright 35)

Main Character Signpost 3

After the riot, Coulmier reports to Dr. Royer-Collard the current situation:
Coulmier: The fire in the belfry has been doused.  We quieted the horses in the stables.  And the patients have all been firmly strapped back into their beds.  Call me a fool, but I hope that you’ve summoned me this morning to relay good news.
Dr. Royer-Collard: You’re a fool. (Wright 51)

Main Character Journey 3 from Present to Future

The current situation Coulmier finds himself in is that he is beginning to experience a thrill in administering pain, prompting his desire to leave Charenton if he is to have a future as a decent man.

Main Character Signpost 4

Coulmier discovers that he has changed irrevocably, and his future is as an inmate of the asylum.

Influence Character

Influence Character Signpost 1

Because the comforts of Charenton “so readily invokes [his] muse” (Wright 24), The Marquis exclaims: “stories tumble from me faster than I can record them” (Wright 24).  Since he is unwilling to check this tendency to produce pornography, he creates problems for the authorities of Charenton Asylum, and his wife who is trying to maintain her societal composure.

influence Character Journey 1 from Preconscious to Subconscious

The Marquis protests the efforts to end his writing career, on the grounds it is an innate part of him:
The Marquis: My writing involuntary, like the beating of my heart . . . I CAN’T HELP IT! (Wright 29).  To spite the authorities, he is driven more than ever to find new ways to spread his tales.

Influence Character Signpost 2

The Marquis attempts to explain to Coulmier why he is driven to continue his stories:
Coulmier: I have not been emphatic enough with you, Marquis.  Your degrading habits continue, unabated.
The Marquis: It was only for her. . . . The girl.  To entice her back to me. . . Her gentle sway may be the final lifeline cast to me.  Let me seize it. . . (Wright 36)

Influence Character Journey 2 from Subconscious to Conscious

The Marquis is driven to continue his writing, despite any obstacles.  This drive forces those around him to consider the nature of his literature, rather than just dismiss it as pornography.

Influence Character Signpost 3

The Marquis asks Coulmier to consider the fact that:
The Marquis: I didn’t forge the mind of man.  Your precious God did that.  Cramming it full of rancor and bloodlust.  Like Zeus, thrusting all those winged demons, into the tiny confines of Pandora’s box.  Don’t hate me just because I turn the key, and let them loose.  “Fly, my darlings, fly!  All the way to heaven, till you burst the clouds, and blacken the sun!” (Wright 56)

Influence Character Journey 3 from Conscious to Memory

Those in authorities of Charenton begin to contemplate that dismemberment and death are no deterrent to The Marquis, and the memory of him and his work will live on in eternity.

Influence Character Signpost 4

The memory of The Marquis de Sade and his deeds will live on after his death, in the form of “exorbitantly priced” (Wright 77) published pages.

Relationship Story

Relationship Story Signpost 1

Coulmier must take action to stop The Marquis from writing his pornographic stories:
Dr. Royer-Collard: Understand that his reformation is an urgent priority.
Coulmier: I’ll do all that I can.
Dr. Royer-Collard: Do more. (Wright 20)

Relationship Story Journey 1 from Doing to ObtainingCoulmier is instructed to stop The Marquis from writing. He attempts to do this by taking away what he thinks The Marquis needs to use to produce his pornographic stories. However, the more Coulmier obstructs The Marquis, the more creative The Marquis is in his efforts to keep his literature issuing forth: The Marquis: Oh Cupid. My little Minx . . . Coulmier: Yes? The Marquis: Where there's a will, there's a way. And a maniac is matchless for invention. (Wright 30)
Relationship Story Signpost 2

Coulmier announces to The Marquis all that he intends to take away from him:
Coulmier: . . . From now on, you will sleep on a bare mattress. . . . and for good measure, we’ll seize the curtains, the towels, and the rugs.
The Marquis: My room, stripped bare?
Coulmier: . . . Your meat shall be de-boned.  You’ll have nothing you might fashion as a quill. (Wright 35)

Relationship Story Journey 2 from Obtaining to Learning

As Coulmier determinedly removes The Marquis’ necessities (and luxuries), they engage in discussions about literature and pornography—each learning more of the others’ viewpoint.

Relationship Story Signpost 3

Coulmier learns that The Marquis can be compassionate, information that humanizes the madman.  The Marquis learns that Coulmier can be pushed into committing violent and dehumanizing acts.

Relationship Story Journey 3 from Learning to Understanding

When The Marquis learns that Madeleine has died, Coulmier appreciates that she was one person that the notorious inmate cared about:
(A stunned pause.  The Marquis cracks—a tiny cry at first, which erupts into genuine sobbing.  Finally, he speaks.  His voice is barely a whisper:)
The Marquis: You will see she receives a proper burial.  In the churchyard.  At my expense. . .
Coulmier:  Your terrible secret, revealed.  You are a man after all. (Wright 55)

Relationship Story Signpost 4

As Coulmier resorts to torture as a means of stopping The Marquis, he begins to appreciate a certain pleasure in administering pain—pleasure The Marquis has understood all too well.

Plot Progression Visualizations

Dynamic Act Schematics


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