Mr. Gold and the Five Facts of Fiction

Believe it or not, I return to teaching less than two weeks from now. I am currently spending my days modifying last year’s lesson plans, working on my latest manuscript, and re-watching season 1 of Once Upon a Time.

The lesson I am currently revising is on character. I found this amazing worksheet online by Steve Peha (http://www.ttms.org) that I use in class called “Five Facts of Fiction” in which students brainstorm the physical, emotional, social, philosophical and intellectual traits of a character, explore what the character wants and whether or not s/he gets it, how the character changes throughout the story and the world in which the story takes place. The task is to complete this worksheet for a character with whom the students are already familiar, either from fiction or the popular media (i.e., television or movies). So of course, I chose Robert Carlyle’s excellent portrayal of Mr. Gold/Rumplestiltskin with which to complete an exemplar. I won’t bore you with the worksheet notes, but here is the character sketch I wrote as a result of the exercise.

Gold dusted the holdings of his pawn shop tenderly, memories of days gone by, each of them reminiscent of a deal he’d made in that other place. It was cold there, metaphorically speaking, had become so the day he abandoned the army and returned to his village the only survivor of his troop. Fools. They’d dubbed him the resident coward then, but no one could have understood his fear, not unless they’d been there. Back then only the men went to fight in The Ogre Wars and few returned from battle. Then they took the women as well. Then the children.

                Bae.

                His mind returned to his own son whom he’d help escape that world. Better separate and reunited somewhere and somewhen than send him like a lamb to the slaughter.

              That reunion was still forthcoming.

                Gold sighed. He laid the feather duster down and retreated to the back room where his spinning wheel resided and began to spin. Here, in this place without magic, even his spinning was impotent. Here he spun sheep’s wool to yarn; back home he spun straw to gold. Spinning helped to calm his nerves and made him a rich man, but he was nevertheless very lonely.

He’d been happy once. Looking for someone to tend his castle, he’d taken Belle, saving her from enlisting in a loveless marriage, only to find he had feelings for her. When she kissed him, he felt his power threatened and believed her to be an emissary of the Evil Queen and sent her out. He’d heard she returned to her father’s home where she’d been shunned and eventually taken her own life. Here, in Storybrooke, Gold had beaten the man, hoping to hear the truth from his own lips, that Belle was still alive and, like Bae, out there somewhere, somewhen, but to no avail.

               The wheel stopped momentarily as Gold closed his eyes and tried to visualize her face. She was beautiful. Too beautiful to fall for the likes of him without an ulterior motive, he felt sure. Yet he still held onto a strand of hope, a strand as thin and delicate as the gold he favoured spinning from straw. He resumed his spinning. In Fairytaleland, after accepting the power of The Dark One, he was a powerful man, both feared and respected. It was the same in Storybrooke as well. He had fear and respect. What he didn’t have was love, but it was coming, of that he was sure. One day, he would bring magic to Storybrooke and then, when he had regained the power of The Dark One, he would show them all, Regina, her “Royal” majesty, most of all. When that day came, he would find Bae and Belle, and the three of them would live their lives out as the resident royals of Storybrooke, Maine.

                One day he would find his own happy ending.

                One day soon.

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