A Study Of Characters Essay, Research Paper
A study of characters in “Hot Gossip” by Deborah Lawrenson
In her novel “Hot Gossip” Deborah Lawrenson makes her characters lively, involving and intriguing; she uses her unique style to capture her reader’s attention. Lawrenson uses an interesting and humorous plot combined with complex characters to write a satire on the fantasy world and outrageous antics of the rich and famous as seen by the gossip columnist who’s job is to broadcast other peoples lives while keeping their own quiet. At times this novel appears to get very close to the truth.
Within the frame work of the main plot, the story initially appears to follow a young “slightly naive” aspiring journalist, as she moves from “news room casual” to become a full time member of “the best gossip column in the country”. Then it becomes apparent that the main plot is actually split two ways, the first path following the young journalist – Rosy Hope- the second path following her boss who is the famous gossip columnist Anthony Sward through his personal problems. By splitting the main plot in this way the reader gains a broader view of the “out of this world” playground where the rich and famous “play”. As the two main plots run parallel there are also two or three sub plots going on at any one time; these sub plots also act as links between the two plots as the characters cross over from one to the other. These sub plots act as a device to show the reader the story behind the story which is an important link to one of the novels’ messages- don’t believe everything which is printed in the newspapers. The novel draws to a conclusion by bringing both main plots together at a major social event which also allows the reader to meet again some of the more interesting characters from the sub plots as well.
Rosey Hope is the central character of the first main storyline. She is twenty-five, shares a flat with a friend. Her job at the “Daily Dispatch” is her first experience of work on a major newspaper. Part of Lawrenson’s style is to make certain characters names symbolic representations of their personalities; she has used this technique in the creation of the character of Rosey Hope. The name Rosey suggests that this character looks at her world in a particular way – through rose tinted lenses. These “lenses” have a the effect of bringing the rosy world of the rich and famous in to the perspective of reality. For example when Rosey goes to an “Intro.” party which is thrown with its sole purpose being to generate outrageous gossip and jobs for those actresses “who don’t negotiate on their backs but do it Sharon Stone style” i.e. be sexually aggressive to get the job. Rosey sees these people for what they are. She meets a “girl” at the party she notes that the “girl” had “swapped the bloom of youth for a good make-up artist” and the reader sees this too through her eyes. Rosey represents “ordinary” people here. She is slightly shocked and overwhelmed by the antics of the famous party guests. Rosey’s surname – Hope – also comes into play here, as she tries to excuse what she sees – the chief of police dressed in a tutu – or she turns a blind eye to those antics which she can’t excuse hoping she doesn’t get drawn into them – the TV presenter emerging from the garden shed with multiple blondes.
Also Rosey’s name is applied to her personal life, her first name reflects that part of her personality which is positive and confident this side of Rosey is mainly reserved for dealing with her parents. Her surname reflects Rosey’s inner self, she hopes her new job works out, she hopes that she doesn’t look fat, she hopes her social life will pick up, she also hopes that her love life will spring into existence.
Another character whose name represents his personality is John Sylvester. His surname is very close to that of “Slyvester” and once this connection is made the reader has been given a hint to this character’s personality. Lawrenson goes on to described him as a “weasel” with “slick” hair. Which fits perfectly with the hidden clue in his surname to show this character true nature. He is a publisher who wants to publish an autobiography on Anthony Sward. Unfortunately for him Sward flatly refuses. This dose not deter him, he enlists the help of Sward’s rival gossip columnist – Benadict Pierce – and they embark on a number of sneaky underhand ploys to write Swards “unofficial autobiography”.
Anthony Sward is the central character of the second storyline. The authors style is different for this section of the novel compared with the first which involves Rosy Hope and a down to earth view of high society. This section shows a more glossy and a attractive picture. In this section a character’s name doesn’t directly represent their personality; but there is still a link. The connection between Anthony Sward and his name is interwoven with that of his rival – Benadict Pierce who is an unsuccessful gossip columnist. Their joint connection is via their surnames. Anthony Sward’s surname sounds very like “Sword” again this is a clue to his personality. A sword is a powerful and important weapon, this reflects Anthony Sward’s position as a very important and influential person. The contents of Sward’s gossip column generally have dramatic and often deadly affects, just like the weapon. As for Benadict Pierce his surname suggests an implement that is less dramatic than a sword but can occasionally be penetrating. For example while trying to get “juicy” research martial for Sward’s unofficial biography he manages to “penetrate” Sward’s defences by attempting to seduce Rosey, who inadvertently gives him an edge on one of Sward’s most closely guarded secrets – his mother Eva Coutts. The implications of this character’s name reflects this position, he is not particularly important or influential and the contents of his gossip column generally doesn’t cause much of a stir. There is a paradox between the position each rival holds and the first letter of their first names. Anthony begins with the letter “A” and he is the leading writer in his field. Benadict begins with the letter “B” and his position is lower than that of Sward’s. Also the connection of A first B second is reflected in both rivals work, Sward will break a story first and Pierce will repeat the same story a few days later.
Lawrenson doesn’t just link characters in this section with their names, her characters appear to sutily project an aura of themselves on to their surroundings. Anthony is a self made success story. After being told at 19 he didn’t have the “right look” to be a major actor he “borrowed” a suit from his acting school’s wardrobe department, took on the pseudonym of “Anthony Sward”. He tricked his way in to a new restaurant by masquerading as a restaurant critic, where he “ate, drank, then had an attack of remorse”. So he wrote a crit on the restaurant and sent it to his local newspaper, “who sent him two pounds for expenses and a list of restaurant he might like to try”. He worked his way up the gourmet ladder from there, until he was dining with the “rich and famous”. Sward soon realised that name dropping was good for pulling readers and he started to write more on the who and less on the where. This lead to his own gossip column and a potentially fatale weight problem. It’s Sward’s expansive waist line and weight problem which Lawrenson has chosen to project on this character’s surroundings through her word choice. Everything about Sward is big his gestures are “sweeping”, he “expands” into his surroundings, he is even described as a “giant” by Rosey.
Sward’s weight problem is brought to the reader’s attention by Sward himself as he is continually and unsuccessfully tries to diet. When Sward goes through a particularly “bad patch”, the entire chapter is filled with food metaphors. Sward is in his garden and there is a “tangerine” sky with “marshmallow” clouds; the stream at the bottom of the garden flows like “tracheal”. This images suggest something which is soft and juicy Sward’s heart, the “tracheal” stream represnts Sward’s blood flowing througn his heart. Tracheal is thick and slow moveing which is a direct link with Swards problem – his heart is under too much presure and it isn’t pumping his blood around his body fast enough. This type of imagery continues until he checks himself in to a health farm.
There are a couple of characters which cross over between storyline, these characters act as links between the two different plots and the main characters in them. One such character is Eva Coutts. She is Anthony Sward’s mother, whom he keeps a secret. She is old and appears to be losing her memory – possibly the start of senile dementia. In her day she was a successful actress, nowadays she still has many important contacts within the “business”. She keeps these contact up by holding “Intro.” parties. Apart from the obvious mother and son relationship, there is another connection between Anthony Sward and Eva Coutts, it is success – successful mother, successful son. This link is expanded on with Anthony Sward’s rival Benadict Pierce who is an unsuccessful gossip columnist. Pierce’s mother is called Bea Goff, Her name has a very sutil link with her character depending on the way its pronounced as it suggests “bugger off”, once this has been realised it can give the reader a feeling of slight embarrassment with a slight under tone of aggretion, which is the exact feelings that Benadict has for his mother. In her younger days Bea Goff wasn’t the most successful actress she was said to be “on the game” within the business, now she pulls “gossip grabbing stunt”. This links in with her name as most of high society and the press wish she would “bugger off”. With Benadict Pierce and Bea Goff there is another link which goes past that of the mother/son connection, it is that of being unsuccessful – unsuccessful mother unsuccessful son. This interconnected relationship between both pairs of mothers and sons joins together to form a larger picture.
The reader is presented with rivals who have an interesting mirror image relationship of success and failure linked through a mother son relationship.
This novel offers the reader an entertaining and amusing plot
which contains some of the most interesting, intriguing and complex character relationships I have ever read about. This novel gives the reader the opportunity to read between the lines of the story to make connections between character relationships which are only hinted at or implied till the end.
I personally found this novel to be involving, humorous, thought- provoking, and intriguing. I found it hard to put this book down. I felt that the author asked me to think not just about the hints to do with the characters, but about the message this novel was putting across. The message was clear to me that a lot of the world we(as the public) see through the media is not as real as it seems. The book shows you the kind of life most people would
want – fame, fortune, big house, expensive car, good looking partner etc. – then the reader is showen the truth behind this picture which has been painted by the media. The reader is lead to see how transparent these peoples lives are over half of their “fabulus” lives are a shrade which comes with a high price to keep it up.