Researching Characters

Week 2 Holidays

What did I do?


I read through one set of compiled articles on the women of the French Revolution. By this research I acquired many more names of women similar to Charlotte Corday, those women who went against the forms that the revolution took and those who demanded more of the revolution. Of these women were three which caught my attention: Etta Palm d’Aelders, Olympe de Gourges and Constance Pipelet.

Etta Palme d’Aelders and Constance Pipelet both caught my attention because of their perceptions of, and their actions toward, the revolution.

‘Olympe de Gourges’ was the pen name of the Marie Gouze, a playwright who wrote the Declaration of the Rights Woman in 1791 in the same format as the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen. This take on the National Assembly aproved document outlined the ways in which women had been excluded from the privileges of ‘man and citizen’ and, by the ways of Enlightenment, been more publicly sentenced to their homes to raise children without the rights to any education of their own. Her public activism cost her her life; she was executed in 1793.

Played with ideas of structure

Upon reading of the figures mentioned above, I was inspired by the mention of their execution (morbid, I know) to make use of the guillotine as a transition between points of view, as well as other outcomes of the trials that occurred. This would be a repeated motif to inform the audience, in a more intimate form of writing, of the outcome of each character’s story. For instance, Queen Marie-Antoinette, a famous figure of the Revolution whom I hope to use, was executed at the guillotine after a rather tragic and very biased trial. When writing of this horrific ending I would use another style, or tone, of narrative voice to inform the reader of her death.

I may, perhaps use the guillotine as a persona itself; it’s character tinged with the morals and demands of the head of the revolution at that time. This would mean that during the Reign of Terror, the guillotine will be personified as hungry and expecting of more victims, proud of what it has achieved and of its importance to Robespierre and the Jacobins. The guillotine would address the audience directly and will possibly be written in a style varying to the rest of the story (e.g. poetry).

I am also heavily considering using the format of pamphlets and articles to convey the characters’ voices as these mediums were used by feminine parties and individuals to make the injustice done to women known.

What will count as a ‘main character’?

As my story will be a compilation of the (fictional) recounts of the revolution, I am not planning on featuring the main characters more that four times at the very most. A main character will have their own story followed amidst the other events of the revolution, for example: Charlotte Corday was sent from a closed convent to her Aunt’s home after the storming of the Bastille, she was influenced by the Girondists during the Reign of Terror in 1793, and later in that year she murdered Jean-Paul Marat and was executed. That gives me at least three segments to write her character and to make her life state an argument in favour of the women of the revolution.

Holiday To-Dos:

  • Plot Layout
  • More research on characters and setting
  • Read works publised around the time of the Revolution
  • Drafting
  • Organise research and progress for Assessment 1 (Viva Voce)

Image: (1789) Women’s March To Versialles.  Engraving


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