The White Maniac – A Doctor’s Tale by Mary Fortune, 1867
The magic trick:
Setting the climactic scene up as a winner-take-all conflict resolver
Story climaxes don’t come clearer-cut than this. The narrative, through a series of mysteries and surprises, sets up a winner-take-all conflict. The narrator believes the beautiful young woman to be the love of his life and her father to be cruel and insane. Her father, meanwhile, assures the narrator that no, trust me, she is totally bonkers and potentially dangerous. Which is it? Who is right? The answer lies in the climactic scene. And that’s quite a trick on Fortune’s part.
I opened the door without a word, and entered the room, full of curiosity as to what I should see and hear of this mysterious princess. It was a room of vast and magnificent proportions, and, without having beheld such a scene, one can hardly conceive the strange cold look the utter absence of colour gave it. A Turkey carpet that looked like a woven fall of snow; white satin damask on chair, couch, and ottoman; draped satin and snowy lace around the windows, with rod, rings, and snowy marble, and paper on the walls of purest white; altogether it was a weird-looking room, and I shook with cold as I entered it.
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