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"Treating the Literary Literally:" The Reflexive Structure of Flann O’Brien’s ... - page 31 / 50





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asleep, they are free to live as they choose; all of the borrowed characters remain under the control of their own previously established personalities, not those prescribed by Trellis. Trellis, because of his created characters’ actions after he falls asleep, seems not as competent a creator as he claimed in the interview following Furriskey’s birth. It is unlikely that he has perfected the invention of characters, because the characters that he creates act in opposition to their intended roles within the novel. The narrator’s highly useful synopsis explains what was intended by Trellis, and what has actually occurred with Furriskey’s character:

JOHN FURRISKEY, a depraved character, whose task it is to attack women and behave at all times in an indecent manner. By magic he is instructed by Trellis to go one day to Donnybrook where he will by arrangement meet and betray

PEGGY, a domestic servant. He meets her and is much surprised when she confides in him that Trellis has fallen asleep ... Peggy and Furriskey then have a long discussion on

the roadside in which she explains to him that Trellis’ powers are suspended when he falls asleep ... and they discover after a short time that they have fallen in love with each other at first sight. They arrange to lead virtuous lives, to simulate the immoral actions, thought and words which Trellis demands of them on pain of the severest penalties. They also arrange that the first of them who shall be free shall wait for the other with a view to

marriage at the earliest opportunity. (85-86)

Once Furriskey is aware of his and his fellow characters’ capacity for freedom, however limited, he acts on his own emotions, and proves to be a scrupulous and loving man.

Trellis is drugged by his own villain, and sleeps nearly all day, awaking "only at predeterminable hours, when everything would be temporarily in order" (141). With Trellis asleep, Furriskey and Peggy are free, "and opened a sweety-shop and lived there happily for about twenty hours out of twenty-four" (141). Furriskey has created a nearly static world for him and his fellow characters to live in. With Trellis only conscious for four hours a day, including the time spent at meals and other mundane activities essential to life, writing a novel must be slow work. Since the characters have been hired on for an entire novel, if the novel is never completed, it seems that they will live like this forever. All of the characters have gained freedom in a sort of fairytale manner: the evil master is asleep, so they can do whatever they like until he wakes up, and he will not discover their secret.

Besides Furriskey not fulfilling Trellis’ hopes for lechery, Trellis exposes another problem caused by creating characters. This results in his near-death through familial revenge. "In order to show how an evil man can debase the highest and the lowest in the same story" (86), Trellis creates another woman for Furriskey to attack in his evil way. Sheila Lamont is created to be a "very beautiful and refined girl" (86), whose brother is to be Anthony Lamont, another character

already hired so that there will be somebody to demand satisfaction off John Furriskey for betraying her--all this being provided for in the plot. Trellis creates Miss Lamont in his own bedroom and he is so blinded by her beauty (which is naturally the type of beauty nearest to his heart), that he so far forgets himself as to assault her himself. (86)

Besides his characters not living out his expectations, Trellis finds himself debased by his own plans. Paralleling both the narrator and O’Brien, Trellis writes his novel with personal experience


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