Sir Alec Guinness

Sir Alec Guinness

When I was training as a screenwriter the teacher said something that stayed with me. He said, “Your character must grow from his wound.”

In other words, it is that hole in our heart, that gnawing pain, that dark shadow in our lives that must become our growth point.

For one person it may be a physical disability, for another a broken marriage or a broken heart. For another it may be disappointment in love, a failed career, an early widowhood or a terrible disease.

It is how we respond to the wound that will prove us.

The greatest stories are the ones in which the hero faces the wound, goes into the dark and doesn’t just overcome by going around it or avoiding it, but by going through it.

It is so in the lives of the great heroes, the great saints, all great human beings.

My article for Imaginative Conservative this week explains how the English actor Alec Guinness grew from his wound and made good out of his illegitimate beginnings

In Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing the illegitimate Don John plots to spoil the happiness and prosperity of all. His skullduggery springs from the brooding dark moods, resentment, and bitterness at his bastard status. From time immemorial illegitimacy was understood as a dark stain, breeding a bitter character and a doomed fate—as if the character carries a curse.

There is no need to propose a supernatural aspect to such a curse. Too often the struggles that accompany illegitimacy of poverty, a broken home, an absent father, and an insecure childhood result in the very bitterness, resentment, and inability to succeed that perpetuate the idea of a bastard being cursed. All the more encouraging then, when a boy from a broken and dysfunctional home rises above it and goes on to succeed. When he not only achieves fame and fortune, but also becomes a truly gentle and wise person the victory over fate is complete.

A perfect example of such triumph over an inglorious beginning is the story of English actor Alec Guinness.

Read the whole article here.

Image via Bing