Stories About Manipulation and Manners of Thinking

STORIES dealing with manipulation and/or manners of thinking have an Objective Story Domain of Psychology:

All About Eve: The objective characters have different ways of thinking: Margo, Karen, Lloyd, and Bill are snowed by their first impressions of Eve. They can’t believe that she’s anything but an innocent, stage-struck kid. Birdie knows a good storyteller when she hears one, and experience tells her that Eve’s worship of Margo is nothing but a first rate act. Margo, influenced by maternal instincts, takes the stray Eve into her home. Later, feelings of unease cause Margo to become wary of Eve’s perfect attentions. Eve thinks she can manipulate everyone with her innocent manner, especially with her subtle picking at weak spots: Margo’s age obsession, Karen’s fear of losing her husband and Margo’s trust and friendship; Lloyd’s desire to have a young actress play his stage heroines. LLoyd’s manipulated by Eve’s tearful apology for her remarks about Margo. He suggests to Karen that Eve plays the lead in his new play:

LLOYD: Eve did mention the play, you know. But just in passing — she’d never ask to play a part like “Cora.” She’d never have the nerve. . .

KAREN: Eve would ask Abbott to give her Costello.

LLOYD: No, I got the idea myself — while she was talking to me. . .

Being There: All the objective characters make their own (erroneous) interpretation of actuality; Chance thinks electronically generated images (TV) are real; with few exceptions, all that come in contact with Chance attribute greater meaning to his pronouncements than they actually warrant:

“I have seen ashes and I have seen powders,” said Chance. “I

know that both are bad for growth in the garden.” “Hear, hear!” the woman sitting on Chance’s right cried out…”Mr. Gardiner has the uncanny ability of reducing complex matters to the simplest of human terms.” (Kosinski, 1970, p. 88)


Four Weddings And A Funeral: The story revolves around a group of close-knit friends’ developing maturity towards commitment in relationships. The dynamics of the group’s interrelationships and manipulations go a long way toward exploring these issues.

Harold and Maude: Mrs. Chasen and her helpers are concerned with turning Harold around to their way of thinking. Maude shows Harold her upbeat view of life, which includes embracing its end. Harold is concerned because:

HAROLD: I don’t think I’m getting through to mother like I used to.

PSYCHIATRIST: Does that worry you?

HAROLD: Yes. It does worry me. […] I put a lot of effort into these things.

(Higgins, p. 6-7)

Heavenly Creatures: Pauline’s thoughts are totally focused on Juliet, with whom she shares a delusional, imaginary world; Mr. Hulme and Mrs. Rieper are worried by the idea that Pauline may have “formed a rather… unwholesome attachment to Juliet,” and they and the psychologist disapprove of the dreaded “Homosexuality…”; Mrs. Hulme thinks it’s normal, as she’s “sure it’s all perfectly innocent”; Mr. Rieper doesn’t seem to understand the concept, being more worried over her disobedience; etc.

Klute: The objective story takes place in Bree’s New York City, a place where call girls like her manipulate johns like Cable, feeding their egos for money:

CABLE: You just want me to keep on talking, don’t you?

BREE: No, I don’t, I do understand, I really do.

CABLE: Well, that’s what you all do.

In turn, Bree is manipulated by men like her “man” Frank, and by the stalker Cable. Sharing Bree’s lifestyle, Klute comes to loosen up his puritan way of thinking about sexuality.

Lolita: Most of the characters try and manipulate one another. Charlotte schemes to shunt her daughter aside so that she can have a clear field with Humbert; she tries to manage Lolita’s behavior by withholding treats (to no avail). Humbert spends hours minutely planning his wooing of Lolita and later, continually blackmails her into staying with him using blandishments. He also handles Charlotte through the use of subterfuge and “a fantastic display of old-world endearments” (Nabokov 70). Lolita, aware of her power over Humbert, gets him to buy her an extraordinary amount of worldly goods. (The author recites lists and more lists of these purchases.) Quilty and Lolita play mind games with Humbert through a series of clever missives and Humbert even admits that: “He succeeded in thoroughly enmeshing me and my thrashing anguish in his demoniacal game” (Nabokov 227).

Quills: Quills explores the art of manipulation. Dr. Royer-Collard coerces his wife into moving away from Paris to the provinces by promising “her a chateau to rival Fontainbleau” (Wright 8); Renee Pelagie and Dr. Royer-Collard play a cat-and-mouse game to each get what they want– she desires to return to her social position, he says he wants money for the institution that houses her infamous husband:

Dr. Royer-Collard: . . . If you were to buttress your entreaties, with, perhaps, the means to oblige them . . . Is it not true, that the recent sale of his (The Marquis’) mansion at La Coste has granted you a sudden windfall?

Renee Pelagie: A trifling nest egg, hardly a fortune.

Dr. Royer-Collard: If you are truly determined to step out of the long, dark shadow of your husband’s celebrity . . .

Renee Pelagie: Don’t toy with me doctor! (Wright 13); The Marquis manipulates the staff to care for his creature comforts:

Coulmier: As you know, most esteemed Marquis, the staff has done its utmost to render you comfortable here.

The Marquis: It’s true, dear-heart, you’ve spoiled me pink. (Wright 23); The Marquis provides Madeleine and her mother with the lurid stories they crave in return for kisses from the young girl; Cracking a riding whip, Madame Royer-Collard manipulates the architect, Monsieur Prouix, into serving her needs.

Rear Window: The source of the story’s troubles stem from attempts to conceptualize what is going on in various personal relationships. Though he lacks tangible evidence, Jeff’s convinced that Thorwald has done away with his wife. He spends a lot of time trying to bring Stella, Lisa, and Doyle around to his way of thinking. To manipulate Thorwald into leaving the apartment, Jeff plays mind games with a note and a phone call.

Rebel Without a Cause: An example of how the objective story explores a certain way of thinking is when Buzz indicates to Jim that he likes him, just before the chickie race. Jim questions him about why, then, must they engage in a dangerous contest:

Buzz: I like you, you know?

Jim: Buzz? What are we doing this for?

Buzz: (still quiet) We got to do something. Don’t we? (Stern 59-60); to Plato’s way of thinking, Jim is his father figure although they have only known each other briefly; Judy explains to Jim that she must treat him one way in front of the kids and another way when they are alone; Jim explains to the juvenile officer how his parents handle his transgressions:

Jim: They think I’ll make friends if we move. Just move and everything’ll be roses and sunshine.

Ray: But you don’t think that’s a solution. (Stern 16)

Sunset Boulevard: The objective characters have different ways of thinking: Joe’s agent thinks his client’s desperate need for money and the chance that he’ll lose his car is a good thing:

MORINO: Don’t you know that the finest things in the world have been written on an empty stomach? [. . .] Now you’ll have to sit behind that typewriter. Now you’ll have to write.

Norma thinks that she belongs back in the limelight and can manipulate her way to her goal; Joe thinks that Norma’s strange, but he can get some quick cash from her then escape back into the “real” world; Betty believes that if she can convince Joe to co-write his story with her, she’ll launch her screenwriting career; Artie thinks that Betty and Joe should put action scenes in their picture so he can work on it as an assistant director; Max thinks that by sending Norma phony fan letters he can keep her happy and prevent more suicide attempts; Mr. DeMille thinks that by not telling Norma she’ll never do another picture with him, he’s keeping her from being hurt.

Tootsie: The objective characters have different ways of thinking, which often causes them problems: Michael thinks that holding to his exacting standards and never compromising is the key to being a successful actor; Jeff thinks that writing issue oriented, quirky plays are the only type worth writing, but his plays are commercial flops; Sandy thinks once she has sex with her men friends they’ll leave her; John Van Horn thinks as the leading man on “Southwest General” he should kiss all of the actresses, and makes sure to manipulate every situation to accomplish this; Julie thinks by not demanding more from her relationships she won’t risk being lonely; Ron thinks he can charm any woman he meets.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?: The story explores the characters’ efforts to manipulate, coerce, and/or “psych-out” each other. During the course of the evening, they play several “games,” such as “Humiliate the Host,” “Get the Guests,” “Hump the Hostess,” and “Bringing up Baby.”

X-Files: Beyond the Sea: The objective characters have different ways of thinking: Boggs thinks he can manipulate Mulder and Scully with demonstrations of his psychic abilities; Mulder thinks Boggs is a fake and, out of revenge, is setting a trap for him for sending Boggs to the gas chamber; Mulder tries to convince Scully not to fall for Boggs “trap”; Scully suspends her disbelief of extreme possibilities and thinks that believing in Boggs will aid the case and possibly ease her doubts about her father’s love.

Excerpted from
Dramatica Story Development Software