Reckless, impulsive, immoral... Or, as Irwin corrects Dakin, amoral. Not traits that we would necessarily want to have or be thought to have. But the joy of writing fiction is that you can have your characters be those things, if it feels right. Early on in the books, Longshawe is, if not reckless, then certainly brave, perhaps assured by his own physical strength and prowess that he is safe in battle. De Winter thinks little of tricking Mary by engaging a religious man to persuade her to remain in England when she considers leaving. For all sorts of reasons, recklessness is not something you encounter very often in everyday life, and so the other-ness of it becomes part of the fabric of the fiction. The focus of a particular chapter or scene becomes the moment when one of the characters, to borrow a cliche, throws caution to the wind and just does something impulsive.
Real life, with all of its complications and consequences, doesn't reward the injudicious very often. Occasionally people with what appear from the outside to be very limited decision-making skills end up by pure chance (or by robust backup!) making choices that make them wealthy or powerful. Donald Trump seems to be a case in point, where he seems for all the world to be a someone of limited intelligence who for some unfathomable reason is not only very wealthy but also very powerful. Most people who clattered through life behaving as he has done would be destitute and probably very bitter at the world.
For me, that is the beauty of the fiction, whether it is mine (of limited beauty at best) or others (with Dumas at the top of my personal list). One can live, in imagination at least, in a world where someone can ride across France chasing a lost lover or ride into battle without armour knowing that death is the only possible outcome, and because it is fiction, death is without pain and indignity. These choices can be made in fiction because the author is there to manage the outcome. In Dumas' case, of course, there is the recurrent criticism that Providence has too much of a hand in a lot the the events. But, as he well ought to, he can counter that the purpose of the fiction is to excite and entertain, so if Providence does need a little help here and there, who would he be to deny it? Providence is absent, though, in real life, and we cannot expect it to provide for us the coincidences, the narrow escapes, the sword point that grazes along a rib rather than finding its mark between them, to get us out of trouble.
I have, as Kate Bush (and, as my first point of contact with the tune, the Futureheads) sing, always been a coward. I could never, for example, run my own business, because I just have no sense of risk beyond that I avoid it. I am not, except perhaps for the odd thing said in fear, anger or exhaustion, impulsive. I try to avoid immorality, and I work hard to direct other people away from amorality. But I can create, in my characters, people who are impulsive, or reckless, or who just don't respond to the fear of consequences. I think, perhaps, that is why I write. To inhabit those minds, to see what their experience of the world might be, to step outside the ordinary and inhabit the extraordinary for a few hours a week, that is what writing is to me.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought