Guest Post: Who is Jonny Rokeby? Pt 5

Who is Jonny Rokeby? Part 5: Potential Plot Points By ChrisC

This whole series of rokeby posts is premised on the idea that J.K. Rowling means us to the see the character of Jonny Rokeby in her Cormoran Strike novels as a latter-day Faust character.  Through unpacking a number of inter-locking symbols within one single scene, at least a case has been made that she wants her readers to view the father of Cormoran Strike in a way that owes its style to the literary alchemy tradition of the Renaissance and to Marlowe’ Doctor Faustus, specifically.

In the final essay of this series, let’s look at what all this symbolism could mean in terms of both plot and genre.  Won’t you join me after the jump for one more walk on the wild side?

Charlotte and Strike

The relations between C.B. Strike and Charlotte are best described as “unhealthy.”  It’s even been likened to an viral infection reservoired in Strike several times in the stories.  The bad news is it seems a sure bet she’s not done messing with the peg-legged private eye.  It’s a commonplace in speculation about Lethal White that Charlotte’s first appearance in person since the opening of Cuckoo’s Calling will be in the fourth book of the series. 

Whenever she is next brought into the spotlight, I think there are a few basics we can reasonably expect from her based on what has been reported about her character and behaviors in Strike’s memories:

  • She’s vainglorious to a fault. When we next see Charlotte, expect her to always force her way to center stage, and make sure the spotlight always remains on her.
  • More Helen of Troy echoes. Expect Charlotte’s beauty to be the cause of much conflict between Strike and Robin in various ways.
  • True and False Helen. The main resolution of the conflict between Charlotte and Strike will hinge on the detective being able to tell the difference between the False Helen symbolized by Charlotte and the True one perhaps represented by Robin.

All these guesses could be mistaken.  Rowling may have other plans for her two dangerously star-crossed ex-lovers.  Personally, however, I think Strike and Charlotte’s relationship will be what Hedwig’s Theme composer John Williams might have called a Long Goodbye:

Even as she smiles

A quick hello

You’ve let her go

You’ve let the moment fly

Too late you’d turn your head

You’d know you’ve said

The long goodbye (web).

Charlotte and Rokeby: Faustus and False Helen

While Strike and Charlotte’s love may wind up dead in the water, she might still find other ways of messing Denmark Street’s very own Philip Marlowe.  The telling clue can be found, once more, in Christopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus.  The arrival of the False Helen in the play signals the finality of Faustus’s damnation.  She is, in essence, the one who leads him down to hell for good and all.

Here’s what that means in term of future plot points:

  • Expect the possibility that Charlotte and Rokeby to wind up as the diabolical couple of the series.
  • Charlotte might recognize a lot of Strike in his father, Rokeby. If so, then she’ll know just how to plant the proper hooks in the character, in order to assure revenge for her, a closed vulnerability for him.
  • It may become difficult to tell who is leading who, and Rokeby and Charlotte’s schemes will dovetail together so neatly, that it could be difficult to tell who is in charge. In this case, Charlotte could also take on symbolic shades of Mephistopheles to Rokeby’s Faustus.
  • However, if this does happen, I think we can count on Rowling to put her theme of the Abuse of Women to good use, which will mean that Charlotte has once more found herself in an abusive relationship.
  • Expect a bad ending for the both of them.

Perhaps, they’ll both mistake Bob Dylan’s advice to “call it a day.”  However, whatever Ms. Rowling decides for Charlotte Campbell and Jonny Rokeby, I can’t help believing that it’s symbolic nature will be best summed up, perhaps fittingly, by an old James Bond theme:

Dance into the fire

That fatal kiss is all we need

Dance into the fire

To fatal sounds of broken dreams

Dance into the fire

That fatal kiss is all we need

Dance into the fire

When all we see is the view to a kill (web).

Conclusion: Final Thoughts

Please remember, none of this is set in stone.  It can tricky trying to guess where a story is going, especially if it’s one you happen to like.  Then again, part of the thrill of a murder mystery is that it actively encourages you to try and guess whodunnit.  This is just one contribution out of many the genre has known.

I leave you with one very important question to ponder: Who is Jonathan Rokeby?

One Stop Round Up Post with Links to Five Parts in the Series and John’s Three Take-Aways

  • John Granger’s summary of the best parts of ‘Who is Jonny Rokeby?’

Part 1: The Doctor Faustus Connection with Jonny Rokeby and the Strike Mysteries

  • That photograph of Rokeby and Duke Ellington we’re shown in The Silkworm is no small thing!

Part 2: The Icarus Theme in Faustus and Strike

  • Faust and Rokeby are Icarus figures, which is to say, Narcissists

Part 3: Is Rokeby the Devil’s Puppet or Whittaker’s Satanic Puppeteer?

  • Who is Mephistopheles in the Strike parallel to Faustus?

Part 4: Helen of Troy, Leda’s Suicide, Charlotte as Euripides’ ‘False Helen’

  • Rowling’s Mythological Artistry continued

Part 5: Charlotte Campbell and Jonny Rokeby as the Diabolical Couple of Lethal White

  • False Helen and the Devil conspire to destroy Strike for revenge and an end to vulnerability

Thank you again, ChrisC, for a fun series!




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