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"Character Traits Meme" taken and edited from here. By no means a creation of my own.


RPG Character Meme:

Character Name: Phillip Morgan

Body and Appearance

1. Describe the character's height and build. Is s/he heavyset, thin, short, rangy?

Phillip is about average height for a man. He looks relatively healthy, albeit a bit on the thin side. His housekeeper even chastises him at one point, "Don't you be so busy at that piano that you don't eat anything. You're getting too thin."

2. How old is s/he?

Neither the movie or the book outright address this, short of implying he's somewhere in his early 20s. Kenneth and David, two of his former housemates from prep school, are both in the midst of their college exams, although the novel states that Brandon (who is said to be older than Phillip but also a former prep school housemate) attended one year of college, while Phillip went to a musical conservatory in place of college.

3. Describe his/her posture. Does /she carry him/herself well or does s/he slouch?

Depends on his mental state. When he's in upbeat spirits and comfortable, he seems to carry himself well. However, when he begins getting worried or stressed, he's more likely to retreat back and hold himself in a more guarded manner. His posture also goes to hell when he's drunk, but given how much he drinks, that's not too surprising.

4. How is his/her health? Is s/he fit or out of shape? Any illnesses or conditions? Any physical disabilities?

Physically, Phillip seems to be alright, apart from the aforementioned "thin" frame. He's strong in his hands, something that's come about from years of devoted piano playing, although he seems to have a penchant for using those strong hands for more than making beautiful music...

As for illnesses and conditions, nothing physical. I'll touch more on this in the "mental" section.

5. How does s/he move? Is s/he clumsy, graceful, tense, fluid?

I suppose he moves a bit tensely when he's nervous, but normally most of the time. No limps or anything like that.

6. How attractive is this character physically? How does s/he perceive himself in the mirror?

Phillip doesn't reflect upon his appearance in either the novel or the movie, although given his personality, I'm gonna wager that he might get a bit anxious about his looks on occasion. Still, I don't think he thinks of himself as ugly.

7. Describe his/her complexion. Dark, light, clear, scarred?

Phillip is of a light, clear complexion.

8. Describe his/her hair: color, texture, style.

Phillip has dark, curly hair that he keeps slicked back. When he starts drinking, he doesn't do such a good job of keeping the curls in check and they start falling in his face again.

9. What color are his/her eyes?

Farley Granger's eyes are brown. Therefore, Phillip's eyes are brown. :P

10. Does the character have any other noteworthy features?

Nothing that springs to mind.

11. What are his/her chief tension centers?

Phillip is one big tense mess.

12. What is the character's wardrobe like? Casual, dressy, utilitarian? Bright colors, pastels, neutrals? Is it varied, or does s/he have six of the same suit?

Phillip is only ever shown wearing a suit, but given as it was the dress and manner of folks in his time, it's probably a safe bet that he wears suits most of the time. His suit in the film is brown and I don't imagine he owns too many brightly colored articles of clothing.

13. Do his/her clothes fit well? Does s/he seem comfortable in them?

They seem to fit him fine. As far as comfort goes, sure. His discomfort in life doesn't come from his clothing. :P

1. What does this character's voice sound like? High-pitched, deep, hoarse?

Phillip sounds about mid-range for a male voice (I'm not a vocal expert). It's not hoarse or overly deep, although it's not high-pitched either.

2. How does s/he normally speak? Loud, soft, fast, evenly? Does s/he talk easily, or does s/he hesitate?

Phillip is all over the place on account of his emotions. It seems when he's in a better mindset, he speaks softly and evenly. When he starts to get worked up, however, his speed and volume will shift, becoming louder and more erratic. He also does tend to pause a bit while speaking, especially if skirting around subject matters.

3. Does the character have a distinct accent or dialect? Any individual quirks of pronunciation? Any, like, you know, verbal tics?

Nah, he's got nothing special to his speech unless the pauses count.

4. What language/s does s/he speak, and with how much fluency?

English as far as I can tell. Maybe a word or two in French or Italian, since he's a musician and would know the musical terms.

5. Does s/he switch languages or dialects in certain situations?


6. Is s/he a good impromptu speaker, or does s/he have to think about his words?

Definitely has to think about his words. The novel indicates the he's very much in awe of Brandon's ability to speak easily in any situation while he struggles. In both the movie and the novel, he's more than happy to have Brandon talk for him in many situations.

7. Is s/he eloquent or inarticulate? Under what circumstances might this change?

He's eloquent most of the time, provided he feels like talking. When's he drunk, though, he tends to be more demanding and blunt, as well as less fancy in his word choices.

Mental and Emotional
1. How intelligent is this character? Is s/he book-smart or street-smart?

I would say more book smart than street smart.

2. Does s/he think on his/her feet, or does s/he need time to deliberate?

Well, he TRIES to think on his feet. But Phillip really needs time to deliberate because he's not very good at thinking on his feet.

3. Describe the character's thought process. Is s/he more logical, or more intuitive? Idealistic or practical?

Phillip is relatively logical in his thinking, but also very sarcastic and prone to fantasies. While we don't get to see too much of the inner workings of his head in the movie itself, the novel pretty much lets the reader in on what Phillip is thinking at all points in time. Here are a few of my favorite moments:

"When what happened? The words echoed, unconsciously ironic, in Phillip's brain. And then came the answer, so detached and irresponsible he found it hard to repress a nervous little giggle. Why, when the victim, a member of the well-known inferior class, was liquidated by the dictatorship of the non-proletariat.

Liquidate-- that was a good word, he knew, but he didn't like victim (he preferred subject to that) and he was about to express an objection, but suddenly his mind cleared and he came back to the actual."

"Phillip broke out with a merry-sounding laugh. This was almost too much, he thought. Why, what Brandon was doing with those two wouldn't hold a candle to what he'd done to David! Then he remembered that HE had done it, too, and his unwilling glance went to his hands, which suddenly felt heavy and awkward, and saw that he was wearing suede gloves, and in a flash it came to him that if he were to stop playing and look under the lid of the piano, he would see the STRINGS... "

"'Mother has a farm on her place there, you know,' Brandon continued.

A farm on her place rang in Phillip's mind, and he went to the liquor table and carefully poured himself another glass of champagne. He had to do something-- he needed the drink but he had to keep his hands occupied somehow; it would never do to let his fingers follow their impulse to leap up and plug his ears. The others might think he was trying to be funny, but it would rouse Brandon's contempt; later he would call Phillip a silly boy--

'We were going to have chicken, so we walked over to the farm. It was a lovely Sunday morning in late spring--'

Brandon was right; it had been a lovely morning. Phillip remembered the soft breeze blowing, the air newly washed by an early-morning shower, the friendly sun and the lacy green of the trees, and he wanted to linger, to dawdle and sit by the brook. He wanted desperately to stay here, away from the farmyard, but Brandon's inexorable words were taking him there."

4. What kind of education has the character had?

Phillip has received an academic education of at least a high school level. The novel says he went to a musical conservatory in place of college so it can be inferred that academically his focus switched solely to his piano lessons. Indeed, the novel goes out of its way to state that Phillip is a bit naive when it comes to social history, stating, "Having no knowledge of social history of any of its allied subjects and lacking in powers of independent critical thought, [Phillip] was willing enough to accept Brandon's fervid proclamations of this elite's existence without serious question."

5. What are his/her areas of expertise? What, if anything, is s/he interested in learning more about?

Music and whatever Brandon wants him to know, I suppose. Although he seems a bit cocky of his musical abilities, so he might be more interested in Brandon's knowledge than the musical at this point.

6. Is s/he an introvert or an extrovert?


7. Describe the character's temperament. Is s/he even-tempered or does s/he have mood swings? Cheerful or melancholy? Laid-back or driven?

Phillip is very moody. The term that is used in the novel is "sensitive". He can go from being angry in one instance to apologetic and scared in the next. Little things seem to set him off while innocuous comments can make him laugh. For most of "Rope", however, he's in a growing state of anxiety and discomfort, culminating with a meltdown at the end (helped along by his liquor intake). Other characters remark on his moodiness throughout, implying that it's nothing new to see him swinging from one extreme to the other. At one point, Rupert even laughs off his sudden annoyance with a chiding, "temper, temper".

To use the novel itself: "Phillip Morgan was a sensitive young man who feared crowds and dwelt much within himself; his fellow men, in general, seemed to him vulgar and self assertive."

8. How does s/he respond to new people or situations? Is s/he suspicious, relaxed, timid, enthusiastic?

Phillip is capable of being polite and outgoing, provided he feels comfortable enough to be. This tends to be if Brandon is present to act as support, though he's shown having plenty of conversations in the movie.

9. Is s/he more likely to act, or to react?

In most situations, react. There is the matter of him picking up Brandon's gun and waving it around, but Rupert makes it clear that if he'd actually meant to fire it, he would have. Instead, it's wrestled away from him and he's left to sob over the keys of his piano while Rupert and Brandon continue their chat.

10. Which is his/her default: fight or flight?

Flight. Again, there is the above mentioned gun incident, but Phillip was self-destructing at that point. He didn't end up fighting anyone and went back to hiding within himself after his brief show of boldness.

11. Describe the character's sense of humor. Does s/he appreciate jokes? Puns? Gallows humor? Bathroom humor? Pranks?

Phillip doesn't seem to have a great sense of humor. He finds things funny, yes, but not necessarily those with intended humor. While I don't doubt he understands puns and jokes, they're more likely to just elicit a polite smile than actual laughter. Phillip seems a bit too serious to find the humor in most situations.

12. Does the character have any diagnosable mental disorders? If yes, how does s/he deal with them?

Uh, I'd say he does. His emotions are very manic, he's very dependent and devoted to Brandon, and he's got his whole "chicken strangling" problem...

As for dealing with them, he doesn't. He tries to block out the memories and feelings he doesn't want to deal with and pretend as if they never happen. He'll stand up to Brandon's manipulation in one minute, then back down and apologize for questioning him; he'll deny ever killing any chickens even though multiple people on several occasions have seen him do so; and if Brandon tells him they're superior and elite and therefore have to demonstrate it by killing one of their friends for no reason, he'll go along with it.

The novel even has an example of his internal rationalization of his actions vs having to acknowledge them:
"'The few are those men of such intellectual and cultural superiority that they are above the traditional moral concepts. Good and evil, right and wrong, were invented for the ordinary average man, the inferior man--because he needs them.'

Yes, the few, Phillip thought, listening: Brandon and he; Rupert-- no, not Rupert; as Brandon had said, Rupert liked just to talk, while they had acted. Brandon and he-- of course, others had killed, but most of them sordidly, for gain of some kind, or in passion, for jealousy's sake. With Brandon and him, it had been because they were different-- or was it that the killing, the Deed, had made them different?

Perhaps it was both; that seemed somehow to be going in a circle-- but that must be the answer to the old man's question. Without it, he would be back at his mother's knee, with her asking him what he'd been doing, and him lying because if he admitted what he had done he might be punished, shut in the closet. She said it was fair, a just penalty, but he had never been able to stand it, sobbing and sobbing-- there HAD to be an answer; now Brandon was supplying it and he was glad... "

So yeah. Issues.

13. What moments in this character's life have defined him/her as a person?

The death of his mother, meeting Brandon, the infamous "chicken didn't exactly die this time" incident, and killing David.

14. What does s/he fear?

Well, he spends all of "Rope" terrified of his crime being discovered, so he fears the consequences of his actions (presumably the death penalty). He also was traumatized when a chicken he'd strangled didn't exactly stay dead, so he seems to have issue with the dead coming back to life as well.

15. What are his/her hopes or aspirations?

Phillip has dreams (or I suppose had dreams) of becoming a world famous pianist, which the book acknowledges he has the talent for. Sadly, his actions have kind of put and end to that.

16. What is something s/he doesn't want anyone to find out about him/her?

That he killed David, that he has a compulsion to strangle chickens.

1. Describe this character's relationship with his/her parents.

To quote the novel directly, "His mother, upon whom he had leaned heavily for sympathy and succor, had died when he was twelve. Thrown back upon his father, who was only puzzled and irritated by the lad's dependent nature, he felt lost- confused, beaten, and despairing- until he met Brandon."

Phillip's father died not long after he met Brandon as well so, uh, what relationships he had went away.

2. Does the character have any siblings? What is/was their relationship like?

Nope. Only child.

3. Are there other blood relatives to whom s/he is close? Are there ones s/he can't stand?

I get the sense he wasn't the fondest of his father. But, uh, not in the picture anymore.

4. Are there other, unrelated people whom s/he considers part of his/her family? What are his/her relationships with them?

One might argue Brandon, as there is the whole "implied homosexuality" subtext, but I don't know that Phillip would call him family, even with that.

5. Who is/was the character's best friend? How did they meet?

Brandon Shaw; they met in prep school. Phillip instantly idolized Brandon and Brandon, in return, liked being held up on a pedestal and threw money at Phillip to keep him around.

Theirs is a healthy relationship. :/

6. Does s/he have other close friends?

Yeah, no. That's why Brandon is everything and everyone else, well, ok, if you say they're inferior, I guess we should kill 'em. :X

7. Does s/he make friends easily, or does s/he have trouble getting along with people?

It's not that he necessarily has difficult getting along with people, as Phillip acts rather polite most of the time. The issue more lies in Phillip's disinterest in getting close to most people and being more interested in only being with Brandon.

8. Which does s/he consider more important: family or friends?


9. Is the character single or dating?

That depends if you want to read into the homosexuality subtext. I personally do, so I'd say he's in a complicated and dysfunctional relationship with Brandon.

10. Who was his first crush? Who is his latest?

Brandon. It's always been Brandon.

11. What does s/he look for in a romantic partner?

The novel is very adamant on how Phillip is attracted to Brandon's inherit strength and glib charm. In the movie, it's also clear that Phillip is the submissive one in their relationship. So I'm gonna go with "an extremely domineering personality", although I suppose returning his idolization with with occasional kindness adds to it too.

12. Does the character want any children?

I highly doubt it.

13. Does s/he have any rivals or enemies?

Not really. Sometimes he's pretty mad at Brandon, but his moods tend to fluctuate there. He also gets pretty cross with Rupert in the film, but admits at one point that he does like him, so again with the moodiness.

14. What is the character's sexual orientation? Where does s/he fall on the Kinsey scale?

I would say gay. I interpret him as gay, but gay for Brandon. As for the Kinsey thing, I'd say a 6. There's no indication he's ever been with a woman.

16. How does s/he feel about sex? How important is it to him/her?

Not addressed. I assume he's private about that aspect of his life.

1. Do you know your character's astrological (zodiac of choice) sign? How well does s/he fit type?

Welp, they've cover that his birthday is July 14th and that he's a Cancer in the film itself, so let's see...

Individuals born under this sign are thought to have a kind, emotional, romantic, imaginative, sympathetic, nurturing, and intuitive character. The Cancer person is protective, sensitive, tenacious, retentive, resourceful, self-contained, family and home oriented, maternal, security oriented, warm, patriotic, sentimental, and loving. They can also be touchy, over-protective, moody and crabby and prone to changeability, hypersensitivity, depression, and clinginess.

...well, the negatives apply, anyhow.

2. Is this character religious, spiritual, both, or neither? How important are these elements in his/her life?

Uhm, he doesn't appear to be overtly either.

3. Does this character have a personal code of morals or ethics? If so, how did that begin? What would it take to compromise it?

Phillip seems to observe most conventions and rules for the most part, but at Brandon's urging he committed murder, so it probably doesn't matter what morals he has.

4. How does s/he regard beliefs that differ from his/her? Is s/he tolerant, intolerant, curious, indifferent?

At one point, he was probably curious and tolerant. But Brandon's pretty much drilled his beliefs into Phillip to a point that Phillip is very desperate to make himself believe the same, least Brandon deem him "inferior". As such, he seems a bit less accepting of those who aren't as "superior" as he and Brandon.

5. What prejudices does s/he hold? Are they irrational or does s/he have a good reason for them?

Phillip doesn't really think much of people in general. He likes Brandon, yes, and he seems to get along alright with others, but he considers most people annoying, intrusive, or intimidating. Still, he's polite and cordial so he doesn't necessarily alienate others; he just keeps his personal opinions on them to himself (and maybe shares with Brandon later).

Daily Life
1. What is the character's financial situation? Is s/he rich, poor, comfortable, in debt?

Phillip came from a modest background, but Brandon very quickly took over his life when his father died. According to the novel, it's Brandon who finances everything in his life as a means of ensuring that he and Phillip can continue to travel in the same social circles. He's the one who paid Phillip's prep schooling after his parents' deaths and it was his money that put him up in the music conservatory. It's also technically Brandon's expensive penthouse apartment the two share, complete with housekeeper and piano of its own, and it's Brandon's Mother's farm where they run off to vacation on weekends.

So Phillip wants for nothing, but it's not his money.

2. What is his/her social status? Has this changed over time, and if so, how has the change affected him/her?

Phillip's father is described as having a "meager income", although Phillip was able to attend prep school with Brandon. Still, once his father died, Phillip was ingratiated into a much wealthier lifestyle. I don't know if I'd say the change has affected him so much as it's ensured that Brandon can continue to claim him as an equal, thus hammering in further that they consist of an elite, superior class.

3. Where does s/he live? House, apartment, trailer? Is his/her home his castle or just a place to crash? What condition is it in? Does s/he share it with others?

Phillip lives in a very nice penthouse apartment with Brandon. It's expensively decorated and rather spacious. He's done well for himself.

4. Besides the basic necessities, what does s/he spend his money on?

Phillip doesn't seem to spend much on himself. All the decorations/ornate frivolities/overspending seems to be more a Brandon thing.

5. What does s/he want to do for a living?
Concert Pianist.

6. What are his/her interests or hobbies? How does he spend his/her free time?

Phillip's interests seem to be music, whatever Brandon is interested in, and drinking. Sometimes he'll strangle chickens too.

He leads a full life.

7. What are his/her eating habits? Does s/he skip meals, eat out, drink alcohol, avoid certain foods?

Phillip is chastised (as previously mentioned) for not eating enough, so I can only assume he skips his fair amount of meals. In fact, he's not shown eating dinner with everyone else in "Rope", albeit because the meal consisted of the one thing he won't eat-- Chicken. Because of the incident three years prior where the chicken he tried to kill got back up and ran about, Phillip has been forever traumatized off the meat.

...he makes up for this by living off alcohol. Perhaps not always, but his drinking, while excessive in the film, is treated as something of commonplace.

Which of the following do you associate with the character, or which is his/her favorite:

1. Color?

I associate brown with him. Because of the suit.

2. Smell?

Brandon allegedly smells nice, like the "swill" Janet gave him for Christmas. But I'm thinking Phillip probably smells of aftershave and liquor.

3. Time of day?

Night? I don't know. I don't have a time of day for Phillip.

4. Season?

Summer? Because "Rope" takes place then?

5. Book?

Something by Nietzsche seems fitting.

6. Music?

Perpetual Movement. Because Phillip never stops playing it.

7. Place?

New York City.

8. Substance?


9. Plant?

Weeping Willow. I don't know.

10. Animal?

Something high strung... a cat?


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Phillip Morgan

August 2012

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