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June 25, 2011 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Identify triads in writing?

Please identify for me notable conceptions of triads in works of writing, I just say writing because genre is not so important.

Triad I mean rather inclusively, so related geometrical shapes like pyramids and triangles are fine. It does not matter if the triad is abstract or physical, and I am interested in the construction, formulation, and deterioration of triads; it does not matter if the triad is ever completed.

Mostly I am interested in works which implicitly or explicitly use the triad as a major conceptual identifier.

I am asking because there is this work I am writing in which the triad resonates strongly, and I would like to see the ways others have used it.

Thanks for reading this!
posted by past to Writing & Language (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Scarlett Letter? The letter A is triangular, at least at its apex.
posted by dfriedman at 12:24 PM on June 25, 2011

Any book about a pyramid scheme would work, too.
posted by dfriedman at 12:25 PM on June 25, 2011

The deathly hallows? as in Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows
posted by magnetsphere at 1:01 PM on June 25, 2011

Best answer: Borges's Death and the Compass is about a triad that turns out to be a diamond.
posted by dizziest at 1:39 PM on June 25, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Tripods series? It's JA Sci Fi but it's pretty well written, if I recall.

There is some psychoanalytic work on triads + one person making four as an important part of myth and fairy tale, if you want to explore in that direction. I think von Franz is the person who did a lot of work on that in the 60s-70s.
posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 3:35 PM on June 25, 2011

Response by poster: thanks for the answers.

borges was my most read author for awhile, but i forgot about that story! thanks dizziest

some examples of things i already know of, plato's tripartite theory of the soul, and the father son and holy ghost

i'm not lazy about research, i love to do it actually! just constrained in ways of time and it seems it's more logical to write than research when limited in that way. ok well
posted by past at 3:36 PM on June 25, 2011

Response by poster: oh von franz sounds very interesting thanks!
posted by past at 3:51 PM on June 25, 2011

Best answer: The three-faced Goddess (mother, maiden, crone) is another figure like the father, son and holy ghost; She plays heavily in the Mists of Avalon series as well as a lot of texts about Wicca.
posted by NoraReed at 5:05 PM on June 25, 2011

Best answer: Ulysses is voiced by three characters: Leopold Bloom, the father and humble wandering man; Stephen Dedalus, the intellectual "son;" and Molly Bloom, the female in a dream state. Of course the book is compendious, but these three are the lenses.

Folk tales, like jokes, often rely on threes. Three sons, the first two foolish and vain, the third despised but secretly wise. The first two fail, the third, in a combination of guile and guilelessness, succeeds. Or there are three obstacles to be overcome, or three strange encounters, each with a different solution. Read through Italo Calvino's Italian Folk Tales and you'll have more examples than you can handle.
posted by argybarg at 8:02 PM on June 25, 2011

Best answer: Triads are big in children's stories and fairy tales: The Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
posted by amyms at 8:22 PM on June 25, 2011

Maybe stories about being granted three wishes?
posted by amyms at 8:32 PM on June 25, 2011

Best answer: The Brothers Karamazov has that kind of structure. If you haven't read it, you should.
posted by guster4lovers at 9:48 PM on June 25, 2011

Best answer: The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis was the first book I thought of.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:32 PM on June 25, 2011

Best answer: Tom Robbins: Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates is fairly obsessed with pyramids and "pyramid power" and involves both a pyramidal parrot cage and an ill-tempered Peruvian shaman with a pyramid for a head. Highly recommended!
posted by violinflu at 10:54 PM on June 25, 2011

Response by poster: @NoraReed - mother maiden crone, perfect

@argybarg - an inexhaustible text, timelessness, and Calvino!

@SisterHavana - the summary reveals a love relationship triangle, and the erotic tangling of limbs. i am wondering if the descriptions of lovemaking are somehow correspondent to the jargon of geometry, such as a purely physical inspection of bodies in the act and an accentuation of angularity - or if the unlikely scenario of geometrical lovemaking is not laid out for us, then at least there are enough individual, relevant points to contrive a form resembling a triad?
posted by past at 11:10 PM on June 25, 2011

Best answer: Trioedd (triads) were a genre of ancient Welsh literature. Here are some examples taken from Rachel Bromwich's complete collection.
posted by Harvey Kilobit at 12:05 AM on June 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Sir Thomas Browne's The Garden of Cyrus is about the quincunx, a five-point pattern which can be divided into four triangles or used to construct a triangular lattice. This work is notable for the first recorded appearance of the word 'triquetrous' ('the lithostrata or figured pavements of the ancients, which consisted not all of square stones, but were divided into triquetrous segments, honey-combs, and sexangular figures'). The book itself is structured quincuncially, consisting of five chapters, with a long middle chapter surrounded by four shorter ones.
posted by verstegan at 8:02 AM on June 26, 2011

Response by poster: boom home run!
posted by past at 8:57 AM on June 26, 2011

Response by poster: Some of those Welsh triads are almost too wonderful,

"24. Three chief-gleaming ones of the Island of Prydain. Coll son of Collfrewy; and Meniw son of Teirgwaed; and Drych son of Kiwdar.

25. Three primary illusions of the Island of Prydain. The illusion of Math son of Mathonwy; and the illusion of Uthyr Pendragon; and the illusion of Gwydelen Gor.
posted by past at 5:10 PM on June 26, 2011

Best answer: Freud's Id, Ego, Superego

Lord of the Flies - Jack, Ralph, Piggy
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:11 AM on June 27, 2011

Id/Ego/Superego is reflected in the characters of Asuka, Shinji and Rei in Neon Genesis Evangeleon.

TVTropes has an entry on Rule of Three that's long enough to eat up your entire life; the Power Trio entry has a lot of links for different kinds of groups of three characters.
posted by NoraReed at 6:29 AM on June 28, 2011

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