“Protagonist: The leading character or one of the major characters in a play, film, novel, etc… an advocate or champion of a particular cause or idea.”
In the Madeleine McCann story the main protagonist is the detective Goncalo Amaral and I think everyone would agree this character is the advocate / champion of this particular idea: Madeleine McCann died and the parents covered it up.
“What I know tells me that Madeleine McCann died in the apartment 5A”
After five-months of being the lead detective on the case, we are informed this was the conclusion reached by Amaral and his investigation team. The majority of the critical audience have come to agree with this conclusion. This agreement is demonstrable by the fact Amaral’s supporters managed to raise over £50,000 to help with his court costs. source
“It’s my duty as a police officer: to seek the truth so that justice may be done.”
That is exactly the kind of thing a protagonist / hero would say and it’s a good example of why the audience view Goncalo Amaral in this way – as a hero, a saint and a man of integrity. The audience also sympathise with this character due to his reported removal from the case, his loss of earnings, the breakdown of his marriage and all kinds of other reasons. If you want your audience to connect with the hero, you have to give them reasons to – the more the better – and then the audience will want the hero to succeed and overcome.
On October 2nd 2007, Goncalo Amaral was controversially removed from the case. This removal compelled Goncalo Amaral to leave his job with the PJ and write a book about his experience with the Madeleine McCann case.
This is that book >>> source
The book is called ‘The Truth of the Lie’ and it was released in 2008. The release of this book started a legal battle between the McCanns and Amaral about whether or not the book should be banned. This reported legal battle is still going on to this day – see here.
This never-ending legal battle achieves three things:
1: It kept the story in the news – all great news stories have longevity.
2: It generated more publicity for Amaral’s book and his claims / ideas.
3: It was a way of continuously reinforcing the roles of protagonist and antagonist.
It’s interesting that even though Amaral’s book is supposedly banned from release in the U.K. it has been freely available online throughout this 10 year legal battle. So it’s not really banned as it’s freely available to read. We’re only told it’s banned so that people think the McCanns are trying to hide something and that they’re trying to repress the truth = audience manipulation.
That was a brief summary of Goncalo Amaral’s story upto this point, but let’s start at the beginning…
“A backstory, background story or background is a set of events invented for a plot, presented as preceding and leading up that plot. As a literary device backstory is often employed to lend depth or believability to the main story” source
When it comes to writing a backstory, the incidents described must be relevant and illustrative in relation to the main story. A well-known example of this kind of fictional backstory would be the protagonist in ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999). In the opening scene of the movie, child psychologist Dr Malcolm Crowe encounters a former patient. The story then jumps forward in time to the main story. As the main story unfolds we understand why the backstory is relevant and illustrative.
Goncalo Amaral has a backstory just like that…
The Disappearance of Joana Cipriano
In 2004, three years before the Madeleine McCann story, we are informed that Goncalo Amaral was involved in the Cipriano case. It is the story of a young girl called Joana Cipriano who vanished from her home without a trace. In the beginning, the mother Leonor Cipriano mounted a campaign to search for her missing daughter.
As time went on the PJ started to suspect parental involvement and began investigating the mother. The case concluded with Joao Cipriano (the uncle) confessing to the murder and the subsequent disposal of the body. The body of Joana Cipriano was never found and it was the first murder trial in Portuguese history to take place without the discovery of a body.
(Links to all related press releases about the Cipriano story here: source )
“Foreshadowing is a literary device in which a writer gives an advance hint of what is to come later in the story” source
Goncalo Amaral’s backstory ‘The disappearance of Joana Cipriano’ is virtually identical to the Madeleine McCann story. This means that our protagonist has a foreshadowing backstory:
1: A young girl vanished without a trace.
2: Officers failed to secure the crime scene.
3: The parents mount a campaign to find their daughter.
4: The local Polícia Judiciária (the PJ) investigates the possibility of parental involvement.
5: The parents were thought to have concealed the body.
6: It was thought the body may have been hidden in a fridge.
7: The remains / dead body was disposed of using a car.
8: The child has never been found.
9: Goncalo Amaral was a detective on the case.
10: Both stories happened within a seven mile (11km) radius of one another.
In fictional storytelling ‘foreshadowing’ is a very common literary device. It is a tool that is used time and time again and the foreshadowing-backstory is a classic example.
The protagonist in ‘The Sixth Sense’ has a backstory just like that: In the opening scene child psychologist Dr Malcolm Crowe (Bruce Willis) is confronted by former patient Vincent Grey. This former patient has a particular problem, one that has driven him to madness. Ultimately, Dr Crowe was unable help Vincent. The narrative then jumps forward and we find the protagonist Dr Crowe waiting for his new case… a young boy with exactly the same problem.
“I know that again, you know Kate and Gerry had had problems err with I think it was the blinds in their flat and the fridge” – David Payne
“Yes, the bodily fluids in the car shows that (the body was refrigerated)… the fact that there was fluids shows refrigeration” – Goncalo Amaral
E.M Forster states that when creating a backstory it should ‘only connect’.
Anyone who has seen the movie ‘The Sixth Sense’ will know that the protagonist’s foreshadowing-backstory comes back to haunt him during the main event – in much the same way that Goncalo Amaral’s foreshadowing-backstory comes back to haunt him:
“His career in tatters and now back on desk duties in Faro, Amaral faces a criminal hearing in the case of another missing child, Joana Cipriano, after being accused of concealing evidence that the girl’s mother was tortured into confessing to her murder” source
In conclusion, Goncalo Amaral has a foreshadowing backstory that comes back to haunt him during the events of the main story. This backstory is a perfect example of fictional story-telling, which makes the story of Joana Cipriano a work of fiction that was created to provide the character of Goncalo Amaral with an illustrative and relevant backstory.
As we have already seen, Gonçalo Amaral is a character with a foreshadowing backstory that interferes with his main story. This is a narrative technique exclusive to works of fiction and fictional characters. The identification of such a device leads us to question Gonçalo Amaral himself.
If our protagonist has a fictional backstory (which appears to be the case) then perhaps the character is fictional? Is the name ‘Gonçalo Amaral’ authentic? Or is this another name – similar to those looked at in the first article – that has been constructed to fit the character / narrative? Another practice exclusively associated with creative writing / fiction.
For a convenient example of symbolic character names, we only have to look at the key characters in ‘The Sixth Sense’:
“The crow is known as the ominous omen of death because it is the harbinger that guides souls from the realm of the living into the afterlife.”
The crow is a carrion bird (a bird that feeds on dead animals) which probably explains why they have come to be associated with death. So when the audience are introduced to Malcolm Crowe, they are being told that this character is directly associated with death, which of course he is.
“SEER: a person of supposed supernatural insight.”
When the audience and our protagonist (Crowe) are first introduced to Cole Sear, we are told he is a troubled young boy, but as the story moves forward it is revealed that he can see dead people – Cole Sear has supernatural insight. For the majority of the audience this information comes as a surprise, but the writer of the movie reveals everything about these characters from the first moment they are introduced.
The name Vincent is alluding to Vincent Van Gogh who was also a troubled soul who killed himself using a gun. The colour grey can be used to symbolise something in-between (it is not black or white – it is between two worlds) just like Vincent Grey and then Cole Sear after him.
They are the three key characters in ‘The Sixth Sense’ and you can see how much thought the writer has put into their names. I realise this is somewhat of a tangent, but for those not familiar with the creative process, they’re good examples of symbolic character names.
In the Fatima chapter from first article we looked at Praia Da Luz (Beach of Light) and how it is old fishing village located in the municipality of Lagos. The patron saint of fishermen in Lagos is a 15th century monk called Sao Goncalo. There is a statue of Sao Goncalo that overlooks Lagos beach:
Now, after looking at Sao Gonçalo, I realised that the name ‘Gonçalo’ could be a very popular name in Portugal, there could be many saints called Gonçalo. So I had a quick look online and soon discovered that wasn’t the case.
For a start, there are not as many Portuguese Roman Catholic saints as you might think, there are 41 Portuguese saints altogether. Portugal has the seventh highest number of Roman Catholic saints, and while that may seem impressive, they are still some way behind the top six – Italy 260, France 146, Spain 114, Germany 89, England 69 and Belgium 62.
In the first article we looked at the children from the ‘Our Lady of Fatima’ story – the most recent additions to Portugal’s official list – but looking through the forty-one names (source) we can see that our local patron saint ‘Sao Gonçalo’ doesn’t make the list:
“Patron Saints are looked upon as a special guardian of a person, place, or institution, whereas a Saint has been officially recognized as having lived an exceptionally holy life.”
This information does not make the name ‘Sao Goncalo’ and his locality any less relevant, but it did make me look at the official list and that is when I discovered…
Saint Gonçalo de Amarante
How perfect is that name? Saint Gonçalo de Amarante was a 12th century Portuguese Roman Catholic priest known for his silence and solitude in reflection, much like our protagonist Gonçalo Amaral:
“I’ve had no wish to go out, to go walking or to meet people. I yearn instead for peace and silence” source
Was the name Gonçalo Amaral constructed using these well-known Portuguese saints? Again, considering what we looked at in the previous article, I would say that is a fair conclusion, especially when we consider how Gonçalo Amaral is perceived by his loyal supporters.
“Goncalo Amaral is the real hero in this tragedy, he has suffered so much at the hands of those guilty twisted parents”
If you were creating a fictional Portuguese detective then ‘Goncalo Amaral’ would be the perfect name. Especially if this detective character is someone who will be perceived as a hero / saint-like character – which Gonçalo Amaral clearly is.
This also explains why Gonçalo ‘the saint’ Amaral is more than happy to pose for pictures like this:
This photograph has a church in the background and the photographer was very keen to make sure that Gonçalo Amaral was stood in front of a Saint. This photograph first appeared in a British newspaper, here: source
Many people are under the impression that the British press liked to paint Amaral in a bad light, but looking at this photograph the opposite appears to be true.
In conclusion, the name ‘Gonçalo Amaral’ is perfectly symbolic of the character. The name appears to be a fictional construct that was created to add meaning to the character by reflecting how he is perceived by his supporters.
1: The name ‘Gonçalo Amaral’ is symbolic of the character / it’s the perfect name for that character.
2: This is a trait exclusively associated with fictional characters.
3: The deconstruction of this name adds further support to the identification of an overall fictional construct by an unknown author.
The Truth of the Lie: Part 1
A Verdade da Mentira
“the minor, Madeleine McCann died in the Ocean Club apartment, in the Luz village; a child abduction was staged; Kate Healy and Gerald McCann are suspects of being involved in the concealment of their daughter’s cadaver; the death might have occurred following a tragic accident; there are evidence of negligence in the safekeeping and supervision of their children”.
That is Amaral’s theory of what happened to Madeleine McCann and what the book ‘The Truth of the Lie’ is all about. This theory is based on the demonstrably bogus Portuguese police files, but written from the perspective of Gonçalo Amaral.
The online English translation of this book: source
When I began reading this book, I was immediately struck by the authors frequent use of fictional devices (narrative techniques used to create fiction) and from a creative point of view, the work is actually quite impressive. There are so many examples that I could share, but for the purpose of this article, I have chosen the following:
The Dog Story
“I receive a phone call from Sofia, who insists on my going home: our Shitzu dog is dead. She found it that morning, lifeless on the ground, with a head injury. She did everything to make sure the girls did not see it, but she didn’t have the courage to remove him. When I arrive, everyone is already in bed. I place the Shitzu in a plastic bag, not sure about where I am going to be able to bury him. The ground is hard here. it’s not easy to dig a hole and I hardly have the time for it. I decide to drop his remains into a bin. The animal is small, but he seems to weigh more than usual. I use my car to take her. As I am getting rid of it, I realise just how easy it is to hide a body – and how difficult it is to bury…”
Truth of the Lie : Chapter 7 source
The death of Amaral’s dog is widely believed to be a true story. This has led to many critics to believe his dog was killed as some kind of warning to Amaral, telling him to back off… but the dog story is not a true story. Once we begin to deconstruct this story, we can see it for what it is and why it was included:
1: Parent discovers corpse.
2: Cause of injury / death is unknown.
3: Parents hide corpse out of sight.
4: Corpse is placed in a bag.
5: Husband is tasked with removal.
6: Corpse is placed in car and disposed.
That is the story of Amaral’s dog broken down into six parts. The same sequence could also be outlining Goncalo Amaral’s theory regarding the fate of Madeleine McCann.
The dog story is clearly a fictional device (analogy) used to symbolise Amaral’s theory – and just to make it absolutely clear to the reader that this story is symbolic, the author makes further connections between the two stories:
1: Amaral is working on the Madeleine case when he learns of the dog’s death.
2: As Amaral is getting rid of the dog’s dead body he reflects on how easy it is to get rid of a body – in a book about the concealment of a body.
3: In his Madeleine theory the parents couldn’t bury the body as everything happened in a short space of time… and for whatever reason Amaral also claims to have the same problem with his dog.
4: Amaral refers to the dog as ‘him’ and then changes to ‘her’.
If the dog story is a literary / fictional device – which it surely is – then the conversation that directly followed the dog’s death is also completely fictional:
“….When I get back, I discuss it with Sofia: she is afraid. She asks me to abandon the investigation and to worry about our daughters rather than other people’s. For her, the dog’s death is a bad omen. I reply that she is unfair, that her fears are irrational. Justice must be done for Madeleine, as for all other children and adults. It’s my duty as a police officer: to seek the truth so that justice may be done.”
The author has created a perfectly symbolic representation of the book’s main theory and by doing so the author has also invented a story about the Amaral family. Immediately after the dog story the author describes a private conversation that never actually happened.
The Basket of Flowers
Another story about Goncalo Amaral’s family:
“At the end of May, my wife Sofia visits me at the offices of the Department of Criminal Investigation in Portimão. She brings a flower basket filled with orchids, roses, lilies, and gerberas, decorated with butterflies and birds in shades of green and yellow, the two colours symbolising the mobilisation around Madeleine. A little note from my daughters accompanies it: “Papa, we love you, don’t forget about us, but find Madeleine. Rita and Inès.” That bouquet stayed in my office, withering as the days went by and the hope of finding Madeleine alive dwindled.”
‘Truth of the Lie’: Chapter 14
The basket of flowers is symbolic of the Madeleine investigation. This story is another fictional device and the author is not even subtle about it.
“shades of green and yellow, the two colours symbolising the mobilisation around Madeleine”
The author goes into great detail to describe this elaborate basket and then confirms what we already suspected, that the basket story is symbolic of the Madeleine investigation.
“That bouquet stayed in my office, withering as the days went by and the hope of finding Madeleine alive dwindled.”
The lead detective has a basket of flowers in his office that perfectly symbolises the drive to locate Madeleine alive. That bouquet then stayed in the office to subsequently symbolise the dwindling hopes of the investigation. How convenient.
“Papa, we love you, don’t forget about us”
This implying that protagonist Goncalo Amaral was so busy with the Madeleine case he was spending less time with his own children – a selfless hero.
The flower basket in Amaral’s office is a symbolic representation of Madeleine being central to that office. The wife of a Portuguese police detective did not visit the Department of Criminal Investigations with a basket of flowers. The story is a fictional device created to add depth and meaning to the story.
(More examples from this book shortly…)
Front Page News: Amaral
The British press are known for portraying Goncalo Amaral in a bad light and supporting the McCanns version of events, but what they’re really doing is baiting the audience – which is a common theme that runs throughout the narrative.
Even though the headlines and the stories appear to be against Amaral and those who speak out against the McCanns, when we apply basic media analysis it reveals a different agenda. We have already seen the UK national press publishing a photograph of Goncalo Amaral with the image of a saint in the background, but that’s not all they do… the national press are fully onboard with the true portrayal of Goncalo Amaral: as the protagonist / hero of the story.
THE MADDIE PREDATORS are sharing a front page with the nations most celebrated heroes.
Those designing this article make sure that the word LIES sits over the word McCANNS and the McCanns themselves.
There are many different ways in which a headline can be written and arranged, but as we will see throughout this article, words and the arrangement of headlines are chosen very carefully.
Amaral has to pay money to the McCanns over his’ abduction lies’.
This story shares a front page with one story about a sham and another story about Kate with the words ‘The wait’s driving us crazy, Kate!’
In other words, this payout is a sham, we want to know the truth and Kate has all the answers. This is reflected of how critics view the Madeleine McCann story.
Amaral makes bold claim that MI5 HID HER BODY and this headline is next to a picture of someone receiving an award for being the best in their field.
This is the second time that Goncalo Amaral has shared a front page with a sporting hero at the top of their game.
The story at the top is about love letters between Rose West and Charlie Bronson. This story is underlined by the words ‘Parents desperate court bid’. These words are underlined by the word McCANNS !!!
The word McCANNS are also placed next to a story about a troubled British celebrity who jets out of the country. This has placed there because the McCanns jetted out of Portugal soon after they became official suspects.
Then we come to Goncalo Amaral, he is the one pictured on the page and if we look in the bottom left hand corner it reads ‘miracle COP’. Do you really believe those words are there by accident?
COP WINS RIGHT TO ACCUSE PARENTS – and top left of that headline there is a photograph of someone celebrating.
Goncalo Amaral claims that MADDIE DIED THE NIGHT SHE VANISHED. This headline is next to a picture of someone popping open the champagne. Are we celebrating this claim? This is another front page that surrounds the claims of Goncalo Amaral with positive reinforcement.
Can you see the advert for the BRAIN-TRAINING MACHINE? It’s testing your brain to see if you can make the connections.
It’s not just Goncalo Amaral who receives the positive reinforcement / protagonist treatment. Here is Brenda Leyland sharing a front page with a story about the Pride of Britain heroes.
Even the LYNDA death story has a nice angle to it.
Amaral doesn’t get that many front pages, but those he does appear on clearly represent him as the protagonist – at least below the surface story – and surround his claims with positive reinforcement. It makes sense for the protagonist / hero character to be linked with heroes and awards.
In chapter two (the antagonist chapter) you will see the difference when it’s Kate and Gerry McCann on the front pages. They have been on more front pages than most and there isn’t an award, celebration or hero in sight – quite the opposite.
The Truth of the Lie: Part 2
‘The Truth of the Lie’ has never been critically analysed in this way before – as the audience is under the impression this is a factual document – so let’s take this opportunity to further analyse the creative techniques of the author, with two more examples from this book.
An Astonishing Shift
In the penultimate chapter of ‘The Truth of the Lie’ we are told about Amaral’s final few days on the case. The author conveys this information whilst switching back and forth between two stories: the continuing story of the Madeleine investigation which leads to his removal from the case and another story about Goncalo Amaral and his family.
The Truth of the Lie : Chapter 21
“On the last weekend in September, I decide to leave Portimão to go to my virtually abandoned house in the Algarvian east. Inès, my four-year-old daughter, goes with me“.
Just to clarify, this is the family story about Gonçalo Amaral and his daughter Inès (the daughter closest to Madeleine’s age) spending the weekend together. The author then switches to the Madeleine case:
“I listen to the news… I am speechless: a member of the McCanns’ staff states that they are in possession of a report that invalidates the work of the EVRD and the CSI dogs”
The author now brings the EVRD & CSI dogs to our attention and then switches back to the story of Amaral and his four-year-old daughter:
“During the night of Saturday into Sunday, our dog does not stop barking. I go out but I see nothing and nobody that could get him so worked up. He then howls by the door. I don’t know what’s going on”.
Did Amaral get a new dog? That aside, we have another story involving a dog and the dog in this story is barking. It seems like the dog is trying to alert Amaral to something.
“The next day, I still don’t understand what could have upset the dog so much. Inès, anxious, wants at all costs to see the neighbours, but they haven’t returned.”
1: A four year old girl.
2: Anxiety because someone left and hasn’t returned.
3: A dog barking.
All story elements straight from the Madeleine narrative – and if you somehow think that doesn’t work because Madeleine was three, you will also know that she disappeared nine-days before her fourth birthday. I mean, I shouldn’t have to state the obvious here, but the point of an allusion is not to be an exact copy.
“On Monday August 1st, I go back to work at DIC in Portimão…”
Hold on a minute, surely the author means October 1st? Has this writer / translator not been following the story? The weekend with his daughter was at the end of September – and just to confirm this error, August 1st 2007 was a Wednesday!
“On Monday (October) 1st, I go back to work at DIC in Portimão where two pieces of news are waiting for me: officials at Buckingham Palace have received an email informing them that a little girl – Madeleine – has disappeared from a hotel complex situated….in Lisbon!”
Buckingham Palace? A hotel in the capital? Is this an allusion to Diana? In 2007 the death of Diana was still dominating the mainstream and the alternative news. The two stories are often compared as they have many similarities… as we will see later on.
“This is where we’re at: reduced to receiving that type of tip-off and chasing a phantom, that of the imaginary abductor”
(…wrote the imaginary detective.)
“At last, I get home. It’s when I visit my neighbours that I finally understand the reason for my dog’s agitation the previous night. Their house has been burgled.”
So the dog was trying to tell him something and now Amaral is no longer confused. He understands that the dog was trying to alert him to a crime. How convenient is that? That is exactly his understanding when it comes to the EVRD and CSI dogs in the Madeleine story.
“The thieves left behind lots of valuable objects but snatched a briefcase containing personal documents.”
These thieves left valuable objects and took something personal. What kind of thieves are these?
To summarise: we have the ‘holiday’ with the four year old daughter… the unknown intruder, no valuable objects are taken, something personal is taken… anxiety because someone hasn’t returned… the dog barking and Amaral eventually understanding that the dog was alerting him to a crime.
These are all story elements lifted directly from the Madeleine story, but here they have a different composition – that is an allusion. The burglary story symbolises Amaral’s understanding of the Madeleine case.
It is also another fictional story that involves Amaral’s family / personal life – a literary device that was created to add meaning to the main story. These narrative techniques are well constructed and show real creative ability, but the idea that Amaral’s book is only based on facts and truth, forget about it.
The entire book is full of these fictional devices. You only have to continue with this chapter to see that…
The next day is Tuesday 2nd October – possibly the most eventful day in Gonçalo Amaral’s existence:
1: October 2nd is Gonçalo Amaral’s birthday.
2: Amaral travels to Huelva Cathedral in Spain with fellow police officers for a special service dedicated to the role of the police and the protection of children !!!
3: He is removed from the Madeleine case.
“…this is not the present I wanted, but one that I was expecting.”
How is that for a birthday to remember?
The whole point of Amaral’s book is to help shift audience perspective from abduction theory to death theory – just like everything else associated with the Madeleine McCann story.
The Officer and the Wristband
“As time went by, we noticed that a certain number of the police officers sent to Portugal were poorly informed about the progress of the investigation. One of them who – like the majority – was coming to Portugal for the first time, was wearing a green and yellow rubber wrist band, bought for £2, which he played with nervously. The inscription read, “Look for Madeleine.” Some of his colleagues told him that he would soon get rid of it. As a matter of fact, he took it off as soon as he got properly into the investigation and he had learned about the evidence placing doubt on the theory of abduction.”
The Truth of the Lie: Chapter 6
This is a fictional story created to symbolise the audience and their shift in perspective.
1: The poorly informed police officers sent to Portugal represent members of the audience who have not read ‘The Truth of the Lie’ or looked over the police files.
2: The wristband inscribed with the words “Look for Madeleine” symbolises abduction theory.
3: The officer’s colleagues symbolise the more informed critics.
Once the officer learns about the evidence placing doubt on the abduction theory he removes the wristband. In the story the officer literally removes the wristband, but the reader figuratively removes it. The reader instantly relates to the actions of this officer because the story of the officer was created to symbolise the reader.
Does anyone still believe that the character Goncalo Amaral wrote this book?
There can be little doubt that Gonçalo Amaral is the protagonist of this detective story. That is how he is presented to the audience, how he is portrayed, and thus how he is perceived.
The character ‘Gonçalo Amaral’ has a backstory that not only foreshadows the main story, but it also comes back to haunt him by interfering with the events of the main story. This type of backstory is the perfect example of fictional narrative technique, so much so that it cannot possibly be considered authentic.
The name ‘Goncalo Amaral’ is symbolic of location and character. This is precisely how fictional character names are constructed – as we have seen. The name ‘Goncalo Amaral’ is not an authentic name. It is the name of the character this person is portraying.
The book ‘The Truth of the Lie’ provides numerous stories about Goncalo Amaral’s personal life. All of these stories are literary devices – techniques used to provide a scene or story with additional depth and meaning. This book does not provide authentic insight – it is a work of fiction. All of the ‘personal insights’ in this book have creative intentions and from the information provided by this book we can only conclude that the Amaral family are a work of fiction.
The unknown author of the Madeleine McCann story appears to have created the perfect protagonist – the detective who is selfless in his quest for truth and his fight for justice, a hero to his supporters and a saint amongst men.