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Control (fictional character)

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Control (fictional character)

Control is a nom de guerre; the character's real name is never given, and it is suggested that he successfully kept his true identity secret even from his inner circle of advisors. In the original screenplay for the film adaptation of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Smiley muses that Control had once told him that Howard Staunton was the greatest chess master Britain had ever produced. "Staunton" later turns out to be the name that Control used for the rental of his flat.

In the novels

Control does not appear in the first two George Smiley novels. In The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, le Carré's third novel, Control is already chief of the Circus, a position which was occupied by a civil servant named Maston in the first novel, and with whom Smiley clashed. Although he receives comparatively little page time in The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and The Looking Glass War, in both novels Control is depicted as a master strategist who orchestrates a successful intelligence operation for the Circus. "The Spy Who Came in from the Cold" also shows him as being quite ruthless, having concealed from his own agent Alec Leamas the true aim of the operation on which Leamas was sent to East Germany, and having - against Leamas' express wish - gotten Leamas' beloved, Liz Gold, deeply involved in his plot, eventually leading to her death.

He is unable to repeat this feat in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, due to the infiltration of the Circus by a high-level mole run by the Soviet spymaster Karla. Control mounts a secret operation called Testify in an attempt to uncover the mole, but is bested by Karla and forced to retire from the Circus in the wake of the defeat, as is Smiley. An unspecified time later, Control dies of natural causes. Much of his involvement in the events of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is recounted in flashbacks from other characters.

In other media

Film

Television

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