You know all the old Charlie Brown cartoons where Lucy tries to get C.B. to kick the football? He goes through agony trying to decide if Lucy is sincere this time--if he can trust her to leave the ball there so that he can experience one glorious kick.
Lucy always wants Charlie Brown to try, but she never allows him satisfaction. She pulls the ball away and Charlie Brown falls flat on his back--time after time.
I always found this scene odd for several reasons. For one, Lucy is never malicious. Her face is blank when she pulls away the football. The suggestion seems to be that Lucy, like the snake or the scorpion, is merely doing what is in her nature. She has to pull the ball away, because she needs to see people like Charlie Brown try and fail. She doesn't even take smug satisfaction in Charlie Brown's fall; she speaks to him calmly and walks away. For Lucy, the meaning of the universe is verified every time Charlie Brown makes his sad attempt.
For another, Charlie Brown knows what Lucy is. It isn't a matter of wondering whether or not he can trust her--he knows he cannot. Therefore, there must be something else compelling Charlie Brown to agonize over the "to kick or not to kick" decision. He is Hamlet on the ball field, and Lucy is his existential agony. For Charlie Brown, it probably doesn't matter either way. If he kicks it, he could fail. Since he is Charlie Brown, and has very little self-confidence, he most likely will fail. If she pulls it away, there is an excuse for his failure. Lucy is responsible.
Does this mean, then, that Charlie Brown NEEDS Lucy to pull the ball away, because it justifies his lack of prowess? And does Lucy, who dispenses "Psychiatric Help" for five cents a session, somehow understand this?
I often think that Lucy is too easily dismissed as a horrible person. Sure, she is a cartoon, but I find a great deal of existential truth in Charlie Brown.