I've studied the Tarot for a while now--I think the cards are a marvelous aid to creative writing. So I've decided to start drawing a card at random each day for inspiration.
I'm using the Universal Waite Tarot Deck. Ok--I have lots of issues with Waite's deck, but it's the closest thing to a standard, so I'm sticking with it.
The Emperor is part of the twenty-two cards that make up the Major Arcana; these cards are also known as 'trumps.' They speak to the big issues in our characters' lives; while the cards of the Minor Arcana speak more to everyday issues.
To me, The Emperor is a benevolent authority figure who estabishes boundaries, gives you rules to follow and expects instant and, generally, unquestioning obedience. Basically a Dom Extraordinaire. On White Collar, Peter Burke has a bit of The Emperor in him in: he sets boundaries for Neal and tries to keep the kid out of trouble. But, unlike The Emperor, Peter has learned to be flexible.
So for me, The Emperor represents a character in authority who doesn't have that kind of flexibility yet. He (or she--I'm all for gender-bending with the Tarot) knows how to keep order and wants the best for everyone in his domain. Unfortunately, he also wants to control every aspect of their lives. His intentions are good, and he usually knows what's best for the people under his thumb, but he's too rigid, controlling and uncompromising.
Hmmm. I have plenty of stories in mind with room for just such a character . . .