Page:The thirty-six dramatic situations (1921).djvu/26

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24 THIRTY-SIX DRAMATIC SITUATIONS

ing to the living; an imprudent promise; a professional duty (as when the avenger is a magistrate, etc.); the necessity of saving other relatives or a beloved one (thus did Talien avenge the Dantonists) or even fellow-citizens; ignorance of the kinship which exists between Avenger and Criminal. There yet remains that case in which the Avenger strikes without having recognized the Criminal (in a dark room, I suppose); the case in which the act of intended vengeance is but the result of an error, the supposedly guilty kinsman being found innocent, and his pseudo-executioner discovering that he has but made of himself a detestable criminal.

A (1) — A Father's Death Avenged Upon a Mother; -"The Choephores" of Aeschylus; the "Electras" of Sophocles, Euripides, Attilius, Q. Cicero, Pradon, Longepierre, Crebillon, Rochefort, Chenier, and of Guillard's opera; the "Orestes" of Voltaire and of Alfieri; Sophocles' "Epigones;" the "Eriphyles" of Sophocles and of Voltaire; and lastly "Hamlet," in which we recognize so clearly the method by which the poet rejuvenates his subjects, — by an almost antithetic change of characters and of milieu.

(2) — A Mother Avenged Upon a Father: — "Zoe Chien-Chien" (Matthey, 1881), in which the parricide is counterbalanced by an incestuous passion, and is committed by the daughter, not by the son.

B — A Brother's Death Avenged Upon a Son (but without premeditation, this accordingly falling almost into the situation "Imprudence"}: — Aeschylus' "Atalanta" and Sophocles' "Meleager."

C — A Father's Death Avenged Upon a Husband: — "Rosmunde" (Rucellai).

D — A Husband's Death Avenged Upon a Father: —— "Orbecche" by Giraldi.

Thus, of twenty-two works, eighteen are in the same class, seventeen in the same sub-class, thirteen upon the same subject; — four classes and one sub-class altogether. Let us, for the moment, amuse ourselves by counting some of those which have been forgotten.