Page:The thirty-six dramatic situations (1921).djvu/28

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(Elements: Punishment and Fugitive)

As the Second Situation was the converse of the First, so this situation of Pursuit represents a transition into the passive of the Third and Fourth, and, in fact, of all those in which danger pursues a character. There remains, however, a distinction; in Pursuit the avenging elements hold second place, or perhaps not even that; it may be, indeed, quite invisible and abstract. Our interest is held by the fugitive alone; sometimes innocent, always excusable, for the fault — if there was one — appears to have been inevitable, ordained; we do not inquire into it or blame it, which would be idle, but sympathetically suffer the consequences with our hero, who, whatever he may once have been, is now but a fellow-man in danger. We recall that truth which Goethe once flung in the face of hypocrisy; that, each one of us having within him the potentiality for all the crimes, there is not one which it is impossible to imagine ourselves committing, under certain circumstances. In this Situation we feel ourselves, so to speak, accomplices in even the worst of slayings. Which may be explained by the reflection that along our various lines of heredity many such crimes might be found, and our present virtuousness may mean simply an immunity from criminal tendencies which we have gained by the experience of our ancestors. If this be the case, heredity