Page:The thirty-six dramatic situations (1921).djvu/31

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.


SIXTH SITUATION

DISASTER

(Elements: a Vanquished Power; a Victorious Enemy or a Messenger)

Fear, catastrophe, the unforeseen; a great reversal of roles; the powerful are overthrown, the weak exalted. Here is the oft-recurring refrain of the Biblical books, here the immortal echoes of the fall of Troy, at which we still pale as though with a presentiment.

A (1)- Defeat Suffered: — "The Myrmidons" and "The Persians" of Aeschylus; "The Shepherds" of Sophocles. Example from fiction: "La Debacle," by Zola. History is made up of repetitions of this story.

(2) — A Fatherland Destroyed: The "Xoanephores" of Sophocles; Byron's "Sardanapalus" (this corresponds also to Class B, and toward the denouement recalls the Fifth Situation). Examples from history: Poland; the great Invasions. From romance: "The War of the Worlds" (Wells).

(3) — The Fall of Humanity: — The Mystery of "Adam" twelfth century).

(4) — A Natural Catastrophe: 'Terre d'Epouvante" (de Lorde and Morel, L907).

B — A Monarch Overthrown (the converse of the Eighth): — Shakespeare's "Henry VI" and "Richard II." Historic instances: Charles I, Louis XVI, Napoleon, etc.; and, substituting other authorities than kings, Colomb, de Lesseps, and all disgraced ministers. Examples from fiction: the end of "Tartarin." "L'Argent." "Cesar Birotteau."