Page:The thirty-six dramatic situations (1921).djvu/50

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(The Preferred Kinsman; the Rejected Kinsman; the Object)

This situation seems, at first glance, to present ten times the attraction of the preceding. Does not Love, as well as Jealousy, augment its effect? Here the charms of the Beloved shine amid the blood of battles fought for her sake. What startled hesitancies, what perplexities are hers; what fears of avowing a preference, lest pitiless rage be unchained!

Yes, the Beloved one, the "Object" — to use the philosophic name applied to her in the seventeenth century — will here be added to our list of characters. But . . . the Common Parent, even if he does not disappear, must lose the greater part of his importance; the Instigators will pale and vanish in the central radiance of the fair Object. Doubtless the "love scenes" will please, by their contrast to the violence of the play; but the dramatic purist may raise his brows, and find — perhaps — these turtle-dove interludes a trifle colorless when set in the crimson frame-work of fratricide.

Furthermore, there persists in the psychologist's mind the idea that Rivalry, in such a struggle, is no more than a pretext, the mask of a darker, more ancient hatred, a physiological antipathy, one might say, derived from the parents. Two brothers, two near relatives, do not proceed, on account of a woman, to kill each other, unless predisposed. Now, if we thus reduce the motive to a mere pretext, the Object at once pales and diminishes in importance, and we find ourselves returning to the Thirteenth Situation.