Page:The thirty-six dramatic situations (1921).djvu/56

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SIXTEENTH SITUATION

MADNESS

(Elements: Madman and Victim)


The origin of certain human actions lies hidden in fearful mystery; a mystery wherein the ancients believed they discerned the cruel smile of a god, and wherein our scientists, like the Chinese philosophers believe, they recognize the desires, prolonged and hereditary, of an ancestor. A startling awakening it is for Reason, when she finds on all sides her destiny strewn with corpses or with dishonors, which the Other, the unknown, has scattered at his pleasure. At this calamity, greater than death, how our kindred must weep and tremble; what terror and suspense must arise in their minds! And the victims, whose cries are lost in the mute heavens; the beloved ones pursued in unreasoning rage which they cannot comprehend! What variations of the inconscient are here: folly, possession, divine blindness, hypnosis, intoxication, forgetfulness !

A (1) — Kinsmen Slain in Madness: — "Athamas" and the "Weavers of Nets" by Aeschylus; "Hercules Furens" by Euripides and by Seneca; "Ion" by Euripides.

(2) — A Lover Slain in Madness: — "La Fille Eliza," by Edmond de Goncourt; "La Tentation de Vivre" (Louis Ernault). A lover on the point of slaying his mistress in madness: Example from fiction: "La Bete Humaine." Familiar instances: Jack the Ripper; the Spaniard of Montmartre, etc.

(3) — Slaying or Injuring of a Person not Hated: — "Monsieur Bute" (Biollay, 1890). Destruction of a work: "Hedda Gabler."