Page:The thirty-six dramatic situations (1921).djvu/62

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EIGHTEENTH SITUATION

INVOLUNTARY CRIMES OF LOVE

(The Lover; the Beloved; the Revealer)

This and the following situation stand out as the most fantastic and improbable of all the silhouettes upon our dramatic horizon. Nevertheless they are, in themselves, quite admissible, and at least not rarer today than they were in heroic times, through adultery and prostitution, which never flourished more generally than at present. It is merely the disclosure which is less frequent. Yet many of us have seen certain marriages, apparently suitable, planned and arranged, as it were, by relatives or friends of the families, yet obstinately opposed, avoided and broken off by the parents, seemingly unreasonable, but in reality only too certain of the consanguinity of the lovers. Such revelations, then, still take place, although without their antique and startling éclat, thanks to modern custom and our prudent prudery.

Its reputation for fabulous monstrosity was in reality attached to our Eighteenth Situation by the unequalled celebrity of the theme of "Œdipus," which Sophocles treated in a style almost romantic, and which his imitators have ever since overloaded with fanciful arabesques, more and more chimerical and extraordinary.

This situation and the following — as indeed to some extent all thirty-six — may be represented, as the author chooses, in one of two lights. In the first, the fatal error is revealed, simultaneously to the spectator and to the character, only after it is irreparable, as in Class A; and here the state of mind strongly recalls the Sixteenth. In the second, the spectator, informed of the