Page:The thirty-six dramatic situations (1921).djvu/63

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EIGHTEENTH SITUATION 61

truth, sees the character walk unconsciously toward the crime, as though in a sinister sort of blindman's-buff, as in Classes B, C and D.

A (1) — Discovery That One Has Married Ones Mother: — The "Œdipus" of Aeschylus, of Sophocles, of Seneca, of Anguillara, of Corneille, of Voltaire, not to speak of those of Achaeus, Philocles, Melitus, Xenocles, Nicomachus, Carcinus, Diogenes, Theodecte, Julius Caesar; nor of those of Jean Provost, Nicolas de Sainte-Marthe, Lamothe, Ducis, J. Chenier, etc. The greatest praise of Sophocles consists in the astonishment we feel that neither the many imitations, nor the too well-known legend of the abandonment on Cithaeron, nor the old familiar myth of the Sphinx, nor the difference in the ages of the wedded pair, that none of these things has made his work appear unnatural or unconvincing.

(2) — Discovery That One Has Had a Sister as Mistress: — Tasso's "Torrismond; "The Bride of Messina" by Schiller. This case, obviously a more frequent one, becomes unconvincing in the latter drama, when combined with the Nineteenth Situation. Example from fiction: "L'Enfant Naturel," by Sue.

B (1) — Discovery That One Has Married Ones Sister: — "Le Mariage d' Andre" (Lemaire and de Rouvre, 1882). This being a comedy, the error is discovered in time to be remedied, and the play "ends happily." "Abufar" by Ducis, which also falls under a preceding classification.

(2) — The Same Case, in Which the Crime Has Been Villainously Planned by a Third Person: — "Heraclius" (this gives, despite its genius, rather the feeling of a nightmare than of a terrible reality).

(3) — Being Upon the Point of Taking a Sister, Unknowingly, as Mistress: — Ibsen's "Ghosts." The mother, a knowing witness, hesitates to reveal the danger, for fear of subjecting the son to a fatal shock.

C — Being Upon the Point of Violating, Unknowingly, a Daughter: — Partial example: "La Dame aux Domino Rose" (Bouvier, 1882).