Page:The thirty-six dramatic situations (1921).djvu/65

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(The Slayer; the Unrecognized Victim)

Whereas the Eighteenth Situation attains its highest degree of emotion after the accomplishment of the act, (doubtless because all the persons concerned in it survive, and the horror of it lies chiefly in the consequences), the Nineteenth, on the contrary, in which a victim is to perish and in which the interest increases by reason of the blind premeditation, becomes more pathetic in the preparations for the crime than in the results. This permits a happy ending, without the necessity of recourse, as in the Eighteenth, to a comedy-process of error. A simple recognition of one character by another will suffice, — of which our Situation XIX is, in effect, but a development.

A (1) — Being Upon the Point of Slaying a Daughter Unknowingly, by Command of a Divinity or an Oracle: — Metastasio's "Demophon." The ignorance of the kinship springs from a substitution of infants; the interpretation of the oracle's words is erroneous; the "jeune premiere," at one point in the action, believes herself the sister of her fiance. This linking of three or four mistakes (unknown kinship, in the special light of the situation we are now studying, a supposed danger of incest , as in B 2 of the preceding, and finally a misleading ambiguity of words, as in the majority of comedies) suffices to constitute what is called "stirring" action, characteristic of the intrigues brought back into vogue by the Second Empire, and over whose intricate entanglements our chroniclers waxed so naively enthusiastic.