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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 conse-
quences) , 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 char-
acter 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, be
lieves 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.
(2) Through Political Necessity: ”Les Guebres
and”Les Lois de Minos” by Voltaire.
(3) Through a Rivalry in Love: ”La Petite
Mionne” (Richebourg, 1890).
(4) Through Hatred of the Lover of the Un-
recognized Daughter: ”Le Roi s’amuse” (in which
the discovery takes place after the slaying) .
B (1) Being Upon the Point of Killing a Son Un-
knowingly: The ”Telephus” of Aeschylus and of
Sophocles (with incest as the alternative of this
crime) ; Euripides’ ”Cresphontes” ; the ”Meropes” of
Maffei, of Voltaire and of Alfieri ; Sophocles’ ”Creusa” ;
Euripides’ ”Ion.” In Metastasio’s ”Olympiad” this
subject is complicated by a ”Rivalry of Friends”.
A Son Slain Without Being Recognized: Partial ex-
ample : the third act of ”Lucrece Borgia” ; ”The 24th of
February,” by Werner.
(2) The Same Case as B (1), Strengthened by
Machiavellian Instigations: Sophocles’ ”Euryale”;
(3) The Same Case as B (2), Intermixed With
Hatred of Kinsmen (that of grandfather for grand-
son) : Metastasio’s ”Cyrus.”
C Being Upon the Point of Slaying a Brother Un-
knowingly: (1) Brothers Slaying in Anger: The
”Alexanders” of Sophocles and of Euripides. (2)
A Sister Slaying Through Professional Duty: ”The
Priestesses” of Aeschylus; ”Iphigenia in Tauris,” by
Euripides and by Goethe, and that projected by
D Slaying of a Mother Unrecognized: Voltaire’s
”Semiramis”; a partial example: the denouement of
E A Father Slain Unknowingly, Through Machia-
vellian Advice: (see XVII) : Sophocles’ ”Pelias” and
Euripides’ ”Peliades” ; Voltaire’s ”Mahomet” (in which
the hero is also upon the point of marrying his sister
unknowingly). The Simple Slaying of a Father Un-
recognized: Legendary example: Laius. From ro-
mance: ”The Legend of Saint Julian the Hospitaller.”
The Same Case Reduced From Murder to Simple Insult :
”Le Pain d’Autrui” (after Turgenieff, by Ephraim
and Schutz, 1890). Being Upon the Point of Slaying
a Father Unknowingly : ”Israel” (Bernstein, 1908).
F (1) A Grandfather Slain Unknowingly, in
Vengeance .and Through Instigation: ”Les Bur-
(2) Slain Involuntarily: Aeschylus’ ”Polydectes.”
(3) A Father-In-Law Killed Involuntarily:
G (1) Involuntary Killing of a Loved Woman:
Sophocles’ ”Procris.” Epic example: Tancred and
Clorinda, in ”Jerusalem Delivered.” Legendary ex-
ample (with change of the sex of the person loved) :
(2) Being Upon the Point of Killing a Lover Un-
recognized: ”The Blue Monster” by Gozzi.
(3) Failure to Rescue an Unrecognized Son:
”Saint Alexis” (a XIV Century Miracle of Notre-
Dame) ; ”La Voix du Sang” (Rachilde).
Remarkable is the liking of Hugo (and consequently
of his imitators) for this somewhat rare situation.
Each of the ten dramas of the old Romanticist contains
it ; in two of them, ”Hernani” and ”Torquemada,” it is,
in a manner accessory to the Seventeenth (Imprud-
ence), fatal to the hero also; in four (”Marion Del-
orme,” ”Angelo,” ”La Esmeralda,” ”Ruy Bias”) this
case of involuntary injury to a loved one supplies all the
action and furnishes the best episodes; in four others
(”Le Roi s’amuse,” ”Marie Tudor,” ”Lucrece Borgia”
”Les Burgraves”) it serves furthermore as denoue-
ment. It would seem, indeed, that drama, for Hugo,
consists in this: the causing, directly or indirectly, of
the death of a loved one ; and, in the work wherein he
has accumulated the greatest number of theatrical
effects in ”Lucrece Borgia” we see the same situa-
tion returning no less than five times. Near the first
part of Act I, Gennaro permits his unrecognized
mother to be insulted ; in the second part, he himself in-
sults her, not knowing her for his mother ; in Act II she
demands, and is granted, the death of her unrecognized
son, then finds she has no recourse but to kill him her-
self, then is again insulted by him; finally, in Act III,
she poisons him, and, still unknown, is insulted,
threatened and slain by him.
Be it noted that Shakespeare has not in a single in-
stance employed this Nineteenth Situation, an alto-
gether accidental one, having no bearing upon his
powerful studies of the will.