George Polti's 36 dramatic situations on film with Hannaleena Hauru


Getting to know George Polti’s definition of 36 dramatic situations.

Task 1/3.

Select and watch one of the video links here. Find the essential dramatic situation the clip is dealing with.

Try to find only one. Also, name the parties in the dramatic conflict:

Example of an answer:

– The short film deals with the situation of ”Mistaken Jealosy”.

– The One legged man is the The Jealous One,

– The woman in the bear suit is the Object of Whose Possession he Is Jealous;

– the man in the tiger suit is the Supposed Accomplice and

– the man dressed as a hunter is the Author of the Mistake.”

Note: for some clips you may have to look for more info about the issue (google it, baby).
















George Polti’s 36 Dramatic Situations

1.          Supplication

2.          Deliverance

3.          Vengeance of a crime

4.          Vengeance taken for kindred upon kindred

5.          Pursuit

6.          Disaster

7.          Falling prey to cruelty or misfortune

8.          Revolt

9.          Daring enterprise

10.      Abduction

11.      The Enigma

12.      Obtaining

13.      Enmity of kinsmen

14.      Rivalry of kinsmen

15.      Murderous adultery

16.      Madness

17.      Fatal imprudence

18.      Involuntary crimes of love

19.      Slaying of a kinsman unrecognised

20.      Self-sacrificing for an ideal

21.      Self-sacrifice for kindred

22.      All sacrificed for a passion

23.      Necessity of sacrificing loved ones

24.      Rivalry of superior and inferior

25.      Adultery

26.      Crimes of love

27.      Discovery of the dishonour of a loved one

28.      Obstacles to love

29.      An enemy loved

30.      Ambition

31.      Conflict with a god

32.      Mistaken jealousy

33.      Erroneous judgement

34.      Remorse

35.      Recovery of a lost one

36.      Loss of loved ones

Find Polti’s book ”The 36 Dramatic Situations” here to understand more:

Task 2/3

Make a video clip of 1-3  minutes that presents the dramatic situation of ”Erroneous judgement” – see George Polti’s presentation below. Focus on presenting the conflict though the characters, making it clear to the audience on what the situation is.



(The Mistaken One; the Victim of the Mistake; the 
Cause or Author of the Mistake; the Guilty Person.) 

(Any sort of mistaken judgment may here be un- 
derstood, even though committed only in the thought 
of one person to the detriment of another.) 

A (1) False Suspicion Where Faith is Necessary: 

'The Serpent Woman" by Gozzi; "L'Etudiant 
Pauvre" (Milloecker, 1889). One of the facets of 
"Henry V" is connected somewhat remotely with this 
situation, the incomprehension of the young prince's 
real character by the witnesses of his disorders. Dumas 
pere has represented Henri de Navarre as misunder- 
stood in the same way by his entourage. 

(2) False Suspicion (in which the jealousy is not 
without reason) of a Mistress: Part of "Diane" by 
Augier; "Marie Stuart" by Alfieri. 

(3) False Suspicions Aroused by a Misunderstood 
Attitude of a Loved One: "The Raven" by Gozzi; 
"Hypsipile" by Metastasio; "Theodora" (Sardou, 
1884); part of "La Reine Fiammetta"; "Le Voleur" 
(Bernstein, 1906); "Les Grands" (Weber and Basset, 
1909); "Coeur Maternel" (Franck, 1911). 

(4) By Indifference: "Crainquebille" (France, 
1909); "le Vierge" (Vallette). 

B (1) False Suspicions Drawn Upon Oneself to 
Save a Friend: "Aimer Sans Savoir Qui" by Lope; 
"Mme. Ambros" (Widor, 1885). 

(2) they Fall Upon the Innocent: "Siroes" by 
Metastasio; "La Grande Iza" (Bouvier, 1882); "Le 
Fiacre No. 13" and "Gavroche" (Dornay, 1887 and 
1888); "L' Affaire des Poisons" (Sardou, 1907); "Les 
Pierrots" (Grillet, 1908). Upon the Innocent Hus- 
band of the Guilty One: "La Criminelle" (Delacour, 

(3) The Same Case as 2, but in Which the Inno- 
cent had a Guilty Intention: "Jean Cevenol" 
(Fraisse, 1883). In Which the Innocent Believes 
Himself Guilty: "Le Roi de 1'Argent" (Milliet, 1885); 
"Poupees Electriques" (Marinetti). 

(4) A Witness to the Crime, in the Interest of a 
Loved One, Lets Accusation Fall Upon the Inno- 
cent: "Le Secret de la Terreuse" (Busnach, 1889). 

C (1) The Accusation is Allowed to Fall Upon 
an Enemy: "La Pieuvre" (Morel, 1885). 

(2) The Error is Provoked by an Enemy: "The 
Palamedes" of Sophocles and of Euripides; "LeVentre 
de Paris" (Zola, 1887); "Le Roi Soleil" (Bernede, 
1911); "L'Homme a Deux Tetes" (Forest, 1910). This 
nuance alone, it will be observed, attracted the Greek 
tragedians, who were, so to speak, tormented by a 
vague conception of the lago of a later age and who 
tried, in a succession of distorted types, to produce it; 
we seem, in these works, to be assisting at the birth of 
the future Devil; of the evangelic Judas and at that 
of the type of Jesus in Prometheus and Dionysos. This 
nuance C 2 seems to me a singularly fine one; it is, for 
instance, that of the "anonymous letter," and it will be 
admitted that a more admirably repugnant gargoyle 
cannot be imagined than the creature who crouches 
with pen in claw and malignant smile, to begin such a 
piece of work! 

(3) The Mistake is Directed Against the Victim 
by Her Brother: (here is included also the Twelfth, 
"Hatred of Kinsmen") : "The Brigands" by Schiller; 
"Don Garzia" by Alfieri. 

D (1) False Suspicion Thrown by the Real 
Culprit Upon One of His Enemies: Corneille's 
"Clitandre/' and "Sapho" (Gounod, 1884); "Catharine 
la Batarde" (Bell, 1881). 

(2) Thrown by the Real Culprit Upon the Second 
Victim Against Whom He Has Plotted from the 
Beginning: "Le Crime d'un Autre" (Arnold and 
Renauld, 1908). This is pure Machiavellianism, obtain- 
ing the death of the second victim through an unjust 
punishment for the murder of the first. Add to this the 
closest relationship between the two victims and the 
deceived judge, and we have all these emotions assem- 
bled: discovery of the death of a relative; supposed 
discovery of an impious hatred between two relatives; 
belief even in a second case of crime, aggravated this 
time by a scheme of revolt; finally the duty of con- 
demning a loved one believed to be guilty. This plot 
then, is a masterly one, since it groups, under the im- 
pulsion of an ambition or a vengeance, four other 
Situations. As for the "Machiavellianism" which has 
set it all in motion, it consists, for him who employs it, 
precisely in the method which is habitual to writers, a 
method here transferred to a single character; he ab- 
stracts himself, so to speak, from the drama, and, like 
the author, inspires in other characters the necessary 
feelings, unrolls before their steps the indispensable 
circumstances, in order that they may mechanically 
move toward the denouement he desires. Thus is de- 
veloped the "Artaxerce" of Metastasio. 

Suppress the part of the villian, and suppose for a 
moment that the author has planned the denouement 
desired by this traitor; the bringing about of the most 
cruel results from a "supposed fratricide" and the 
"duty of condemning a son." The author cannot 
otherwise combine his means to produce it. The type 
of the Villain (who has successively appeared in many 
guises) is nothing else than the author himself, masked 
in black, and knotting together two or three dramatic 
situations. He belongs, this type, to the family of the 
poetic Prologue, of the "Deus ex machina" (although 
more admissible) of the Orator of the parabases, of the 
Molieresque Valet, and of the Theorist (the good 
doctor, clergyman, journalist, "family friend"). He 
is in short the old Narrator of the monodramas. 
Nothing could be more naif, consequently, than this 
creature, whose unconvincing artificiality has spoiled 
many a scene. 

(3) False Suspicion thrown Upon a Rival: 

"Diana" (Paladilhe, 1885); "L'Ogre" (Marthold, 1890); 
"La Boscotte" (Mme. Maldagne, 1908). 

(4) Thrown Upon One Innocent, Because He Has 
Refused to be an Accomplice: "Valentinian" by 
Beaumont and Fletcher; "Aetius" by Metastasio. 

(5) Thrown by a Deserted Mistress Upon a Lover 
Who Left Her Because He Would Not Deceive Her 
Husband: "Roger-la-Honte" (Mary, 1888). 

(6) Struggle to Rehabilitate Oneself and to 
Avenge a Judicial Error Purposely Caused: "La 
De"gringolade" (Desnard, 1881); the end of "Fiacre 
No. 13."

Task 3/3
Genres and situations.
Make a video clip of 1-3 minutes, where you deal with 2 dramatic situations by George Polti. The idea is to present a twist in a story through the change of one dramatic situation to another. Example: (rivalry + slaying a kinsman unrecognized = could be a story of two masked knights in a fight at war, the other wins, takes of the helmet of the slayed knight, discovers he has just killed his brother.)
In addition to this, in your clip study the semantic and syntatic components that define a genre. See for help. Examine how elements of genres can be used as a story-telling device. Select one genre that supports your story.