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Gordian Plot

FIFTH SITUATION, PURSUIT

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(Elements: Punishment and Fugitive)

As the Second Situation was the converse of the First, so this situation of Pursuit represents a transition into the passive of the Third and Fourth, and, in fact, of all those in which danger pursues a character. There remains, however, a distinction; in Pursuit the avenging element holds second place, or perhaps not even that; it may be, indeed, quite invisible and abstract. Our interest is held by the fugitive alone; sometimes innocent, always excusable, for the fault— if there was one—appears to have been inevitable, ordained; we do not inquire into it or blame it, which would be idle, but sympathetically suffer the consequences with our hero, who, whatever he may once have been, is now but a fellow-man in danger. We recall that truth which Goethe once flung in the face of hypocrisy; that, each one of us having within him the potentiality for all the crimes, there is not one which it is impossible to imagine ourselves committing, under certain circumstances. In this Situation we feel ourselves, so to speak, accomplices in even the worst of slayings. Which may be explained by the reflection that along our various lines of heredity many such crimes might be found, and our present virtuousness may mean simply an immunity from criminal tendencies which we have gained by the experience of our ancestors. If this be the case, heredity and environment, far from being oppressive fatalities, become the germs of wisdom, which, satiety being reached, will triumph. This is why genius (not that of neurosis, but of the more uncommon mastery of neurosis) appears especially in families which have transmitted to it a wide experience of folly.

Through drama, then, we are enabled to gain our experience of error and catastrophe in a less costly way; by means of it we evoke vividly the innumerable memories which are sleeping in our blood, that we may purify ourselves of them by force of repetition, and accustom our dark souls to their own reflections. Like music, it will in the end "refine our manners" and dower us with the power of self-control, basis of all virtue. Nothing is more moral in effect than immorality in literature.

The sense of isolation which characterizes Situation V gives a singular unity to the action, and a clear field for psychological observation, which need not be lessened by diversity of scenes and events.

A—Fugitives From Justice Pursued For Brigandage, Political Offenses, Etc.Edit

"Louis Perez of Galicia" and "Devotion to the Cross," both by Calderon; the beginning of the medieval Miracle "Robert-le-Diable"; "The Brigands" by Schiller; "Raffles" (Hornung, 1907). Historical examples: the proscription of the Conventionnels; the Duchesse de Berry. Examples from fiction: "Rocambole" by Gaboriau; "Arsene Lupin" (Leblanc). Familiar instances: police news. Example in comedy: "Compere le Renard" (Polti, 1905).

Example: The Fugitive.

Example: Enemy of the State with Will Smith

B—Pursued For a Fault of LoveEdit

unjustly, "Indigne!" (Barbier, 1884); more justly, Moliere's "Don Juan" and Corneille's "Festin de Pierre," (not to speak of various works of Tirso de Molina, Tellez, Villiers, Sadwell, Zamora, Goldoni, Grabbe, Zorilla, Dumas pere); very justly, "Ajax of Locris," by Sophocles. Familiar instances run all the way from the forced marriage of seducers to arrests for sidewalk flirtations.

C—A Hero Struggling Against a PowerEdit

Aeschylus' "Prometheus Bound"; Sophocles' "Laocoon"; the role of Porus in Racine's and also in Metastasio's "Alexandre"; Corneille's "Nicomede"; Goethe's "Goetz von Berlichingen" and a part of "Egmont"; Metastasio's "Cato"; Manzoni's "Adelghis" and a part of his "Count of Carmagnola"; the death of Hector in Shakespeare's "Troilus and Cressida"; "Nana-Sahib" (Richepin, 1883) ; "Edith" (Bois, 1885) ; the tetralogy of the "Nibeiungen'; "An Enemy of the People" (Ibsen) ; "Le Roi sans Couronne" (de Bouhelier, 1909).

D—A Pseudo-Madman Struggling Against an Iago Like AlienistEdit

"La Vicomtesse Alice" (Second, 1882).


commentsEdit

Chase is a common game with which we are familiar and so easily identify with the pursued, feeling their sense of fear and excitement as they evade capture, at least for a while.

Chase also mirrors a common broader pattern of seeking, where the hero (or someone) goes on a quest after some desired or needed object, so perhaps also evoking excitement from this alternative source.

Struggle is an odd addition to pursuit, although in the broader sense, this reflects the pattern of seeking, in which struggle can be a recurring theme.

Example—The Replacement Killers

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