Gordian Plot


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(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 understood, 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 Wolnan by Gozzi; "L'Etndiant p3tivre"^Mffloe^r', 18891). One of the facets? of "fferiry V" is cOtfhected somewhat remotely with this si'taatjoii', 4he ^hcdmpfehension of the young prince's re^^aractfer by the Witnesses of his disorders. Dumas pere" has represented Henri de Navarre as misunderstood in the same way by his entourage.

2J—Fiflsfe Suspicion (in which the jealousy is iibi; WMbtit reason) of a M&stre'ss.-—Part Of "Diane" by Angler; "Marie Stuart" by Alfleri.

3)Faise Suspicioiis Aroused by a Misunderstood Attittide of a BbVedOne:^"The Raven" by Gozzi; "Hypsipilei" by Metastasio; "Theodora" (Sardou, 1884); part of "La Reine Fiammetta"; "Le Voleur" (Bernstein, 1906); "Lt& Grands" (Weber and Basset, 1909); "Coeur Mate'riiei" (Franck, 1911)..

(4)—By Indifference:—"CrainquebilJe" (France, 1909); "le Vierge" (Valfette).

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

iiy^&ix&y Fall Upon the irtnocetit:—Sirbes" by Mita^tasio; "m"tMrrde tza" ^Bouvier, 1$®,); "Le Fiacre No. 13" and "Gavroche" (Dornay, 1887 and 1888); "UAffaire des Poisons "(Sardou, 1907); "Les Pierrots" (Grillet, 1908). Upon the Innocent Husband of the Guilty One:—"La Criminelle" (Delacour, 1882).

(3)—The Same Case as 2, But in Which the Innocent 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 Innocent:— "Le Secret de la Terreuse" (Busnach, 1889).

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

(2)—The Error is Provoked by an Enemy:—"The Palamedes" of Sophocles and of Euripides; "LeVentre de Paris" (Zola, 1887; "Le Roi Soldi" (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 Iago 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, obtaining 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 assembled: 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 condemning a loved one believed to be guilty. This plot then, is a masterly one, since it groups, under the impulsion 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 abstracts 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 developed the "Artaxerce" of Metastasio.

Suppress the part of the villain, 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 "suppo^d 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, lie 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 melodramas. 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) ; "LaBoscotte" (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 Degringolade" (Desnard, 1881); the end of "Fiacre No. 13."


Includes false suspicions, accusation of innocent. Sometimes the guilty purposely sheds suspicion on another. Example: Body Heat.

We have a need to explain that which is happened and so will attribute cause or otherwise try to find the guilty person. In our hurry to do so, it is very easy to mistakenly suspect or accuse the wrong person.

In stories false suspicion or accusation is a common theme and many detective stories include the theme of suspecting the wrong person. For the viewer who associates with the falsely accused person, it can be a nail-biting time until the relief of being cleared of all guilt.

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