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Gordian Plot

TWENTY-FOURTH SITUATION, RIVALRY OF SUPERIOR AND INFERIOR

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(The Superior Rival; the Inferior Rival; the Object)

I would have preferred to make of this and the following (Adultery) a single situation. The difference lies in a contract or a ceremony, of variable importance according to the milieu, and which in any case does not materially change the dramatic emotions springing from the love contest; even this difference becomes quite imperceptible in polygamous societies (Hindu drama). Thus I would rather have created but one independent situation, of which the other should be a nuance.. But I fear I should be accused of purposely compressing modern works into the smallest possible number of categories, for the two which we are now to analyze contain the major part of them.

We have already remarked that between "Hatred of Kinsmen" and "Rivalry of Kinsmen" the sole difference lies in the fact that in the latter there is embodied in human form the Object of dispute, the "casus belli." For the same reason we may bring together the situations "Rivalry of Superior and Inferior," "Adultery," and even "Murderous Adultery," and distinguish them from all the situations which portray struggle pure and simple, (V, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XXX, XXXI). However, the beloved Object will more naturally appear in the present cases of sentimental rivalry than she could in the "Rivalry of Kinsmen," and nowhere does a more favorable opportunity present itself to the dramatic poet for portraying his ideals of love.

These cases are divided first according to sexes, then according to the degrees of difference in the rank of the rivals.

A—Masculine Rivalries, (1)—Of a Mortal and an Immortal:—"Mrigancalckha" by Viswanatha; "Heaven and Earth" by Byron; "Polypheme" (Samain). Of Two Divinities of Unequal Power:—"Pandore" by Voltaire.

(2)—Of a Magician and an Ordinary Man:—"Tanis et Zelide," by Voltaire.

(3)—Of Conqueror and Conquered:—"Malati and Madhava" by Bhavabuti; "Le Tribut de Zamora" (Gounod, 1881); "Le Sals" (Mme. Ollognier, 1881). Of Victor and Vanquished:—Voltaire's "Alzire." Of a Master and a Banished Man:—"Appius and Virginia" by Webster; "Hernani" and "Mangeront-Ils ?" by Hugo; "Dante" (Godard, 1890). Of Usurper and Subject:—"Le Triumvirat" by Voltaire.

(4)—Of Suzerain King and Vassal Kings:—Corneille's "Attila."

(5)—Of a King and a Noble:—"The Earthen ToyCart" by Sudraka; "The Mill" and "Nina de Plata" by Lope; "Agesilas and Surena" by Corneille; "Demetrius" by Metastasio; "Le Fils de Porthos" (Blavet 1886).

(6)—Of a Powerful Person and an Upstart:— "Don Sanche" by Corneille; "La Marjolaine" (Richepin fils, 1907).

(7)—Of Rich and Poor:—"La Question d'Argent" by Dumas; "La Nuit de Saint-Jean" (ErckmannChatrian and Lacome); "En Greve" (Hirsch, 1885); "Surcouf" (Planquette, 1887); 'UAttentat" (Capus and Descaves, 1906) "La Barricade" (Bourget, 1910); "La Petite Milliardaire" (Dumay and Forest, 1905). In fiction: part of "Toilers of tne Sea." Relative inequality: "Mon Ami Teddy" (Rivoire and Besnard, 1910).

(8)—Of an Honored Man and a Suspected One:— "L'Obstacle" (Daudet, 1890); "Le Drapeau" (Moreau, 1879); "Devant l'Ennemi" (Charton, 1890); "Jack Tempete" (Elzear, 1882); "La Bucheronne" (C. Edmond, 1889). In comedy: "Le Mariage de Mile. Boulemans" (Fonson and Wicheler, 1911).

(9)—Rivalry of Two Who Are Almost Equal:— "Dhourtta Samagana," the rivals here being master and disciple, as is also the case in "Mai'tres Chanteurs," but not in "Glatigny" (Mendes, 1906), nor in "Bohemos" (Zamacois, 1907).

(10)—Rivalry of Equals, One of Whom Has in the Past Been Guilty of Adultery:—"Chevalerie Rustique" (Verga, 1888).

(11)—Of a Man Who is Loved and One Who Has Not the Right to Love:—"La Esmeralda."

(12)—Of the Two Successive Husbands of a Divorcee—"Le Dedale" (Hervieu, 1903). By multiplying the number of husbands good comic effects might be secured.

B—Feminine Rivalries, (1)—Of a Sorceress and an Ordinary Woman:—"La Conquete de la Toison d'Or" by Corneille: "La Sorciere" (Sardou, 1903).

(2)—Of Victor and Prisoner:—"Le Comte d'Essex" by Thomas Corneille; the "Marie Stuart" of Schiller and also of Samson.

(3)—Of Queen and Subject:—"Marie Tudor" and "Amy Robsart" by Hugo; "Le Cor Fleuri" (Mikhael and Herold); "Varennes" (Lenotre and Lavedan, 1904). The title of this sub-class is, it will be remembered, the only one cited of the so-called "TwentyFour Situations" of Gerard de Nerval; we might indeed include under this denomination the examples of B 1, 2 and 4. But at most it can constitute only a half of one of the four classes of "Rivalry of Superior and Inferior," which itself has but the importance of one situation in a series of thirty-six.

(4)—Of a Queen and a Slave:—"Bajazet" by Racine; "Zulime;" part of "Une Nuit de Cleopatre" (from Gautier, by V. Masse, 1885).

(5)_Of Lady and Servant:—"The Gardener's Dog" by Lope de Vega (wherein may be found what is perhaps the most successful of the many attempted portraits of an amorous "grande dame").

(6)—Of a Lady and a Woman of Humbler Position: —"Francois-les-bas-bleus" (Messager, 1883); "Le Friquet" (Willy and Gyp, 1904); "Petite Hollande" (S Guitry, 1908); "L'Ane de Buridan" (de Fleurs and de Caillavet, 1909); "Trains de Luxe" (Hermant, 1909). Of a Lady and Two Women of Humbler Class:—"Les Passageres" (Coolus, 1906).

(7)—Rivalry of Two Who Are Almost Equals, Complicated by the Abandonment of One (this tends toward A (1) of Situation XXV):—Corneille's "Ariane;" "Benvenuto" (Diaz, 1890). In fiction: "La Joie de Vivre."

(8)—Rivalry Between a Memory or an Ideal (That of a Superior Woman) and a Vassal of Her Own:— "Semiramide Riconosciuta" by Metastasio; '"Madame la Mort" by Rachilde (in which the field of struggle is subjective); "La Morte" by Barlatier; "L'lmage" by Beaubourg. Symmetrical case in the masculine: "The Lady from the Sea," by Ibsen.

Rebecca (Daphne du Maurier, 1938)

(9)—Rivalry of Mortal and Immortal:—"La Dame a la Faulx" (Saint-Pol Roux).

C—Double Rivalry (A loves B, who loves C, who loves D):—Metastasio's "Adrien;" Lessing's "Emilia Galotti;" "La Fermiere" (d'Artois, 1889); "Ascanio" (Saint-Saens, 1890); "Les Deux Hommes" (Capus, 1908); "Le Circuit" (Feydeau and de Croisset, 1909); "L'Article 301" (Duval, 1909). It is permissible to extend the rivalry to three, four, etc., which will make it less commonplace, but will not greatly vary the effects, although sometimes the chain will end in a complete circle (that is to say, D will love A), or a partial one (D returning the love of C).

D—Oriental Rivalries:—We are beginning to take account of the fact that the divorce law was obtained chiefly through the efforts of our dramatic writers, less because they were convinced of its righteousness than because they felt the need of a renewal and increase of their limited combinations. They might, indeed, have breathed a fresher and purer air by turning toward Hindu polygamy! Goethe, Theophile Gautier (who foresaw the decadence of woman through the extension and increase of vice), Maurice Barres ("L'Ennemi des Lois") seem to have felt something of the sort. We could wish that the misunderstandings of the modern home, in which archaic fidelity and genuine monogamy have almost ceased to exist, on one side especially, might be settled with a modicum of this spirit of tolerance.

(1)—Rivalry of Two Immortals:—"The Loves of Krishna" by Roupa.

(2)—Of Two Mortals:—"Agnimitra and Malavika," by Kalidasa.

(3)—Of Two Lawful Wives:—"The Necklace," by Sri Harshadeva; "The Statue" by Rajasekhara.

To the relative rank of the two rivals there is added, as a means of varying the theme, the position, with respect to them, of the beloved Object. The aspects of the struggle will depend, in fact, upon how near the prize may be to one of the adversaries, or how distant; upon whether the Object be of a rank inferior to both rivals, or midway between the two, or even superior to both.

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Example: Rocky

Rivalry is a rich general theme and many different sub-situations of rivals in different contexts can be found, as indicated above. In our own lives, also, we often find rivals, ranging from those who would seek promotion against us at work to rivals for the affection of third another.

Rivalry can include elements of both envy and jealousy, which can both spill over from simple competitive respect to dislike and hatred of enemies.

When one person is superior in some way to another, then they may seem to have the upper hand and are bound to win. However the inferior rival can employ other means. If the inferior rival is bad, they may use evil subterfuge, for example discrediting or poisoning the superior rival. Where the inferior rival is good, then they may win support from others or perhaps see through the evil ways of the superior rival.

Where the object of rivalry is another person, this person is given significant power, which they can respect or abuse according to their will. They thus join in the story and may be a major character. A typical pattern is where they add their power to the inferior person, thus counterbalancing the power of the superior person. It is also easy for triangular games to ensue.

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