Gordian Plot


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(The Discoverer; the Guilty One)

From this Situation there results, almost immediately, a psychological struggle similar to that of the Twenty-Third, "Sacrifice of Loved Ones," but without the attraction of a high Ideal; this is replaced, in the present action, by the lash of shame.

A (1)—Discovery of a Mother's Shame:— "Madame Caverlet" by Augier; "Odette" and "Georgette" by Sardou; "Madame X" (Bisson, 1908); "Mrs. Warren's Profession" (Bernard Shaw); "Les Quarts d'Heure" (second part; Guiches and Lavedan, 1888). This sad destruction of a child's deepest respect and reverence is colored, in these works, by the terrors of the mother, by her blushes, by her remorse before the consequences of the past; through this last point the action ends in the Thirty-Fourth (Remorse). It remains unconnected in the second part of the "Marquis de Priola" (Lavedan, 1901).

(2)—Discovery of a Father's Shame:—"Vieille Histoire" (Jean Jullien, 1891); the denouement of "Pierre et Therese" (Prevost, 1909).

(3)—Discovery of a Daughter's Dishonor:—Part of "La Fille du Depute" (Morel, 1881); of "Les Affaires sont les Affaires" (Mirbeau, 1902); "L'Oreille Fendue (Nepoty, 1908).

B (1)—Discovery of a Dishonor in the Family of Ones Fiancee:—"L'Absente" (Villemer, 1889). Refinements of romance, whose mild tragedy consists in retarding the signature of a contract, and which corresponds also to the pseudo-Situation XXX (Forbidden Loves). Something of their dullness has already emanated from A 1 and A 2.

(2)—Discovery that Ones Wife Has Been Violated Before Marriage:—"Le Secret de Gilberte" (Massiac, 1890). Since the Marriage:—"Flore de Frileuse" by Bergerat, with comic denouement thanks to a "quidpro-quo."

(3)—That She Has Previously Committed a Fault: —"Le Prince Zilah" (Claretie, 1885); part of Dumas' "Denise." Common instances: Marriages through agencies.

(4)—Discovery that Ones Wife Has Formerly Been a Prostitute:—"Lena" (Berton and Mme. van Velde, 1886)! That ones mistress has been a prostitute:— "Marion Delorme." The same situation, from the point of view of "Remorse" (XXXIV), is encountered in Zola's "Madeleine." ,.,

(5)—-Discovery of Dishonor on the Part of a Lover (this also borders upon XXXIV:—"Chamillac" (Feuillet, 1886); "Le Crocodile" (Sardou, 1886).

(6)—Discovery that Ones Mistress, formerly a Prostitute, Has Returned to Her Old Life (with extenuating circumstances):—"La Dame aux Camellias Dumas); "La Courtisane" (Arnyvelde, 1905); part of. "Manon Lescaut." But for feminine cunning, would not this be the normal course of all "bonnes fortunes ?"

(7)—Discovery that Ones Lover is a Scoundrel, or that Ones Mistress is a Woman of Bad Character:— "Monsieur Alphonse" by Dumas; "Mensonges" by Emile Michelet. Since (as Palice remarks) liaisons would last forever if they were never broken off, and since the two lovers, who certainly know each other well, always give as the reason of their rupture the title of the present sub-class, the conclusion is as easy to draw as it is unflattering to the human species. The Same Discovery Concerning a So-Called King:—"Sire" (Lavedan, 1909). (8)—The Same Discovery Concerning Ones Wife:—

"Le Mariage d'Olympe" by Augier.

C—Discovery that Ones Son is an Assassin:— "Werner" by Byron; "La Policiere" (Montepin, 1889). The surprise is intensified in cases of parricide. Nuance C is capable of infinite development.

D—Might constitute a distinct situation; there is not only the discovery, but the duty of imposing punishment as well. This situation might serve as an intermediary between the Twenty-Third, "Duty of Sacrificing Kinsmen," and the Twenty-Seventh, which we are now studying, and which would thus end with Class C.

(1)—Duty of Punishing a Son Who is a Traitor to Country:—The "Brutus" of Voltaire, and of Alfieri. A Brother Who is a Traitor to His Party:—"Etudiants Russes" by Gilkin.

(2)—Duty of Punishing a Son Condemned Under a Law Which the Father has Made:—"L'Inflexible" (Parodi, 1884); "Le Tribun" (Bourget, 1910); "L'Apotre" (Loyson, 1911).

(3)—Duty of Punishing a Son Believed to be Guilty: —"Le Regiment" (Mary, 1890); "L'As de Trefle" (Decourcelle, 1883). This approaches XXXIII (Judicial Error).

(4)—Duty of Sacrificing, to Fulfill a Vow of Tyrannicide, a Father Until then Unknown. This imprudent vow carries us back, at one point, to the Seventeenth (Imprudence), and at another point the striking of an unknown parent recalls also the Nineteenth.— "Severo Torelli (Coppee, 1883).

(5)—Duty of Punishing a Brother Who is an Assassin:—"Casse-Museau" (Marot, 1881). From this situation the kinsman-judge escapes for a moment, only to fall into D 3, from which he returns with resignation to D 5.

(6)—Duty of Punishing Ones Mother to Avenge Ones Father:—(Situation IV arrested prematurely): —"Le Cceur de Se-hor (Michaud d'Humiac). The Fourth is less in evidence in "Simone" (Brieux, 1908).


Honor and duty are close bedfellows and people who uphold them are held in high esteem within many societies and bring reflected glory on all who know them, especially their families.

In the reverse, those who break social rules bring dishonor to their kin. This can create a significant dilemma for their relatives or friends: should the guilty party be exposed? Should they be protected? Should they be punished by the family? In stories of dishonor we often empathize with the family, although if the guilty party is attractive (for example a young tearaway) we may associate with them also and perhaps think about our more wicked side.

Presents a similar struggle as to that in Sacrifice of a Loved One, but without the attraction of a high ideal. Here, the ideal is replaced with shame. Example: Redeeming Love. (In that the wife, Angel, returns to her prostitution. However, this book also presents other situations, such as #2, Deliverance.)

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