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Georges Polti’s 36 Dramatic Situations

3. Crime Punished by
1. Supplication 2. Deliverance

4. Vengeance Taken For

5. Pursuit 6. Disaster
Kindred Upon Kindred

7. Falling Prey to Cruelty

8. Revolt 9. Daring Enterprise
or Misfortune

10. Abduction 11. The Enigma 12. Obtaining

14. Rivalry of
13. Enmity of Kinsmen 15. Murderous Adultery

18. Involuntary Crimes

16. Madness 17. Fatal Imprudence
of Love

19. Slaying of a Kinsman 20. Self-sacrificing for 21. Self-sacrifice for

Unrecognized an Ideal Kindred

23. Necessity of
22. All Sacrificed for a 24. Rivalry of Superior
Sacrificing Loved
Passion and Inferior

27. Discovery of the

25. Adultery 26. Crimes of Love Dishonour of a Loved

28. Obstacles to Love 29. An Enemy Loved 30. Ambition

33. Erroneous
31. Conflict With a God 32. Mistaken Jealousy

35. Recovery of a
34. Remorse 36. Loss of Loved Ones
Lost One

37. Mistaken Identity

1. SUPPLICATION (To humbly petition). Elements: a persecutor, a humble petitioner,

and a power in authority whose decision is doubtful.

A1 Fugitives imploring the B1 Hospitality besought by C1 Supplication of the

powerful for help against the shipwrecked. powerful for those
their enemies. dear to the suppliant.
B2 Charity entreated by
A2 Assistance implored for those cast off by their own C2 Supplication to a
the performance of a pious people, whom they have relative in behalf of
duty which has been disgraced. another relative.
B3 Expiation: the seeking of C3 Supplication to a
A3 Appeals for refuge in pardon, healing or mother's lover, in her
which to die. deliverance. behalf.
B4 The surrender of a
corpse, or relic, solicited.

2. DELIVERANCE. Elements: an unfortunate, a threatener, a rescuer.

A Appearance of a rescuer to the B1 A parent replaced on the throne by his

condemned. children.

B2 Rescue by friends, or by strangers grateful

for benefits or hospitality.

3. CRIME PURSUED BY VENGEANCE. Elements: an avenger and a criminal.

A1 The avenging of a slain parent B1 Vengeance for C Professional

or ancestor. intentional injury or pursuit of
spoilation. criminals.
A2 The avenging of a slain child
or descendant. B2 Vengeance for having
been despoiled during
A3 Vengeance for a child absence.
B3 Revenge for an
A4 The avenging of a slain wife or attempted slaying.
B4 Revenge for a false
A5 Vengeance for the dishonour, accusation.
or the attempted dishonouring, of
a wife. B5 Vengeance for
A6 Vengeance for a mistress
slain. B6 Vengeance for having
been robbed of one's own.
A7 Vengeance for a slain or
injured friend. B7 Revenge upon a whole
sex for a deception by
A8 Vengeance for a sister one.


guilty kinsman, remembrance of the victim, a relative of both.

A1 A father's death B A brother's C A father's death D A husband's death

avenged upon a death avenged avenged upon a avenged upon a
mother. upon a son. husband. father.

A2 A mother
avenged upon a

5. PURSUIT. Elements: Punishment and fugitive.

A Fugitives from justice B Pursued C A hero D A pseudo-madman

pursued for brigandage, for a fault of struggling struggling against an
political offenses, etc. love. against a Iago-like alienist.
6. DISASTER. Elements: A vanquished power, a victorious enemy or a messenger.

A1 Defeat suffered. BA C1 D1
monarch Ingratitude Abandonmen
A2 A fatherland destroyed. overthrow suffered. t by a lover
n. or a
A3 The fall of humanity. C2 The husband.
suffering of
A4 A natural catastrophe. unjust D2 Children
punishment lost by their
or enmity. parents.

C3 An

7. FALLING PREY TO CRUELTY OR MISFORTUNE. Elements: an Unfortunate; a

Master or a Misfortune.

A The B The C1 The D The unfortunate robbed of

innocent innocent powerful their hope.
made the despoiled by dispossessed
victim of those who and
ambitious should wretched.
intrigue. protect.
C2 A
favourite or
an intimate
finds himself

8. REVOLT. Elements: Tyrant and Conspirator.

A1 A conspiracy chiefly of B1 Revolt of one individual, who influences and

one individual. involves others. B2 A revolt of many.

A2 A conspiracy of several.

9. DARING ENTERPRISE. Elements: A bold leader, an object, an adversary.

A Preparations B1 War. C1 Carrying off a D1 Adventurous expeditions.

for war. desired person or
B2 object. D2 Adventure undertaken for the
Combat. purpose of obtaining a beloved
C2 Recapture of a woman.
desired object.

10. ABDUCTION. Elements: The abductor, the abducted, the guardian.

A Abduction of B Abduction of a C1 Recapture of the D1 Rescue of a

an unwilling consenting woman without the captive friend.
woman. woman. slaying of the abductor.
D2 Rescue of a
C2 The same case, with child.
the slaying of the
ravisher. D3 Rescue of a
soul in captivity
to error.

11. THE ENIGMA. Elements: Interrogator, seeker, and problem.

A Search for a B1 A riddle to be solved on pain C1 Temptations suffered

person who must be of death. with the object of
found on pain of discovering his name.
death. B2 A riddle to be solved on pain
of death, in which the riddle is C2 Temptations offered
proposed by the coveted with the object of
woman. ascertaining the sex.

C3 Tests for the purpose

of ascertaining the mental

12. OBTAINING. Elements: A solicitor and an adversary who is refusing, or an

arbitrator opposing parties.

A Efforts to obtain B Endeavour by means of persuasive C Eloquence with an

an object by ruse or eloquence alone. arbitrator.

13. ENMITY OF KINSMEN. Elements: A malevolent kinsman, a hated or

reciprocally hating kinsman.

A Hatred of siblings: B Hatred of parent and C Hatred of

child: grandparen
A1 One sibling t for
hated by several. B1 Hatred of grandchild.
the child for
A2 Reciprocal hatred the parent.
between siblings.
B2 Mutual
A3 Hatred between hatred.
relatives for reasons
of self-interest. B3 Hatred of
the parent
for the child.

D1 Hatred of parent-in-law for son- E Hatred of son-in-law F

in-law or daughter-in-law. (daughter-in-law) for Infanticide.
D2 Hatred of two brothers-in-law mother-in-law.
or sisters-in-law

14. RIVALRY OF KINSMEN. Elements: the preferred kinsman, the rejected kinsman,
and the object.

A1 Malicious rivalry of B1 Rivalry of parent and child, for C Rivalry D Rivalry

a sibling. an unmarried lover. of cousins. of friends.

A2 Malicious rivalry of B2 Rivalry of parent and child, for

two siblings. a married lover.

A3 Rivalry of two B3 Case similar to the two

brothers, with adultery foregoing, but in which the object
on the part of one. is already the spouse of the

B4 Rivalry of parent and child.

15. MURDEROUS ADULTERY. Elements: Two adulterers, betrayed husband or wife.

A1 The slaying of a husband by, or for, B Slaying of a wife for a paramour, and in
a paramour. self-interest.

A2 The slaying of a trusting lover.

16. MADNESS. Elements: Mad person and victim.

A1 Kinsman slain B Disgrace brought C Loss of loved D Madness brought

in madness. upon oneself ones brought about on by fear of
through madness. by madness. hereditary insanity.
A2 A lover slain in

A3 Slaying or
injuring of a
person not hated.

17. FATAL IMPRUDENCE. Elements: The imprudent, the victim or the object lost.

A1 Imprudence the B1 Curiosity the cause of C1 Curiosity the cause of

cause of one's own one's own misfortune. death or misfortune to
misfortune. others.
B2 Loss of the possession
A2 Imprudence the of a loved one, through C2 Imprudence the cause
cause of one's own curiosity. of a relative's death.
C3 Imprudence the cause
of a lover's death.

C4 Credulity the cause of

kinsman's death.

C5 Credulity the cause of


18. Involuntary Crimes of Love. Elements: The lover, the loved, and the revealer.

A1 Discovery that B1 Discovery that one has married C Being D1 Being upon
one has married one's sibling. upon the the point of
one's mother. point of committing an
B2 Discovery that one has married violating, adultery,
A2 Discovery that one's sibling, in which the crime has unknowingly unknowingly.
one has had been villainously planned by a third , one's own
one's sibling as a person. child. D2 Adultery
lover. committed
B3 Being upon the point of taking unknowingly.
one's sibling, unknowingly, as a
19. SLAYING OF A KINSMAN UNRECOGNIZED. Elements: The slayer, the
unrecognized victim.

A1 Being upon the B1 Being upon the point of C Being upon the point
point of slaying a killing a son unknowingly. of killing one's brother
daughter unknowingly:
unknowingly, by B2 Being upon the point of
command of a killing a son unknowingly, C1
divinity or an strengthened by Machiavellian Brothers
oracle. instigations. slaying in
A2 Through B3 Being upon the point of
political necessity. killing a son unknowingly, C2 A
intermixed with hatred of sister
A3 Through a kinsmen. slaying
rivalry in love. through
A4 Through hatred nal duty.
of the lover of the

D Slaying of a E1 A parent slain unknowingly F1 A grandparent slain

mother through Machiavellian advice. unknowingly, in
unrecognized. E2 The slaying of a parent vengeance and through
unknowingly. instigation.
E3 The insulting of a parent F2 A grandfather slain
unknowingly. involuntarily.
F3 A parent-in-law killed

G1 Involuntary killing of a loved woman.

G2 Upon the point of killing a lover unrecognized.
G3 Failure to rescue an unrecognized son.

20. SELF-SACRIFICING FOR AN IDEAL. Elements: The hero, the ideal, the creditor or
the person or things sacrificed.

A1 Sacrifice of life B1 Both love and life C Sacrifice D The ideal of

for the sake of sacrificed for the sake of of well-being honour sacrificed
one's word. one's faith. B2 Both love and to duty. to the ideal of
life sacrificed for the sake of faith.
A2 Life sacrificed a cause.
for the success of
one's people. B3 Love sacrificed to
interests of state.
A3 Life sacrificed
for the happiness
of one's people.

A4 Life sacrificed
in filial piety.

A5 Life sacrificed
for the sake of
one's faith.
21. SELF-SACRIFICE FOR KINDRED. Elements: The hero, the kinsman, the creditor
or the person or thing sacrificed.

A1 Life sacrificed B1 Ambition C1 Love sacrificed for D1 Life and honor

for that of a sacrificed for the the sake of a parent's sacrificed for the
relative or loved happiness of a life. life of a parent or
one. parent. loved one.
C2 Love sacrificed for
A2 Life sacrificed B2 Ambition the happiness of one's D2 Modesty
for the happiness sacrificed for the child. sacrificed for the
of a relative or life of a parent. life of a relative or
loved one. C3 Love sacrificed for a loved one.
the happiness of a
loved one.

C4 Love sacrificed for

the happiness of one's
child, but caused by
unjust laws.

22. ALL SACRIFICED FOR A PASSION. Elements: The lover, the object of the fatal
passion, and the person or thing sacrificed.

A1 Religious vows of B Temptations (see 12) C1 Destruction of honor,

chastity broken for passion. destroying the sense of fortune, and life by
duty, pity, etc. erotic vice.
A2 A vow of purity broken.
C2 The same effect
A3 Respect for a priest produced by any other
destroyed. A4 A future vice.
ruined by passion

A5 Power ruined by a

A6 Ruin of mind, health,

and life.

A7 Passion gratified at the

price of life.

A8 Ruin of fortunes, lives,

and honour.

23. NECESSITY OF SACRIFICING LOVED ONES. Elements: The hero, the beloved
victim, and the necessity for the sacrifice.

A1 Necessity for B1 Duty of sacrificing one's child, unknown to others,

sacrificing a daughter in under the pressure of necessity. B1 Duty of sacrificing,
the public interest. under the same circumstances, one's parent.

A2 Duty of sacrificing her B3 Duty of sacrificing, under the same circumstances,

in fulfilment of a vow to one's spouse.
B4 Duty of sacrificing a son-in-law for the public good.
A3 duty of sacrificing
benefactors or loved ones B5 Duty of sacrificing a son-in-law for the sake of
to one's faith. reputation.

B6 Duty of contending with a brother-in-law for the

public good.

B7 Duty of contending with a friend.

24. RIVALRY OF SUPERIOR AND INFERIOR. Elements: The superior rival, the inferior
rival, and the object.

A1 Rivalry of a mortal and immortal. B1 Of a sorceress and an

ordinary woman.
A2 Of two divinities of unequal power.
B2 Of victor and
A3 Of a magician and an ordinary man. prisoner.

A4 Of conqueror and conquered. B3 Of a queen and

A5 Of victor and vanquished.
B4 Of a queen and slave.
A6 Of a master and a banished man.
B5 Of lady and servant.
A7 Of usurper and subject.
B6 Of a lady and a
A8 Of suzerain king and vassal king(s). woman of humbler
A9 Of a powerful person and upstart.
B7 Of a lady and two
women of humbler class.
A10 Of rich and poor.
B8 Rivalry of two who
A11 Of an honoured man and a suspected one. are almost equals,
complicated by the
A12 Rivalry of two who are almost equal. abandonment of one.

A13 Rivalry of equals, one of whom in the past has been B9 Rivalry between the
proved guilty of adultery. memory or an ideal (that
of a superior woman)
A14 Of a man who is loved and one who has not the and a vassal of her own.
right to love.

A15 Of the two (or more) successive husbands of a


C Double rivalry (A loves B, who loves C, who loves D). D Oriental rivalries
(Hindu polygamy).

D1 Rivalry
of two

D2 Of two

D3 Of two

25. ADULTERY. Elements: A deceived husband or wife

and two adulterers.

A A mistress B A wife betrayed:

B1 For a slave,
A1 For who does not love
a in return.
woman B2 For
. debauchery.

A2 For B3 For a married

a woman.
wife. B4 With the
intention of
A3 For bigamy.
a girl.
B5 For a young
girl, who does not
love in return.

B6 A wife envied
by a young girl
who is in love
with her husband.

B7 By a

B8 Rivalry
between a lawful
wife who is
antipathetic and a
mistress who is

B9 Between a
generous wife
and an
impassioned girl.

C1 An antagonistic D1 Vengeance of E A spouse

husband sacrificed a deceived persecuted
for a congenial lover. spouse. by a rejected
C2 A husband, D2 Jealousy rival.
believed to be lost, sacrificed out of
forgotten for a rival. pity. D3 Jealousy
C3 A commonplace sacrificed for the
husband sacrificed sake of a cause.
for a sympathetic
C4 A good husband
betrayed for an
inferior rival.
C5 For a grotesque
C6 For an odious
C7 For a
commonplace rival,
by a perverse wife.
C8 For a less
handsome, but useful

26. CRIMES OF LOVE. Elements: The lover and the betrayed.

A1 A mother B1 A woman enamoured of C1 A man becomes D1 A man

in love with her stepson. the lover of his enamoured of
her son. sister-in-law. another man,
B2 A woman and her who yields.
A2 A stepson enamoured of C2 The man alone
daughter in each other. becomes D2 A woman
love with her enamoured of his enamoured of a
father. B3 A woman being the sister-in-law. bull.
mistress, at the same time,
A3 Violation of a father and son, both of C3 A brother and
of a daughter whom accept the situation. sister in love with
by her father. each other.

27. DISCOVERY OF THE DISHONOR OF A LOVED ONE. Elements: The discoverer and
the guilty one.

A1 Discovery of B1 Discovery of C Discovery D1 Duty of punishing

a parent's dishonour in the family that one's child one's child who is a
shame. of one's fiancee. is an assassin. traitor to country.

A2 Discovery of B2 Discovery that D2 Duty of punishing

one's child's one's wife has been one's sibling who is a
dishonour. violated before traitor to his party.
A3 Discovery of D2 Duty of punishing a
a sibling's B3 Discovery that child condemned under
shame or one's wife has been a law which the parent
dishonour. violated since the has made.
D3 Duty of punishing
B4 Discovery that one's child believed to
one's spouse be guilty.
previously committed
a fault. D4 Duty of sacrificing,
to fulfill a vow of
B5 Discovery that tyrannicide, a father
one's spouse has
formerly been a until then unknown.
D5 Duty of punishing a
B6 Discovery of sibling who is an
dishonour on the part assassin.
of a lover.
D6 Duty of punishing
B7 Discovery that one's mother to avenge
one's mistress, one's father.
formerly a prostitute,
has returned to her old

B8 Discovery that
one's lover is a

B9 The same
discovery concerning a
so-called king.

B10 The same

discovery concerning
one's spouse.

B11 The discovery that

one's lover is
specifically weakened.

28. OBSTACLES TO LOVE. Elements: Two lovers and an obstacle.

A1 Marriage B Marriage prevented by C1 Marriage forbidden on

prevented by enemies and contingent account of one partner's
inequality of rank. obstacles. previous betrothal to another.

A2 Inequality of C2 The same case,

fortune an complicated by an imaginary
impediment to marriage of the beloved
marriage. object.

D1 A free union E Free union impeded by F Love

impeded by the the incompatibility of
opposition of relatives. temper of the lovers.

D2 Family affection
disturbed by the

29. AN ENEMY LOVED. Elements: The beloved enemy, the lover, and the hater.

A The loved one hated by the B1 The lover is the slayer of the father of his
kinsman of the lover. beloved.
B2 The beloved is the slayer of the father of
A1 The lover pursued the beloved.
by the brothers of his B3 The beloved is the slayer of the brother
of her lover.
beloved. B4 The beloved is the slayer of the husband
of the woman who loves him, but who has
A2 The lover hated by previously sworn to avenge that husband.
the family of his B5 The same case, except that a lover,
beloved. instead of a husband, has been slain.
B6 The beloved is the slayer of a kinsman of
the woman who loves him.
A3 The lover is the B7 The beloved is the daughter of the slayer
child of a man hated of her lover's father.
by the kinsmen of his

A4 The beloved is an
enemy of the party of
the woman who loves

30. AMBITION. Elements: An ambitious person, a thing coveted, and an adversary.

A1 Ambition watched and guarded B Rebellious C1 Ambition and

against by a kinsman or patriot friend ambition (akin covetousness heaping
or by a brother. to #8). crime upon crime.

A2 By a relative or person under C2 Parricidal ambition.


A3 By partisans.

31. CONFLICT WITH A GOD. Elements:

A mortal and an immortal.

A1 Struggle B1 Controversy with

against a deity. a deity.

A2 Strife with B2 Punishment for

the believers in contempt of a god.
a god.
B3 Punishment for
pride before a god.

B4 Presumptuous
rivalry with a god.

B5 Imprudent rivalry
with a deity.

32. MISTAKEN JEALOUSY. Elements: The jealous one, the object of whose
possession he is jealous, the supposed accomplice, and the cause or the author of
the mistake.

A1 The mistake B1 Jealousy suggested by a C1 Reciprocal jealousy

originates in the traitor who is moved by suggested to husband and
suspicious mind of the hatred. wife by a rival.
jealous one.
B2 Jealousy suggested by a C2 Jealousy suggested to
A2 Mistaken jealousy traitor who is moved by the husband by a
aroused by a fatal self-interest. dismissed suitor.
B3 Jealousy suggested by a C3 Jealousy suggested to
A3 Mistaken jealousy of traitor who is moved by the husband by a woman
a love which is purely jealousy and self-interest. who is in love with him.
C4 Jealousy suggested to
A4 baseless jealousy the wife by a scorned rival.
aroused by malicious
rumours. C5 Jealousy suggested to a
happy lover by the
deceived husband.

33. ERRONEOUS JUDGEMENT. Elements: The mistaken one, the victim of the
mistake, the cause or author of the mistake, and the guilty person.

A1 Suspicion where faith is B1 False suspicions drawn upon oneself to save

necessary. a friend.

A2 False suspicion. B2 False suspicions fall upon the innocent.

A3 False suspicion (in which the B3 False suspicions fall upon the innocent
jealousy is not without reason) of spouse of the guilty one.
a mistress.
B4 False suspicions fall upon an innocent but
A4 False suspicions aroused by guilty-intentioned.
the a misunderstood attitude of a
loved one. B5 False suspicions fall upon an innocent who
believes themselves guilty.
A4 False suspicions aroused by
indifference. B6 A witness to a crime, in the interests of
loved one, lets accusation fall upon the

C1 The accusation is allowed to D1 False suspicion thrown by the real culprit

fall upon an enemy. upon one of his enemies.

C2 The error is provoked by the D2 False suspicion thrown by the real culprit
enemy. upon the second victim against which he has
plotted from the beginning.
C3 The mistake is directed against
the victim by her brother. D3 False suspicion thrown upon a rival.

D4 False suspicion thrown upon an innocent

because he has refused to be an accomplice.

D5 False suspicion thrown by a deserted

mistress upon a lover who left her because he
would not deceive her husband.

D6 Struggle to rehabilitate oneself and to

avenge a judicial error purposely caused.

34. REMORSE. Elements: The culprit, the victim or the sin, and the interrogator.
A1 Remorse for an unknown crime. B1 Remorse for a fault of love.

A2 Remorse for a parricide. B2 Remorse for an adultery.

A3 Remorse for an assassination.

A4 Remorse for a judicial murder.

A5 Remorse for the murder of husband or wife.

35. RECOVERY OF A LOST ONE. Elements: The seeker and the one found.

A Recovery of a lost one.

36. LOSS OF LOVED ONES. Elements: A kinsman slain, a kinsman spectator, and an

A1 Witnessing the slaying of kinsmen B Divining the death of a loved one.

while powerless to prevent it.

A2 Helping to bring misfortune upon

one's people through professional

C Learning of the death of a kinsman D Relapse into primitive baseness, through

or ally. despair on learning of the death of a loved


A Thinking someone is rich B The wrong man caught in the C

when he's poor. web of fear. Schizophrenia.