Firmitas

The 36 Dramatic Situations of George Polti

Revision 4
© 2008,2019 by Zack Smith. All rights reserved.

Derived from Georges Polti. The 37th may not be authentic Polti.

1. Supplication (To humbly petition).

Elements

  • A persecutor
  • A humble petitioner
  • A power in authority whose decision is doubtful.

Subtypes

  • A1 Fugitives imploring the powerful for help against their enemies.
  • A2 Assistance implored for the performance of a pious duty which has been forbidden.
  • A3 Appeals for refuge in which to die.
  • B1 Hospitality besought by the shipwrecked.
  • B2 Charity entreated by those cast off by their own people, whom they have disgraced.
  • B3 Expiration: the seeking of pardon, healing or deliverance.
  • B4 The surrender of a corpse, or relic, solicited.
  • C1 Supplication of the powerful for those dear to the suppliant.
  • C2 Supplication to a relative in behalf of another relative.
  • C3 Supplication to a mother's lover, in her behalf.

2. Deliverance.

Elements

  • An unfortunate
  • A threatener
  • A rescuer

Subtypes

  • A Appearance of a rescuer to the condemned.
  • B1 A parent replaced on the throne by his children.
  • B2 Rescue by friends, or by strangers grateful for benefits or hospitality.

3. Crime Punished by Vengeance.

Elements

  • An avenger
  • A criminal.

Subtypes

  • A1 The avenging of a slain parent or ancestor.
  • A2 The avenging of a slain child or descendant.
  • A3 Vengeance for a child dishonored.
  • A4 The avenging of a slain wife or husband.
  • A5 Vengeance for the dishonor, or the attempted dishonoring, of a wife.
  • A6 Vengeance for a mistress slain.
  • A7 Vengeance for a slain or injured friend.
  • A8 Vengeance for a sister seduced.
  • B1 Vengeance for intentional injury or spoilation.
  • B2 Vengeance for having been despoiled during absence.
  • B3 Revenge for an attempted slaying.
  • B4 Revenge for a false accusation.
  • B5 Vengeance for violation.
  • B6 Vengeance for having been robbed of one's own.
  • B7 Revenge upon a whole sex for a deception by one.
  • C Professional pursuit of criminals.

4. Vengeance Taken for Kindred upon Kindred.

Elements

  • Avenging kinsman
  • Guilty kinsman
  • Remembrance of the victim
  • A relative of both.

Subtypes

  • A1 A father's death avenged upon a mother.
  • A2 A mother avenged upon a father.
  • B A brother's death avenged upon a son.
  • C A father's death avenged upon a husband.
  • D A husband's death avenged upon a father.

5. Pursuit.

Elements

  • Punishment
  • Fugitive

Subtypes

  • A Fugitives from justice pursued for crimes, political offenses, etc.
  • B Pursued for a fault of love.
  • C The hero struggling against a power.
  • D The pseudo-madman struggling against an alienist.

6. Disaster.

Elements

  • A vanquished power
  • A victorious enemy or a messenger

Subtypes

  • A1 Defeat suffered.
  • A2 A fatherland destroyed.
  • A3 The fall of humanity.
  • A4 A natural catastrophe.
  • B A monarch overthrown.
  • C1 Ingratitude suffered.
  • C2 The suffering of unjust punishment or enmity.
  • C3 An outrage suffered.
  • D1 Abandonment by a lover or a husband.
  • D2 Children lost by their parents.

7. Falling Prey to Cruelty or Misfortune.

Elements

  • An unfortunate
  • A master or a misfortune.

Subtypes

  • A The innocent made the victim of ambitious intrigue.
  • B The innocent despoiled by those who should protect.
  • C1 The powerful dispossessed and wretched.
  • C2 A favorite or an intimate finds himself forgotten.
  • D The unfortunate robbed of their only hope.

8. Revolt.

Elements

  • Tyrant
  • Conspirator

Subtypes

  • A1 A conspiracy chiefly of one individual.
  • A2 A conspiracy of several.
  • B1 Revolt of one individual, who influences and involves others.
  • B2 A revolt of many.

9. Daring Enterprise.

Elements

  • A bold leader
  • An object
  • An adversary.

Subtypes

  • A Preparations for war.
  • B1 War.
  • B2 Combat.
  • C1 Carrying off a desired person or object.
  • C2 Recapture of a desired object.
  • D1 Adventurous expeditions.
  • D2 Adventure undertaken for the purpose of obtaining a beloved woman.

10. Abduction.

Elements

  • The abductor
  • The abducted
  • The guardian

Subtypes

  • A Abduction of an unwilling woman.
  • B Abduction of a consenting woman.
  • C1 Recapture of the woman without the slaying of the abductor.
  • C2 The same case, with the slaying of the ravisher.
  • D1 Rescue of a captive friend.
  • D2 Of a child.
  • D3 Of a soul in captivity to error.

11. The Enigma.

Elements

  • Interrogator
  • Seeker
  • Problem.

Subtypes

  • A Search for a person who must be found on pain of death.
  • B1 A riddle to be solved on pain of death.
  • B2 The same case, in which the riddle is proposed by the coveted woman.
  • C1 Temptations suffered with the object of discovering his name.
  • C2 Temptations offered with the object of ascertaining the sex.
  • C3 Tests for the purpose of ascertaining the mental condition.

12. Obtaining.

Elements

  • A solicitor
  • An adversary who is refusing
  • An arbitrator opposing parties

Subtypes

  • A Efforts to obtain an object by ruse or force.
  • B Endeavor by means of persuasive eloquence alone.
  • C Eloquence with an arbitrator.

13. Enmity of Kinsmen.

Elements

  • A malevolent kinsman
  • A hated or reciprocally hating kinsman

Subtypes

  • A Hatred of brothers:
  • A1 One brother hated by several.
  • A2 Reciprocal hatred.
  • A3 Hatred between relatives for reasons of self-interest.
  • B Hatred of father and son:
  • B1 Of the son for the father.
  • B2 Mutual hatred.
  • B3 Hatred of daughter for father.
  • C Hatred of grandfather for grandson.
  • D Hatred of father-in-law for son-in-law.
  • E Hatred of mother-in-law for son-in-law.

  • F Infanticide.

14. Rivalry of Kinsmen.

Elements

  • The preferred kinsman
  • The rejected kinsman
  • The object.

Subtypes

  • A1 Malicious rivalry of a brother.
  • A2 Malicious rivalry of two brothers.
  • A3 Rivalry of two brothers, with adultery on the part of one.
  • A4 Rivalry of sisters.
  • B1 Rivalry of father and son, for an unmarried woman.
  • B2 Rivalry of father and son, for a married woman.
  • B3 Case similar to the two foregoing, but in which the object is already the wife of the father.
  • B4 Rivalry of mother and daughter.
  • C Rivalry of cousins.
  • D Rivalry of friends.

15. Murderous Adultery.

Elements

  • Two adulterers
  • Betrayed husband or wife

Subtypes

  • A1 The slaying of a husband by or for a paramour.
  • A2 The slaying of a trusting lover.
  • B Slaying of a wife for a paramour, and in self-interest.

16. Madness.

Elements

  • Madman
  • Victim

Subtypes

  • A1 Kinsman slain in madness.
  • A2 A lover slain in madness.
  • A3 Slaying or injuring of a person not hated.
  • B Disgrace brought upon oneself through madness.
  • C Loss of loved ones brought about by madness.
  • D Madness brought on by fear of hereditary insanity.

17. Fatal Imprudence.

Elements

  • The imprudent
  • The victim or the object lost.

Subtypes

  • A1 Imprudence the cause of one's own misfortune.
  • A2 Imprudence the cause of one's own dishonor.
  • B1 Curiosity the cause of one's own misfortune.
  • B2 Loss of the possession of a loved one, through curiosity.
  • C1 Curiosity the cause of death or misfortune to others.
  • C2 Imprudence the cause of a relative's death.
  • C3 Imprudence the cause of a lover's death.
  • C4 Credulity the cause of kinsman's death.

18. Oedipal.

Elements

  • The lover
  • The loved
  • The revealer.

Subtypes

  • A1 Discovery that one has married one's mother.
  • A2 Discovery that one has had one's sister as mistress.
  • B1 Discovery that one has married one's sister.
  • B2 The same case, in which the crime has been villainously planned by a third person.
  • B3 Being upon the point of taking one's sister, unknowingly, as a mistress.
  • C Being upon the point of violating, unknowingly, a daughter.
  • D1 Being upon the point of committing an adultery, unknowingly.
  • D2 Adultery committed unknowingly.

19. Slaying of a Kinsman Unrecognized.

Elements

  • The slayer
  • The unrecognized victim

Subtypes

  • A1 Being upon the point of slaying a daughter unknowingly, by command of a divinity or an oracle.
  • A2 Through political necessity.
  • A3 Through a rivalry in love.
  • A4 Through hatred of the lover of the unrecognized daughter.
  • B1 Being upon the point of killing a son unknowingly.
  • B2 The same as case B1, strengthened by Machiavellian instigation.
  • B3 The same as case (B2), intermixed with hatred of kinsmen.
  • C Being upon the point of killing one's brother unknowingly:
  • C1 Brothers slaying in anger.
  • C2 A sister slaying through professional duty.
  • D Slaying of a mother unrecognized.
  • E1 A father slain unknowingly through Machiavellian advice.
  • E2 The simple slaying of a father unrecognized.
  • E3 The same case reduced from murder to simple insult.
  • F1 A grandfather slain unknowingly, in vengeance and through instigation.
  • F2 Slain involuntarily.
  • F3 A father-in-law killed involuntarily.
  • 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.

Subtypes

  • A1 Sacrifice of life for the sake of one's word.
  • A2 Life sacrificed for the success of one's people.
  • 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.
  • B1 Both love and life sacrificed for the sake of a cause.
  • B2 Love sacrificed to interests of state.
  • C Sacrifice of well-being to duty.
  • D The ideal of honor sacrificed to the ideal of faith.

21. Self-Sacrifice for Kindred.

Elements

  • The hero
  • The kinsman
  • The creditor or the person or thing sacrificed.

Subtypes

  • A1 Life sacrificed for that of a relative or loved one.
  • A2 Life sacrificed for the happiness of a relative or loved one.
  • B1 Ambition sacrificed for the happiness of a parent.
  • B2 Ambition sacrificed for the life of a parent.
  • C1 Love sacrificed for the sake of a parent's life.
  • C2 For the happiness of one's child.
  • C3 For the happiness of a loved one.
  • C4 The same as 2, but caused by unjust laws.
  • D1 Life and honor sacrificed for the life of a parent or loved one.
  • D2 Modesty sacrificed for the life of a relative or a loved one.

22. All Sacrificed for a Passion.

Elements

  • The lover
  • The object of the fatal passion,
  • The person or thing sacrificed.

Subtypes

  • A1 Religious vows of chastity broken for passion.
  • A2 A vow of purity broken.
  • A3 Respect for a priest destroyed.
  • A4 Power ruined by a passion.
  • A5 Ruin of mind, health, and life.
  • A6 Passion gratified at the price of life.
  • A7 Ruin of fortunes, lives, and honor.
  • B Temptations (see 12) destroying the sense of duty, pity, etc.
  • C1 Destruction of honor, fortune, and life by erotic vice.
  • C2 The same effect produced by any other vice.

23. Necessity of Sacrificing Loved Ones.

Elements

  • The hero
  • The beloved victim
  • The necessity for the sacrifice.

Subtypes

  • A1 Necessity for sacrificing a daughter in the public interest.
  • A2 Duty of sacrificing her in fulfillment of a vow to God.
  • B1 Duty of sacrificing, under the same circumstances, one's father.
  • B3 Duty of sacrificing, under the same circumstances, one's husband.
  • B4 Duty of sacrificing a son-in-law for the public good.
  • B5 Same case under the sake of 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
  • The object.

Subtypes

  • A Masculine rivalries.
  • A1 Of a mortal and immortal.
  • A2 Of two divinities of unequal power.
  • A3 Of a magician and an ordinary man.
  • A4 Of conqueror and conquered.
  • A5 Of victor and vanquished.
  • A6 Of a master and a banished man.
  • A7 Of usurper and subject.
  • A8 Of Suzerian King and Vassal Kings.
  • A9 Of a powerful person and upstart.
  • A10 Of rich and poor.
  • A11 Of an honored man and a suspected one.
  • A12 Rivalry of two who are almost equal.
  • A13 Rivalry of equals, one of whom in the past has been proved guilty of adultery.
  • A14 Of a man who is loved and one who has not the right to love.
  • A15 Of the two (or more) successive husbands of a divorcee.
  • B Feminine rivalries.
  • B1 Of a sorceress and an ordinary woman.
  • B2 Of victor and prisoner.
  • B3 Of a queen and slave.
  • B4 Of lady and servant.
  • B5 Of a lady and a woman of humbler position.
  • B6 Of a lady and two women of humbler class.
  • B7 Rivalry of two who are almost equals, complicated by the abandonment of one.
  • B8 Rivalry between the memory or an ideal (that of a superior woman) and a vassal of her own.
  • B9 Rivalry of mortal and immortal.
  • C Double rivalry (A loves B, who loves C, who loves D).
  • D Oriental rivalries (Hindu polygamy).
  • D1 Rivalry of two immortals.
  • D2 Of two mortals.
  • D3 Of two lawful wives.

25. Adultery.

Elements

  • A deceived husband or wife
  • Two adulterers.

Subtypes

  • A A mistress betrayed:
  • A1 For a young woman.
  • A2 For a young wife.
  • A3 For a girl.
  • B A wife betrayed:
  • B1 For a slave, who does not love in return.
  • B2 For debauchery.
  • B3 For a married woman.
  • B4 With the intention of bigamy.
  • 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 courtesan.
  • B8 Rivalry between a lawful wife who is antipathetic and a mistress who is congenial.
  • B9 Between a generous wife and an impassioned girl.
  • C1 An antagonistic husband sacrificed for a congenial lover.
  • C2 A husband, believed to be lost, forgotten for a rival.
  • C3 A commonplace husband sacrificed for a sympathetic lover.
  • C4 A good husband betrayed for an inferior rival.
  • C5 For a grotesque rival.
  • C6 For an odious rival.
  • C7 For a commonplace rival, by a perverse wife.
  • C8 For a less handsome, but useful rival (with comic false suspicions).
  • D1 Vengeance of a deceived husband.
  • D2 Jealousy sacrificed out of pity.
  • E A husband persecuted by a rejected rival.

26. Crimes of Love.

Elements

  • The lover
  • The betrayed

Subtypes

  • A1 A mother in love with her son.
  • A2 A daughter in love with her father.
  • A3 Violation of a daughter by her father.
  • B1 A woman enamored of her stepson.
  • B2 A woman and her stepson enamored of each other.
  • B3 A woman being the mistress, at the same time, of a father and son, both of whom accept the situation.
  • C1 A man becomes the lover of his sister-in-law.
  • C2 The man alone becomes enamored.
  • C3 A brother and sister in love with each other.
  • D1 A man enamored of another man, who yields.
  • D2 A woman enamored of a bull.

27. Discovery of the Dishonor of a Loved One.

Elements

  • The discoverer
  • The guilty one

Subtypes

  • A1 Discovery of a mother's shame.
  • A2 Discovery of a father's shame.
  • A3 Discovery of a daughter's dishonor.
  • B1 Discovery that one's wife has been violated before marriage ... since the marriage.
  • B2 That she previously committed a fault.
  • B3 Discovery that one's wife has formerly been a prostitute.
  • B4 Discovery of dishonor on the part of a lover.
  • B5 Discovery that one's mistress, formerly a prostitute, has returned to her old life.
  • B6 Discovery that one's lover is a scoundrel, or that one's mistress is a woman of bad character ... the same discovery concerning a so-called king.
  • B7 The same discovery concerning one's wife.
  • C Discovery that one's son is an assassin.
  • D1 Duty of punishing a son who is a traitor to country. A brother who is a traitor to his party.
  • D2 Duty of punishing a son condemned under a law which the father has made.
  • D3 Duty of punishing a son believed to be guilty.
  • D4 Duty of sacrificing, to fulfill a vow of tyrannicide, a father until then unknown.
  • D5 Duty of punishing a brother who is an assassin.
  • D6 Duty of punishing one's mother to avenge one's father.

28. Obstacles to Love.

Elements

  • Two lovers
  • An obstacle.

Subtypes

  • A1 Marriage prevented by inequality of rank.
  • A2 Inequality of fortune an impediment to marriage.
  • B Marriage prevented by enemies and contingent obstacles.
  • C1 Marriage forbidden on account of the young woman's previous betrothal to another.
  • C2 The same case, complicated by an imaginary marriage of the beloved object.
  • D1 A free union impeded by the opposition of relatives.
  • D2 Family affection disturbed by the parents-in-law.
  • E By the incompatibility of temper of the lovers.
  • F Love.

29. An Enemy Loved.

Elements

  • The beloved enemy
  • The lover
  • The hater.

Subtypes

  • A The loved one hated by the kinsman of the lover.
  • A1 The lover pursued by the brothers of his beloved.
  • A2 The lover hated by the family of his beloved.
  • A3 The lover is the son of a man hated by the kinsmen of his beloved.
  • A4 The beloved is an enemy of the party of the woman who loves him.
  • B1 The lover is the slayer of the father of his beloved.
  • B2 The beloved is the slayer of the father of the beloved.
  • B3 The beloved is the slayer of the brother of her lover.
  • B4 The beloved is the slayer of the husband of the woman who loves him, but who has previously sworn to avenge that husband.
  • B5 The same case, except that a lover, instead of a husband, has been slain.
  • B6 The beloved is the slayer of a kinsman of the woman who loves him.
  • B7 The beloved is the daughter of the slayer of her lover's father.

30. Ambition.

Elements

  • An ambitious person
  • A thing coveted
  • An adversary.

Subtypes

  • A1 Ambition watched and guarded against by a kinsman or patriot friend or by a brother.
  • A2 By a relative or person under obligation.
  • A3 By partisans.
  • B Rebellious ambition (akin to #8).
  • C1 Ambition and covetousness heaping crime upon crime.
  • C2 Parricidal ambition.

31. Conflict with a God.

Elements

  • A mortal
  • An immortal

Subtypes

  • A1 Struggle against a deity.
  • A2 Strife with the believers in a god.
  • B1 Controversy with a deity.
  • B2 Punishment for contempt of 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
  • The cause or the author of the mistake

Subtypes

  • A1 The mistake originates in the suspicious mind of the jealous one.
  • A2 Mistaken jealousy aroused by a fatal chance.
  • A3 Mistaken jealousy of a love which is purely platonic.
  • A4 Baseless jealousy aroused by malicious rumors.
  • B1 Jealousy suggested by a traitor who is moved by hatred.
  • B2 The same case, in which the traitor is moved by self-interest.
  • B3 The same case, in which the traitor is moved by jealousy and self-interest.
  • C1 Reciprocal jealousy suggested to husband and wife by a rival.
  • C2 Jealousy suggested to the husband by a woman who is in love with him.
  • C3 Jealousy suggested to the wife by a second rival.
  • C4 Jealousy suggested to a happy lover by a deceived husband.

33. Erroneous Judgement.

Elements

  • The mistaken one
  • The victim of the mistake
  • The cause or author of the mistake
  • The guilty person

Subtypes

  • A1 False suspicion where faith is necessary.
  • A2 False suspicion (in which the jealousy is not without reason) of a mistress.
  • A3 False suspicions aroused by a misunderstood attitude of a loved one.
  • A4 By indifference.
  • B1 False suspicions drawn upon oneself to save a friend.
  • B2 They fall upon the innocent husband of the guilty one.
  • B3 The same case as B2, but in which the innocent had a guilty intention or in which the innocent believes himself guilty.
  • B4 A witness to a crime, in the interest of a loved one, lets accusation fall upon the innocent.
  • C1 The accusation is allowed to fall upon an enemy.
  • C2 The error is provoked by an enemy.
  • C3 The mistake is directed against the victim by her brother.
  • D1 False suspicion thrown by the real culprit upon one of his enemies.
  • D2 Thrown by the real culprit upon the second victim against whom he has plotted from the beginning.
  • D3 False suspicion thrown upon a rival.
  • D4 Thrown upon one innocent, because he has refused to be an accomplice.
  • D5 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
  • The interrogator.

Subtypes

  • A1 Remorse for an unknown crime.
  • A2 Remorse for parricide.
  • A3 Remorse for an assassination... for a judicial murder.
  • A4 Remorse for the murder of husband or wife.
  • B1 Remorse for a fault of love.
  • B2 Remorse for adultery.

35. Recovery of a Lost One.

Elements

  • The seeker
  • The one found.

36. Loss of Loved Ones.

Elements

  • A kinsman slain
  • A kinsman spectator
  • An executioner

Subtypes

  • A1 Witnessing the slaying of kinsmen, while powerless to prevent it.
  • A2 Helping to bring misfortune upon one's people through professional secrecy.
  • B Divining the death of a loved one.
  • C Learning of the death of a kinsman or ally.
  • D Relapse in primitive baseness, through despair on learning of the death of a loved one.

37. Mistaken Identity.

Subtypes

  • A Thinking someone is rich when he's poor.
  • B The wrong man caught in the web of fear.
  • C Schizophrenia.