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Title: Dramatic Technique
Author: Baker, George Pierce
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Professor of History and Technique of the Drama in Yale University

"_A good play is certainly the most rational and the highest
Entertainment that Human Invention can produce._"



Houghton Mifflin Company
Boston · New York · Chicago · Dallas · San Francisco

The Riverside Press Cambridge

Copyright, 1919, by George Pierce Baker
All Rights Reserved

_The author acknowledges courteous permission to quote passages from
copyright plays as credited to various authors and publishers in the

The Riverside Press
Cambridge · Massachusetts

Printed in the U.S.A.


"The dramatist is born, not made." This common saying grants the
dramatist at least one experience of other artists, namely, birth, but
seeks to deny him the instruction in art granted the architect, the
painter, the sculptor, and the musician. Play-readers and producers,
however, seem not so sure of this distinction, for they are often heard
saying: "The plays we receive divide into two classes: those competently
written, but trite in subject and treatment; those in some way fresh and
interesting, but so badly written that they cannot be produced." Some
years ago, Mr. Savage, the manager, writing in _The Bookman_ on "The
United States of Playwrights," said: "In answer to the question, 'Do the
great majority of these persons know anything at all of even the
fundamentals of dramatic construction?' the managers and agents who read
the manuscripts unanimously agree in the negative. Only in rare
instances does a play arrive in the daily mails that carries within it a
vestige of the knowledge of the science of drama-making. Almost all the
plays, furthermore, are extremely artificial and utterly devoid of the
quality known as human interest." All this testimony of managers and
play-readers shows that there is something which the dramatist has not
as a birthright, but must learn. Where? Usually he is told, "In the
School of Hard Experience." When the young playwright whose manuscript
has been returned to him but with favorable comment, asks what he is to
do to get rid of the faults in his work, both evident to him and not
evident, he is told to read widely in the drama; to watch plays of all
kinds; to write with endless patience and the resolution never to be
discouraged. He is to keep submitting his plays till, by this somewhat
indefinite method of training, he at last acquires the ability to write
so well that a manuscript is accepted. This is "The School of
Experience." Though a long and painful method of training, it has had,
undeniably, many distinguished graduates.

Why, however, is it impossible that some time should be saved a would-be
dramatist by placing before him, not mere theories of play-writing, but
the practice of the dramatists of the past, so that what they have
shared in common, and where their practice has differed, may be clear to
him? That is all this book attempts. To create a dramatist would be a
modern miracle. To develop theories of the drama apart from the practice
of recent and remoter dramatists of different countries would be
visionary. This book tries in the light of historical practice merely to
distinguish the permanent from the impermanent in technique. It
endeavors, by showing the inexperienced dramatist how experienced
dramatists have solved problems similar to his own, to shorten a little
his time of apprenticeship. The limitations of any such attempt I fully
recognize. This book is the result of almost daily discussion for some
years with classes of the ideas contained in it, but in that discussion
there was a chance to treat with each individual the many exceptions,
apparent or real, which he could raise to any principle enunciated. Such
full discussion is impossible in a book the size of this one. Therefore
I must seem to favor an instruction far more dogmatic than my pupils
know from me. No textbook can do away with the value of proper classroom
work. The practice of the past provides satisfactory principles for
students of ordinary endowment. A person of long experience or unusually
endowed, however, after grasping these principles, must at times break
from them if he is to do his best work. The classroom permits a teacher
such adaptations of existing usage. Such special needs no textbook can
forestall. This book, then, is meant, not to replace wise classroom
instruction, but to supplement it or to offer what it can when such
instruction is impossible.

The contents of this book were originally brought together from notes
for the classroom as eight lectures delivered before the Lowell
Institute, Boston, in the winter of 1913. They were carefully reworked
for later lectures before audiences in Brooklyn and Philadelphia.
Indeed, both in and out of the classroom they have been slowly revised
in the intervening five years. Detailed consideration of the one-act
play has been reserved for later special treatment. Otherwise the book
attempts to treat helpfully the many problems which the would-be
dramatist must face in learning the fundamentals of a very difficult but
fascinating art.

I have written for the person who cannot be content except when writing
plays. I wish it distinctly understood that I have not written for the
person seeking methods of conducting a course in dramatic technique. I
view with some alarm the recent mushroom growth of such courses
throughout the country. I gravely doubt the advisability of such courses
for undergraduates. Dramatic technique is the means of expressing, for
the stage, one's ideas and emotions. Except in rare instances,
undergraduates are better employed in filling their minds with general
knowledge than in trying to phrase for the stage thoughts or emotions
not yet mature. In the main I believe instruction in the writing of
plays should be for graduate students. Nor do I believe that it should
be given except by persons who have had experience in acting, producing,
and even writing plays, and who have read and seen the drama of
different countries and times. Mere lectures, no matter how good, will
not make the students productive. The teacher who is not widely eclectic
in his tastes will at best produce writers with an easily recognizable
stamp. In all creative courses the problem is not, "What can we make
these students take from us, the teachers?" but, "Which of these
students has any creative power that is individual? Just what is it? How
may it be given its quickest and fullest development?" Complete freedom
of choice in subject and complete freedom in treatment so that the
individuality of the artist may have its best expression are
indispensable in the development of great art. At first untrained and
groping blindly for the means to his ends, he moves to a technique based
on study of successful dramatists who have preceded him. From that he
should move to a technique that is his own, a mingling of much out of
the past and an adaptation of past practice to his own needs. This book
will help the development from blind groping to the acquirement of a
technique based on the practice of others. It can do something, but only
a little, to develop the technique that is highly individual. The
instruction which most helps to that must be done, not by books, not by
lectures, but in frequent consultation of pupil and teacher. The man who
grows from a technique which permits him to write a good play because it
accords with historical practice to the technique which makes possible
for him a play which no one else could have written, must work under
three great Masters: Constant Practice, Exacting Scrutiny of the Work,
and, above all, Time. Only when he has stood the tests of these Masters
is he the matured artist.



          ART                                                          1


   III. FROM SUBJECT TO PLOT. CLEARING THE WAY                        47

          SELECTION                                                   73

          LENGTH OF ACTS                                             117

          MOVEMENT                                                   154

   VII. CHARACTERIZATION                                             234

  VIII. DIALOGUE                                                     309

    IX. MAKING A SCENARIO                                            420

     X. THE DRAMATIST AND HIS PUBLIC                                 509

        INDEX                                                        523




This book treats drama which has been tested before the public or which
was written to be so tested. It does not concern itself with plays, past
or present, intended primarily to be read--closet drama. It does not
deal with theories of what the drama, present or future, might or should
be. It aims to show what successful drama has been in different
countries, at different periods, as written by men of highly individual

The technique of any dramatist may be defined, roughly, as his ways,
methods, and devices for getting his desired ends. No dramatist has this
technique as a gift at birth, nor does he acquire it merely by writing
plays. He reads and sees past and present plays, probably in large
numbers. If he is like most young dramatists, for example Shakespeare on
the one hand and Ibsen on the other, he works imitatively at first. He,
too, has his _Love's Labor's Lost_, or _Feast at Solhaug_. Even if his
choice of topic be fresh, the young dramatist inevitably studies the
dramatic practice just preceding his time, or that of some remoter
period which attracts him, for models on which to shape the play he has
in mind. Often, in whole-hearted admiration, he gives himself to close
imitation of Shakespeare, one of the great Greek dramatists, Ibsen,
Shaw, or Brieux. For the moment the better the imitation, the better he
is satisfied; but shortly he discovers that somehow the managers or the
public, if his play gets by the managers, seem to have very little
taste for great dramatists at second hand. Yet the history of the drama
has shown again and again that a dramatist may owe something to the
plays of a preceding period and achieve success. The influence of the
Greek drama on _The Servant in the House_ is unmistakable. _Kismet_, Mr.
Knobloch frankly states, was modeled on the loosely constructed
Elizabethan plays intended primarily to tell a story of varied and
exciting incident. Where lies the difficulty? Just here. Too many people
do not recognize that dramatic technique--methods and devices for
gaining in the theatre a dramatist's desired ends--is historically of
three kinds: universal, special, and individual. First there are certain
essentials which all good plays, from Æschylus to Lord Dunsany, share at
least in part. They are the qualities which make a play a play. These
the tyro must study and may copy. To the discussion and illustration of
them the larger part of this book is devoted. Secondly, there is the
special technique of a period, such as the Elizabethan, the Restoration,
the period of Scribe and his influence, etc. A good illustration of this
kind of technique is the difference in treatment of the Antony and
Cleopatra story by Shakespeare in his play of that name, and by John
Dryden in _All For Love_. Each dramatist worked sincerely, believing the
technique that he used would give him best, with the public he had in
mind, his desired effects. The public of Shakespeare would not have
cared for Dryden's treatment: the Restoration found Shakespeare barbaric
until reshaped by dramatists whose touch today often seems that of a
vandal facing work the real beauty of which he does not understand. The
technique of the plays of Corneille and Racine, even though they base
their dramatic theory on classical practice, differs from the Greek and
from Seneca. In turn the drama which aimed to copy them, the so-called
Heroic Plays of England from 1660 to 1700, differed. That is, a story
dramatized before when re-presented to the stage must share with the
drama of the past certain characteristics if it is to be a play at all,
but to some extent it must be presented differently. Why? Because,
first, the dramatist is using a stage different from that of his
forebears, and, secondly, because he is writing for a public of
different standards in morals and art. Comparison for a moment of the
stage of the Greeks with the stage of the Elizabethans, the Restoration,
or of today shows the truth of the first statement. Comparison of the
religious and social ideals of the Greeks with those of Shakespeare's
audience, Congreve's public, Tom Robertson's, or the public of today
shows the truth of the second. That is, the drama of any past time, if
studied carefully, must reveal the essentials of the drama throughout
time. It must reveal, too, methods and devices effective for the public
of its time, but not effective at present. It is doubtless true that
usually a young dramatist may gain most light as to the technique of the
period on which he is entering from the practice of the playwrights just
preceding him, but this does not always follow. Witness the sharp
revolt, particularly in France and Germany, in the early nineteenth
century, from Classicism to Romanticism. Witness, too, the change late
in that century from the widespread influence of Scribe to the almost
equally widespread influence of Ibsen.

The chief gift of the drama of the past to the young playwright, then,
is illustration of what is essential in drama. This he safely copies.
Study of the technique of a special period, if the temper of his public
closely resembles the interests, prejudices, and ideals of the period he
studies, may give him even larger results. Such close resemblance,
however, is rare. Each period demands in part its own technique. What in
that technique is added to the basal practice of the past may even be to
some extent the contribution of the young dramatist in question.
Resting on what he knows of the elements common to all good drama, alert
to the significance of the hints which the special practice of any
period may give him, he thinks his way to new methods and devices for
getting with his public his desired effects. Many or most of these the
other dramatists of his day discover with him. These, which make the
special usage of his time, become the technique of his period.

Perhaps, however, he has added something in technique particularly his
own, to be found in the plays of no other man. This, the third sort of
technique, is to be seen specially in the work of the great dramatists.
Usually, it is peculiarly inimitable and elusive because the result of a
particular temperament working on problems of the drama peculiar to a
special time. Imitation of this individual technique in most instances
results, like wearing the tailor-made clothes of a friend, in a palpable

It is just because the enthusiast copies, not simply what is of
universal significance in the practice of some past period, but with
equal closeness what is special to the time and individual to the
dramatist, that his play fails. He has produced something stamped as not
of his time nor by him, but as at best a successful literary exercise in
imitation. Of the three kinds of technique, then,--universal, special,
and individual,--a would-be dramatist should know the first thoroughly.
Recognizing the limitations of the second and third, he should study
them for suggestions rather than for models. When he has mastered the
first technique, and from the second has made his own what he finds
useful in it, he is likely to pass to the third, his individual

Why, however, should men or women who have already written stories long
or short declared by competent people to be "dramatic," make any special
study of the technique of plays? Like the dramatist, they must
understand characterization and dialogue or they could not have written
successful stories. Evidently, too, they must know something about
structure. Above all, they must have shown ability so to represent
people in emotion as to arouse emotional response in their readers, or
their work would not be called dramatic. Why, then, should they not
write at will either in the form of stories or of plays? It is certainly
undeniable that many novels seem in material and at moments in
treatment, as dramatic as plays on similar subjects. In each, something
is said or done which moves the reader or hearer as the author wishes.
These facts account for the widespread and deeply-rooted belief that any
novelist or writer of short stories should write successful plays if he
wishes, particularly if adapting his own work for the stage. The facts
account, too, for the repeated efforts in the past to put popular novels
on the stage as little changed as possible. Is it not odd that most
adaptations of successful stories and most novelizations of successful
plays are failures? The fact that the drama had had for centuries in
England and elsewhere a fecund history before the novel as a form took
shape at all would intimate that the drama is a different and
independent art from that of the novel or the short story. When
novelists and would-be playwrights recognize that it is, has been, and
ought to be an independent art, we shall be spared many bad plays.

It is undeniable that the novelist and the dramatist start with common
elements--the story, the characters, and the dialogue. If their common
ability to discern in their story or characters possible emotional
interests for other people, their so-called "dramatic sense," is "to
achieve success on the stage it must be developed into theatrical talent
by hard study and generally by long practice. For theatrical talent
consists in the power of making your characters not only tell a story by
means of dialogue but tell it in such skilfully devised form and order
as shall, within the limits of an ordinary theatrical representation,
give rise to the greatest possible amount of that peculiar kind of
emotional effect, the production of which is the one great function of
the theatre."[1] Certain underlying differences between the relation of
the novelist to his reader and that of the dramatist to his audience
reveal why the art of each must be different.

The relative space granted novelist and dramatist is the first condition
which differentiates their technique. A play of three acts, say forty
pages each of ordinary typewriter paper, will take in action
approximately a hundred and fifty minutes, or two hours and a half. When
allowance is made for waits between the acts, the manuscript should
probably be somewhat shorter. A novel runs from two hundred and fifty to
six hundred pages. Obviously such difference between the length of play
and novel means different methods of handling material. The dramatist,
if he tries for the same results as the novelist, must work more
concisely. This demands very skilful selection among his materials to
gain his desired effects in the quickest possible ways.

A novel we read at one or a half-dozen sittings, as we please. When we
so wish, we can pause to consider what we have just read, or can re-read
it. In the theatre, a play must be seen as a whole and at once.
Listening to it, we cannot turn back, we cannot pause to reflect, for
the play pushes steadily on to the close of each act. Evidently, then,
here is another reason why a play must make its effects more swiftly
than a novel. This needed swiftness requires methods of making effects
more obviously and more emphatically than in the novel. In a play, then,
while moving much more swiftly than in a novel, we must at any given
moment be even clearer than in the novel. What the dramatist selects for
presentation must be more productive of immediate effect than is the
case with the novelist, for one swingeing blow must, with him, replace
repeated strokes by the novelist.

In most novels, the reader is, so to speak, personally conducted, the
author is our guide. In the drama, so far as the dramatist is concerned,
we must travel alone. In the novel, the author describes, narrates,
analyzes, and makes his personal comment on circumstance and character.
We rather expect a novelist to reveal himself in his work. On the other
hand, the greatest dramatists, such as Shakespeare and Molière, in their
plays reveal singularly little of themselves. It is the poorer
dramatists--Dryden, Jonson, Chapman--who, using their characters as
mouthpieces, reveal their own personalities. Now that soliloquy and the
aside have nearly gone out of use, the dramatist, when compared with the
novelist, seems, at first thought, greatly hampered in his expression.
He never can use description, narration, analysis, and personal comment
as his own. He may use them only in the comparatively rare instances
when they befit the character speaking. His mainstay is illustrative
action appropriate to his characters, real or fictitious. Surely so
great a difference will affect the technique of his art. The novel,
then, may be, and often is, highly personal; the best drama is

The theatre in which the play is presented also produces differences
between the practice of the dramatist and that of the novelist. No
matter how small the theatre or its stage, it cannot permit the intimacy
of relation which exists between reader and book. A person reads a book
to himself or to a small group. In most cases, he may choose the
conditions under which he will read it, indoors or out, alone or with
people about him, etc. In the theatre, according to the size of the
auditorium, from one hundred to two thousand people watch the play, and
under given conditions of light, heat, and ventilation. They are at a
distance, in most cases, from the stage. It is shut off from them more
than once in the performance by the fall of the curtain. The novel
appeals to the mind and the emotions through the eye. The stage appeals
to both eye and ear. Scenery, lighting, and costuming render unnecessary
many descriptions absolutely required in the novel. The human voice
quickens the imagination as the mere printed page cannot in most cases.
These unlike conditions are bound to create differences in the
presentation of the same material.

It is just this greater concreteness and consequent greater vividness of
the staged play which makes us object to seeing and hearing in the
theatre that of which we have read with comparative calmness in the
newspaper, the magazine, or the novel. Daily we read in the newspapers
with unquickened pulse of horror after horror. Merely to see a fatal
runaway or automobile accident sends us home sickened or unnerved. We
read to the end, though horrified, the _Red Laugh_ of Andreiev.
Reproduce accurately on the stage the terrors of the book and some
persons in the audience would probably go as mad as did people in the
story. This difference applies in our attitude toward moral questions as
treated in books or on the stage. "Let us instance the _Matron of
Ephesus_. This acrid fable is well known; it is unquestionably the
bitterest satire that was ever made on female frivolity. It has been
recounted a thousand times after Petronius, and since it pleased even in
the worst copy, it was thought that the subject must be an equally happy
one for the stage.... The character of the matron in the story provokes
a not unpleasant sarcastic smile at the audacity of wedded love; in the
drama this becomes repulsive, horrible. In the drama, the soldier's
persuasions do not seem nearly so subtle, importunate, triumphant, as in
the story. In the story we picture to ourselves a sensitive little woman
who is really in earnest in her grief, but succumbs to temptation and
to her temperament, her weakness seems the weakness of her sex, we
therefore conceive no especial hatred towards her, we deem that what she
does nearly every woman would have done. Even her suggestion to save her
living lover by means of her dead husband we think we can forgive her
because of its ingenuity and presence of mind; or rather its very
ingenuity leads us to imagine that this suggestion may have been
appended by the malicious narrator who desired to end his tale with some
right poisonous sting. Now in the drama we cannot harbour this
suggestion; what we hear has happened in the story, we see really occur;
what we would doubt of in the story, in the drama the evidence of our
own eyes settles incontrovertibly. The mere possibility of such an
action diverted us; its reality shows it in all its atrocity; the
suggestion amused our fancy, the execution revolts our feelings, we turn
our backs to the stage and say with the Lykas of Petronius, without
being in Lykas's peculiar position: 'Had the emperor been just, he would
have restored the body of the father to its tomb and crucified the
woman.' And she seems to us the more to deserve this punishment, the
less art the poet has expended on her seduction, for we do not then
condemn in her weak woman in general, but an especially volatile,
worthless female in particular."[2]

As Lessing points out, in the printed page we can stand a free treatment
of social question after social question which on the stage we should
find revolting. Imagine the horror and outcry if we were to put upon the
stage a dramatized newspaper or popular magazine. Just in this intense
vividness, this great reality of effect, lies a large part of the power
of the stage. On the other hand, this very vividness may create
difficulties. For instance, the novelist can say, "So, in a silence,
almost unbroken, the long hours passed." But we watching, on the stage,
the scene described in the novel, know perfectly that only a few
minutes have elapsed. From this difficulty have arisen, to create a
sense of time, the Elizabethan use of the Chorus, our _entr'acte_
pauses, interpolated scenes which draw off our attention from the main
story, and many other devices. But even with all the devices of the
past, it is well-nigh impossible in a one-act play or in an act of one
setting to create the feeling that much time has passed. Many an attempt
has been made to dramatize in one act Stevenson's delightful story, _The
Sire de Maletroit's Door_, but all have come to grief because the
greater vividness of the stage makes the necessary lapse of considerable
time too apparent. It is not difficult for the story-teller to make us
believe that, between a time late one evening and early the next
morning, Blanche de Maletroit lost completely her liking for one man and
became more than ready to marry Denis de Beaulieu, who entered the house
for the first time on this same evening. On the stage, motivation and
dialogue must be such as to make so swift a change entirely convincing
even though it occur merely in the time of the acting. The motivation
that was easy for the novelist as he explained how profoundly Blanche
was moved by winning words or persuasive action of Denis, becomes almost
impossible unless the words and action when seen and heard are for us
equally winning and persuasive. The time difficulty in this story has
led to all sorts of amusing expedients to account for Blanche's complete
change of feeling. One young author went so far as to make the first
lover of Blanche flirt so desperately with a maid-servant off stage that
the report of his conduct by a jealous man-servant was the last straw to
bring about the change in Blanche's feelings. Though aiming at a real
difficulty, this device missed because it so vulgarized the original.
When all is said and done, this time difficulty caused by the greater
vividness of stage presentation remains the chief obstacle in the way of
the dramatist who would write of a sequence of historical events or of
evolution or devolution in character. Again we foresee probable
differences in technique, this time caused by the theatre, the stage,
and the intense vividness of the latter.

The novel is, so to speak, the work of an individual; a play is a
cooperative effort--of author, actor, producer, and even audience.
Though the author writes the play, it cannot be properly judged till the
producer stages it, the players act it, and the audience approves or
disapproves of it. Undeniably the dialogue of a play must be very
different from that of a novel because the gesture, facial expression,
intonation, and general movement of the actor may in large part replace
description, narration, and even parts of the dialogue of a novel. We
have good dialogue for a novel when Cleopatra says, "I'll seem the thing
I am not; Antony will be himself." The fact and the characterization are
what count here. In the same scene, Antony, absorbed in adoration of
Cleopatra, cries, when interrupted by a messenger from Rome, "Grates me;
the sum." Here we need the action of the speaker, his intonation, and
his facial expression, if the speech is to have its full value. In its
context, however, it is as dramatic dialogue perfect. In a story or
novel, mere clearness would demand more because the author could not be
sure that the reader would hit the right intonation or feel the gesture
which must accompany the words. It is in large part just because
dramatic dialogue is a kind of shorthand written by the dramatist for
the actor to fill out that most persons find plays more difficult
reading than novels. Few untrained imaginations respond quickly enough
to feel the full significance of the printed page of the play. On the
other hand, any one accustomed to read plays often finds novels
irritating because they tell so much more than is necessary for him who
responds quickly to emotionalized speech properly recorded.

Just as dialogue for the stage is incomplete without the actor, so,
too, the stage direction needs filling out. Made as concise as possible
by the dramatist, it is meant to be packed with meaning, not only for
the actor, but for the producer. The latter is trusted to fill out, in
as full detail as his means or his desires permit, the hints of stage
directions as to setting and atmosphere. On the producer depends wholly
the scenery, lighting, and properties used. All of this the novelist
supplies in full detail for himself. An intelligent producer who reads
the play with comprehension but follows only the letter of the stage
directions gives a production no more than adequate at best. An
uncomprehending and self-willed producer may easily so confuse the
values of a well-written play as to ruin its chances. A thoroughly
sympathetic and finely imaginative producer may, like an equally endowed
actor, reveal genuine values in the play unsuspected even by the
dramatist himself. Surely writing stage directions will differ from the
narration and description of a novel.

The novelist, as has been pointed out, deals with the individual reader,
or through one reader with a small group. What has just been said makes
obvious that the dramatist never works directly, but through
intermediaries, the actors and the producer. More than that, he seeks to
stir the individual, not for his own sake as does the novelist, but
because he is a unit in the large group filling the theatre. The
novelist--to make a rough generalization--works through the individual,
the dramatist through the group. This is not the place to discuss in
detail the relation of a dramatist to his audience, but it is undeniable
that the psychology of the crowd in a theatre is not exactly the same
thing as the sum total of the emotional responses of each individual in
it to some given dramatic incident. The psychology of the individual and
the psychology of the crowd are not one and the same. The reputation of
the novelist rests very largely on the verdict of his individual
readers. The dramatist must move, not a considerable number of
individuals, but at least the great majority of his audience. He must
move his audience, too, not by emotions individual to a considerable
number, but by emotions they naturally share in common or by his art can
be made to share. The dramatist who understands only the psychology of
the individual or the small group may write a play well characterized,
but he cannot write a successful play till he has studied deeply the
psychology of the crowd and has thus learned so to present his chosen
subject as to gain from the group which makes the theatrical public the
emotional response he desires.

Obviously, then, from many different points of view, the great art of
the novelist and the equally great art of the dramatist are not the
same. It is the unwise holding of an opposite opinion which has led many
a successful novelist into disastrous play-writing. It is the attempt to
reproduce exactly on the stage the most popular parts of successful
novels which has made many an adaptation a failure surprising to author
and adapter. The whole situation is admirably summed up in a letter of
Edward Knobloch, author of _Kismet_. "I have found it very useful, when
asked to dramatize a novel, not to read it myself, but to get some one
else to read it and tell me about it. At once, all the stuffing drops
away, and the vital active part, the verb of the novel comes to the
fore. If the story of a novel cannot be told by some one in a hundred
words or so, there is apt to be no drama in it. If I were to write a
play on Hamilton, I would look up an article in an encyclopædia; then
make a scenario; then read detailed biographies. Too much knowledge
hampers. It is just for that reason that short stories are easier
dramatized than long novels. The stories that Shakespeare chose for his
plays are practically summaries. As long as they stirred his
imagination, that was all he asked of them. Then he added his magic.
Once the novel has been told, make the scenario. Then read the novel
after. There will be very little to alter and only a certain amount of
touches to add." If, in accordance with this suggestion, an adapter
would plan out in scenario the mere story of the novel he wishes to
adapt for the stage, would then transfer to his scenario only so much of
the novel as perfectly fits the needs of the stage; and finally with the
aid of the original author, would rewrite the portions which can be used
only in part, and with him compose certain parts entirely anew, we
should have a much larger proportion of permanently successful

Though it is true, then, that the novelist and the dramatist work with
common elements of story, characterization and dialogue, the differing
conditions under which they work affect their story-telling, their
characterization, and their dialogue. The differences brought about by
the greater speed, greater compactness, and greater vividness of the
drama, with its impersonality, its coöperative nature, its appeal to the
group rather than to the individual, create the fundamental technique
which distinguishes the drama from the novel. This is the technique
possessed in common by the dramatists of all periods. The art of the
playwright is not, then, the art of the novelist. Throughout the
centuries a very different technique has distinguished them.

"But," it may be urged, "all that has been said of the differences
between the play and the novel shows that the play cramps truthful
presentation of life. Is not play-writing an art of falsification rather
than truth?" A living French novelist once exclaimed, "I have written
novels for many years, with some returns in reputation but little return
in money. Now, when a young actor helps me, I adapt one of my novels to
the stage and this bastard art immediately makes it possible for me to
buy automobiles." Robert Louis Stevenson wrote, toward the end of his
life, to Mr. Sidney Colvin, "No, I will not write a play for Irving nor
for the devil. Can you not see that the work of _falsification_, which a
play demands is, of all tasks, the most ungrateful? And I have done it a
long while,--and nothing ever came of it."[3] The trouble with both
these critics of the drama was that they held a view of the stage which
makes it necessary to shape, to twist, and to contort life when
represented on it. While it is true that selection and compression
underlie all dramatic art, as they underlie all of the pictorial arts,
it is no longer true, as it was in the mid-nineteenth century, that
dramatists believe that we should shape life to fit hampering conditions
of the stage, accepted as inevitably rigid. Today we regard the stage,
as we should, as plastic. If the stage of the moment forbids in any way
the just representation of life, so much the worse for that stage; it
must yield. The ingenuity of author, producer, scenic artist, and stage
mechanician must labor until the stage is fitted to represent life as
the author sees it. For many years now, the cry of the dramatist has
been, not "Let us adapt life to the stage," but rather: "Let us adapt
the stage, at any cost for it, at any cost of imaginative effort or
mechanical labor, to adequate and truthful representation of life." The
art of the playwright may be the art of fantasy or of realism, but for
him who understands it rightly, not mistaking it for another art, and
laboring till he grasps and understands its seeming mysteries, it can
never be an art of falsification. Instead, it is the art that, drawing
to its aid all its sister fine arts, in splendid cooperation, moves the
masses of men as does no other art. As Sir Arthur Pinero has said, "The
art--the great and fascinating and most difficult art--of the modern
dramatist is nothing else than to achieve that compression of life which
the stage undoubtedly demands, without falsification."[4]


  [1] _Robert Louis Stevenson: The Dramatist_, p. 7. Sir A. Pinero.
    Chiswick Press, London.

  [2] _Hamburg Dramaturgy_, pp. 329-330. Leasing. Bohn ed.

  [3] _Robert Louis Stevenson: the Dramatist_, p. 30. Sir A. Pinero.
    Chiswick Press, London.

  [4] _Idem._



What is the common aim of all dramatists? Twofold: first, as promptly as
possible to win the attention of the audience; secondly, to hold that
interest steady or, better, to increase it till the final curtain falls.
It is the time limit to which all dramatists are subject which makes the
immediate winning of attention necessary. The dramatist has no time to
waste. How is he to win this attention? By what is done in the play; by
characterization; by the language the people of his play speak; or by a
combination of two or more of these. Today we hear much discussion
whether it is what is done, _i.e._ action, or characterization, or
dialogue which most interests a public. Which is the chief essential in
good drama? History shows indisputably that the drama in its beginnings,
no matter where we look, depended most on action. The earliest extant
specimen of drama in England, _circa_ 967, shows clearly the essential
relations of action, characterization, and dialogue in drama at its
outset. The italics in the following show the action; the roman type the

  _While the third lesson is being chanted, let four brothers vest
  themselves, one of whom, vested in an alb, enters as if to do
  something, and, in an inconspicuous way, approaches the place where
  the sepulchre is, and there holding a palm in his hand, sits quiet.
  While the third respond is chanted, let the three others approach, all
  alike vested in copes, bearing thuribles (censers) with incense in
  their hands, and, with hesitating steps, in the semblance of persons
  seeking something, let them come before the place of the sepulchre.
  These things are done, indeed, in representation of the angel sitting
  within the tomb and of the women who came with spices to anoint the
  body of Jesus. When, therefore, he who is seated sees the three
  approaching as if wandering about and seeking something, let him
  begin to sing melodiously and in a voice moderately loud_

    Whom seek you at the sepulchre, O Christians?

  _When this has been sung to the end, let the three respond in unison,_

    Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified, O heavenly one.

  _Then he,_

    He is not here; he has risen, as was foretold.
    Go ye, announcing that he has risen from the dead.

  _Upon the utterance of this command, let the three turn to the choir
  and say,_

    Alleluia! the Lord is risen.

  _This said, let him, still remaining seated, say, as if calling them
  back, the antiphon,_

    Come, and see the place where the Lord lay.
    Alleluia, Alleluia!

  _Having said this, however, let him rise and lift the veil, and show
  them the place empty of the cross, but the clothes, only, laid there
  with which the cross was wrapped. When they see this, let them set
  down the thuribles that they have carried within that same sepulchre,
  and take up the cloth and hold it up before the clergy, and, as if in
  testimony that the Lord has risen and is not now wrapped therein, let
  them sing this antiphon:_

    The Lord has risen from the tomb,
    Who for us was crucified,

  _and let them lay the cloth upon the altar. The antiphon finished, let
  the prior, rejoicing with them in the triumph of our King, in that,
  death vanquished, he has risen, begin the hymn,_

    We praise thee, O Lord.

  _This begun, all the bells are rung together, at the end of which let
  the priest say the verse,_

    In thy resurrection, O Christ,

  _as far as this word, and let him begin Matins, saying,_

    O Lord, hasten to my aid![1]

Obviously in this little play the directions for imitative movement
fill three quarters of the space; dialogue fills one quarter;
characterization, except as the accompanying music may very faintly have
suggested it, there is none. Historically studied, the English drama
shows that characterization appeared as an added interest when the
interest of action was already well established. The value of dialogue
for its own sake was recognized even later.

What is true of the English drama is of course equally true of all
Continental drama which, like the English drama, had its origin in the
Trope and the Miracle Play. Even, however, if we go farther back, to the
origin of Greek Drama in the Ballad Dance we shall find the same
results. The Ballad Dance consisted "in the combination of speech,
music, and that imitative gesture which, for lack of a better word, we
are obliged to call dancing. It is very important, however, to guard
against modern associations with this term. Dances in which men and
women joined are almost unknown to Greek antiquity, and to say of a
guest at a banquet that he danced would suggest intoxication. The real
dancing of the Greeks is a lost art, of which the modern ballet is a
corruption, and the orator's action a faint survival. It was an art
which used bodily motion to convey thought: as in speech the tongue
articulated words, so in dancing the body swayed and gesticulated into
meaning.... In epic poetry, where thought takes the form of simple
narrative, the speech (Greek _epos_) of the Ballad Dance triumphs over
the other two elements. Lyric poetry consists in meditation or highly
wrought description taking such forms as odes, sonnets, hymns,--poetry
that lends itself to elaborate rhythms and other devices of musical art:
here the music is the element of the Ballad Dance which has come to the
front. And the imitative gesture has triumphed over the speech and the
music in the case of the third branch of poetry; drama is thought
expressed in action."[2]

Imitative movement is the drama of the savage.

"An Aleut, who was armed with a bow, represented a hunter, another a
bird. The former expressed by gestures how very glad he was he had found
so fine a bird; nevertheless he would not kill it. The other imitated
the motions of a bird seeking to escape the hunter. He at last, after a
long delay, pulled his bow and shot: the bird reeled, fell, and died.
The hunter danced for joy; but finally he became troubled, repented
having killed so fine a bird, and lamented it. Suddenly the dead bird
rose, turned into a beautiful woman, and fell into the hunter's

Look where we will, then,--at the beginnings of drama in Greece, in
England centuries later, or among savage peoples today--the chief
essential in winning and holding the attention of the spectator was
imitative movement by the actors, that is, physical action. Nor, as the
drama develops, does physical action cease to be central. The most
elaborate of the Miracle Plays, the Towneley _Second Shepherds' Play_
and the Brome _Abraham and Isaac_[4] prove this. In the former we are of
course interested in the characterization of the Shepherds and Mak, but
would this hold us without the stealing of the sheep and the varied
action attending its concealment and discovery in the house of Mak?
Undoubtedly in the _Abraham and Isaac_ characterization counts for more,
but we have the journey to the Mount, the preparations for the
sacrifice, the binding of the boy's eyes, the repeatedly upraised sword,
the farewell embracings, the very dramatic coming of the Angel, and the
joyful sacrifice of the sheep when the child is released. Without all
this central action, the fine characterization of the play would lose
its significance. In Shakespeare's day, audiences again and again, as
they watched plays of Dekker, Heywood, and many another dramatist,
willingly accepted inadequate characterization and weak dialogue so long
as the action was absorbing. Just this interest in, for instance, _The
Four Prentices_, or the various _Ages_[5] of Thomas Heywood, was
burlesqued by Francis Beaumont in _The Knight of the Burning Pestle_. It
may be urged that the plays of Racine and Corneille, as well as the
Restoration Comedy in England, show characterization and dialogue
predominant. It should be remembered, however, that Corneille and
Racine, as well as the Restoration writers of comedy wrote primarily for
the Court group and not for the public at large. Theirs was the
cultivated audience of the time, proud of its special literary and
dramatic standards. Around and about these dramatists were the writers
of popular entertainment, which depended on action. In England, we must
remember that Wycherley and Vanbrugh, who are by no means without action
in their plays, belong to Restoration Comedy as much as Etherege or
Congreve, and that the Heroic Drama, in which action was absolutely
central, divided the favor of even the Court public with the Comedy of
Manners. The fact is, the history of the Drama shows that only rarely
does even a group of people for a brief time care more for plays of
characterization and dialogue than for plays of action. Throughout the
ages, the great public, cultivated as well as uncultivated, have cared
for action first, then, as aids to a better understanding of the action
of the story, for characterization and dialogue. Now, for more than a
century, the play of mere action has been so popular that it has been
recognized as a special form, namely, melodrama. This type of play, in
which characterization and dialogue have usually been entirely
subordinated to action, has been the most widely attended. Today the
motion picture show has driven mere melodrama from our theatres, yet who
will deny that the "movie" in its present form subordinates everything
to action? Even the most ambitious specimens, such as _Cabiria_ and _The
Birth of a Nation_, finding their audiences restless under frequent use
of the explanatory "titles" which make clear what cannot be clearly
shown in action, hasten to depict some man hunt, some daring leap from a
high cliff into the sea, or a wild onrush of galloping white-clad
figures of the Ku Klux Klan. From the practice of centuries the feeling
that action is really central in drama has become instinctive with most
persons who write plays without preconceived theories. Watch a child
making his first attempt at play-writing. In ninety-nine cases out of a
hundred, the play will contain little except action. There will be
slight characterization, if any, and the dialogue will be mediocre at
best. The young writer has depended almost entirely upon action because
instinctively, when he thinks of drama, he thinks of action.

Nor, if we paused to consider, is this dependence of drama upon action
surprising. "From emotions to emotions" is the formula for any good
play. To paraphrase a principle of geometry, "A play is the shortest
distance from emotions to emotions." The emotions to be reached are
those of the audience. The emotions conveyed are those of the people on
the stage or of the dramatist as he has watched the people represented.
Just herein lies the importance of action for the dramatist: it is his
quickest means of arousing emotion in an audience. Which is more popular
with the masses, the man of action or the thinker? The world at large
believes, and rightly that, as a rule, "Actions speak louder than
words." The dramatist knows that not what a man thinks he thinks, but
what at a crisis he does, instinctively, spontaneously, best shows his
character. The dramatist knows, too, that though we may think, when
discussing patriotism in the abstract, that we have firm ideas about it,
what reveals our real beliefs is our action at a crisis in the history
of our country. Many believed from the talk of German Socialists that
they would not support their Government in the case of war. Their
actions have shown far more clearly than their words their real beliefs.
Ulster sounded as hostile as possible to England not long ago, but when
the call upon her loyalty came she did not prove false. Is it any
wonder, then, that popular vote has declared action the best revealer of
feeling and, therefore, that the dramatist, in writing his plays,
depends first of all upon action? If any one is disposed to cavil at
action as popular merely with the masses and the less cultivated, let
him ask himself, "What, primarily in other people interests me--what
these people do or why they do it?" Even if he belong to the group,
relatively very small in the mass of humanity, most interested by "Why
did these people do this?" he must admit that till he knows clearly what
the people did, he cannot take up the question which more interests him.
For the majority of auditors, action is of first importance in drama:
even for the group which cares far more for characterization and
dialogue it is necessary as preparing the way for that characterization
and dialogue on which they insist.

Consider for a moment the nature of the attention which a dramatist may
arouse. Of course it may be only of the same sort which an audience
gives a lecturer on a historical or scientific subject,--a readiness to
hear and to try to understand what he has to present,--close but
unemotional attention. Comparatively few people, however, are capable of
sustained attention when their emotions are not called upon. How many
lectures last over an hour? Is not the "popular lecturer" popular
largely because he works into his lecture many anecdotes and dramatic
illustrations in order to avoid or to lighten the strain of close,
sustained attention? There is, undoubtedly, a public which can listen to
ideas with the same keen enjoyment which most auditors feel when
listening to something which stirs them emotionally, but as compared
with the general public it is infinitesimal. Understanding this, the
dramatist stirs the emotions of his hearers by the most concrete means
at his command, his quickest communication from brain to brain,--action
just for itself or illustrating character. The inferiority to action of
mere exposition as a creator of interest the two following extracts

ACT I. SCENE 1. _Britain. The garden of Cymbeline's palace_

    _Enter two gentlemen_

  _1. Gent._ You do not meet a man but frowns. Our bloods
  No more obey the heavens than our courtiers
  Still seem as does the King.

  _2. Gent._    But what's the matter?

  _1. Gent._ His daughter, and the heir of's kingdom, whom
  He purpos'd to his wife's sole son--a widow
  That late he married--hath referred herself
  Unto a poor but worthy gentleman. She's wedded,
  Her husband banish'd, she imprison'd; all
  Is outward sorrow; though I think the King
  Be touched at very heart.

  _2. Gent._    None but the King?

  _1. Gent._ He that hath lost her too; so is the Queen,
  That most desir'd the match: but not a courtier,
  Although they wear their faces to the bent
  Of the King's look, hath a heart that is not
  Glad at the thing they scowl at.

  _2. Gent._    And why so?

  _1. Gent._ He that hath miss'd the Princess is a thing
  Too bad for bad report; and he that hath her--
  I mean, that married her, alack, good man!
  And therefore banish'd--is a creature such
  As, to seek through the regions of the earth
  For one his like, there would be something failing
  In him that should compare. I do not think
  So fair an outward, and such stuff within
  Endows a man but he.

  _2. Gent._   You speak him far.

  _1. Gent._ I do extend him, sir, within himself,
  Crush him together rather than unfold
  His measure duly.

  _2. Gent._  What's his name and birth?

  _1. Gent._ I cannot delve him to the root. His father
  Was call'd Sicilius, who did gain his honour
  Against the Romans with Cassibelan,
  But had his titles by Tenantius whom
  He serv'd with glory and admir'd success,
  So gain'd the sur-addition Leonatus;
  And hath, besides this gentleman in question,
  Two other sons, who in the wars o' the time
  Died with their swords in hand; for which their father
  Then old and fond of issue, took such sorrow
  That he quit being, and his gentle lady,
  Big of this gentleman our theme, deceas'd
  As he was born. The King he takes the babe
  To his protection, calls him Posthumus Leonatus,
  Breeds him and makes him of his bed chamber,
  Puts to him all the learnings that his time
  Could make him the receiver of; which he took,
  As we do air, fast as 'twas minist'red,
  And in's spring became a harvest; liv'd in court--
  Which rare it is to do--most prais'd, most lov'd,
  A sample to the youngest, to the more mature
  A glass that feated them, and to the graver
  A child that guided dotards; to his mistress,
  For whom he is now banish'd,--her own price
  Proclaims how she esteem'd him and his virtue;
  By her election may be truly read
  What kind of man he is.

  _2. Gent._   I honour him
  Even out of your report. But, pray you, tell me
  Is she sole child to the King?

  _1. Gent._   His only child.
  He had two sons,--if this be worth your hearing,
  Mark it--the eldest of them at three years old,
  I' the swathing-clothes the other, from their nursery
  Were stolen, and to this hour no guess in knowledge
  Which way they went.

  _2. Gent._   How long is this ago?

  _1. Gent._ Some twenty years.

  _2. Gent._ That a King's children should be so convey'd,
  So slackly guarded and the search so slow,
  That could not trace them!

  _1. Gent._   Howso'er 'tis strange,
  Or that the negligence may well be laughed at,
  Yet it is true, sir.

  _2. Gent._   I do well believe you.

  _1. Gent._ We must forbear; here comes the gentleman,
  The Queen and Princess.     (_Exeunt._)[6]

Here Shakespeare trusts mere exposition to rouse interest. His speakers
merely question and answer, showing little characterization and
practically no emotion. Is this extract as interesting as the following?

  _Fits Urse. (Catches hold of the last flying monk.)_ Where is the
     traitor Becket?

  _Becket._   Here.
  No traitor to the King, but Priest of God,
  Primate of England.  (_Descending into the transept._)
      I am he ye seek.
  What would ye have of me?

  _Fits Urse._   Your life.

  _De Tracy._   Your life.

  _De Morville._ Save that you will absolve the bishops.

  _Becket._    Never,--
  Except they make submission to the Church.
  You had my answer to that cry before.

  _De Morville._ Why, then you are a dead man; flee!

  _Becket._   I will not.
  I am readier to be slain than thou to slay.
  Hugh, I know well that thou hast but half a heart
  To bathe this sacred pavement with my blood.
  God pardon thee and these, but God's full curse
  Shatter you all to pieces if ye harm
  One of my flock!

  _Fitz Urse._   Seize him and carry him!
  Come with us--nay--thou art our prisoner--come!

    (_Fitz Urse lays hold of Archbishop's pall._)

  _Becket._   Down!

    (_Throws him headlong._)

  _De Morville._ Ay, make him prisoner, do not harm the man.

  _Fitz Urse._ (_Advances with drawn sword._) I told thee that I should
    remember thee!

  _Becket._ Profligate pander!

  _Fitz Urse._ Do you hear that? Strike, strike.

    (_Strikes the Archbishop and wounds him in the forehead._)

  _Becket._ (_Covers his eyes with his hand._) I do commend my cause to

  _Fitz Urse._. Strike him, Tracy!

  _Rosamund._ (_Rushing down the steps from the choir._) No, no, no, no.
    Mercy, Mercy,
  As you would hope for mercy.

  _Fitz Urse._   Strike, I say.

  _Grim._ O, God, O, noble knight, O, sacrilege!

  _Fitz Urse._   Strike! I say.

  _De Tracy._ There is my answer then.

    (_Sword falls on Grim's arm, and glances from it, wounding Becket._)

  This last to rid thee of a world of brawls!

  _Becket._ (_Falling on his knees._) Into thy hands, O Lord--into thy
    hands--!   (_Sinks prone._)

  _De Brito._ The traitor's dead, and will arise no more.

  (_De Brito, De Tracy, Fitz Urse rush out, crying "King's men!" De
  Morville follows slowly. Flashes of lightning through the Cathedral.
  Rosamund seen kneeling at the body of Becket._)[7]

The physical action of this extract instantly grips attention.
Interested at once by this action, shortly we rush on unthinking, but
feeling more and more intensely. In this extract action is everywhere.
The actionless _Cymbeline_ is undramatic. This extract is intensely

Just what, however, is this action which in drama is so essential? To
most people it means physical or bodily action which rouses sympathy or
dislike in an audience. The action of melodrama certainly exists largely
for itself. We expect and get little but physical action for its own
sake when a play is announced as was the well-known melodrama, _A Race
for Life_.

  As Melodramatically and Masterfully Stirring, Striking and Sensational
  as Phil Sheridan's Famous Ride.

    Superb, Stupendous Scenes in Sunset Regions.
    Wilderness Wooings Where Wild Roses Grow.
    The Lights and Shades of Rugged Border Life.
    Chinese Comedy to Make Confucius Chuckle.
    The Realism of the Ranch and Race Track.
    The Hero Horse That Won a Human Life.
    An Equine Beauty Foils a Murderous Beast.
    Commingled Gleams of Gladness, Grief, and Guilt.
    Dope, Dynamite and Devilish Treachery Distanced.
    Continuous Climaxes That Come Like Cloudbursts.

Some plays depend almost wholly upon mere bustle and rapidly shifting
movement, much of it wholly unnecessary to the plot. Large portions of
many recent musical comedies illustrate this. Such unnecessary but
crudely effective movement Stevenson burlesqued more than once in the
stage directions of his _Macaire_.


  _Aline and maids; to whom Fiddlers; afterwards Dumont and Charles. As
  the curtain rises, the sound of the violin is heard approaching. Aline
  and the inn servants, who are discovered laying the table, dance up to
  door L.C., to meet the Fiddlers, who enter likewise dancing to their
  own music. Air: "Haste to the Wedding." The Fiddlers exeunt playing
  into house, R.U.E. Aline and Maids dance back to table, which they
  proceed to arrange._

  _Aline._ Well, give me fiddles: fiddles and a wedding feast. It
  tickles your heart till your heels make a runaway match of it. I don't
  mind extra work, I don't, so long as there's fun about it. Hand me up
  that pile of plates. The quinces there, before the bride. Stick a pink
  in the Notary's glass: that's the girl he's courting.

  _Dumont._ (_Entering with Charles._) Good girls, good girls! Charles,
  in ten minutes from now what happy faces will smile around that board!


  _To these all the former characters, less the Notary. The fiddlers are
  heard without, playing dolefully. Air: "O, dear, what can the matter
  be?" in time to which the procession enters._

  _Macaire._ Well, friends, what cheer?         \
  _Aline._ No wedding, no wedding!               > _Together_
  _Goriot._ I told 'ee he can't, and he can't!  /

  _Dumont._ Dear, dear me.                      \
  _Ernestine._ They won't let us marry.          > _Together_
  _Charles._ No wife, no father, no nothing.    /

  _Curate._ The facts have justified the worst anticipations of our
  absent friend, the Notary.

  _Macaire._ I perceive I must reveal myself.[8]

If physical action in and of itself is so often dramatic, is all
physical action dramatic? That is, does it always create emotion in an
onlooker? No. It goes for naught unless it rouses his interest. Of
itself, or because of the presentation given it by the dramatist, it
must rouse in the onlooker an emotional response. A boy seeing "Crazy
Mary" stalking the street in bedizened finery and bowing right and left,
may see nothing interesting in her. More probably her actions will move
him to jeer and jibe at her. Let some spectator, however, tell the boy
of the tragedy in Crazy Mary's younger life which left her unbalanced,
and, if he has any right feeling, the boy's attitude will begin to
change. He may even give over the jeering he has begun. Reveal to him
exactly what is passing in the crazed mind of the woman, and his mere
interest will probably turn to sympathy. Characterization, preceding and
accompanying action, creates sympathy or repulsion for the figure or
figures involved. This sympathy or repulsion in turn converts mere
interest into emotional response of the keenest kind. Though physical
action is undoubtedly fundamental in drama, no higher form than crude
melodrama or crude farce can develop till characterization appears to
explain and interpret action.

The following extracts from Robertson's _Home_ show physical action,
silly it is true, yet developing characterization by illustrative
action. The first, even as it amuses, characterizes the timid Bertie,
and the second shows the mild mentality and extreme confusion of the two
central figures.

  _Mr. Dorrison._ Will you give Mrs. Pinchbeck your arm, Colonel? Dora,
  my dear. (_Taking Dora's._) Lucy, Captain Mountraffe will--(_Sees him
  asleep._) Ah, Lucy, you must follow by yourself.

  (_Colonel takes off Mrs. Pinchbeck; Dorrison, Dora. At that moment,
  Bertie enters window, R., and runs to Lucy, kneels at her feet, and is
  about to kiss her hand. Mountraffe yawns, which frightens Bertie. He
  is running off as the drop falls quickly._)

    _End of Act I_

  _Colonel_. I'd always give my eyes to be alone with this girl for five
  minutes, and whenever I am alone with her, I haven't a word to say for
  myself. (_Aloud._) That music, Miss Thornhaugh?

  _Dora._ (_At piano._) Yes.

  _Col._ (_Aside._) As if it could be anything else. How stupid of me.
  (_Aloud._) New music?

  _Dora._ Yes.

  _Col._ New laid--I mean, fresh from the country--fresh from London,
  or--yes--I--(_Dora sits on music stool at piano. This scene is played
  with great constraint on both sides. Colonel bends over Dora at
  piano._) Going to play any of it now?

  _Dora._ No. I must practise it first. I can't play at sight.

  _Col._ Can't you really? Don't you believe in--music--at first sight?

    (_Dora drops a music book. Colonel picks it up. Dora tries to pick
    it up. They knock their heads together; mutual confusion. As they
    rise, each has hold of the book._)

  _Dora._    \ I beg your pardon. (_Both trembling._)
  _Col._     /

  _Dora._ It's nothing.

  _Col._ Nothing, quite so.

    (_Dora sits on music stool. As she does so, both leave hold of the
    book and it falls again._)

  _Dora._ I thought you had the book.

  _Col._ (_Picking it up._) And I thought you had it, and it appears
  that neither of us had it. Ha! ha! (_Aside._) Fool that I am! (_Dora
  sits thoughtfully, Colonel bending over her; a pause._) Won't you play

  _Dora._ I don't know how to play.

  _Col._ Oh, well, play the other one. (_They resume their attitudes; a
  pause._) The weather has been very warm today, has it not?

  _Dora._ Very.

  _Col._ Looks like thunder to me.

  _Dora._ Does it?

  _Col._ Are you fond of thunder--I mean fond of music? I should say are
  you fond of lightning? (_Dora touches keys of piano mechanically._) Do
  play something.

  _Dora._ No, I--I didn't think of what I was doing. What were you
  talking about?

  _Col._ About? You--me--no! About thunder--music--I mean lightning.

  _Dora._ I'm afraid of lightning.   (Act II.)[9]

The first scene of Act I of _Romeo and Juliet_ is full of interesting
physical action--quarrels, fighting, and the halting of the fight by the
angry Prince. The physical action, however, characterizes in every
instance, from the servants of the two factions to Tybalt, Benvolio, the
Capulets, the Montagues, and the Prince. Moreover, this interesting
physical action, which is all the more interesting because it
characterizes, is interesting in the third place because in every
instance it helps to an understanding of the story. It shows so intense
an enmity between the two houses that even the servants cannot meet in
the streets without quarreling. By its characterization it prepares for
the parts Benvolio and Tybalt are to play in later scenes. It motivates
the edict of banishment which is essential if the tragedy of the play is
to occur.

    SCENE 1. _Verona. A public place_

  _Enter Sampson and Gregory, of the house of Capulet, with swords and

  _Sampson._ Gregory, on my word, we'll not carry coals.

  _Gregory._ No, for then we should be colliers.

  _Sam._ I mean, an we be in choler, we'll draw.

  _Gre._ Ay, while you live, draw your neck out o' the collar.

  _Sam._ I strike quickly, being mov'd.

  _Gre._ But thou art not quickly mov'd to strike.

  _Sam._ A dog of the house of Montague moves me.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Draw thy tool; here comes two of the house of Montague.

    _Enter two other serving-men. (Abraham and Balthasar.)_

  _Sam._ My naked weapon is out. Quarrel, I will back thee.

  _Gre._ How! turn thy back and run?

  _Sam._ Fear me not.

  _Gre._ No, marry; I fear thee!

  _Sam._ Let us take the law of our sides; let them begin.

  _Gre._ I will frown as I pass by, and let them take it as they list.

  _Sam._ Nay, as they dare. I will bite my thumb at them; which is
  disgrace to them if they bare it.

  _Abraham._ Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

  _Sam._ I do bite my thumb, sir.

  _Abr._ Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?

  _Sam._ (_Aside to Gre._) Is the law of our side, if I say ay?

  _Gre._ No.

  _Sam._ No, sir, I do not bite my thumb at you, sir; but I bite my
  thumb, sir.

  _Gre._ Do you quarrel, sir?

  _Abr._ Quarrel, sir? No, sir.

  _Sam._ But if you do, sir, I am for you. I serve as good a man as you.

  _Abr._ No better.

  _Sam._ Well, sir.

    _Enter Benvolio._

  _Gre._ Say "better"; here comes one of my master's kinsmen.

  _Sam._ Yes, better, sir.

  _Abr._ You lie.

  _Sam._ Draw, if you be men. Gregory, remember thy swashing blow.
    (_They fight._)

  _Benvolio._ Part, fools!
  Put up your swords; you know not what you do.
    (_Beats down their swords._)

    _Enter Tybalt_

  _Tybalt._ What, art thou drawn among these heartless hinds?
  Turn thee, Benvolio, look upon thy death.

  _Ben._ I do but keep the peace. Put up thy sword,
  Or manage it to part these men with me.

  _Tyb._ What, drawn, and talk of peace! I hate the word
  As I hate hell, all Montagues, and thee.
  Have at thee, coward!   (_They fight._)

    _Enter three or four citizens, and officers, with clubs or partisans_

  _Officer._ Clubs, bills, and partisans! Strike! Beat them down!
  Down with the Capulets! down with the Montagues!

    _Enter Capulet in his gown and Lady Capulet_

  _Capulet._ What noise is this? Give me my long sword, ho!

  _Lady Capulet._ A crutch, a crutch! Why call you for a sword?

  _Cap._ My sword, I say! Old Montague is come,
  And flourishes his blade in spite of me.

    _Enter Montague and Lady Montague_

  _Montague._ Thou villain, Capulet,--Hold me not, let me go.

  _Lady Montague._ Thou shalt not stir one foot to seek a foe.

    _Enter Prince, with his train_

  _Prince._ Rebellious subjects, enemies to peace,
  Profaners of this neighbour-stained steel,--
  Will they not hear?--What, ho! you men, you beasts,
  That quench the fire of your pernicious rage
  With purple fountains issuing from your veins,
  On pain of torture, from those bloody hands
  Throw your mistemper'd weapons to the ground,
  And hear the sentence of your moved prince.
  Three civil brawls, bred of an airy word,
  By thee, old Capulet, and Montague,
  Have thrice disturb'd the quiet of our streets,
  And made Verona's ancient citizens
  Cast by their grave beseeming ornaments,
  To wield old partisans, in hands as old,
  Cank'red with peace, to part your cank'red hate;
  If ever you disturb our streets again
  Your lives shall pay the forfeit of the peace.
  For this time, all the rest depart away.
  You, Capulet, shall go along with me;
  And Montague, come you this afternoon,
  To know our farther pleasure in this case,
  To old Free-town, our common judgement place,
  Once more, on pain of death, all men depart.

    (_Exeunt all but Montague, Lady Montague, and Benvolio._)

Even physical action, then, may interest for itself, or because it
characterizes, or because it helps on the story, or for two or more of
these reasons.

If we examine other extracts from famous plays we shall, however, find
ourselves wondering whether action in drama must not mean something
besides mere physical action. In the opening scene of _La Princesse
Georges_, by Dumas fils, the physical action is neither large in amount
nor varied, but the scene is undeniably dramatic, for emotions
represented create prompt emotional response in us.

    ACT I. SCENE 1

  _A Drawing Room_

  _Severine, watching near the window, with the curtain drawn a little
  aside, then Rosalie_

  _Severine._ Rosalie! At last! What a night I have gone through!
  Sixteen hours of waiting! (_To Rosalie, who enters._) Well?

  _Rosalie._ Madame, the Princess must be calm.

  _Severine._ Don't call me Princess. That's wasting time.

  _Rosalie._ Madame has not slept?

  _Severine._ No.

  _Rosalie._ I suspected as much.

  _Severine._ Tell me, is it true?

  _Rosalie._ Yes.

  _Severine._ The details, then.

  _Rosalie._ Well, then, last evening I followed the Prince, who went to
  the Western Railway, as he had told Madame that he would do, to take
  the train at half past nine; only, instead of buying a ticket for
  Versailles, he took one for Rouen.

  _Severine._ But he was alone?

  _Rosalie._ Yes. But five minutes after he arrived, she came.

  _Severine._ Who was the woman?

  _Rosalie._ Alas, Madame knows her better than I!

  _Severine._ It is some one whom I know?

  _Rosalie._ Yes.

  _Severine._ Not one of those women?--

  _Rosalie._ It is one of your intimate friends, of the best social

  _Severine._ Valentine? Bertha? No.--The Baroness?

  _Rosalie._ The Countess Sylvanie.

  _Severine._ She? Impossible! She stayed here, with me, until at least
  nine o'clock. We dined alone together.

  _Rosalie._ She was making sure that you didn't suspect anything.

  _Severine._ Indeed, nothing. And she came to the train at what hour?

  _Rosalie._ At twenty-five minutes past nine.

  _Severine._ So, in twenty-five minutes--

  _Rosalie._ She went home; she changed her dress (she arrived all in
  black); she went to the St. Lazare Station. It is true that only your
  garden and hers separate her house from yours; that she has the best
  horses in Paris; and that she is accustomed to doing this sort of
  thing, if I may believe what I have heard.

  _Severine._ To what a pass we have come! My most intimate friend! Did
  they speak to each other?[10]

This scene wins our attention because it reveals in Severine a mental
state which in itself interests and moves us far more than the mere
physical action.

What has been said of _La Princesse Georges_ is even more true of the
ending of Marlowe's _Faustus_.

  _Faustus._ Ah, Faustus:
  Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
  And then thou must be damn'd perpetually!
  Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven,
  That time may cease, and midnight never come;
  Fair Nature's eye, rise, rise again and make
  Perpetual day; or let this hour be but
  A year, a month, a week, a natural day,
  That Faustus may repent and save his soul!
  _O lente, lente currite, noctis equi!_
  The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
  The devil will come, and Faustus will be damn'd.
  ..........All beasts are happy,
  For when they die,
  Their souls are soon dissolv'd in elements;
  But mine must live still to be plagu'd in hell.
  Curs'd be the parents that engender'd me!
  No, Faustus, curse thyself, curse Lucifer
  That hath deprived thee of the joys of heaven.
    (_The clock strikes twelve._)
  O, it strikes, it strikes! Now body, turn to air,
  Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell!
    (_Thunder and lightning._)
  O, soul, be chang'd into little water-drops,
  And fall into the ocean, ne'er be found!

    _Enter Devils_

  My God, my God, look not so fierce on me!
  Adders and serpents, let me breathe a while!
  Ugly hell, gape not! come not, Lucifer!
  I'll burn my books!--Ah, Mephistophilis!
    (_Exeunt Devils with Faustus._)[11]

Though this scene doubtless requires physical action as the tortured
Faustus flings himself about the stage, would that action be clear
enough to move us greatly were it not for the characterization of the
preceding scenes and the masterly phrasing which exactly reveals the
tortured soul? Is it not a mental state rather than physical action
which moves us here? Surely.

The fact is, the greatest drama of all time, and the larger part of the
drama of the past twenty years, uses action much less for its own sake
than to reveal mental states which are to rouse sympathy or repulsion in
an audience. In brief, marked mental activity may be quite as dramatic
as mere physical action. Hamlet may sit quietly by his fire as he speaks
the soliloquy "To be, or not to be," yet by what we already know of him
and what the lines reveal we are moved to the deepest sympathy for his
tortured state. There is almost no physical movement as Percinet reads
to Sylvette from _Romeo and Juliet_ in the opening pages of Rostand's
_Romancers_, yet we are amused and pleased by their excited delight.

    ACT I

  _The stage is cut in two by an old wall, mossy and garlanded by
  luxurious vines. To the right, a corner of Bergamin's park; to the
  left a corner of Pasquinot's. On each side, against the wall, a

  SCENE 1. _Sylvette. Percinet. When the curtain rises, Percinet is
  seated on the wall, with a book on his knees, from which he is reading
  to Sylvette. She stands on the bench in her father's park, her chin in
  her hands, her elbows against the wall, listening attentively._

  _Sylvette_. O Monsieur Percinet, how beautiful it is!

  _Percinet_. Isn't it? Hear Romeo's reply! (_He reads._)
  "It was the lark, the herald of the morn,
  No nightingale; look, love, what envious streaks
  Do lace the severing clouds in yonder east:
  Night's candles are burnt out and jocund day
  Stands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops:
  I must be gone...."

  _Sylvette._ (_Alert, with animation._) Sh!

  _Percinet._ (_Listens a moment, then_) No one! So, mademoiselle, don't
  have the air of an affrighted birdling on a branch, ready to spread
  wing at the slightest sound. Hear the immortal lovers talking:

  _She._ "Yon light is not day-light, I know it, I:
    It is some meteor that the sun exhales,
    To be to thee this night a torch bearer."

  _He._ "Let me be ta'en, let me be put to death;
    I am content, so thou wilt have it so.
    I'll say yon gray is not the morning's eye;
    'Tis but the pale reflex of Cynthia's brow;
    Nor that is not the lark, whose notes do beat
    The vaulty heaven so high above our heads;
    I have more care to stay than will to go:
    Come, death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so."

  _Sylvette._ Oh, no! I won't have him talk of that; if he does, I shall

  _Percinet._ Then we'll shut our book till tomorrow, and, since you
  wish it, let sweet Romeo live.

    (_He closes the book and looks about him._)

  What an adorable spot! It seems made for lulling one's self with the
  lines of the great William.[12]

Here is great activity, but it is mental rather than physical action. To
make it rouse us to the desired emotional response, good
characterization and wisely chosen words are necessary.

Examine also the opening scene of Maeterlinck's _The Blind_. A group of
sightless people have been deserted in a wood by their guide, and
consequently are so bewildered and timorous that they hardly dare move.
Yet all their trepidation, doubt, and awe are clearly conveyed to us,
with a very small amount of physical action, through skilful
characterization, and words specially chosen and ordered to create and
intensify emotion in us.

  _An ancient Norland forest, with an eternal look, under a sky of deep

  _In the centre and in the deep of the night, a very old priest is
  sitting, wrapped in a great black cloak. The chest and the head,
  gently upturned and deathly motionless, rest against the trunk of a
  giant hollow oak. The face is fearsome pale and of an immovable waxen
  lividness, in which the purple lips fall slightly apart. The dumb,
  fixed eyes no longer look out from the visible side of Eternity and
  seem to bleed with immemorial sorrows and with tears. The hair, of a
  solemn whiteness, falls in stringy locks, stiff and few, over a face
  more illuminated and more weary than all that surrounds it in the
  watchful stillness of that melancholy wood. The hands, pitifully thin,
  are clasped rigidly over the thighs._

  _On the right, six old men, all blind, are sitting on stones, stumps,
  and dead leaves._

  _On the left, separated from them by an uprooted tree and fragments of
  rock, six women, also blind, are sitting opposite the old men. Three
  among them pray and mourn without ceasing, in a muffled voice. Another
  is old in the extreme. The fifth, in an attitude of mute insanity,
  holds on her knees a little sleeping child. The sixth is strangely
  young and her whole body is drenched with her beautiful hair. They, as
  well as the old men, are all clad in the same ample and sombre
  garments. Most of them are waiting, with their elbows on their knees
  and their faces in their hands; and all seem to have lost the habit of
  ineffectual gesture and no longer turn their heads at the stifled and
  uneasy noises of the Island. Tall funereal trees,--yews,
  weeping-willows, cypresses,--cover them with their faithful shadows. A
  cluster of long, sickly asphodels is in bloom, not far from the
  priest, in the night. It is unusually oppressive, despite the
  moonlight that here and there struggles to pierce for an instant the
  glooms of the foliage._

  _First Blind Man._ (_Who was born blind._) He hasn't come back yet?

  _Second Blind Man._ (_Who also was born blind._) You have awakened me.

  _First Blind Man._ I was sleeping, too.

  _Third Blind Man._ (_Also born blind._) I was sleeping, too.

  _First Blind Man._ He hasn't come yet?

  _Second Blind Man._ I hear something coming.

  _Third Blind Man._ It is time to go back to the Asylum.

  _First Blind Man._ We ought to find out where we are.

  _Second Blind Man._ It has grown cold since he left.

  _First Blind Man._ We ought to find out where we are!

  _The Very Old Blind Man._ Does any one know where we are?

  _The Very Old Blind Woman._ We were walking a very long while; we must
  be a long way from the Asylum.

  _First Blind Man._ Oh! the women are opposite us?

  _The Very Old Blind Woman._ We are sitting opposite you.

  _First Blind Man._ Wait, I am coming over where you are. (_He rises
  and gropes in the dark._) Where are you?--Speak! let me hear where you

  _The Very Old Blind Woman._ Here; we are sitting on stones.

  _First Blind Man._ (_Advances and stumbles against the fallen tree and
  the rocks._) There is something between us.

  _Second Blind Man._ We had better keep our places.

  _Third Blind Man._ Where are you sitting?--Will you come over by us?

  _The Very Old Blind Woman._ We dare not rise!

  _Third Blind Man._ Why did he separate us?

  _First Blind Man._ I hear praying on the women's side.

  _Second Blind Man._ Yes; the three old women are praying.

  _First Blind Man._ This is no time for prayer!

  _Second Blind Man._ You will pray soon enough, in the dormitory!

    (_The three old women continue their prayers._)

  _Third Blind Man._ I should like to know who it is I am sitting by.

  _Second Blind Man._ I think I am next to you.

    (_They feel about them._)

  _Third Blind Man._ We can't reach each other.

  _First Blind Man._ Nevertheless, we are not far apart. (_He feels
  about him and strikes with his staff the fifth blind man, who utters a
  muffled groan._) The one who cannot hear is beside us.

  _Second Blind Man._ I don't hear anybody; we were six just now.

  _First Blind Man._ I am going to count. Let us question the women,
  too; we must know what to depend upon. I hear the three old women
  praying all the time; are they together?

  _The Very Old Blind Woman._ They are sitting beside me, on a rock.

  _First Blind Man._ I am sitting on dead leaves.

  _Third Blind Man._ And the beautiful blind girl, where is she?

  _The Very Old Blind Woman._ She is near them that pray.

  _Second Blind Man._ Where is the mad woman, and her child?

  _The Young Blind Girl._ He sleeps; do not awaken him!

  _First Blind Man._ Oh! How far away you are from us! I thought you
  were opposite me!

  _Third Blind Man._ We know--nearly--all we need to know. Let us chat a
  little, while we wait for the priest to come back.[13]

Many an inexperienced dramatist fails to see the force of these words of
Maeterlinck: "An old man, seated in his armchair, waiting patiently,
with his lamp beside him--submitting with bent head to the presence of
his soul and his destiny--motionless as he is does yet live in reality a
deeper, more human, and more universal life than the lover who strangles
his mistress, the captain who conquers in battle, or the husband who
'avenges his honor.'" If an audience can be made to feel and understand
the strong but contained emotion of this motionless figure, he is rich
dramatic material.

In the extracts from _La Princesse Georges_, _Faustus_, _The Romancers_,
_The Blind_, in the soliloquy of Hamlet referred to, and the
illustration quoted from Maeterlinck, it is not physical outward
expression but the vivid picture we get of a state of mind which stirs
us. Surely all these cases prove that we must include mental as well as
physical activity in any definition of the word _dramatic_. Provided a
writer can convey to his audience the excited mental state of one or
more of his characters, then this mental activity is thoroughly
dramatic. That is, neither physical nor mental activity is in itself
dramatic; all depends on whether it naturally arouses, or can be made by
the author to arouse, emotion in an audience. Just as we had to add to
physical action which arouses emotional response of itself, physical
action which is made to arouse response because it develops the story
or illustrates character, we must now add action which is not physical,
but mental.

There is even another chance for confusion. A figure sitting motionless
not because he is thinking hard but because blank in mind may yet be
dramatic. Utter inaction, both physical and mental, of a figure
represented on the stage does not mean that it is necessarily
undramatic. If the dramatist can make an audience feel the terrible
tragedy of the contrast between what might have been and what is for
this perfectly quiet unthinking figure, he rouses emotion in his
hearers, and in so doing makes his material dramatic. Suppose, too, that
the expressionless figure is an aged father or mother very dear to some
one in the play who has strongly won the sympathy of the audience. The
house takes fire. The flames draw nearer and nearer the unconscious
figure. We are made to look at the situation through the eyes of the
character--some child or relative--to whom the scene, were he present,
would mean torture. Instantly the figure, because of the way in which it
is represented, becomes dramatic. Here again, however, the emotion of
the audience could hardly be aroused except through characterization of
the figure as it was or might have been, or of the child or relative who
has won our sympathy. Again, too, characterization so successful must
depend a good deal on well-chosen words.

This somewhat elaborate analysis should have made three points clear.
First, we may arouse emotion in an audience by mere physical action; by
physical action which also develops the story, or illustrates character,
or does both; by mental rather than physical action, if clearly and
accurately conveyed to the audience; and even by inaction, if
characterization and dialogue by means of other figures are of high
order. Secondly, as the various illustrations have been examined, it
must have become steadily more clear that while action is popularly held
to be central in drama, emotion is really the essential. Because it is
the easiest expression of emotion to understand, physical action, which
without illuminating characterization and dialogue can express only a
part of the world of emotion, has been too often accepted as expressing
all the emotion the stage can present. Thirdly, it should be clear that
a statement one meets too frequently in books on the drama, that certain
stories or characters, above all certain well-known books, are
essentially undramatic material is at least dubious. The belief arises
from the fact that the story, character, or idea, as usually presented,
seems to demand much analysis and description, and almost to preclude
illustrative action. In the past few years, however, the drama of mental
states and the drama which has revealed emotional significance in
seeming or real inaction, has been proving that "nothing human is
foreign" to the drama. A dramatist may see in the so-called undramatic
material emotional values. If so, he will develop a technique which will
create in his public a satisfaction equal to that which the so-called
undramatic story, character, or idea could give in story form. Of course
he will treat it differently in many respects because he is writing not
to be read but to be heard, and to affect the emotions, not of the
individual, but of a large group taken as a group. He will prove that
till careful analysis has shown in a given story, character, or idea, no
possibility of arousing the same or dissimilar emotions in an audience,
we cannot say that this or that is dramatic or undramatic, but only:
"This material will require totally different presentation if it is to
be dramatic on the stage, and only a person of acumen, experience with
audiences, and inventive technique can present it effectively."

The misapprehension just analyzed rests not only on the misconception
that action rather than emotion is the essential in drama, but also
largely on a careless use of the word _dramatic_. In popular use this
word means _material for drama_, or _creative of emotional response_, or
_perfectly fitted for production under the conditions of the theatre_.
If we examine a little, in the light of this chapter, the nature and
purpose of a play, we shall see that _dramatic_ should stand only for
the first two definitions, and that _theatric_ must be used for the
third. Avoiding the vague definition _material for drama_, use
_dramatic_ only as _creative of emotional response_ and the confusion
will disappear.

A play exists to create emotional response in an audience. The response
may be to the emotions of the people in the play or the emotions of the
author as he watches these people. Where would satirical comedy be if,
instead of sharing the amusement, disdain, contempt or moral anger of
the dramatist caused by his figures, we responded exactly to their
follies or evil moods? All ethical drama gets its force by creating in
an audience the feelings toward the people in the play held by the
author. Dumas fils, Ibsen, Brieux prove the truth of this statement. The
writer of the satirical or the ethical play, obtruding his own
personality as in the case of Ben Jonson, or with fine impersonality as
in the case of Congreve or Molière, makes his feelings ours. It is an
obvious corollary of this statement that the emotions aroused in an
audience need not be the same as those felt by the people on the stage.
They may be in the sharpest contrast. Any one experienced in drama knows
that the most intensely comic effects often come from people acting very
seriously. In _Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme_ (Act I, Scene 2), the morning
reception of M. Jourdain affords an instance of this in his trying on of
costumes, fencing, and lessons in dancing and language. Serious entirely
for M. Jourdain they are as presented by Molière, exquisitely comic for
us. In brief, the dramatic may rouse the same, allied, or even
contrasting emotions in an onlooker.

Nor need the emotion roused in an audience by actor or author be exactly
the same in amount. The actress who abandons herself to the emotions of
the part she is playing soon exhausts her nervous vitality. It would be
the same if audiences listening to the tragic were permitted to feel the
scenes as keenly as the figures of the story. On the other hand, in some
cases, if the comic figure on the stage felt his comicality as strongly
as the audience which is speechless with laughter, he could not go on,
and the scene would fail. Evidently, an audience may be made, as the
dramatist wills, to feel more or less emotion than the characters of the

That it is duplication of emotion to the same, a less, or a greater
extent or the creation of contrasting emotion which underlies all drama,
from melodrama, riotous farce and even burlesque to high-comedy and
tragedy, must be firmly grasped if a would-be dramatist is to steer his
way clearly through the many existing and confusing definitions of
_dramatic_. For instance, Brunetière said, "Drama is the representation
of the will of man in contrast to the mysterious powers of natural
forces which limit and belittle us; it is one of us thrown living upon
the stage, there to struggle against fatality, against social law,
against one of his fellow mortals, against himself, if need be, against
the emotions, the interests, the prejudices, the folly, the malevolence
of those around him."[14] That is, by this definition, conflict is
central in drama. But we know that in recent drama particularly, the
moral drifter has many a time aroused our sympathy. Surely inertness,
supineness, stupidity, and even torpor may be made to excite emotion in
an audience. Conflict covers a large part of drama but not all of it.

Mr. William Archer, in his _Play-Making_, declares that "a crisis" is
the central matter in drama, but one immediately wishes to know what
constitutes a crisis, and we have defined without defining. When he says
elsewhere that that is dramatic which "by representation of imaginary
personages is capable of interesting an average audience assembled in a
theatre,"[15] he almost hits the truth. If we rephrase this definition:
"That is dramatic which by representation of imaginary personages
interests, through its emotions, an average audience assembled in a
theatre," we have a definition which will better stand testing.

Is all dramatic material, _theatric?_ No, for _theatric_ does not
necessarily mean _sensational, melodramatic, artificial_. It should
mean, and it will be so used in this book, _adapted for the purpose of
the theatre_. Certainly all dramatic material, that is, material which
arouses or may be made to arouse emotion, is not fitted for use in the
theatre when first it comes to the hand of the dramatist. Undeniably,
the famous revivalists, Moody, J.B. Gough, Billy Sunday, have worked
from emotions to emotions; that is, they have been dramatic.
Intentionally, feeling themselves justified by the ends obtained, they
have, too, been _theatric_ in the poor and popular sense of the word,
namely, _exaggerated, melodramatic, sensational_. Yet _theatric_ in the
best sense of the word these highly emotional speakers, who have swept
audiences out of all self-control, have not been. They worked as
speakers, not as playwrights. Though they sometimes acted admirably,
what they presented was in no sense a play. To accomplish in play form
what they accomplished as speakers, that is, to make the material
properly theatric, would have required an entire reworking. From all
this it follows that even material so emotional in its nature as to be
genuinely dramatic may need careful reworking if it is to succeed as a
play, that is, if it is to become properly _theatric_. Drama, then, is
presentation of an individual or group of individuals so as to move an
audience to responsive emotion of the kind desired by the dramatist and
to the amount required. This response must be gained under the
conditions which a dramatist finds or develops in a theatre; that is,
dramatic material must be made theatric in the right sense of the word
before it can become drama.

To summarize: accurately conveyed emotion is the great fundamental in
all good drama. It is conveyed by action, characterization, and
dialogue. It must be conveyed in a space of time, usually not exceeding
two hours and a half, and under the existing physical conditions of the
stage, or with such changes as the dramatist may bring about in them. It
must be conveyed, not directly through the author, but indirectly
through the actors. In order that the dramatic may become theatric in
the right sense of the word, the dramatic must be made to meet all these
conditions successfully. These conditions affect action,
characterization, and dialogue. A dramatist must study the ways in which
the dramatic has been and may be made theatric: that is what technique


  [1] _Early Plays_, pp. 5-6. Riverside Literature Series. C. G. Child.
    Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

  [2] _The Ancient Classical Drama_, pp. 3-4. R. G. Moulton. Clarendon
    Press, Oxford.

  [3] Quoted in _The Development of the Drama_, pp. 10-11. Copyright,
    1903, by Brander Matthews. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [4] For these two plays see _Early Plays_. Riverside Literature
    Series. C. G. Child. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

  [5] _Works._ 6 vols. Pearson, London.

  [6] _Cymbeline_, Act I, Scene 1.

  [7] _Becket: A Tragedy._ Lord Tennyson. Arranged for the stage by
    Henry Irving. Macmillan & Co., London and New York.

  [8] _Macaire._ By R. L. Stevenson and W. E. Henley. Chas. Scribner's
    Sons, New York. Copyright, 1895, by Stone & Kimball, Chicago.

  [9] R. M. DeWitt, New York City.

  [10] _Théâtre Complet_, vol. v. Dumas fils. Calmann Lévy, Paris.

  [11] Marlowe's _Faustus_, Act v. Mermaid Series or Everyman's

  [12] _The Romancers._ Translated by Mary Hendee. Doubleday & McClure
    Co., New York.

  [13] _The Blind._ Translated by Richard Hovey. Copyright, 1894 and
    1896, by Stone & Kimball, Chicago.

  [14] _Études Critiques_ vol. VII, p. 207.

  [15] _Play-Making_, p. 48. William Archer. Small, Maynard & Co.,



A play may start from almost anything: a detached thought that flashes
through the mind; a theory of conduct or of art which one firmly
believes or wishes only to examine; a bit of dialogue overheard or
imagined; a setting, real or imagined, which creates emotion in the
observer; a perfectly detached scene, the antecedents and consequences
of which are as yet unknown; a figure glimpsed in a crowd which for some
reason arrests the attention of the dramatist, or a figure closely
studied; a contrast or similarity between two people or conditions of
life; a mere incident--noted in a newspaper or book, heard in idle talk,
or observed; or a story, told only in the barest outlines or with the
utmost detail. "How do the ideas underlying plays come into being? Under
the most varying conditions. Most often you cannot tell exactly how. At
the outset you waste much time hunting for a subject, then suddenly one
day, when you are in your study or even in the street, you bring up with
a start, for you have found something. The piece is in sight. At first
there is only an impression, an image of the brain that wholly defies
words. If you were to write out exactly what you feel at the
moment--provided that were at all possible--it would be exceedingly
difficult to indicate its attractiveness. The situation is similar to
that when you dream that you have discovered an idea of profound
significance; on awaking you write it down; and on rereading perceive
that it is commonplace or stale. Then you follow up the idea; it tries
to escape, and when captured at last, still resists, ceaselessly
changing form. You wish to write a comedy; the idea cries, 'Make a
tragedy of me, or a story-play.' At last, after a struggle you master
the idea."[1]

Back of _La Haine_ of Sardou was the detached thought or query: "Under
what circumstances will the profound charity of woman show itself in the
most striking manner? In the preface to _La Haine_, Sardou has told how
his plays revealed themselves to him. 'The problem is invariable. It
appears as a kind of equation from which the unknown quantity must be
found. The problem gives me no peace till I have found the answer.'"[2]
Maeterlinck wrote several of his earlier plays, _The Intruder_,
_Princess Maleine_, _The Blind_, to demonstrate the truth of two
artistic theories of his: that what would seem to most theatre-goers of
the time inaction might be made highly dramatic, and that partial or
complete repetition of a phrase may have great emotional effect. _Magda_
(_Heimat_) of Sudermann was written to illustrate the possible inherent
tragedy of Magda's words: "Show them [people thoroughly sincere and
honest but limited in experience and outlook] that beyond their narrow
virtues there may be something true and good." In _Le Fils Naturel_ of
Dumas the younger, the illegitimate son, till late in the play, believes
his father to be his uncle. "The logical development would seem to be
obvious: father and son falling into each other's arms. Dumas, on the
contrary, arranged that the son should not take the family name, and
that the play should end with the following dialogue:

  _The Father._ You will surely permit me, when we are alone together,
  to call you my son.

  _The Son._ Yes, uncle.

It seems that Montigny, Director of the Gymnase Theatre, was shocked by
the frigidity of this dénouement. He said to Dumas, 'Make them embrace
each other; the play, in that case, will have at least thirty additional
performances.' Dumas answered, 'I can't suppress the last word. It is
for that I wrote the piece.'"[3] One suspects that Lord Dunsany feels
the same about the last words of his _King Argimenes_. The whole play
apparently illustrates the almost irresistible effect of habit and
environment. At the opening of the play, King Argimenes is the hungry,
overworked slave of the captors who deprived him of his kingship. He
talks eagerly with his fellow slaves of the King's sick dog, who will
make a rich feast for them if he dies. At the end, Argimenes, completely
successful in his revolt, is lord of all he surveys. Surprised by the
news of the incoming messenger, he suddenly reverts to a powerful desire
of his slavehood, speaking instinctively as did _Le fils_ of Dumas.

  _Enter running, a Man of the household of King Darniak. He starts and
  stares aghast on seeing King Argimenes_

  _King Argimenes._ Who are you?

  _Man._ I am the servant of the King's dog.

  _King Argimenes._ Why do you come here?

  _Man._ The King's dog is dead.

  _King Argimenes and His Men._ (_Savagely and hungrily._) Bones!

  _King Argimenes._ (_Remembering suddenly what has happened and where
  he is._) Let him be buried with the late King.

  _Zarb._ (_In a voice of protest._) Majesty!


John G. Whittier's poem, _Barbara Frietchie_, provided the picture or
incident which started Clyde Fitch on his play of the same name. In
_Cyrano de Bergerac;_ in the numerous adaptations of _Vanity Fair_
usually known as _Becky Sharp;_ in _Peg O' My Heart_, _Rip Van Winkle_,
and _Louis XI_, it is characterization of a central figure which was
probably the point of departure for the play. Whether the source was an
observed or an imagined figure, a character from history or fiction, the
problem of the dramatist was like that of Sardou in _Rabagas_,--to find
the story which will best illustrate the facets of character of the
leading figure. Sometimes, as in _Nos Bons Villageois_, by the same
author, the point of departure is a group of country people whose
manners and customs must be portrayed,--in this case to illustrate the
reception these rapacious peasants give pleasure-seeking Parisians, whom
they detest and seek to turn to monetary advantage.[5] Mr. William
Archer points out that _Strife_ "arose in Mr. Galsworthy's mind from his
actually having seen in conflict the two men who were the prototypes of
Anthony and Roberts, and thus noted the waste and inefficacy arising
from the clash of strong characters unaccompanied by balance. It was
accident that led him to place the two men in an environment of capital
and labour. In reality, both of them were, if not capitalists, at any
rate, on the side of capital." [6] In _Theodora_, Sardou tried to
reconstitute an historical epoch which interested him.[7] Still another
source is this: "The point of departure of the plays of M. de Curel is
psychological. What allures him is a curious situation which raises some
problem. He asks himself, 'What, under such circumstances, can have been
going on in our minds?' This was the case with _L'Envers d'une Sainte_.
M. de Curel was thinking of this: A woman was arrested for murder;
thanks to protection in high places, the action of the courts was held
up. The woman was represented to be insane and shut up in an asylum.
Years pass by; the woman succeeds in escaping, and returning home
secretly, suddenly opens the door of the room where her children are
playing. It is in this picture-like form that the idea of the piece came
to him, a picture so detailed and concrete that in imagination he saw
the astonishment of the children, the terror of the nurse calling for
aid, and the husband hurrying to prevent his wife from stepping into the
room."[8] The origin of _A Doll's House_, of Ibsen, we have in these,
his first, "Notes for the Modern Tragedy":

    Rome, 19.10, 78.

  There are two kinds of spiritual law, two kinds of conscience, one in
  man, and another, altogether different, in woman. They do not
  understand each, other; but in practical life the woman is judged by
  man's law, as though she were not a woman but a man.

  The wife in the play ends by having no idea of what is right or wrong;
  natural feeling on the one hand and belief in authority on the other
  have altogether bewildered her.

  A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is
  an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a
  judicial system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of

  She has committed forgery and she is proud of it; for she did it out
  of love for her husband, to save his life. But this husband with his
  commonplace principles of honour is on the side of the law and regards
  the question with masculine eyes.

  Spiritual conflicts. Oppressed and bewildered by the belief in
  authority, she loses faith in her moral right and ability to bring up
  her children. Bitterness. A mother in modern society, like certain
  insects who go away and die when she has done her duty in the
  propagation of the race. Love of life, of husband and children and
  family. Here and there a womanly shaking off of her thoughts. Sudden
  return of anxiety and terror. She must bear it all alone. The
  catastrophe approaches, inexorably, inevitably. Despair, conflict, and

  (Krogstad has acted dishonourably and thereby become well-to-do; now
  his prosperity does not help him, he cannot recover his honour.)[9]

It is a truism, first, that Shakespeare wrote story plays, and secondly
that he did not endeavor to imagine a new story. Instead, he made over
plays grown out of date in his time, or adapted to the stage what today
we should call novelettes which came to him in the original or
translation from Italy, Spain, or France. Never did he find a story
which seemed to him fully shaped and ready for the stage.[10] The tales
may be verbose and redundant; they may be mere bare outlines of the
action, little if at all characterized, with unreal dialogue; or they
may provide Shakespeare with only a part of the story he uses, the rest
coming from other tales or from his own imagination. Widely different as
they are, however, one and all they were points of departure for
Shakespeare's plays.

No matter which one of the numerous starting points noted may be that of
the dramatist, he must end in story even if he does not begin with it.
Suppose that he starts with a character. He cannot merely talk about the
figure. This might produce a kind of history; it cannot produce drama.
Inevitably, he will try to illustrate, by means of action, some one
dominant characteristic, or group of characteristics, or to the full,
the many-sided nature of the man. Very nearly the same thing may be said
of any attempt to dramatize an historical epoch. Its chief
characteristic or characteristics must be illustrated in action. Some
story is inevitable. Suppose, for the moment, that as in Morose of Ben
Jonson's _Silent Woman_,[11] the dramatist is stressing one
characteristic, in this instance morbid sensitiveness to noise of any
kind. It is well known that Jonson cared more for character and less for
story than most dramatists of his day. Yet even in this play we find the
story of the tricking of Morose by his nephew, Dauphine, resulting in
the marriage of Morose to Dauphine's page. The reason why the three
parts of _Henry VI_ of Shakespeare are little read and very rarely acted
is not merely that they are somewhat crude early work, but that
crowding incident of all kinds lacks the massing needed to give it
clearness of total effect to round it out into a well-told story.
Illustrative incidents, unrelated except that historically they happen
to the same person, and that historically they are given in proper
sequence, are likely to be confusing. We need the Baedeker of a
biographer or an historian to emphasize the incidents so that the
meaning they have for him may be clear to us. The first part of
Marlowe's _Tamburlaine_,[12] when quickly read, seems but a succession
of conquests, not greatly unlike, leading to his control of the world of
his day. He who sees no deeper into the play than this praises certain
scenes or passages, but finds the whole repetitious and confusing.
Closer examination shows, however, that behind these many incidents of
war and slaughter is an interest of Marlowe's own creation which keeps
us waiting for, anticipating the final scene--the desire of Zenocrate,
at first captive of Tamburlaine, and later his devoted wife, to
reconcile her father, the Soldan, and her husband. The satisfaction of
her desire makes the spectacular ending of Part I. This thread of
interest gives a certain unity to the material presented, creates a
slight story in the mass of incident,--that is, something with a
beginning, a middle, and an end. What gives unity to the Second Part of
_Tamburlaine_ is the idea that, even as Tamburlaine declares himself
all-conquering, he faces unseen forces against which he cannot
stand--the physical cowardice of his son, so incomprehensible to him
that he kills the boy; the illness and death of his beloved Zenocrate,
though he spares nothing to save her; his own growing physical weakness,
his breakdown and death even as the generals he has never called on in
vain before prove unable to aid him. Again we find an element of story
to unify the material.

A moment's thought will show that if, beginning with character we must
ultimately reach some story, however slight, this is just as true of a
play which begins with an idea, a bit of dialogue, a detached scene, or
a mere setting. The setting must be the background of some incident.
This, in turn, must be part of a story or we shall have the episodic
form already found undesirable. Similarly, a detached scene must become
part of a series of scenes. Get rid of the effect of episodic scenes,
that is, give them unity, and lo, we have story of some sort. The bit of
dialogue must become part of a larger dialogue belonging to characters
of the play; and characterization, as we have seen, results in some
story. The artistic or moral idea of the dramatist can be made clear
only by human figures, the pawns with which he makes his emotional
moves. At once we are on the way to story. _The Red Robe_[13] of Brieux
aims to illustrate the idea that in France the administration of justice
has been confused by personal ambition and personal intrigue. Is it
without story? Surely we have the story of Mouzon,--his hopes, his
consequent intrigues for advancement, and his resulting death. Here is a
group of incidents developing something from a beginning to an end, that
is, providing story. The play contains, too, the story of Yanetta and
Etchepare. May we not say that the Vagret family provides a third story?

A play, then, may begin in almost anything seen or thought. Speaking
broadly, there is no reason why one source is better than another. The
important point is that something seen or thought should so stir the
emotions of the dramatist that the desire to convey his own emotion or
the emotions of characters who become connected with what he has seen or
thought, forces him to write till he has worked out his purpose.
Undoubtedly, however, he who begins with a story is nearer his goal than
he who begins with an idea or a character. Disconnected episodes, then,
may possibly make a vaudeville sketch or the libretto of a lower order
of musical comedy. Unless unified in story, even though it be very
slight, they cannot make a play.

This point needs emphasis for two reasons: because lately there has been
some attempt to maintain that a newer type of play has no story, and
because many a beginner in dramatic writing seems to agree with Bayes in
_The Rehearsal_. "What the devil's a plot except to stuff in fine
things?" In good play-writing it is not a question of bringing together
as many incidents or as many illustrations of character as you can crowd
together in a given number of acts, but of selecting the illustrative
incidents, which, when properly developed will produce in an audience
the largest amount of the emotional response desired. Later this error
will be considered in detail.

Nor will the recent attempt to maintain that there is a new type of play
with "absolutely no story in it" stand close analysis. The story may be
very slight, but story is present in all such plays. Take two cases. Mr.
William Archer, in his excellent book on _Play-Making_,[14] sums up Miss
Elizabeth Baker's _Chains_[15] as follows: "A city clerk, oppressed by
the deadly monotony of his life, thinks of going to Australia--and
doesn't go: that is the sum and substance of the action. Also, by way of
underplot, a shopgirl, oppressed by the deadly monotony and narrowness
of her life, thinks of escaping from it by marrying a middle-aged
widower--and doesn't do it." He then declares that the play has
"absolutely no story." Does any reader believe that this play could have
succeeded, as it has, if the audience had been left in any doubt as to
_why_ the city clerk and the shopgirl did not do what they had planned?
Yet surely, if this play makes clear, as it does, _why_ these two people
changed their minds, it must have story, for it shows us people
thinking of escaping from conditions they find irksome, and explains why
they give up the idea. If that isn't story, what is it?

_The Weavers_ of Hauptmann,[16] giving us somewhat loosely connected
pictures of social conditions among the weavers of Germany in the
forties of the nineteenth century, is said to be another specimen of
these plays without story. Now such plays as _The Weavers_ have one of
two results: they rouse us to thought on the social conditions
represented, or they do not. To succeed they must rouse us; but if our
stirred feelings are to lead anywhere, we must be not only stirred but
clear as to the meaning of the play. There have been many who have
thought that _The Weavers_, though it stirs us to sympathy, leaves us
nowhere because not clear. Be this as it may, even _The Weavers_ has
some story, for it tells us of the rise and development of a revolt of
the weavers against their employers.

Confusion as to "story" results from two causes. First, story in drama
is often taken to imply only complicated story. To say that every play
must have complicated story is absurd. To say that every play must have
some story, though it may be very slight, is undeniable. Secondly, story
is frequently used to mean plot, and plot of the older type, namely a
play of skilfully arranged suspense and climax in a story of complicated
and extreme emotion. It is the second cause which underlies Mr. Archer's
curious statement about _Chains_. He says that the play has no
"emotional tension worth speaking of," and assumes that where there is
no emotional tension there cannot be story. Tension in the sense of
suspense the play has little, but Mr. Archer states that it held "an
audience absorbed through four acts" and stirred "them to real
enthusiasm." In these words he grants the emotional response of the
audience. Miss Baker substitutes sympathy for the characters and deft
dealing with ironic values (see the ends of Act II and Act III) for
complicated plot and dependence on suspense. One kind of play, however,
no more precludes story than another.

What, then, is the difference between story and plot? In treating drama,
what should be meant by story is what a play boils down to when you try
to tell a friend as briefly as possible what it is about--what Mr.
Knobloch calls the vital active part, the "verb" of the play. Here is
the story of the play, _Barbara Frietchie_, as it re-shaped itself in
Clyde Fitch's mind from Whittier's poem:[17] "A Northern man loves a
Southern girl. She defies her father and runs away to marry him. By a
sudden battle the ceremony is prevented. The minister's house is seized
by the rebels, and soldiers stationed there. Barbara, who has remained,
seeing a Confederate sharpshooter about to fire on her lover passing
with his regiment, drops on her knees, slowly levels a gun she has
seized, and shoots the Southerner. Her lover is wounded and she
struggles to protect him from her father, brother, and rebel suitor, and
from every little noise which might cost his life. He dies, and she, now
wholly wedded to the Northern cause, waves the flag, as does the old
woman in Whittier's poem, in defiance of the Southern army, and is shot
by her crazy rebel lover."[18] Note that this summary, though it makes
the story clear, in no way presents the scenes of the play as to order,
suspense, or climax. This is the story, not the plot of _Barbara
Frietchie_. Plot, dramatically speaking, is the story so moulded by the
dramatist as to gain for him in the theatre the emotional response he
desires. In order to create and maintain interest, he gives his story,
as seems to him wise, simple or complex structure; and discerning
elements in it of suspense, surprise, and climax, he reveals them to
just the extent necessary for his purposes. Plot is story proportioned
and emphasized so as to accomplish, under the conditions of the theatre,
the purposes of the dramatist. Compare the plot of _Barbara Frietchie_
with its story.

Act I. The Frietchies' front stoop facing on a street in the town of
Frederick, which is in the hands of the hated Yankees. By the
sentimental talk of the Southern girls sitting on the steps we learn
that Barbara Frietchie is carrying on a flirtation with Captain
Trumbull, a Union officer, under the noses of her outraged family,
friends, and lover, Jack Negly. After a short scene, Barbara sends him
off rebuffed and incensed. She is then left alone in the dusk. Her
brother, Arthur Frietchie, steals round the corner of the house,
wounded. Barbara takes him in and they are not yet out of earshot when
Captain Trumbull appears to call on Barbara much to the wrath of the
Frietchies' next-door neighbor, Colonel Negly. The Yankee lover summons
Barbara, and dismisses a Union searching party, swearing on his honor
that there are no rebels in the Frietchie home. Her gratitude for this
leads them into a love scene, turbulent from the clash of sectional
sympathies, terminating in her promise to become his wife. No sooner has
the betrothal been spoken than Barbara's father, incensed to it by old
Colonel Negly, forbids the Union man his house and his daughter. To
complete their separation, an Orderly rushes on, announcing the
departure of Captain Trumbull's Company for Hagerstown in the early
morning. Leaning over the second-floor balcony, Barbara tells her lover
that she will be at the minister's house at Hagerstown the next day at

Act II. The Lutheran minister's house at Hagerstown. Barbara and her
friend, Sue Royce, appear all aflutter and, with the minister's wife,
Mrs. Hunter, await the arrival of the bridegroom and the divine. News
comes that the Confederates are swooping into the town, and Captain
Trumbull bursts into the room. An impassioned love scene follows in
which we learn that Barbara's sympathies are changing, so much so that
she presents her lover with an old Union flag to wear next his heart.
Orders for the soldier to join his Company part Barbara and Trumbull.
The Confederates are heard coming down the street as he leaves the
house. Barbara's brother Arthur breaks into the house and stations two
sharpshooters, angered deserters from Captain Trumbull's Company, at the
windows, Barbara protesting. Arthur goes about his business and she
learns that Gelwex, the deserter with the greatest grudge against her
lover, is to have the honor of picking him off as he comes down the
street. She gets a gun for herself. Captain Trumbull's excited voice is
heard outside the window. The deserter takes careful aim, puts his
finger to the trigger, and is shot from behind by Barbara.

Act III. Two days later. The front hallway of the Frietchie house. The
Confederates have re-taken the town. Barbara is in despair, her father
exultant, not speaking to her until she tells him that she is not
married to the Union officer. She pleads for news of her beloved, but
her father gives her little satisfaction. He has just gone upstairs when
Arthur comes in, supporting a wounded and fever-stricken man whom he has
shot. It is Captain Trumbull. Barbara takes him to her room, and when
her father, hearing who the wounded man is, orders him thrown into the
street, she pleads with all her strength to be allowed to keep him with
her. The old man yields, and when the Confederate searching party
invades the house, gives his word for its loyalty. Barbara has placed
herself at the foot of the stairs, determined to hold the fort against
the enemies of her lover. The doctor has insisted on absolute quiet for
him; noise may kill him. When the searching party has been turned back,
she summons new strength to quiet crazy Jack Negly, who has entered
howling his victory. He insists that she shall marry him, and tries,
pistol in hand, to force his way past Barbara to the bedside of his
enemy in love and war. By sheer force of will she conquers Negly and
rushes past him to the door of the room where her lover lies.

Act IV. Scene 1. The next morning. Barbara's room. Captain Trumbull lies
peacefully on the bed. Mammy Lu, the colored nurse, is dozing as Barbara
enters. They listen for the invalid's breathing, hear none, and find
that he is dead. Half crazed, Barbara snatches the bloody flag from his
bosom. The scene changes.

Scene 2. The balconied stoop in front of the house. The Confederate
soldiers, headed by Stonewall Jackson, are heralded by a large crowd!
Barbara, hanging the Union flag out on the balcony, is discovered by the
mob, who begin to stone her, urging somebody to shoot. The lines of
Whittier's poem, to fit the circumstances which Clyde Fitch has made,
now become:

  Shoot! You've taken a life already dearer to me than my own. Shoot,
  and I'll _thank_ you! but _spare_ your flag![19]

General Jackson orders that no shot be fired on penalty of death. Her
crazed lover, Negly, shoots her down from the street, and his own father
orders the execution of the penalty.

"In many cases, no doubt, it is the plain and literal fact that the
impulse to write some play--any play--exists, so to speak, in the
abstract, unassociated with any particular subject, and that the
would-be playwright proceeds, as he thinks, to set his imagination to
work and invent a story. But this frame of mind is to be regarded with
suspicion. Few plays of much value, one may guess, have resulted from
such an abstract impulse. Invention in these cases is apt to be nothing
but recollection in disguise, the shaking of a kaleidoscope formed of
fragmentary reminiscences. I remember once in some momentary access of
ambition, trying to invent a play. I occupied several hours of a long
country walk, in, as I believed, creating out of nothing at all a
dramatic story. When at last I had modelled it into some sort of
coherency, I stepped back from it in my mind as it were, and
contemplated it as a whole. No sooner had I done so than it began to
seem vaguely familiar. 'Where have I seen this story before?' I asked
myself; and it was only after cudgelling my brains for several minutes
that I found I had re-invented Ibsen's _Hedda Gabler_. Thus, when we
think we are choosing a plot out of the void, we are very apt to be, in
fact, ransacking the storehouse of memory."[20]

There is, of course, another group of would-be playwrights who care
nothing for freshness of subject but are perfectly content to imitate
the latest success, hoping thereby to win immediate notoriety, or what
interests them even more, immediate money return. Undoubtedly a man may
take a subject just presented in a successful play and so re-shape it by
the force of his own personality as to make it an original work of
power. Ordinarily, however, these imitators should remember the old
adage about the crock which goes so often to the well that at last it
comes back broken. He who merely imitates may have some temporary vogue,
and dramatic technique may help him to win it, but whatever is very
popular soon gives way to something else, for the fundamental law of
art, as of life, is change. He who is content merely to imitate must be
content with impermanency. It is the creator _and_ perfecter whom we
most remember. Even the creator _or_ the perfecter we remember. The mere
imitators have their brief day and pass. Today we still read the work of
the initiators, Lyly, Greene, Kyd. With pleasure we turn the pages of
Marlowe, Jonson, and Fletcher, not to mention Shakespeare. The dozens of
mere imitators who had their little day are known only as names.

The ambitious but inexperienced writer of plays worries himself much in
hunting a novel subject,--and in vain. Far afield he goes, seeking the
sensational, the bizarre, the occult, for new emotions and situations,
failing to recognize that the emotional life of yesterday, today, and
tomorrow can differ little fundamentally. Civilization refines or
deteriorates, kingdoms rise and fall, languages develop and pass, but
love of man and woman, of friend for friend, ambition, jealousy, envy,
selfishness,--these emotions abide. A book has been published to show
that there are but thirty-six possible dramatic situations. It is based
on the dictum of the Italian dramatist, Gozzi, that "there could be only
thirty-six tragic situations. Schiller gave himself much trouble to find
more, but was unable to find as many."[21] The very chapter headings of
the book mentioned prove that the number of possible dramatic situations
is a mere matter of subdivision: "Vengeance Pursuing Crime"; "Madness";
"Fatal Imprudence"; "Loss of Property "; "Ambition." Obviously, there
are many different kinds of vengeance, as the person pursuing the crime
is a hired detective, a wronged person, an officer of state, etc.
Moreover, differing conditions surrounding the crime, as well as the
character of the avenger, would make the vengeance sought different. The
same may be said of the other chapter-headings. It may be possible to
agree on the smallest number of dramatic situations possible, but
disagreement surely lies beyond that, for, according to our natures, we
shall wish to subdivide and increase the number. Just what that smallest
number is, here is unimportant. The important fact is: keen thinkers
about the drama agree that the stuff from which it is made may be put
into a small number of categories. This rests on the belief that the
emotions we feel today are the same old emotions, though we may feel
them in greater or less degree because of differences in climate,
civilization or ideals. Modern invention, of course, affects our
emotional life. It is now a commonplace that invention has quite changed
the heroism of warfare from what it was even a generation ago. It is
still heroism, but under conditions so different that it needs wholly
different treatment dramatically. In Restoration Comedy the rake was the
hero. The audience, viewing life through his eyes saw the victims of his
selfishness as fools or as people who, in any combat of wits with the
hero, deservedly came off defeated. Interest in one's fellow man, a more
just sense of life had developed in the early years of the eighteenth
century. This wholly changed the emphasis, and gave birth to the
Sentimental Comedy. The characters, even the story, of this newer comedy
are almost identical with the Restoration Comedy, but the material is so
treated that our sympathies go to the unfortunate wife of _The Careless
Husband_, not to the man himself, as they would have a generation
before. In _The Provoked Husband_[22] it is the point of view of that
husband as to Lady Townley, though she is presented in all her charm and
gaiety, with which we are left.

The sentimentality of the present day is not the sentimentality of 1850
to 1870. The higher education of women, the growth of suffrage, the
prevailing wide discussion of scientific matters have not taken
sentimentality from us, but have changed its look. Because of changes in
costume and custom it even appears more different than it really is. A
perfect illustration of the point is _Milestones_,[23] of Mr. Edward
Knobloch. Three generations live before our eyes the same story, but
how differently because of changed costumes, ideas, and immediate
surroundings. In French drama, the wet-nurse is no new figure as one
employee in a household where we are watching the comedy or the tragedy
of the employers. Brieux was the first, however, to study the emotions
of such a household through the nurse, making her feelings of prime
consequence. Hence, _Les Remplaçantes_.[24] The whole situation is
summed up by William Sharp (Fiona Macleod) in his Introduction to _The
House of Usna_:

  The tradition of accursed families is not the fantasy of one
  dramatist, or of one country or of one time....

  Whether the poet turn to the tragedy of the Theban dynasty, or to the
  tragedy of the Achaian dynasty, or to the tragedy of Lear, or to the
  Celtic tragedy of the House of Fionn, or to the other and less
  familiar Gaelic tragedy of the House of Usna--whether one turn to
  these or to the doom of the House of Malatesta, or to the doom of the
  House of Macbeth, or to the doom of the House of Ravenswood, one turns
  in vain if he be blind and deaf to the same elemental forces as they
  move in their eternal ichor through the blood that has today's warmth
  in it, that are the same powers though they be known of the obscure
  and the silent, and are committed like wandering flame to the torch of
  a ballad as well as to the starry march of the compelling words of
  genius; are of the same dominion, though that be in the shaken hearts
  of islesfolk and mountaineers, and not with kings in Mykênai, or by
  the thrones of Tamburlaine and Aurungzebe, or with great lords and
  broken nobles and thanes....

  ... I know one who can evoke modern dramatic scenes by the mere
  iterance of the great musical names of the imagination. Menelaos,
  Helen, Klytemaistra, Andromachê, Kassandra, Orestes, Blind Oidipus,
  Elektra, Kreusa, and the like. This is not because these names are in
  themselves esoteric symbols. My friend has not seen any representation
  of the _Agamemnon_ or the _Choephoroi_, of _Aias_ or _Oidipus at
  Kolonos_, of _Elektra_ or _Ion_, or indeed of any Greek play. But he
  knows the story of every name mentioned in each of the dramas of the
  three kings of Greek Tragedy.... And here, he says, is his delight.
  "For I do not live only in the past but in the present, in these
  dramas of the mind. The names stand for the elemental passions, and I
  can come to them through my own gates of today as well as through the
  ancient portals of Aischylos or Sophocles or Euripides." ...

  It is no doubt in this attitude that Racine, so French in the accent
  of his classical genius, looked at the old drama which was his
  inspiration: that Mr. Swinburne and Mr. Bridges, so English in the
  accent of their genius, have looked at it; that Echegaray in Spain,
  looked at it before he produced his troubled modern _Elektra_ which is
  so remote in shapen thought and coloured semblance from the colour and
  idea of its prototype; that Gabriele D'Annunzio looked at it before he
  became obsessed with the old terrible idea of the tangled feet of
  Destiny, so that a tuft of grass might withhold or a breath from
  stirred dust empoison, and wrote that most perturbing of all modern
  dramas, _La Città Morta_.[25]

The drama must, then, go on treating over and over emotions the same in
kind. Real novelty comes in presenting them as they affect men and women
who are in ideas, habits, costume, speech, and environment distinctly of
their time. Their expression of the old elemental emotions brings
genuine novelty. Usually it is not through an incident or an episode,
obviously dramatic, but through the characters involved that one
understands and presents what is novel in the dramatic. Feeling this
strongly, Mr. Galsworthy asserts "Character is plot."[26]

So long as characters, ideas, and treatment seem to the public fresh,
they even have a weakness for a story they have heard before. Recall the
drama of Æschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides in which the dramatists
shared with their audiences a knowledge of the stories of the gods which
was theirs by education and from repeated treatment by the dramatists of
the day. That public asked, not new stories, but newness of effect
because old stories which were almost fixed subjects for their
dramatists were given individuality of treatment. In a modified sense
this was true of the Elizabethan public. _Romeo and Juliet_, _Lear_,
probably _Titus Andronicus_, and possibly _Julius Cæsar_ Londoners had
known as plays just passing from popularity when Shakespeare made them
over. Here again, it was freshness of treatment through better
characterization, richer poetry, and finer technique, not creative
story, which won the public to Shakespeare. Nor is this attitude a thing
of the past. Think of the delight with which the public today watches
the rejuggling of old elements of plot in the rapid succession of
popular musical comedies, grateful for whatever element of freshness
they may find in the total product. Was it the story, or the
characterization and setting, indeed all that went with the treatment of
the story, which in _Peg o' My Heart_ and _Bunty Pulls the Strings_ won
these plays popularity? Seek for novelty, then, not by trying to invent
some new story, but in an idea, the setting of the play, the technical
treatment given it, above all the characters. The last, when studied,
are likely so to reshape the story which first presents itself to the
imagination as to make it really novel. Does the freshness of the story
of the Duke, Olivia, and Viola in _Twelfth Night_ rest on the story as
Shakespeare found it in Barnabe Riche's book,[27] or on the
characterization Shakespeare gave these suggested figures and the effect
of their developed characters on the story as he found it? Surely the

Another common fallacy of young dramatists is that what has happened is
better dramatic material than what is imagined. Among the trite maxims a
dramatist should remember, however, is: "Truth is often stranger than
fiction." The test for a would-be writer of plays, choosing among
several starting points, should be, not, "Is this true?" but "Will my
audience believe it true on sight or because of the treatment I can give
it?" "Aristotle long ago decided how far the tragic poet need regard
historical accuracy. He does not make use of an event because it really
happened, but because it happened so convincingly that for his present
purpose he cannot invent conditions more convincing."[28] Any reader of
manuscript plays knows that again and again, when he has objected to
something as entirely improbable, he has been told indignantly: "Why,
you must accept that, for it happened exactly like that to my friend,
Smith." On the other hand, who refuses to see _The Merchant of Venice_
because of the inherent improbability of the exaction of the pound of
flesh by Shylock? Highly improbable it is, but Shakespeare makes this
demand come from a figure so human in all other respects that we accept
it. A subject is not to be rejected because true or false. Every
dramatic subject must be presented with the probable human experience,
the ethical ideas, and the imaginativeness of the public in mind. To a
dramatist all subjects are possible till, after long wrestling with the
subject chosen, he is forced to admit that, whether originally true or
false, he cannot make it seem probable to an audience. Facts are, of
course, of very great value in drama, but if they are to convince a
theatrical public, the dramatist must so present them that they shall
not run completely counter to what an audience thinks it knows about

Nor should a person who knows absolutely nothing of the theatre attempt
to write plays. He should go to see plays enough to know how long a
performance usually lasts, waits between the acts included, say two
hours and a half to two hours and three quarters; to know about how long
an act usually takes in playing; to gain some idea of the relation in
time between the written or printed page and the time in acting; to
understand that, in general, a small cast is preferable to a large one;
to know that the limited space of the stage makes some effects so
difficult as to be undesirable. This is to have ordinary common sense
about the theatre. Otherwise, what he puts on paper will be practically
sure of immediate rejection because the manuscript proves that the
writer has either not been in the theatre, or being there, has been
wholly unobservant. The following quotation seems almost fantastic, but
the experience of the writer in reading dramatic manuscripts fully bears
it out:

  Many of the manuscripts that are sent to the New York managers are
  such impossible oddities that few readers would regard a description
  of them as really accurate. It was the privilege of the writer to look
  over a collection of "plays" that have been mailed recently to several
  of the theatrical offices, and, among the number, he came across a
  dozen that were each about fifteen to twenty pages in length. This
  included the scenic descriptions and stage directions. Such "plays,"
  if enacted, would be of about ten to eleven minutes' duration instead
  of two and a quarter hours. Three manuscripts called for from ninety
  to one hundred characters, and from nine to fourteen different scenes.
  Eight manuscripts were divided into nine acts each and, judging from
  their thickness, would have run on for days, after the fashion of a
  Chinese drama. One "play" was laid in the year 2200 A.D., and called
  for twelve actors to portray "the new race of men"--each man to be at
  least seven feet tall. These characters were to make all their
  entrances and exits in airships. Several manuscripts that the writer
  examined would have required professional strong men in their
  enactment, so difficult were the physical feats outlined for some of
  the actors. A great number of "modern dramas" included a ream of
  colloquialisms and anachronisms intermixed with Louis XV situations.
  And one manuscript, entitled "Love in All Ages" called for twelve
  different acts with a new group of nine differently built actors in

A stage direction which ran something like this is the most naïve in the
experience of the writer. "Germs of a locomotive, a cathedral, etc.,
detach themselves in an unknown manner from the walls and float airily,
merrily about the room." Impossible? Possibly not for a genius of a
stage manager. Likely to recommend the play to a manager trying to judge
from a manuscript the dramatic sense of its unknown author? Hardly.

Granted then that a would-be playwright has acquired ordinary common
sense about the theatre and has some point of departure, how does he
move from it to plot? First, by taking time enough, by avoiding hurry.
Let any would-be dramatist get rid promptly of the idea that good plays
are written in a rush. It is perfectly true that the mere writing out of
a play has often been done in what seems an amazingly short time,--a few
weeks, days, or even hours. However, in every case of rapid composition,
as for instance Sheridan's _Rivals_, which was put on paper in very
brief time, the author has either mulled his material for a long time or
was so thoroughly conversant with it that it required no careful
thinking out at the moment of composition. In _The Rivals_ Sheridan drew
upon his intimate knowledge for many years of the people and the gossip
of the Pump Room at Bath. Mr. H. A. Jones has more than once testified,
"I mull long on my plot, sometimes a year, but when I have it, the rest
(the mere writing out) is easy." Sardou turned out a very large number
of plays. Nor are his plays, seemingly, such as to demand the careful
preparation required for the drama of ideas or the drama more dependent
on characterization than incident. Yet he worked very carefully at all
stages, from point of departure to final draft. "Whenever an idea
occurred to Sardou, he immediately made a memorandum of it. These notes
he classified and filed. For example, years before the production of
_Thermidor_ he had the thought of one day writing such a play. Gradually
the character of Fabienne shaped itself; Labussière was devised later to
fit Coquelin. Everything that he read about that epoch of the French
Revolution, and the ideas which his reading inspired, he wrote down in
the form of rough notes. Engravings, maps, prints, and other documents
of the time he carefully collected. Memoirs and histories he annotated
and indexed, filing away the index references in his file cases, or
dossiers. At the time of his death, Sardou had many hundreds of these
dossiers, old and new. Some of the older ones had been worked up into
plays, while the newer ones were merely raw material for future dramas.
When the idea of a play had measurably shaped itself in his mind he
wrote out a skeleton plot which he placed in its dossier. There it might
lie indefinitely. In this shape _Thermidor_ remained for nearly twenty
years, and _Theodora_ for ten. When he considered that the time was ripe
for one of his embryonic plays, Sardou would take out that particular
dossier, read over the material, and lay it aside again. After it had
fermented in his brain for a time, he would, if the inspiration seized
him, write out a scenario. After this, he began the actual writing of
the play."[30]

Late in the seventeenth century, one of the most prolific of English
playwrights, John Dryden, contracted to turn out four plays a year. He
failed completely to carry out his promise. Some dramatists of a much
more recent day should attribute to the speed with which they have
turned out plays their repeated failures, or, after early successes,
their waning hold on the public. Every dramatist should keep steadily in
mind the words of the old French adage: "Time spares not that on which
time hath been spared." Time, again time, and yet again time is the
chief element in successful writing of plays.

A wandering, erratic career is forbidden the dramatist. Back in the
eighteenth century Diderot stated admirably the qualities a dramatist
must have if he is to plot well. "He must get at the heart of his
material. He must consider order and unity. He must discern clearly the
moment at which the action should begin. He must recognize the
situations which will help his audience, and know what it is expedient
to leave unsaid. He must not be rebuffed by difficult scenes or long
labor. Throughout he must have the aid of a rich imagination."[31]
Selection, Proportion, Emphasis, Movement,--all making for
clearness,--these as the words of Diderot suggest, are what the
dramatist studies in developing his play from Subject, through Story, to


  [1] _Auteurs Dramatiques, Pailleron._ A. Binet and J. Passey.
    _L'Année Psychologique_, 1894, pp. 98-99.

  [2] _Sardou and the Sardou Plays_, p. 127. Jerome A. Hart. J. B.
    Lippincott Co., Philadelphia.

  [3] _Auteurs Dramatiques, Dumas fils_, p. 77.

  [4] _Five Plays_, p. 86. Lord Dunsany. Mitchell Kennerley, New York.

  [5] _Auteurs Dramatiques, Sardou, L'Année Psychologique_, 1894, p.

  [6] _Play-Making,_ pp. 18-19, note. William Archer. Small, Maynard &
    Co., Boston.

  [7] _Auteurs Dramatiques, Sardou_, p. 66.

  [8] _Auteurs Dramatiques, M. de Curel_, p. 121.

  [9] From _Ibsen's Workshop. Works_, vol. x, pp. 91-92. Chas.
    Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [10] Consult the pages of W. C. Hazlitt's _Shakespeare Library_, a
    source book of his plays for proof of this.

  [11] Belles-Lettres Series. F. E. Schelling, ed. D. C. Heath & Co.,
    Boston and New York.

  [12] Mermaid Series or Everyman's Library.

  [13] Published in translation by Brentano; also in _Chief
    Contemporary Dramatists_. Thomas H. Dickinson. Houghton Mifflin Co.,

  [14] _Note_, p. 49.

  [15] J. W. Luce & Co., Boston; Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., London.

  [16] _Dramatic Works_, vol. I. Ed. Ludwig Lewisohn. B. Huebach., New

  [17] For purposes of useful comparison the lines of Whittier which
    suggested the subject to Mr. Fitch are appended.

     On that pleasant morn of the early fall
     When Lee marched over the mountain wall;

     Over the mountains winding down,
     Horse and foot, into Frederick town.

     Forty flags with their silver stars,
     Forty flags with their crimson bars,

     Flapped in the morning wind: the sun
     Of noon looked down and saw not one.

     Up rose old Barbara Frietchie then,
     Bowed with her fourscore years and ten;

     Bravest of all in Frederick town,
     She took up the flag the men hauled down

     In her attic window the staff she set,
     To show that one heart was loyal yet.

     Up the street came the rebel tread,
     Stonewall Jackson riding ahead.

     Under his slouched hat left and right
     He glanced; the old flag met his sight.

     "Halt!"--the dust-brown ranks stood fast
     "Fire!"--out blazed the rifle-blast.

     It shivered the window, pane and sash;
     It rent the banner with seam and gash.

     Quick, as it fell from the broken staff
     Dame Barbara snatched the silken scarf.

     She leaned far out on the window-sill,
     And shook it forth with a royal will.

     "Shoot, if you must, this old gray head,
     But spare your country's flag," she said.

     A shade of sadness, a blush of shame,
     Over the face of the leader came;

     The nobler nature within him stirred
     To life at that woman's deed and word:

     "Who touches a hair of yon gray head
     Dies like a dog! March on!" he said.

     All day long through Frederick street
     Sounded the tread of marching feet;

     All day long that free flag tost
     Over the heads of the rebel host.

  [18] _The Stage in America_, p. 90. Norman Hapgood. The Macmillan
    Co., New York.

  [19] _Barbara Frietchie_, p. 126. Clyde Fitch. Life Publishing Co.,
    New York.

  [20] _Play-Making_, pp. 24-25. William Archer. Small, Maynard & Co.,

  [21] _Les 36 Situations Dramatiques._ Georges Polti. Edition du
    _Mercure de France_, 1895, p. 1.

  [22] For texts of _The Careless Husband_ and _The Provoked Husband_,
    both plays by Colley Cibber, see _Works_, vols. II and IV, 1777.

  [23] Methuen & Co., Ltd., London.

  [24] Not translated. Edition in French, P. V. Stock, Paris.

  [25] Foreword to _The House of Usna_. Fiona Macleod. Published by
    Thomas B. Mosher, Portland, Maine, 1903.

  [26] _Some Platitudes Concerning Drama._ John Galsworthy. _Atlantic
    Monthly_, December, 1909.

  [27] _Shakespeare Library_, vol. I, pp. 387-412. Ed. W. C. Hazlitt.

  [28] _Hamburg Dramaturgy_, p. 279. Lessing. Bohn ed.

  [29] _The United States of Playwrights_, Henry Savage. _The Bookman_,
    September, 1909.

  [30] _De la Poésie Dramatique._ Diderot. _Oeuvres_, vol. VII, p. 321.
    Garnier Frères, Paris.

  [31] _Sardou and the Sardou Plays_, p. 125. J. A. Hart. J. B.
    Lippincott & Co., Philadelphia.



Dumas the younger, at twenty, wishing to write his first play, asked his
father for the secret of a successful play. That man of many successful
novels and plays replied: "It's very simple: First Act, clear; Third
Act, short; and everywhere, interest." Though play-writing is not always
so easy a matter as when a man of genius like Dumas the elder wrote the
relatively simple romantic dramas of his day, he emphasized one of the
fundamentals of drama when he called for clearness in the first act. He
might well have called for it everywhere. First of all, a dramatist who
has found his point of departure must know just what it means to him,
what he wants to do with it. Is he merely telling a story for its own
sake, satisfied if the incidents be increasingly interesting till the
final curtain falls? Is he writing his play, above all, for one special
scene in it, as was Mr. H. A. Jones, in _Mrs. Dane's Defence_,[1] in its
third act? Does he merely wish to set people thinking about conditions
of today, to write a drama of ideas, like Mr. Galsworthy in _The
Pigeon_,[2] or M. Paul Loyson, in _The Apostle_?[3] Has he, like Brieux
in _Damaged Goods_[4] or _The Cradle_,[5] an idea he wishes to convey,
and so must write a problem play? Is his setting significant for one
scene only or has it symbolic values for the whole play? As Dumas the
younger well said, "How can you tell what road to take unless you know
where you are going?"[6]

The trouble with most would-be dramatists is that they make too much of
the mere act of writing, too little of the thinking preliminary to
composition and accompanying it. With the point of departure clearly in
mind, seeing some characters who immediately connect themselves with the
subject, forecasting some scenes and a few bits of dialogue, they rush
to their desks before they see with equal clearness, we will not say the
plot but even the story necessary for the proposed play. What is the
result? "They have a general view of their subject, they know
approximately the situations, they have sketched out the characters, and
when they have said to themselves, 'This mother will be a coquette, this
father will be stern, this lover a libertine, this young girl
impressionable and tender,' the fury of making their scenes seizes them.
They write, they write, they come upon ideas, fine, delicate, and even
strong; they have charming details ready to hand: but when they have
worked much and come to plotting, for always one must come to that, they
try to find a place for this charming bit; they can never make up their
minds to put aside this delicate or strong idea, and they will do
exactly the opposite of what they should,--make the plot for the sake of
the scenes when the scenes should grow out of the plot. Consequently the
dialogue will be constrained in movement and much trouble and time will
be lost."[7]

A modern play recently submitted to the writer in manuscript showed just
this trouble. Act I was in itself good. Act II was good in one scene,
bad in the other. Act III was in itself right. Yet at the end of the
play one queried: "What is the meaning of it all?" Nothing bound the
parts together. There was no clear emphasis on some central purpose.
The author, when questioned, admitted that with certain characters in
mind, he had written the scenes as they came to him. When pressed to
state his exact subject, he advanced first one, then another, at last
admitting candidly: "I guess I never have been able to get far enough
away from the play to see quite what all of it does mean." Asked whether
there was not underlying all his scenes irony of fate, in that a man
trying his best to do what the world holds commendable is bound in such
relationship to two or three people that always they give his career a
tragic turn, he said, after consideration, "Yes. What if I call my play
_The Irony of Life_?" With the purpose of making that his meaning he
reworked his material. Quickly the parts fell into line, with a clear
and interesting play as the result. Many and many a play containing good
characterization, good dialogue and some real individuality of treatment
has gone to pieces in this way. A recent play opened with a well-written
picture of the life of a group of architects' draughtsmen. Apparently we
were started on a story of their common or conflicting interests. After
that first act, however, the play turned into a story of the way in
which one of these young draughtsmen, a kind of mixture of
Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford and D'Artagnan, forced his way to
professional and social success. Once or twice, scenes seemed
intentional satire on our social classes. The fact is, the author had in
the back of his mind social satire, characterization of the central
figure, and a picture of the life of young draughtsmen. As material for
any one of these came to him when he was writing, he gave his attention
wholly to it. Though this might do for a rough draft, it must be
rewritten to make the chief interest stand out as most important, and to
give the other interests clearly their exact part in a perfectly clear
whole. Left as written, the play seemed to have a first act somewhat off
the question, and a later development going off now and then at a
tangent. Its total effect, in spite of some admirable characterization,
considerable truth to life, and real cleverness, was confusion for the
audience and consequent dissatisfaction.

Another play, often extremely well characterized, had, as an apparent
central purpose, study of a mother who has been trying to give her son
such surroundings that he cannot go the way of his father who, many
years since, had embezzled. Yet almost as frequently the purpose seemed
to be a very close study of the son, who, although the mother, blinded
by her affection, does not see it, is mentally and morally almost the
duplicate of his father. Moved with sympathy, now for one and now for
the other, just as the interest of the writer led him, the audience came
away confused and dissatisfied. How can an audience be expected to know
what a dramatist has not settled for himself, the chief of his interests
among several?

When M. de Curel, with his original idea or picture for _L'Envers d'une
Sainte_ sat down to reflect, "he noticed that the interest in the
subject lies in the feelings a woman must experience when she returns
after a long absence to a place full of memories, and finds herself face
to face with her past life. There was the psychological idea which
seemed to him alluring,--to paint a special phase of emotion."[8] There,
for him, lay the heart of his subject. Bulwer-Lytton, writing to
Macready in September, 1838, of a proposed play on the life of the
Chevalier de Marillac, in which Cardinal Richelieu must also be an
important figure, said: "Now look well at this story, you will see that
incident and position are good. But then there is one great objection.
Who is to do Richelieu? Marillac has the principal part and requires
you; but a bad Richelieu would spoil all. On the other hand, if you took
Richelieu, there would be two great acts without you, which will never
do; and the main interest of the plot would not fall on you. Tell me
what you propose. Must we give up this idea?"[9] Bulwer-Lytton had not
yet found the dramatic centre in his material. At first the story and
character of Marillac blinded him to the fact that the material was best
fitted for a dramatic study of the great Cardinal. When, shortly after
his letter, he came to see that the dramatic centre lay in Richelieu,
his famous play began developing. With that magnet in hand, he quickly
drew to him the right filaments of incident to make a unified and
interesting story.

Any dramatist has the right to decide first, what is the real importance
of his subject to him, but before he finishes he may find that he will
discard what originally seemed to him important, either because
something interests him more as he reflects or because he comes to see
in his subject an interest other than his own which will be stronger for
the audience. M. de Curel, thinking over his proposed play, abandoned
his first idea because "in ten minutes space it transformed itself. He
abandoned his first idea in order to try to paint the slightly analogous
feelings of a nun. He imagined a young girl who, at a former time, in a
moment of madness, had wished to kill the wife of the man with whom she
was infatuated. To expiate her crime, she entered a convent, took the
vows, and lived in retirement for twenty years. Then she learned that
the man whom she loved had just died. Whereupon, perhaps from desire for
freedom, perhaps from curiosity, she comes out of her exile, returns to
her family and finds herself in the presence of the widow and her
child." Here was the beginning, not of _L'Envers d'une Sainte_,[10] but
of another play, _L'Invitée_. "It may happen--something certainly
surprising--that the idea which allured the author into writing the
piece makes no part of the piece itself. It is excluded from it; no
trace of it remains. Note that the point of departure of _L'Invitée_ is
an idea of a woman capable of murder who is passed off as insane. Of the
murder nothing remains, and as to the mother's madness it is reduced to
almost nothing: it is no more than a rumor that has been going about,
and the mother has not been really insane."[11] Not to yield to such a
compelling new aspect of the subject is to find one's way blocked. The
resulting tragedy, or comedy, for the unyielding playwright, Mr. Archer
states amusingly. "'Here,' says a well-known playwright, 'is a common
experience. You are struck with an idea with which you fall in love.
"Ha!" you say. "What a superb scene where the man shall find the will
under the sofa! If that doesn't make them sit up, what will?" You begin
the play. The first act goes all right, and the second act goes all
right. You come to the third act and somehow it won't go at all. You
battle with it for weeks in vain; and then it suddenly occurs to you,
"Why, I see what's wrong! It's that confounded scene where the man finds
the will under the sofa. Out it must come!" You cut it out and at once
all goes smooth again. But you have thrown overboard the great effect
that first tempted you.'"[12]

The point is not that when a dramatist first begins to think over his
subject, he must decide exactly what is for him the heart of it. He may
shift, reject, and change his own interest again and again, as
attractive aspects of his subject suggest themselves. The point is that
this shifting of interest should take place before he begins to put his
play on paper. Not to be perfectly clear with one's self which of three
or four possible interests offered by a subject is the one really
interesting is to waste time. As the play develops, a writer wobbles
from one subject to another and so leaves no clear final impression. Or
he is obliged to rewrite the play, placing the emphasis properly for
clearness. In one case he fails. In the other he does his work twice.
The present writer has seen many a manuscript, after a year or more of
juggling with shifting interests, given up in despair and thrown into
the waste basket.

Probably it is best to leave till revision the question whether the
interest presented will appeal to the general audience just as it does
to the writer. It certainly can do no harm, however, and may save labor,
when an author knows just what he wants to treat and how he wishes to
treat it, for him to consider whether this interest is likely to be as
important for his public as for him. Many years ago, Mr. A.M. Palmer
produced _The Parisian Romance_, a play so trite in subject and
treatment that, as written, it might easily have failed. A young actor,
seeing in a minor rôle the opportunities for a popular success built up
a fine piece of characterization in the part of Baron Chevrial. That
gave Richard Mansfield his first real start. The play was remodeled so
that this element of novelty, this fresh piece of characterization,
became central. Thus re-emphasized the play became known all over the
country.[13] Not long since a play written by its author to be wholly
amusing, proved so hilarious in the second act that the actors rehearsed
it with difficulty. When produced, however, the audience was so won by
the hero in Act I that they took his mishaps in the second act with
sympathetic seriousness. The play had to be rewritten.

It is at careful planning or plotting that the inexperienced dramatist
balks. Scenarios, the outlines which will show any intelligent reader
what plot the dramatist has in mind and its exact development, are none
too popular. They are, however, the very best means by which a
dramatist may force himself to find what for him is the heart of his
subject.[14] The moment that is clear to him, it is the open sesame to
whatever story his play will demand. It is, too, the magnet which draws
to him the bits of thought, character, action and dialogue which he
shapes into plot.

With his purpose clearly in mind, the dramatist, as he passes from point
of departure through story to plot, selects, and selects, and selects.
Among all the possible people who might be the main figure in
accomplishing his purpose, he picks the one most interesting him, or
which he believes will most interest his public. From all the people who
might surround his central figure he chooses the few who will best
accomplish his purpose. If his people first appear to him as types, as
in the case of _The Country Boy_ to be cited in a moment, selectively he
moves from type to individuals. Sooner or later he must determine how
many of the possible characteristics of his figures he cares to present.
As he writes, he selects from all that his people might say, and from
all they might do in the way of illustrative action, only what seems to
him necessary for his purpose. No dramatist uses all that occurs to him
in the way of dramatic incident, characters, or dialogue. As he shapes
his story; as he reshapes his story into plot; in many cases before he
touches pen to paper, he has rejected much, always selecting what he
uses by the touchstone of the definite purpose which knowing the heart
of his subject has given him.

Doubtless some writers see situation first, and others character, but
sooner or later all must come to some story. Now as story is only
incident so unified that it has interesting movement from a beginning to
an end, ultimately the task of all dramatists is to find illustrative
action which as clearly and quickly as possible will present the
characters of the story or make clear the purpose of the dramatist.
Here is the selective process by which Mr. Selwyn got at the story of
his _Country Boy_:

  It happened to be just before Christmas of last year. The season some
  way impressed itself on me, and I began to think what a desolate place
  New York must be for a lot of fellows who had come here from small
  towns and who were thinking of the homes they had left there, and
  longing to go back to them for the Christmas season. Doubtless there
  are hundreds of them here who came here years ago vowing that they
  would never go back till they had "made good," with the result that
  they have never since spent Christmas in the old home. [_The initial
  idea._] There is always somebody to whom we are always successful, and
  some one to whom we are never successful, and many times, if these
  fellows would go back to their old homes, among the people who really
  care for them, they would be regarded as successes, whereas in the
  great city they are looked upon as failures. [_Type character._]

  It seemed to me that a character of that kind would make a good
  subject for a play, and then I began to look around for some one
  tangible to work from. Suddenly I thought of a newspaper man I used to
  know when I lived at a boarding house on 51st Street, here in New
  York. He was a free lance, and a grouchy, rheumatic, envious, bitter
  fellow, who had all the "dope" on life--was a philosopher and could
  tell every one else how to live, but didn't seem to be able to apply
  any of his knowledge to himself. He wouldn't even speak to any one in
  the boarding house but me, and why he singled me out for the honor I
  don't know. But anyway he did, and he used to tell me all of his
  troubles--how he had come from a little town with great ambitions, and
  had vowed never to go back till he had attained all that he had set
  out to get. And yet he had never been back. He was a failure; dressed
  shabbily and had given up hope for himself--and still, as I say, he
  could tell everybody else just what to do to succeed. When I lived
  there in the boarding house and used to see him, I thought he was the
  only one of his kind in town, but since then I have found that there
  are many others just like him. [_Individual character._]

  So it occurred to me that he would be a good subject for _The Country
  Boy_, and I worked out his life as it had actually been lived here in
  New York. Though the character was good I presently discovered that it
  would not do for my central figure, for the reason that he had been
  here too long. He had gone through the mill and knew all about it, and
  what I really needed was a boy who could be shown to come from the
  country, and who could be taken through the temptations and
  discouragements that a boy of that sort would have to endure. So I
  just drew this younger character from my imagination. [_Selection of
  special figure._]

  I had to have this chap a bumptious, conceited sort of youth so as to
  have the contrast stronger when he met the hard knocks that were to
  come to him in the city. There are many boys of that sort in small
  towns. They do not see the opportunities around them but imagine
  nothing short of a big city has space enough for them to develop in.
  [_Purpose determining characterization._][15]

From idea through type-character to the individual Mr. Selwyn worked to
the life in New York of the older man, and the story of the temptations
and discouragements of the boy. When he had reached these, Mr. Selwyn
saw that the best story for his purpose would be a mingling of the two.
The boy "worked, in very well with the character of the old newspaper
man, because it allowed him to give the youngster the benefit of his
experience, and to succeed eventually by taking advantage of it. That
brought a happy ending for both of them."[16]

Any one of these stories as it lay in the mind of Mr. Selwyn before he
turned it into plot, was a sequence of incidents, actions illustrative
of one or both of the two characters, and, through them, of the original
idea. Just what is meant by this "illustrative action" so often
mentioned? In _Les Oberlé_, by René Bazin, is a charming chapter
describing the Alsatian vintage festival. At their work the women sing
the song of the Black Bow of Alsace--in the novel but one detail of an
interesting description. The account comes about midway in the book.
When the novel was dramatized it became necessary to make the audience
understand, even before the hero, Jean, enters in Act I, that absorbed
in his studies in Germany, he has been unaware of the constant friction
in the home land between the governing Germans and the Alsatians. Here
is the way the dramatist, emotionalizing the description of the novel,
turned it into dramatic illustration of Jean's ignorance of the
condition of the country. Uncle Ulrich, Bastian, a neighbor, and his
daughter, Odile, at sunset are waiting in a wood road for Jean, just
arrived from Germany and walking home from the station.

    (_Outside a voice sings as it approaches in the distance._)

  _The Black Bow of the daughters of Alsace
  Is like a bird with spreading wings._

  _Ulrich._ Ah, look there! Who can be so imprudent as to sing that air
  of Alsace?

  _The Voice._
    _It can overpass the mountains._

  _Bastian._ If it should be he!

  _The Voice_.
    _And watch what goes on there._

  _Odile._ I am sure it is Jean's voice.

  _Ulrich._ Foolhardy! They will hear him!

  _The Voice._ (_Nearer._)
    _The Black Bow of the daughters of Alsace--_

  _Ulrich._ Again, and louder than ever!

  _The Voice._
    _Is like a cross we carry
    In memory of those men and women
    Whose souls were like our own._

  _Ulrich._ Jean! Upon my word that young lawyer cannot know the laws.

Just at the end of the same act it is necessary to illustrate the
constant presence, the activity and alertness of the German forces and
the irritation all this means to the Alsatians. In a story much of this
would be described by the author. In the play we feel with each of the
speakers the irritating presence of the troops, and so have perfect
dramatic illustrative action.

    (_They are just starting off when Bastian stops them._)

  _Bastian._ Chut!

  _Jean._ What?

  _Bastian._ (_Softly._) Listen!

  _Jean._ (_Softly._) A rolling stone in the ravine.

  _Ulrich._ Another!

  _Jean._ Steps!

  _Ulrich._ Of horses.

  _Jean._ Well?

  _Ulrich._ A patrol!

  _Jean._ (_Moved._) Ah!

  _Bastian._ The Hussars!

  _Jean._ What are they doing?

  _Ulrich._ They are keeping watch.

  _Bastian._ They are drilling.

  _Ulrich._ Always!

  _Jean._ Ah!

  _Bastian._ Day and night.

  _Ulrich._ Never resting.

  _Bastian._ Perhaps they are trailing some deserter.

  _Jean._ Ah! There are deserters?

  _Bastian._ They won't tell you so in the town.

  _Odile._ But we on the frontiers see them.

  _Jean._ Ah!

  _Bastian._ They who go out by the Grand' fontaine pass this way.

  _Odile._ (_Softly._) Near our farm. From our house one can see them

  _Jean._ Ah!

  _Ulrich._ Chut!

  _Jean._ I hear the breathing of their horses.

  _Ulrich._ Be still.

  _Jean._ We are doing nothing wrong.

  _Bastian._ Wait.

  _Ulrich._ Down there--wait--lean over.

  _Jean._ I see--

  _Ulrich._ They are coming up.

  _Bastian._ They are going by.

  _Jean._ They have crossed the road.

  _Ulrich._ We can go down for the moment.

  _Bastian._ Ouf!

  _Jean._ It is strange--twenty times, a hundred times in Germany I have
  met the patrols of dragoons, or hussars, and admired their fine form.

  _Ulrich._ Here?

  _Jean._ Only to see them gives me a queer feeling at the heart.

  _Ulrich._ Don't you understand, my dear Jean? There they were in their
  own country, here they are in ours.[18]

Early in the first scene of _The Changeling_, by Thomas Middleton,
Beatrice states clearly, and more than once, the physical repulsion De
Flores causes her. Knowing full well, however, the dramatic value of
illustrative action, Middleton handled the ending of the scene in this
way. Beatrice turning to leave the room, starts as she finds De Flores
close at hand.

  _Beatrice._ (_Aside._) Not this serpent gone yet? (_Drops a glove._)

  _Vermandero._ Look, girl, thy glove's fallen,
  Stay, stay! De Flores, help a little.
    (_Exeunt Vermandero, Alsemero and Servant._)

  _De Flores._ Here, lady.  (_Offers her glove._)

  _Beatrice._ Mischief on your officious forwardness!
  Who bade you stoop? they touch my hand no more:
  There! for the other's sake I part with this;
    (_Takes off and throws down the other glove._)
  Take 'em, and draw thine own skin off with 'em.
    (_Exit with Diaphanta and Servants._)

  _De Flores._ Here's a favour with a mischief now! I know
  She had rather wear my pelt tanned in a pair
  Of dancing pumps, than I should thrust my fingers
  Into her sockets here.[19]

Here the dramatist makes repulsion clear by illustrative action so
emotional that it moves us to keenest sympathy or dislike for the woman
herself. Dramatically speaking, then, illustrative action is not merely
something which illustrates an idea or character, but it must be an
illustration mirroring emotion of the persons in the play or creating
it in the observer.

What is the relation of illustrative action to dramatic situation? The
first is the essence of the second. A dramatic episode presents an
individual or group of individuals so moved as to stir an audience to
responsive emotion. Illustrative action by each person in the group or
by the group as a whole is basal. The glove incident in _The Changeling_
concerns both Beatrice and De Flores. Hers is illustrative action when
she shrinks from the glove his hand has touched. He shows it when
kissing and amorously fondling the glove she has refused. Their
illustrative actions make together the dramatic episode of the
glove,--which is in turn a part of Scene 1 of the first act of the play.
There are the divisions: play, act, scene, episode, and illustrative
action. Just as sometimes the development of a single episode may make a
scene, or there may be but one scene to an act, there are cases when an
illustrative action is a dramatic episode. The ending of Act II of
Ostrovsky's _Storm_ illustrates this.

Varvara, who has just gone out, has put into the hands of Catherine the
key to a gate in the garden hedge. This Varvara has taken without the
knowledge of her mother, who is the mother-in-law of Catherine. Just as
Varvara goes, she has said that if she meets Catherine's lover, Boris,
she will tell him to come to the gate. Catherine, terrified, at first
tries to refuse the key, but Varvara insists on leaving it with her.

  _Catherine._ (_Alone, the key in her hand._) Oh, what is she doing?
  What hasn't she courage for? Ah, she is crazy--yes, crazy. Here is
  what will ruin me. That's the truth! I must throw this key away, throw
  it far away, into the river, so that it may never be found again. It
  burns my hand like a hot coal. (_Dreamily._) This is how we are
  ruined, people like me! Slavery, that isn't a gay business for any
  one. How many ideas it puts into our heads. Another would be enchanted
  with what has happened to me, and would rush on full tilt. How can one
  act in that way without reflection, without reason? Misfortune comes
  so quickly, and afterward there is all the rest of one's life in which
  to weep and torment oneself, and the slavery will be still more
  bitter. (_Silence._) And how bitter it is, slavery! Oh, how bitter it
  is! Who would not suffer from it? And we other women suffer more than
  all the rest. Here am I at this moment battling with myself in vain,
  not seeing a ray of light, and I shan't see one. The further I go, the
  worse it is. And here is this additional sin that I am going to take
  on my conscience. (_She dreams a moment._) Were not my
  mother-in-law--she has broken me: it is she who has made me come to
  hate this house. I hate its very walls. (_She looks pensively at the
  key._) Ought I to throw it away? Of course I ought. How did it get
  into my hands? To seduce me to my ruin. (_Listening._) Some one is
  coming! My heart fails me. (_She puts the key into her pocket._)
  No!--no one. Why was I so frightened? And I hid the key--Very well,
  that's the way it is to be. It is clear that fate wills it. And after
  all, where is the sin in seeing him just once, if at a distance? And
  if I were even to talk with him a little, where would the harm
  be?--But my husband--Very well, it was he himself who didn't forbid
  it! Perhaps I shall never have such another chance in all my life.
  Then I shall weep and say to myself, "You had a chance to see him and
  didn't know how to take advantage of it." What am I saying? Why lie to
  myself? I will die for it if necessary, but see him I will. Whom do I
  want to deceive here? Throw away the key? No, not for anything in the
  world. I keep it. Come what will, I will see Boris. Ah, if the night
  would only come more quickly!


Sometimes, even a playwright of considerable experience, though his mind
is full of dramatic material, finds his plotting at a standstill. The
trouble is that he has not sifted his material by means of the purpose
he has in mind. When he does, details of setting, bits of
characterization or even characters as wholes, parts or all of a scene
and many ideas good in themselves but not necessarily connected with his
real subject, will drop out. Many plays of modern realism have been
overloaded with details of setting, with figures, or even scenes really
unessential. In a recent play of Breton life a prominent detail in the
setting of a cave was the figurehead of a ship. Even if one missed
noticing this striking detail, its presence was emphasized by the text.
It turned out, however, that the figurehead had nothing to do with the
story or its development, nor was it really needed for any special color
it gave. It should, therefore, have been omitted. No fault is more
common than the use of unnecessary figures. When Lady Gregory wrote her
version of _The Workhouse Ward_, she wisely cut out the matron, the
doorkeeper, and all the inmates except two. With three figures her play
is a masterpiece. With five actors and voices from off stage, Dr. Hyde's
Gaelic version is not. A one-act play adapted from the Spanish showed
some dozen or more individual parts and a mob of at least forty.
Ultimately, on a small stage, the plot was done full justice with half
that number of individual parts and the crowd reduced to twenty or less.
An amusing play of mistaken identity had a delightful scene in which an
aunt of the heroine is proposed to by a friend of her youth. In it, the
dramatist, with admirable characterization, set forth the views on
matrimony of many middle-aged women. Yet the whole scene had nothing
whatever to do with the story of the heroine. Consequently it was
ultimately dropped out. That dramatic ideas must be sifted was shown on
page 75 in the play seemingly about architects' draughtsmen.

Not even when a scene, a bit of dialogue or some other detail, is
entirely in character may it always keep its position. Though a detail
or episode must be in character before it is admitted, it can hold its
position only if it is necessary for the purpose of the play. Time
limits everything for the dramatist. The final curtain impending
inevitably at the end of two hours and a half is the dramatist's "sword
of Damocles." It reminds him that in a play, "whatever goes for nothing,
goes for less than nothing" because it shuts out something which, in
its place, might be effective. In Tennyson's _Becket_ is a fine scene,
the washing of the beggars' feet by the Archbishop.[21] It illustrates
both customs of the time and a side of Becket's character, yet it
contained nothing absolutely necessary to the central purpose of the
play. Consequently, as the play must be condensed for acting purposes,
Sir Henry Irving cut out the whole scene.

This time limit forces the dramatist, when choosing between two episodes
of equal value otherwise, to select that which does more in less space,
or to combine desirable parts of the two episodes when possible. In
Tennyson's _Becket_, Scene 1 of Act II and Scene 1 of Act III take place
in Rosamund's Bower. Henry and Rosamund are the principal speakers in
both. There is, too, no marked lapse of time between the scenes, though
Tennyson chose to separate them by the "Meeting of the Kings" at
Montmirail. Very naturally, therefore, when condensation was necessary,
Irving by severe cutting brought these two scenes together as Act II of
his version. He not only saved time; he gained in unity of effect.
Similarly, Irving brings together the essential parts of Scene 2, Act
II, the "Meeting of the Kings," and Scene 3, Act III, "Traitor's Meadow
at Freteval," making them the first scene of the third act in his

A cluttered play is always a bad play. Such clutter usually comes from
including details of setting, characterization or idea, and even whole
characters or scenes, not really necessary. Selection with one's purpose
clearly in mind is the remedy for such clutter.

Even, however, when a writer has so carefully selected his dramatic
episodes that each is one or more bits of illustrative action bearing on
the main idea and entirely in character, he may still be short of story.
He cannot rouse and maintain interest moving at haphazard. His central
idea must appear in dramatic episodes so ordered as to have sequence,--a
beginning, a middle, and an end,--and so emphasized as to have the
increasing interest which means movement. He cannot have good story till
it has unity of action. When Bulwer-Lytton wrote Macready that he had
discovered the heart of his proposed play on Marillac to be Richelieu,
note that he speaks of the simplification and the unity resulting: "You
will be pleased to hear that I have completed the rough Sketch of the
Play in 5 acts--& I hope you will like it. I have taken the subject of
Richelieu. Not being able to find any other so original & effective, &
have employed somewhat of the story I before communicated to you, but
simplified and connected.--_You_ are Richelieu, & Richelieu is brought
out, accordingly, as the prominent light round which the other
satellites move. It is written on the plan of a great Historical Comedy,
& I have endeavoured to concentrate a striking picture of the passions &
events--the intrigue & ambition of that era--in a familiar point of

Thomas Dekker found the source of his _Shoemakers' Holiday_[23] in a
pamphlet by Thomas Deloney, _The Pleasant and Princely History of the
Gentle-Craft_.[24] This loosely written pamphlet tries to tell three
stories supposed to redound to the credit of the shoemakers: that of
Prince Hugh and his love for Winifred; that of Crispin and Crispinianus
and the brave deeds of the latter in the wars in France; and, finally,
that of Simon Eyre, the master shoemaker who rose to be Lord Mayor of
London, his wife and his apprentices. What obviously attracted Dekker in
the pamphlet was the third story, to which he saw he could give much
realism from his knowledge of the shoemakers about Leadenhall.
Unfortunately, the story of Simon Eyre, though it provided him with
delightful characters, gave him little variety of incident. Perhaps
today a dramatist might make such a play carry almost wholly on the
characterization of the shoemaker group. The Elizabethans, however,
wanted a complicated story of varied action. Dekker, though he had
first-rate romantic material in the story of Crispin and Crispinianus,
could hardly weave this in with the story of Eyre, a relatively recent
historical figure, for one material called for romantic and the other
for realistic treatment. There seemed the deadlock. But Dekker, thinking
of this Crispin in love with a princess, who disguised himself as a
shoemaker in order to win her hand, remembered the wars of 1588 and
English sympathy for the Huguenots involved therein. Therefore he turned
Crispin into Lacy, a youth of that period. Lacy is not a prince, but a
relative of the Earl of Lincoln, and something of a ne'er-do-well, in
love with the Lord Mayor's daughter, Rose. He fears that if he goes to
the wars in France, his duty as "chief colonel" of the London Companies,
he will lose her. Therefore he sends Askew in his stead and stays in
London disguised as one of Eyre's shoemaker apprentices. The purpose of
Dekker to write a realistic play of complicated plot has helped him to
reshape his material till two stories, as in the case of _The Country
Boy_, have become one. Unity appears in materials seemingly as
irreconcilable as romance and realism.

There are, however, two weaknesses in this story as now developed: Rose
and Lacy, though they appear against the background of the wars, do not
connect the apprentices with the enlistment, nor do they afford many
scenes of marked dramatic force. Wishing one or two scenes of stronger
emotion which at the same time would bring the apprentices into closer
connection with the wars, Dekker creates Ralph, Jane, and Hammon. Ralph
is one of the shoemakers who, pressed to the war, is torn from his
protesting wife and fellow apprentices. In his absence, the citizen
Hammon falls in love with Jane. Trying to make her believe that Ralph is
dead, he wishes to marry her. Ralph, returning from the war to his
former work with Eyre, can find no trace of Jane, for after a slight
difference with Margery Eyre, she has disappeared. One day a servant
brings Ralph a pair of shoes to be duplicated for a wedding gift. The
pair to be copied Ralph recognizes as his parting gift to Jane.
Summoning his fellow apprentices to aid him, he goes to the place
proposed for the wedding and rescues Jane. Thus some scenes of fine if
homely emotion are provided. Wedded love is contrasted with that of Rose
and Lacy and with Hammon's courtship, and through Ralph the apprentices
are brought closely into connection with the wars.

Many a would-be dramatist suffers, however, not from a superabundance of
material bearing on his subject but a dearth of it. Again and again one
hears the complaint: "I know who my characters are to be, and I have
dramatic situation, but I cannot find my story. I haven't enough
dramatic situation to round it out." Just this difficulty troubled
Bulwer-Lytton when he was preparing for _Richelieu_. He wrote to

  Many thanks for your letter. You are right about the Plot--it is too
  crowded & the interest too divided.--But Richelieu would be a splendid
  fellow for the Stage, if we could hit on a good plot to bring him
  out--connected with some domestic interest. His wit--his
  lightness--his address--relieve so admirably his profound
  sagacity--his Churchman's pride--his relentless vindictiveness and the
  sublime passion for the glory of France that elevated all. He would be
  a new addition to the Historical portraits of the Stage; but then he
  must be connected with a plot in which he would have all the stage to
  himself, & in which some Home interest might link itself with the
  Historical. Alas, I've no such story yet & he must stand over, tho' I
  will not wholly give him up....

  ... Depend on it, I don't cease racking my brains, & something must
  come at last.[25]

Such difficulty means that a writer forgets or is ignorant of one of the
first principles of dramatic composition. When he has three or four good
situations which are in character, he should not hunt new situations
till he is sure he knows the full emotional possibilities of the
situations he already has. To decide after the closest scrutiny of the
situations in hand, that others are needed is one thing. On the other
hand, the inexperienced workman presents as quickly as possible the
climactic moment of the scene he has in mind, and gets away as rapidly
as possible to another intense climax. Finding himself, as a result,
badly in need of additional dramatic moments, he hunts for situations as
situations. Returning triumphantly with some strong emotional effect, he
must perforce put the characters of the earlier scenes into these.
Usually, as they have no real part in these later scenes, they prove
troublesome. Sometimes the new scenes may be so reshaped as to fit the
original characters, but usually the result of this method is that the
scenes are foisted on the original characters, becoming obvious misfits,
or that the original characters are so modified as to fit them. When
modified, however, the original characters no longer perfectly fit the
original scenes. Driven backward and forward between character and
story, the dramatist pursuing this method often gives up the attempt,
saying despairingly: "It is no use. My characters will not give me a

The trouble here is that the inexperienced dramatist treats the
situation as if its value lay in its most climactic moment. Often,
however, there is as much pleasure for the public emotionally in working
up to the climax as in the climax itself. To "hold a situation," that
is, to get from it the full dramatic possibilities the characters
involved offer, a dramatist must study his characters in it till he has
discovered the entire range of their emotion in the scene. This will
give him not only many and many a new situation within the original
situation, but the transitional scenes which will unify situations
originally apparently unrelated except as the same figures appeared in
them. For example, consider this.

A kindly woman in middle life comes in friendliest fashion to offer to
take the daughter of a proud man in great financial straits into her own
home. As treated by an inexperienced writer, there was a prompt, clear
statement of what the woman desired, with an immediate passionate denial
of the request by the jealously affectionate father. In this treatment
we lose the best of the scene. Really this worldly-wise woman, talking
to such a man, would lead up tactfully to her proposal. As she led up to
it, there would be many dramatic moments, with much interesting
revelation of her own and the man's character. Caring for the man as she
does, and loving the girl deeply, she would not immediately accept a
refusal. After the man's first denial, as she tried by turns to cajole,
convince or dominate him, there would be strong dramatic conflict, and,
once more, interesting revelation of character. Given, then, some
happening, the nature of the human being involved in it will affect its
look. A second person involved will affect it even more. Two people,
influencing each other because affected by the same incident will give
still a third look to the original situation. When you have what seems a
good situation, don't rush into another at your earliest opportunity,
but instead study it till you know every permutation and combination it
holds emotionally for every one involved, both because the situation
affects every character, and because every character may affect all the
others. Then you will know how to "hold a situation." Said Dumas the
Younger: "Before every situation that a dramatist creates, he should
ask himself three questions. In this situation, what should I do? What
would other people do? What ought to be done? Every author who does not
feel disposed to make this analysis should renounce the theatre, for he
will never become a dramatist."[26] Though every writer may not examine
his material by means of such formal categories, he must in some way
gain the thorough information about it for which Dumas calls. Then and
then only he can select from the results of his thinking that which will
best accomplish his purpose in the play.

A one-act play with a very good central situation came to nothing
because its author had not grasped the principle just set forth. A young
man and a girl, eloping, come to the station of a small settlement. They
find no one about, but the door of the ticket office ajar as if the
person in charge had stepped out for a moment. They fear that the father
and mother of the girl and perhaps another admirer are on their trail.
Partly from curiosity and partly from the desire not to be seen till the
train comes, they step into the office, closing the door behind them.
Then they discover that they are prisoners, for the door can be opened
even from their side only by a person with the right key. Just at this
point, the father and mother arrive, amazed at finding no trace of the
fugitives. They too are puzzled by the absence of the ticket-seller.
Just as they start out to find him he appears, apologetic for his
absence. He is mildly interested in their story, but as he has seen no
young persons, and as he expects the train shortly, he starts to go into
his office. Then he discovers the closed door and admits that he went
out to look for his key, which he must have dropped somewhere since he
opened the station that morning. Here was of course a dramatic situation
of large possibilities, but in the play it was treated almost as just
stated. Of course the sensations of the two young people cooped up in
the ticket office, expecting the parents, the station agent, and the
train, should have given us a comic scene before any one else appeared.
The effect of the discovery that they are prisoners upon the girl, the
effect upon the young man, the way in which the resulting emotions of
each affect the other, all this must be given if the potential comedy of
the situation inside the ticket office is to be fully used. The arrival
of the father and mother offers a chance not only for the individual
emotions of each and their effect upon one another, but for the emotion
of the concealed elopers as they hear the familiar voices and understand
how enraged the parents are. There is opportunity for a good scene of
some length here before the station master appears. When he does enter,
he should be interesting, not simply for himself, but for the effect he
has on father, mother, girl, and young man, and the new interplay of
emotions he causes among them. Add the coming of the former admirer with
evidence he has found that the elopers have been making for this
station; and as the new complications developed by his coming take
shape, let the train be heard far up the line. Surely here is a group of
very promising situations.

In this play so crowded with dramatic opportunity, its author found only
the most dramatic moments, rushing rapidly from one to the other.
Result, a failure. Any dramatic situation made up of a congeries of
minor situations is like a great desk the pigeon holes of which are
crowded with letters and personal documents. The biographer sitting down
before it first makes himself thoroughly conversant with all the data.
Then he selects for use only what is of value for the biographical
purpose he has in mind. The people in a situation are, for a dramatist,
the human data he must study till he so completely understands them that
he can differentiate clearly in what they offer between what is useful
for his purposes and what is not.

Even Shakespeare, in his earliest work, had not grasped the importance
of "holding a situation," as a scene in the _First Part of Henry VI_
shows. He knows how to inform his audience in Scene 2 of Act II why it
is that Talbot visits the Countess of Auvergne; in the _Whispers_ of the
next to the last line of this scene he even prepares for the surprise
Talbot springs upon the Countess in the next scene; but Scene 3 itself
he treats merely for the broad situation and a few bits of rhetoric.

A Messenger come to the English camp has just asked which of the men
before him is the famous Talbot.

  _Talbot._ Here is the Talbot; who would speak with him?

  _Messenger._ The virtuous lady, Countess of Auvergne,
  With modesty admiring thy renown,
  By me entreats, great lord, thou wouldst vouchsafe
  To visit her poor castle where she lies,
  That she may boast she hath beheld the man
  Whose glory fills the world with loud report.

  _Burgundy._ Is it even so? Nay, then, I see our wars
  Will turn unto a peaceful comic sport,
  When ladies crave to be encount'red with.
  You may not, my lord, despise her gentle suit.

  _Tal._ Ne'er trust me then; for what a world of men
  Could not prevail with all their oratory,
  Yet hath a woman's kindness over-rul'd;
  And therefore tell her I return great thanks,
  And in submission will attend on her.
  Will not your honours bear me company?

  _Bedford._ No, truly, 'tis more than manners will;
  And I have heard it said, unbidden guests
  Are often welcomest when they are gone.

  _Tal._ Well, then, alone, since there's no remedy,
  I mean to prove this lady's courtesy.
  Come hither, captain. (_Whispers._) You perceive my mind?

  _Captain._ I do, my lord, and mean accordingly. (_Exeunt._)

  SCENE 3. _The Countess's castle_

    _Enter the Countess and her porter_

  _Countess._ Porter, remember what I gave in charge;
  And when you have done so, bring the keys to me.

  _Porter._ Madam, I will.   (_Exit._)

  _Countess._ The plot is laid. If all things fall out right
  I shall as famous be by this exploit
  As Scythian Tomyris by Cyrus' death.
  Great is the rumour of this dreadful knight,
  And his achievements of no less account;
  Fain would mine eyes be witness with mine ears,
  To give their censure of these rare reports.

    _Enter Messenger and Talbot_

  _Messenger._ Madam,
  According as your ladyship desir'd,
  By message crav'd, so is Lord Talbot come.

  _Countess._ And he is welcome. What! is this the man?

  _Mess._ Madam, it is.

  _Countess._ Is this the scourge of France?
  Is this the Talbot, so much fear'd abroad
  That with his name the mothers still their babes?
  I see report is fabulous and false.
  I thought I should have seen some Hercules,
  A second Hector, for his grim aspect,
  And large proportion of his strong-knit limbs.
  Alas, this is a child, a silly dwarf!
  It cannot be this weak and writhled shrimp
  Should strike such terror to his enemies.

  _Tal._ Madam, I have been bold to trouble you;
  But since your ladyship is not at leisure,
  I'll sort some other time to visit you.  (_Going._)

  _Countess._ What means he now? Go ask him whither he goes.

  _Mess._ Stay, my Lord Talbot; for my lady craves
  To know the cause of your abrupt departure.

  _Tal._ Marry, for that she's in a wrong belief,
  I go to certify her Talbot's here.

    _Reënter Porter with keys_

  _Countess._ If thou be he, then art thou prisoner.

  _Tal._ Prisoner! To whom!

  _Countess._ To me, blood-thirsty lord;
  And for that cause I train'd thee to my house.
  Long time, thy shadow hath been thrall to me,
  For in my gallery thy picture hangs;
  But now the substance shall endure the like,
  And I will chain these legs and arms of thine,
  That hast by tyranny these many years
  Wasted our country, slain our citizens,
  And sent our sons and husbands captivate.

  _Tal._ Ha, ha, ha!

  _Countess._ Laughest thou, wretch? Thy mirth shall turn to moan.

  _Tal._ I laugh to see your ladyship so fond
  To think that you have aught but Talbot's shadow
  Whereon to practice your severity.

  _Countess._ Why, art not thou the man?

  _Tal._   I am indeed.

  _Countess._ Then have I substance too.

  _Tal._ No, no, I am but shadow of myself.
  You are deceiv'd, my substance is not here.
  For what you see is but the smallest part
  And least proportion of humanity.
  I tell you, madam, were the whole frame here,
  It is of such a spacious, lofty pitch,
  Your roof were not sufficient to contain't.

  _Countess._ This is a riddling merchant for the nonce;
  He will be here, and yet he is not here.
  How can these contrarieties agree?

  _Tal._ That will I show you presently.

    (_Winds his horn. Drums strike up: a peal of ordnance. The gates are

    _Enter Soldiers_

  How say you, madam? Are you now persuaded
  That Talbot is but shadow of himself?
  These are his substance, sinews, arms, and strength,
  With which he yoketh your rebellious necks,
  Razeth your cities and subverts your towns
  And in a moment makes you desolate.

  _Countess._ Victorious Talbot! pardon my abuse.
  I find thou art no less than fame hath bruited
  And more than may be gathered by the shape.
  Let my presumption not provoke thy wrath;
  For I am sorry that with reverence
  I did not entertain thee as thou art.

  _Tal._ Be not dismay'd, fair lady; nor misconstrue
  The mind of Talbot, as you did mistake
  The outward composition of his body.
  What you have done hath not offended me;
  Nor other satisfaction do I crave,
  But only with your patience, that we may
  Taste of your wine and see what cates you have;
  For soldiers' stomachs always serve them well.

  _Countess._ With all my heart, and think me honoured
  To feast so great a warrior in my house.  (_Exeunt._)

Except for a few lines of rhetoric, could the account in Scene 3 be
shortened? The Countess awaits Talbot; he comes; she reviles him in a
few lines; he turns to go; she declares him a prisoner; he laughs at
her; and as she stands amazed, calls in his forces brought in secret to
the castle. When Talbot invites himself and his men to feast at her
expense, the Countess immediately agrees. Reading the scene, one recalls
the words of Dumas fils: "Any one can relate a dramatic situation: the
art lies in preparing it, getting it accepted, making it plausible,
especially in untying the knot."[27] Here Shakespeare does not untie the
knot; the Countess merely yields. What she feels, what happened
thereafter,--all these are omitted. It is merely the situation which
counts. Before Talbot comes in, the scene could easily be made to reveal
much more of the character of the Countess. When he does enter, the play
of wits between them, even as it disclosed character, might provide
interesting dramatic conflict. Surely the moment when the Countess
thinks Talbot trapped and he coolly jeers at her, is worth more
development. Here it is treated so quickly that the surprise in the
entrance of the soldiers hardly gets its full effect. All this is the
work of a tyro, even if he be Shakespeare.

In _Richard II_, there is a scene, not as long as that just quoted, in
which the central situation might seem to many people less dramatic than
that of Talbot and the Countess, yet note to what a clear and convincing
conclusion Shakespeare brings it, how plausible he makes the scene, how
thoroughly he prepares it for the largest emotional effect by entering
thoroughly into the characters involved.

    _Enter Aumerle_

  _Duchess._ Here comes my son Aumerle.

  _York._  Aumerle that was;
  But that is lost for being Richard's friend,
  And, madam, you must call him Rutland now.
  I am in Parliament pledge for his truth
  And lasting fealty to the new made king.

  _Duch._ Welcome, my son. Who are the violets now
  That strew the green lap of the new come spring?

  _Aum._ Madam, I know not, nor I greatly care not
  God knows I had as lief be none as one.

  _York._ Well, bear you well in this new spring of time,
  Lest you be cropp'd before you come to prime.
  What news from Oxford? Do these jousts and triumphs hold?

  _Aum._ For aught I know, my lord, they do.

  _York._ You will be there, I know.

  _Aum._ If God prevent not, I purpose so.

  _York._ What seal is that, that hangs without thy bosom?
  Yea, look'st thou pale? Let me see the writing.

  _Aum._ My lord, 'tis nothing.

  _York._ No matter, then, who see it.
  I will be satisfied: let me see the writing.

  _Aum._ I do beseech your grace to pardon me.
  It is a matter of small consequence,
  Which for some reasons I would not have seen.

  _York._ Which for some reasons, sir, I mean to see.
  I fear, I fear,--

  _Duch._ What should you fear?
  'Tis nothing but some hand, which he has ent'red into
  For gay apparel 'gainst the triumph day.

  _York._ Bound to himself! What doth he with a bond
  That he is bound to? Wife, thou art a fool.
  Boy, let me see the writing.

  _Aum._ I do beseech you, pardon me. I may not show it.

  _York._ I will be satisfied; let me see it, I say.
    (_He plucks it out of his bosom and reads it._)
  Treason! foul treason! Villain! traitor! slave!

  _Duch._ What is the matter, my lord?

  _York._ Ho! who is within there?

    _Enter a Servant_

    Saddle my horse.
  God for his mercy, what treachery is here!

  _Duch._ Why, what is it, my lord?

  _York._ Give me my boots, I say; saddle my horse.
    (_Exit Servant._)
  Now, by mine honour, by my life, by my troth,
  I will appeach the villain.

  _Duch._ What is the matter?

  _York._ Peace, foolish woman.

  _Duch._ I will not peace. What is the matter, Aumerle?

  _Aum._ Good mother, have content; it is no more
  Than my poor life must answer.

  _Duch._  Thy life answer!

  _York._ Bring me my boots; I will unto the King.

    _Reënter Servant with boots_

  _Duch._ Strike him, Aumerle. Poor boy, thou art amaz'd.
  --Hence villain! never more come in my sight.

  _York._ Give me my boots, I say.

  _Duch._ Why, York, what wilt thou do?
  Wilt thou not hide the trespass of thine own?
  Have we more sons? Or are we like to have?
  Is not my teeming date drunk up with time?
  And wilt thou pluck my fair son from mine age,
  And rob me of a happy mother's name?
  Is he not like thee? Is he not thine own?

  _York._ Thou fond mad woman.
  Wilt thou conceal this dark conspiracy?
  A dozen of them here have ta'en the sacrament,
  And interchangeably set down their hands,
  To kill the King at Oxford.

  _Duch._  He shall be none;
  We'll keep him here; then what is that to him?

  _York._ Away, fond woman! Were he twenty times my son,
  I would appeach him.

  _Duch._  Hadst thou groan'd for him
  As I have done, thou wouldst be more pitiful.
  But now I know thy mind; thou dost suspect
  That I have been disloyal to thy bed,
  And that he is a bastard, not thy son.
  Sweet York, sweet husband, be not of that mind.
  He is as like thee as a man may be,
  Not like to me or any of my kin,
  And yet I love him.

  _York._ Make way, unruly woman!   (_Exit._)

  _Duch._ After, Aumerle! Mount thee upon his horse;
  Spur post and get before him to the King,
  And beg thy pardon ere he do accuse thee.
  I'll not be long behind; though I be old,
  I doubt not but to ride as fast as York.
  And never will I rise up from the ground
  Till Bolingbroke have pardon'd thee. Away, be gone!

So far as the situation is concerned we might go directly from York's
"fealty to the new made King" to his "What seal is that?" omitting some
ten lines. We should lose, however, the deft touches which make the
discovery all the more dramatic,--the words of York which show that he
has no idea that his son is really involved in any disloyalty; the
affectionate effort of the mother to draw the talk from unpleasant
subjects; and the distrait mood of Aumerle. Again, the discovery of the
contents of the seal might be made at once, but the fifteen intervening
lines before York cries "Treason! foul treason!" increase our suspense
by their clear presentation of the emotions of father, mother, and son.
Once more the situation is held when York does not declare at once the
nature of the treason and the frantic mother demands again and again the
contents of the paper before Aumerle says bitterly, and in perfect
character with his first speeches of the scene,

        "it is no more
  Than my poor life must answer."

Still again we should have the necessary action of the scene perfectly
if York, as soon as he has his boots, flung out of the room, to be
followed immediately by the Duchess, crying that she will follow him to
the King and ask the boy's pardon. However, had Shakespeare's treatment
here been that he used in the scene of Talbot and the Countess we should
have lacked the perfect portrayal of the mother who loses all sense of
right and wrong in fear that her loved child may die. Finally, do we not
gain greatly by the characterization of the Duchess in the last lines of
the scene? Five times, then, Shakespeare, by entering into his
characters, "holds the situation."

The second act of _The Magistrate_,[28] by Sir Arthur Pinero, is in
central situation broadly this. Cis Farringdon, represented by his
mother to his stepfather, Mr. Posket, as fourteen, because she does not
like to admit her own age, is really nineteen and precocious at that. He
has brought Mr. Posket to one of his haunts, a supper room in the Hotel
des Princes, Meek Street, London, where they are to sup together. As Mr.
Posket is a police justice, he has been induced to figure for the
evening as "Skinner of the stock exchange." Shortly after the arrival of
the two comes word that a frequenter of the restaurant twenty years ago,
now returned to London, wants to sup in their chosen room for the sake
of old times. Therefore Mr. Posket and Cis are put into an adjoining
room. Colonel Lukyn, the returned stranger, and a friend, Captain Vale,
enter. Just as they are ordering supper, a note comes to the effect that
Mrs. Posket, with a woman friend, is below, begging to speak with her
old acquaintance, Colonel Lukyn. As Mrs. Posket asks a private
interview, Captain Vale is put out on the balcony. With Mrs. Posket
comes her sister Charlotte. We have already learned from Vale that he is
deeply depressed because he thinks Charlotte no longer cares for him.
Mrs. Posket has come to beg Colonel Lukyn, who knew her before she
became a widow, not to reveal the truth about her age.

Watch now the permutations and combinations the author develops from
this general situation. Cis is hardly in the room before Isadore
presents his bill for past meals. Cis sees the chance, by borrowing from
his stepfather, to settle a long postponed account. Three figures, moved
in turn by shrewdness, trickiness, and gullibility, stir us to
amusement, giving us Situation I. Even as the bill is paid, Cis asks
Isadore to show Mr. Skinner the trick of "putting the silver to bed."
Three people amused or interested by a trick, amuse us--Situation II.
With the coming of the note from Alexander Lukyn, and the assignment of
the room adjoining to Cis and Mr. Skinner-Posket, there is a hint of
future complication which amuses us--Situation III. Lukyn and Vale
entering, the former sentimental over his memories of the place, and the
latter comically depressed over what he thinks to be the faithlessness
of Charlotte Verrinder, give us Situation IV. The note saying Mrs.
Posket is below with a friend, asking a private interview, produces
Situation V, for it amuses us to think what may happen with Mr. Posket
and Cis just on the other side of the door. Placing Vale on the balcony
leads to Situation VI, for he goes with amusing regret for the delayed

Up to this point the situations may be declared parts of the main
situation, which must now itself be developed. Just after Blond, the
proprietor, ushers in the ladies, the pattering of rain outside is

  _Lukyn._ Good gracious, Blond! What's that?

  _Blond._ The rain outside. It is cats and dogs.

  _Lukyn._ (_Horrified._) By George, is it? (_To himself, looking
  towards window._) Poor devil! (_To Blond._) There isn't any method of
  getting off that balcony is there?

  _Blond._ No--unless by getting on to it.

  _Lukyn._ What do you mean?

  _Blond._ It is not at all safe. Don't use it.

    (_Lukyn stands horror-stricken. Blond goes out. Heavy rain is
    heard._)--Situation VII.

As Mrs. Posket reveals to Lukyn the complications in which her lie is
involving her, voices from the next room, not clearly distinguished by
those on the stage, but known to us as the voices of Cis and Mr.
Skinner-Posket, are heard--Situation VIII. Just when Lukyn is straining
every nerve to get the ladies away so that he may release Vale,
Charlotte, overwhelmed by hunger, invites herself to supper--Situation
IX. As the two women eat, Lukyn sits in anxious despair, at times
forgetful of his guests. This brings Situation X, when Vale reaches out
from behind the curtains of the balcony and passes to the absent-minded
Lukyn from the buffet the dishes Charlotte desires. When Charlotte,
turning suddenly, sees the outstretched arm, we have Situation XI. When
Vale reënters, thoroughly irritated and quarrels with Lukyn, we have
Situation XII. The reunion of Charlotte and Vale makes the thirteenth.
That is, if six initial situations produced the situation when all the
characters were upon the stage, Sir Arthur has developed seven new
situations from the sixth. Now by adding a fresh complication through
some new figures, he develops six more situations.

Just as Lukyn, Mrs. Posket, Charlotte, and Vale are about to leave
amicably, Blond rushes in to say that the police are below because the
prescribed hour for closing has passed. The names and addresses of all
persons found on the premises will be taken--Situation XIV. Lukyn, Vale,
Mrs. Posket and Charlotte hide themselves in different parts of the
room, putting out the lights. Situation XV is the entrance in the
darkness of Blond leading Cis and Mr. Skinner-Posket, in order that the
other room may be searched safely. At last, the room where all are
hidden is examined by the police. All try to hold their breath, but in
vain. The police detect some one breathing--Situation XVI. In the
resulting confusion, Cis escapes, dragging his stepfather with
him--Situation XVII. The other four when caught, foolishly give false
names. Lukyn, thoroughly irritated by the officers, flings one of them
aside and attempts to force his way out, when he and his party are
promptly arrested for assault--Situation XVIII.

  _Lukyn._ You'll dare to lock us up all night?

  _Messiter._ It's one o'clock now, Colonel--you'll come on first thing
  in the morning.

  _Lukyn._ Come on? At what court?

  _Messiter._ Mulberry Street.

  _Agatha Posket._ Ah! The Magistrate?

  _Messiter._ Mr. Posket, Mum.

    (_Agatha Posket sinks into a chair, Charlotte at her feet; Lukyn,
    overcome, falls on Vale's shoulders._)--Situation XIX.

Five situations of nineteen lead up to the sixth. Seven are developed
from that sixth by means of four people. The new complication, the
search of the restaurant by the police and the bringing into one room of
all the figures, gives us six more situations. Certainly Sir Arthur
knows how to "hold a situation."

Act III of _Mrs. Dane's Defence_[29] is just equally divided between
preparatory material and the great scene which ebbs and flows about the
following situation. Mrs. Dane, in love with Lionel, the adopted son of
Sir Daniel Carteret, at the opening of the scene has lied so
successfully about her past that Sir Daniel, who has been suspicious of
her, has been entirely convinced of her innocence. Eager to help her set
herself right, he asks in the kindest way for information which may aid
him. Trying not to commit herself, Mrs. Dane slips once or twice and all
the old suspicions of Sir Daniel are rearoused. He cross-examines her so
rigidly that ultimately she breaks down and confesses. Handled by the
inexperienced that situation might have been good for four or five
pages. As treated by Mr. H.A. Jones, it makes a scene of twenty pages of
finest suspense and climax. The situation is well held because every
reaction upon it by the two characters has been worked out.

One would hardly think two quarrelsome inmates of a poorhouse, visited
by a relative of one of them who wishes to take him away to manage her
place, likely to produce a masterpiece of comic drama. Yet it does with
Lady Gregory in _The Workhouse Ward_,[30] for she knows Irish character
and speech so intimately that minor situation after minor situation
develops, through the characters, from the original situation.

Indeed, much of our so-called new drama is but a prolonged holding of a
situation stated as the play opens, or clearly before us at the end of
Act I. _Chains_[31] of Miss Elizabeth Baker in Act I puts this double
situation before us. A young married man without children, though happy
enough in his marriage, is so weary of the sordidness of his small means
and limited opportunities that he longs to break away, go out to
Australia, and when he has made a career for himself, send for his wife.
His sister-in-law, a shop girl, equally weary of her life, is weakly
thinking of marrying a man she does not love, but who really loves her,
in order to escape the grayness of her life. At the end of the play
these two are accepting the situations in which we found them. Yet the
three acts of the play are full of varied interest for an audience, so
admirably does the writer discern the situations which her characters
will develop from the original situation. _Hindle Wakes_,[32] the best
play of Stanley Houghton, is really a study of the way in which a
situation which took place before the play began affects three families.

Surely it must now be evident that if a dramatist should in the first
place understand perfectly that illustrative action is the core of
drama, and must be carefully selected; and secondly that he must, among
possible illustrative actions, select those which quickest will produce
the largest emotional results; he must also recognize that till he has
searched and probed his situations by means of the characters, in the
first place he cannot know which are his strongest, and in the second
place cannot hope to hold the situations chosen.

Another complaint from the inexperienced dramatist when shaping up his
story is that though he sees the big moments in his play, he does not
see his way from one to another. That is, transitional scenes are
lacking. They will not worry him long, however, if he follows the
methods just stated for holding a situation. Let him watch the people
who have come into his imagination, first simply as people. Who and what
are they? Secondly, what are they feeling and thinking in the situations
which have occurred to him? He can't long consider this without deciding
what people they must have been in order to be in the situations in
question. Hard upon this comes the question: "What will people who have
been like these and have passed through this experience do immediately,
and thereafter?" In the answer to the question, "What have they been?"
he finds the transitional scenes which take him back into an earlier
episode; in the answer to "What will they become?" the transitional
scenes that carry him forward. In the scene cited from _Richard II_ the
main moments are the home-coming, the discovery of the traitorous paper,
and the departure of the Duke and Duchess of York. How is the transition
from one to the other to be gained? Through knowledge of the characters,
as the analysis showed. What applies here to transition within a scene
from dramatic moment to dramatic moment applies equally in transition
from scene to scene. Suppose that Sir Arthur Pinero had as the
starting-point of the third act of _The Magistrate_ the idea that Mrs.
Posket should be arrested under such conditions that she must appear in
the court of her husband when he is as guilty as she. Sir Arthur has
decided that they must be in some place like the Hotel des Princes when
it is raided. He has in mind episodes which will bring them all together
at that place. He already sees clearly the scene of the raid and the
arrest. But the place cannot be raided till late in the evening, and
Agatha Posket is too jealous of her reputation thoughtlessly to stay
late in such a place. What are to be the transitional "scenes" which, in
the first place, shall make us feel that considerable time has passed
since Mrs. Posket came to the hotel, and secondly shall keep us amused?
Sir Arthur finds them through the characters. It is the hunger of
self-indulgent Charlotte which motivates the staying and gives us the
supper "scene." It is the character of Vale which gives us his quarrel
with Lukyn. The love making of Charlotte and Vale provides another
transitional "scene." In other words, whether one is looking for more
episodes or for transitions from one chosen episode to another, one
should not go far afield hunting episodes as episodes, but should become
acquainted with the characters as closely as possible. They will solve
the difficulties.

All this lengthy consideration of selection makes for unity of action in
the story resulting. Some unity of action, whether the story be slight
or complicated, there must be. Of the three great unities over which
there has been endless discussion, Action, Place, and Time, the modern
dramatists, as we shall see, treat Place with the greatest freedom, and
are constantly inventing devices to avoid the Time difficulty. With the
dramatists of the present, as with the dramatists of the past, however,
what they write must be a whole, a unit. Some central idea, plan,
purpose, whatever we choose to call it, must give the play organic
structure. Story is the first step to this. Which gives most
pleasure,--a string of disconnected anecdotes and jests; or a series of
them given some unity because they concern some man of note, for
instance, Abraham Lincoln; or the same series edited till, taken all
together, they make Abraham Lincoln, in one or more of his
characteristics, clearer than ever before? Does not a large part of our
pleasure in biography come from the way in which it co-ordinates and
interprets episodes and incidents hitherto not properly inter-related in
our minds? Unity of action is, then, of first importance in story.

There is, however, another kind of unity which has not been enough
considered,--what may, perhaps, be called artistic unity. Why is it that
a play which begins seriously and for most of its course so develops,
only to end farcically, or which begins lightly only to become tragic,
leaves us dissatisfied? Because the audience finds it difficult to
readjust its mood as swiftly as does the author. _The Climbers_[33] and
_The Girl With the Green Eyes_[34] of Clyde Fitch are examples in point.
The first begins with such dignity and mysteriousness that its lighter
moods, after Act I, seem almost trivial. In the second play the very
tragic scene of the attempted suicide, after the light comedy touch of
the preceding parts, is distinctly jarring. A recent play which for two
acts or more seemingly had been dealing with but slightly disguised
figures of the political world had a late scene in which one of these
politicians, like Manson in _The Servant in the House_,[35] or The
Stranger in _The Passing of the Third Floor Back_,[36] shadowed the
figure of Christ himself. The effect was jarring, unpleasant, and
confusing, mainly because of its suddenness. It will be noted that in
both the plays mentioned, Manson and The Stranger carry their suggestion
from the start. Should we know how to take Percinet and Sylvette in _The
Romancers_[37] of Rostand did not that opening scene, when these two, in
love with being in love, read _Romeo and Juliet_ together, prepare us
for all the later fantasy? A dramatist will do well, then, to know
clearly before he begins to write whether he wishes his story to be
melodrama, tragedy, farce, or comedy of character or intrigue. Unless he
does and in consequence selects his illustrative material so that he may
give it artistic unity, he is likely to produce a play of so mixed a
genre as to be confusing.

"Just what is tragi-comedy, then?" a reader may ask. The Elizabethan
dramatist frequently offered one serious and one comic plot, running
parallel except when brought together in the last scene of the play.
Technically, however, tragi-comedy is a form which, although it may
contain tragic elements, is throughout given a general emphasis as
comedy and ends in comedy. We do not have good tragi-comedy when most of
the play is comedy or tragedy, and one scene or act is distinctly the
opposite. Therefore not only unity of action but artistic unity, unity
of genre, should be sought by the dramatist shaping up his story.

How much story does a play require? This is a difficult point to settle,
but first of all let us clearly understand that there are great
differences in audiences as far as plotting is concerned. Some periods
require more plot than others. Today we do not demand, as did the
audience of Shakespeare's time, plays containing two or more stories,
sometimes scarcely at all connected, sometimes neatly interwoven.
Middleton's _The Changeling_[38] contains two almost independent
stories. This is nearly as true of _The Coxcomb_[39] by Beaumont and
Fletcher. On the other hand, in _Much Ado About Nothing_ the
Hero-Claudio story, the Beatrice-Benedict story, and the Dogberry-Verges
story are so deftly interwoven that they are, to all appearances, a
unit. Even as late as thirty years ago one found in many plays a group
of characters for the serious interest and another for the comic values.
Gradually, however, dramatists have come to get their comic values from
people essential to the serious story, or from a comic emphasis they
place on certain aspects of the serious figures of the play. Today is
the time of the single story rather than the interwoven story. Yet even
now, so far as the public of the United States is concerned, a writer
may easily go too far in simplicity, or rather scantiness of story,
trusting too much to admirable characterization. That is why that
delightful play, _The Mollusc_,[40] failed in this country. Many people,
among them the intelligent, declared the play too thin to give them
pleasure. That is, apparently we of the United States care more in our
plays for elaborate stories than do our English cousins.

Indeed, national taste differs as to the amount of plot desirable. Both
Americans and English care more for plot than do most of the Continental
nations, which are often satisfied with plays of slight story-value but
admirable characterization. Nor is the difference a new one. Writing of
Wycherley's arrangement of Molière's _Misanthrope_ in his _Plain
Dealer_, Voltaire said, "The English author has corrected the only
fault of Molière's piece, lack of plot."[41] In the same _Letter on
Comedy_, Voltaire brings out clearly what any student of English drama
knows, that all through its greatest period it depended far more on
complicated story than did the drama of the Continent. Lessing in his
_Hamburg Dramaturgy_, speaking of Colman's _The English Merchant_, says
it has not action enough for the English critics. "Curiosity is not
sufficiently fostered, the whole complication is visible in the first
act. We Germans are well content that the action is not richer and more
complex. The English taste on this point distracts and fatigues us, we
love a simple plot that can be grasped at once. The English are forced
to insert episodes into French plays if they are to please on their
stage. In like manner we have to weed episodes out of the English plays
if we want to introduce them to our stage. The best comedies of Congreve
and Wycherley would seem intolerable to us without this excision. We
manage better with their tragedies. In part these are not so complex and
many of them have succeeded well amongst us without the least
alteration, which is more than I could say for any of their

About all the generalization one may permit one's self here is: For the
public of the United States one can at present feel sure that story
increases its interest in characterization, however fine. As we shall
see in dealing with character, the latter should never be sacrificed to
story, but story often ferries a play from the shore of unsuccess to the
shore of success. Even today it is not the great poetry, the subtle
characterization nor the fine thinking of _Hamlet_ which give it large
audiences: it is the varied story, full of surprises and suspense.

In another way, _Hamlet_ is a case in point. It shows the impossibility
of laying down any golden rule as to the amount of story a play should
have. Only speaking broadly is it true that different kinds of plays
seem to call for different amounts of story. Melodrama obviously does
depend on story-happenings often unmotivated and forced on the
characters by the will of the dramatist. Romance is almost synonymous
with action and we associate with it a large amount of story. The word
_Intrigue_ in the title "Comedy of Intrigue" at once suggests story.
Tragedy and High Comedy, on the other hand, depend for their values on
subtle characterization. In these last two forms it would seem that the
increasing characterization must, because of the time limit, mean
decrease in the amount of story; then _Hamlet_, with its complicated
story, occurs to us as by no means a single instance of a play of subtle
characterization in complicated story. Farce may be either of character
or of situation, but there are also farces in which both situation and
character have the exaggerations which distinguish this form from
comedy. Comedy of Manners must obviously use much characterization, but
it does not preclude a complicated story. Melodrama, then, does call
above all else for story. With all the other forms it is in the last
analysis the common sense of the dramatist which must tell him how much
story to use. He will employ the amount the time limits permit him if he
is at the same time to do justice to his characters and to the idea, if
any, he may wish to convey. That is, story as we have been watching it
develop from the point of departure is, for the dramatist, story in the
rough. It is only when it has been proportioned and emphasized so that
upon the stage it will produce in an audience the exact emotional
effects desired by the dramatist that it becomes plot.

Just as the point of departure for a play comes to a writer as a kind of
unconscious selection from among all possible subjects, so we have seen
that story takes shape by a similar process of conscious or unconscious
selection till it is something with a beginning, a middle, and an end,
and clear. Nor does selection stop here. The very necessary
proportioning and emphasizing mean, as we shall see, that the dramatist
selects, and again selects.


  [1] Samuel French, New York.

  [2] Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [3] Drama League Series, Doubleday, Page & Co., New York.

  [4] Brentano, New York.

  [5] _Le Berceau._ P. V. Stock, Paris.

  [6] Preface, _Au Public_, to _La Princesse Georges_. A. Dumas fils.
    _Oeuevres_, vol. V, p. 79. Calmann Levy, Paris.

  [7] _De la Poésie Dramatique._ Diderot. _Oeuvres_, vol. VII, pp.
    321-322. Garnier Frères, Paris.

  [8] _Auteurs Dramatiques. F. de Curel. L'Année Psychologique_, 1874,
    p. 121.

  [9] _Letters of Bulwer-Lytton to Macready_, p. 35. Introduction by
    Brander Matthews. Privately printed. The Carteret Book Club, Newark,
    N.J., 1911.

  [10] _A False Saint._ F. de Curel. Translated by B. H. Clark. Drama
    League Series. Doubleday, Page & Co., New York.

  [11] _Auteurs Dramatiques. F. de Curel. L'Année Psychologique_, 1894,
    pp. 121-123.

  [12] _Play-Making_, pp. 58-59, note. William Archer. Small, Maynard &
    Co., Boston.

  [13] See chapter X, "The Dramatist and His Public."

  [14] See chapter IX.

  [15] _My Best Play._ Edgar Selwyn. _The Green Book Magazine_, March,
    1911, pp. 536-537.

  [16] _Idem._

  [17] _Les Oberlé._ Edmond Haraucourt. _L'Illustration Théâtrale_,
    Dec. 9, 1905, p. 5.

  [18] _Les Oberlé_, p. 7.

  [19] _Plays of Thomas Middleton._ Mermaid Series. Chas. Scribner's
    Sons, New York.

  [20] _Chefs-d'Oeuvres Dramatiques de A. N. Ostrovsky._ E.
    Durand-Gréville. E. Plon Nourrit et Cie, Paris.

  [21] _Becket_, Act I, Scene 4. Alfred Lord Tennyson. The Macmillan
    Co., New York.

  [22] _Letters of Bulwer-Lytton_, p. 38. Brander Matthews, ed.

  [23] _Plays of Thomas Dekker._ Mermaid Series. Chas. Scribner's Sons,
    New York.

  [24] A. F. Lange, ed. Mayer & Müller, Berlin.

  [25] _Letters of Bulwer-Lytton_, pp. 36-37. Brander Matthews, ed.

  [26] Preface, _Au Public_, to _La Princesse Georges_. _Oeuvres_, vol.
    V. p. 78. Calmann Lévy, Paris.

  [27] Preface to _Le Supplice d'une Femme_. _Oeuvres_, vol. V. Calmann
    Lévy, Paris.

  [28] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [29] The Macmillan Co., New York.

  [30] _Seven Short Plays._ Maunsel & Co., Dublin.

  [31] J. W. Luce & Co., Boston; Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., London.

  [32] J. W. Luce & Co., Boston; Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., London.

  [33] Harper & Bros., New York.

  [34] Hurst & Blackett, Ltd., London.

  [35] Doubleday & McClure Co., New York.

  [36] The Macmillan Co., New York.

  [37] The Macmillan Co., New York.

  [38] _Plays of Thomas Middleton._ Mermaid Series. Chas. Scribner's
    Sons, New York.

  [39] _Works of Beaumont and Fletcher_, vol. IV. Whalley & Colman,
    eds. 1811.

  [40] _The Mollusc._ H. H. Davies. Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W.
    Heinemann, London.

  [41] _Lettres sur les Anglais_, Lettre XIX, _Sur la Comédie_, p. 170.
    A. Basle, 1734.

  [42] _Hamburg Dramaturgy_, p. 265. Bohn ed.



A dramatist, proportioning his rough story for performance in the
limited space of time the stage permits, faces at once the question:
"How many acts?" If inexperienced, noting the number of changes of set
his story seems to demand he finds himself in a dilemma: to give an act
to each change of scene is to break the play into many scrappy acts of a
few minutes each; to crowd all his needed scenes into five acts is to
get scenes as scrappy as the eight which make the fifth act of
Shakespeare's _Macbeth_ or the ten in Act IV of _Henry VI_, Part II. In
either case, if he gives his numerous scenes adequate treatment, he is
likely to find their combined length forces him beyond the time limit
the theatre allows--about two hours and a half.

Let him rid himself immediately of any feeling that custom or dramatic
dignity calls for any preference among three, four, or five acts. The
Elizabethan drama put such a spell upon the imagination of
English-speaking peoples that until recently the idea was accepted:
"Five is dignity, with a trailing robe, whereas one, two, or three acts
would be short skirts, and degrading."[1] Today a dramatist may plan for
a play of three, four, or five acts, as seems to him best.

Why, if no change of scene be required, is not a play of one long act
desirable? At first sight, there would seem to be a gain in the unbroken
movement. The power of sustained attention in audiences is, however,
distinctly limited. Any one who has seen a performance of _The Trojan
Women_[2] by Euripides, or von Hofmannsthal's _Electra_[3] needs no
further proof that though each makes a short evening's entertainment it
is exhausting because of uninterrupted movement from start to finish. To
plays of one long act most audiences become unresponsive from sheer
physical fatigue. Consequently, use has confined one-act plays to
subjects that may be treated in fifteen minutes to an hour, with an
average length of from twenty to forty-five minutes. Strindberg has
stated well the problem which the play in one long act involves: "I have
tried," he wrote in his Introduction to _Miss Julia_, "to abolish the
division into acts. And I have done so because I have come to fear that
our decreasing capacity for illusion might be unfavorably affected by
intermissions during which the spectator would have time to reflect and
to get away from the suggestive influence of the author-hypnotist. My
play will probably last an hour and a half, and as it is possible to
listen that length of time, or longer, to a lecture, a sermon, or a
debate, I have imagined that a theatrical performance could not become
fatiguing in the same time. As early as 1872, in one of my first
dramatic experiments, _The Outlaw_, I tried the same concentrated form,
but with scant success. The play was written in five acts, and wholly
completed, when I became aware of the restless, scattered effect it
produced. Then I burned it, and out of the ashes rose a single,
well-built act, covering fifty printed pages, and taking an hour for its
performance. Thus the form of the present play is not new, but it seems
to be my own, and changing aesthetical conventions may possibly make it

"My hope is still for a public educated to a point where it can sit
through a whole-evening performance in a single act. But that point
cannot be reached without a great deal of experimentation."[4]

The difficulty with a play of only two acts is similar. If the piece is
to fill an evening, each act must last an hour or more. _The Winter's
Tale_ is really a two-act play: Act I is the story of _Hermione_ and
_Leontes_, Act II the story of _Florizel_ and _Perdita_, with _Time_ as
Chorus separating the acts. Division of this play into five acts and use
of modern scenery have given it the effect of breaking to pieces midway,
where Time speaks. When each of the two parts is played uninterruptedly,
as in Mr. Granville Barker's recent revival, this effect disappears and
it becomes clear that the original division is artistically right.
However, so long is each of the two parts that _The Winter's Tale_, when
seen in this way, badly strains the attention of a present-day audience.

Contrastingly, to use more than five acts in the space of two hours and
a half is either to carry the performance over into a second day, as
with the two-part play of Elizabeth's time--something we cannot now
tolerate; or to write such scrappy acts that the frequent shifting of
scenery and dropping of the curtain spoil desired illusion. If it be
remembered that there is nothing essentially wrong in a play of one,
two, six, or even more acts, and that changing tastes or the necessities
of particular subjects may in very rare instances make any of these
divisions desirable, it can be said that three, four, or five acts are
today the normal divisions for plays.

An objection to long plays of one or two acts is that when the piece
lasts only an hour and a half, as in the case of _Miss Julia_, the
evening must be filled out with something else. In the first place, it
is by no means easy to arrange a mixed program in which each play shows
to complete advantage. Nor are audiences usually fond of adjusting
themselves to new characters and new plots two or three times in an
evening. On the professional stage, Barrie's short plays have done
something to make the general public more ready to shift their interest
to fresh subjects in the course of an evening, but a mixed program of
plays is rarely popular except in theatres of the so-called
"experimental" class.

The advantage in three acts is that each allows a longer space than does
the division into four or five acts in which characterization may
develop before the eyes of the audience, or a larger number of
illustrative actions bearing on the central purpose of the act may be
shown. The offset is that three acts provide only two breaks by which
the passing of time may be suggested. Neither four nor three acts have
any essential superiority over each other, or over five acts. Five acts,
in and of themselves, have no superiority over four or three; nor, as
some persons have seemed to think, are they the only divisions in which
a drama in verse may be written. Avoidance of awkward changes of scene
within an act may compel use of four or five acts rather than three. The
more episodes in the story to be dramatized, the more aspects of
character to be shown by action, the more acts or scenes the dramatist
must use. If long spaces of time must be allowed for because they are
part of the story or marked changes of character demand them, the
dramatist will need more _entr'acte_ space, and, consequently, more
acts. It is, then, necessary change of place and passage of time which
are the chief factors in determining choice among three, four, or five

For centuries theoretical students of the drama have worried themselves
about the two unities: place and time. Practising dramatists, however,
have usually found that generalizations in regard to them help little
and that in each individual play they must work out the place and time
problems for themselves. Practice as to shifting scenes has depended
most, and always will, upon whether the physical conditions of the stage
permit many real or imagined shifts. The Greek stage, with its fixed
background and its chorus nearly always present, forced an attempt at
unity of place, though the Greeks often broke through it.

  Unity of action was the first dramatic law of the ancients; unity of
  time and place were mere consequences of the former which they would
  scarcely have observed more strictly than exigency required had not
  the combination with the chorus arisen. For since their actions
  required the presence of a large body of people and this concourse
  always remained the same, who could go no farther from their dwellings
  nor remain absent longer than it is customary to do from mere
  curiosity, they were almost obliged to make the scene of the action
  one and the same spot and confine the time to one and the same day.
  They submitted bona fide to this restriction; but with a suppleness of
  understanding such that in seven cases out of nine they gained more
  than they lost thereby. For they used this restriction as a reason of
  simplifying the action and to cut away all that was superfluous, and
  thus, reduced to essentials, it became only the ideal of an action
  which was developed most felicitously in this form which required the
  least addition from circumstances of time and place.

  The French, on the contrary, who found no charms in true unity of
  action, who had been spoilt by the wild intrigues of the Spanish
  school, before they had learnt to know Greek simplicity, regarded the
  unity of time and place not as consequences of unity of action, but as
  circumstances absolutely needful to the representation of an action,
  to which they must therefore adapt their more complicated and richer
  actions with all the severity required in the use of chorus, which,
  however, they had totally abolished. When they found, however, how
  difficult, nay at times impossible this was, they made a truce with
  the tyrannical rules against which they had not the courage to rebel.
  Instead of a single place they introduced an uncertain place, under
  which we could imagine now this now that spot; enough if the places
  combined were not too far apart and none required special scenery, so
  that the scenery could fit the one about as well as the other. Instead
  of the unity of a day, they substituted unity of duration, and a
  certain period during which no one spoke of sunrise or sunset, or went
  to bed, or at least did not go to bed more than once, however much
  might occur in this space, they allowed to pass as a day.[5]

The Elizabethan author writing, in his public performances, for an
audience accustomed to build imaginatively a setting from hints given
by properties, signs on the stage, or descriptions in the text, changed
the scene at will. Recall the thirteen changes in Act III of _Antony and

On the modern stage such frequent change is undesirable for three
reasons: the expense of constructing and painting so many scenes; the
time consumed in making the changes, which may reduce decidedly the
acting time of the play; and the check in sustained interest on the part
of the audience caused by these many changes. The growth of the touring
system also has led to reduction in the number of scenes, for
transportation of numerous and elaborate sets is too expensive.
Moreover, the interest in extreme realism has carried us more and more
into such scenes of simple or sordid living as call for only one to
three sets in a play.

At times it is easy, or at least possible with ingenuity, to have for a
play, whatever its length, but one setting. Von Hofmannsthal's _Electra_
is an illustration. Another is _The Servant in the House_, a play in
five acts by Rann Kennedy.

  The scene, which remains unchanged throughout the play, is a room in
  the vicarage. Jacobean in character, its oak-panelling and
  beamed-ceiling, together with some fine pieces of antique furniture,
  lend it an air of historical interest, whilst in all other respects it
  speaks of solid comfort, refinement, and unostentatious elegance.[6]

Hervieu's _Connais-Toi_, a play of three acts, is another instance of
one setting throughout.[7]

Not infrequently it is comparatively simple to confine a play to one set
for each act, or even less. _The Great Divide_, by William Vaughn Moody,
and _The Weavers_, by Hauptmann, show a new setting for each act. In
_The Truth_, by Clyde Fitch, Acts I and II have the same setting: "At
_Mrs. Warder's_. An extremely attractive room in the best of taste";
Acts III and IV are in "_Mr. Roland's_ rooms in _Mrs. Crespigny's_ flat
in Baltimore." In the four acts of _The Witching Hour_, by Augustus
Thomas, there is a change of set only for Act II.[8] Such reducing of
possible settings to two or three for a play of four or five acts
requires practice, and, in some cases, decided ingenuity. In present-day
use the safest principle is this: a set to an act, if really needed, but
no change of set within the act unless there be unavoidable reason for

What, then, is the would-be dramatist to do when faced by six or more
settings to a five-act play, or two or three settings within what he
believes should be an act? Often what seems a necessary early scene is
but clumsy exposition: skilful handling would incorporate it with the
scene immediately following. Scene 1, Act III, of Dryden's _The Spanish
Friar_ is in the street. Lorenzo, in friar's habit, meeting the real
friar, Dominic, bribes him to introduce him into the chamber of Elvira.
The scene is merely the easiest way of making the audience understand
why the two men enter together very early in the next scene.

    ACT III. SCENE 1. _The Street_

  _Enter Lorenzo, in Friar's habit, meeting Dominic_

Here follow some fifteen speeches in which the arrangements are made.

    SCENE 2

    _Enter Elvira, in her chamber_

  _Elvira._ He'll come, that's certain; young appetites are sharp, and
  seldom need twice bidding to such a banquet;--well, if I prove
  frail,--as I hope I shall not till I have compassed my design,--never
  woman had such a husband to provoke her, such a lover to allure her,
  or such a confessor to absolve her. Of what am I afraid, then? not my
  conscience that's safe enough; my ghostly father has given it a dose
  of church opium to lull it; well, for soothing sin, I'll say that for
  him, he's a chaplain for any court in Christendom.

    _Enter Lorenzo and Dominic_

  O father Dominic, what news? How, a companion with you! What game have
  you on hand, that you hunt in couples?

  _Lorenzo._ (_Lifting up his hood._) I'll show you that immediately.

  _Elvira._ O my love!

  _Lorenzo._ My life!

  _Elvira._ My soul!   (_They embrace._)

  _Dominic._ I am taken on the sudden with a grievous swimming in my
  head and such a mist before my eyes that I can neither hear nor

All the needed exposition given in Scene 1 could, with very little
difficulty, be transferred to Scene 2. Were the two men to enter, not to
Elvira, but by themselves, they could quickly make their relationship
clear. The conduct and speech of Elvira could be made to illustrate what
she now states in soliloquy just before the two men enter.

In the original last act[10] of Lillo's _George Barnwell_, the settings
are: "A room in a prison," "A dungeon." The whole act could easily have
been arranged to take place in some room where prisoners could see
friends. Today we should in many cases exchange a number of settings as
used in eighteenth century plays for one setting.

Scenes, which in the original story occurred upstairs or downstairs,
inside or outside a house, may often be easily interchanged or combined.
_The Clod_, by Lewis Beach, a one-act success of the Washington Square
Players, in its first draft showed a setting both upstairs and
downstairs. This unsightly arrangement was quickly changed so that all
the action took place in a lower room. At one time Bulwer-Lytton thought
seriously of changing what is now Scene 1, Act I, of his _Richelieu_,
an interior, to an exterior scene. To Macready he wrote:

  Let me know what you mean about omitting altogether the scene at
  Marion de Lorme's.

  Do you mean to have no substitute for it?

  What think you of merely the outside of the House? François, coming
  out with the packet and making brief use of Huguet and Mauprat [who
  figure in the interior scene]. Remember you wanted to have the packet
  absolutely given to François.[11]

Greek plays, because of the fixed backing, provide many illustrations of
interior scenes brought outdoors:

  ...The dramatic action was necessarily laid in the open air--usually
  before a palace or temple.... In general the dramatists displayed an
  amazing fertility of invention in this particular, as a few
  illustrations will suffice to show. In the _Alcestis_ Apollo explains
  his leaving Ametus' palace on the ground of the pollution which a
  corpse would bring upon all within the house (Euripides' _Alcestis_,
  22 f.) and Alcestis herself, though in a dying condition, fares forth
  to look for the last time upon the sun in heaven (_ibid._ 206).
  Oedipus is so concerned in the afflictions of his subjects that he
  cannot endure making inquiries through a servant but comes forth to
  learn the situation in person (Sophocles' _Oedipus Rex_, 6 f.). Karion
  is driven out of doors by the smoke of sacrifice upon the domestic
  altar (Aristophanes' _Plutus_, 821 f.). In Plautus' _Mostellaria_ (1,
  ff.) one slave is driven out of doors by another as the result of a
  quarrel. Agathon cannot compose his odes in the winter time, unless he
  bask in the sunlight (Aristophanes' _Thesmophoriazuæ_, 67 f.). The
  love-lorn Phædra teases for light and air (Euripides' _Hippolytus_,
  181). And Medea's nurse apologizes for her soliloquizing before the
  house with the excuse that the sorrows within have stifled her and
  caused her to seek relief by proclaiming them to earth and sky
  (Euripides' _Medea_, 56 ff.).[12]

When it is not easy to see how a number of settings may be cut down, a
dramatist should carefully consider this: May episodes happening to the
same person or persons in the same settings, but apparently demanding
separate treatment because they occur at widely different times, be
brought together? The dramatizer of a novel faces many opportunities for
this telescoping of scenes. Any one adapting _A Tale of Two Cities_, if
he uses Jerry Cruncher, will probably combine the two scenes in his
home. To bring together incidents happening to the same person or
persons at the same place, but at different times, is the easiest method
of cutting down possible scenes.

It is, of course, possible to bring together circumstances which
happened at different places at different times, but to the same
persons. A notable instance is Irving's compacting of two scenes in
Tennyson's _Becket_: he places at Montmirail what is essential in both
Scene 2, Act II, Montmirail. "The Meeting of the Kings," and Scene 3,
Act III, "Traitor's Meadow at Freteval." It is, indeed, often necessary
to transfer a group of people from the exact setting in which an
occurrence took place to another which makes possible other important
action. In Haraucourt's adaptation of _Les Oberlé_, a dinner party at
the Brausigs' is transferred to the home of Jean Oberlé, with his father
and mother as hosts. This change permits the adapter to follow the
dinner party with episodes which must take place in Jean's home. This
group of changes concerns, obviously, bringing to one place events which
happened to the same persons at another place, and even at another time.

Sometimes necessary condensation forces a dramatist to bring together at
one place what really happened at the same time, but to other people in
another place. For instance, the heroine of the play is concealing in
the house her Jacobite brother, supposed by the people who have seen him
to be the Pretender himself. The Whig soldiery come to search the house.
Sitting at the spinet, the girl makes her brother crouch between her and
the wall, folding her ample gown around and over him. Then, as the
officer and his men minutely search the room, she plays, apparently idly
song after song of the day. Just at this time, but at a distance, her
lover, a young Whig officer, is eating his heart out with jealousy,
because he fears that she is concealing the Pretender through love of
him. Why waste time on a separate scene for the lover? Make him the
officer in command of the searching troop: then all that is vital in
what was his scene can be brought out when what happened to the same
people at the same time, but at different places, is made to happen at
the same place.

Similarly, what happened to two people in the same place but at
different times may sometimes, with ingenuity, be made to happen to one
person, and thus time saved.

Finally, what happened to another person at another time, and at another
place may at times be arranged so that it will happen to any desired
figure. About midway in the novel _Les Oberlé_, Jean and his uncle
Ulrich hear the women at the autumn grape-picking sing the song of
Alsace. In the play, in the first scene, Jean sings it as he passes from
the railway station to his house.[13] Shakespeare, in handling the
original sources of _Macbeth_, also illustrates successful combination
around one person of incidents or details historically associated with
other persons, times, and even places.

  Most of the story is taken from Holinshed's account [in the _Historie
  of Scotland_] of the reigns of Duncan and Macbeth (A.D. 1034-1057),
  but certain details are drawn from other parts of the chronicle. Thus
  several points in the assassination of Duncan, like the drugging of
  the grooms by Lady Macbeth, and the portents described in II, iv., are
  from the murder of Duncan's ancestor Duffe (A.D. 972); and the voice
  that called "Sleep no more!" seems to have been suggested by the
  troubled conscience of Duffe's brother Kenneth, who had poisoned his
  own nephew.[14]

Marlowe, in his _Edward II_,--a dramatization of a part of Holinshed's
_History_,--proves that he perfectly understood all these devices for
compacting his material.

  The action covers a period of twenty years, from 1307, when Gaveston
  was recalled, to the death of Edward in 1327. Marlowe's treatment of
  the story shows a selection and transposing of events in order to
  bring out the one essential fact of the King's utter incompetence and
  subjection to unworthy favorites. Gaveston was executed in 1312, and
  the troubles in Ireland (II, ii.) and in Scotland (II, ii.) occurred
  after his death, but Marlowe shifts both forward in point of time in
  order to connect them with Gaveston's baleful influence. Warwick died
  in his bed in 1315, seven years before the battle of Boroughbridge,
  but Marlowe keeps him alive to have him captured and ordered to
  execution in retaliation for his killing of Gaveston. At the time the
  play opens the Earl of Kent was six years old, but Marlowe, needing a
  counsellor and supporter of the King, used Kent for the purpose. In
  the play young Spencer immediately succeeds Gaveston as the King's
  favorite; really the young Hugh le Despenser, who had been an enemy of
  Gaveston, remained an opponent of Edward's for some six years after
  Gaveston's death. Historically the Mortimers belong with the Spencers,
  i.e. to the later part of the reign, but in order to motivate the
  affair between the Queen and young Mortimer Marlowe transfers them to
  the beginning of the play and makes them leaders in the barons'

The essential point in all this compacting is: when cumbered with more
scenes than you wish to use, determine first which scenes contain
indispensable action, and must be kept as settings; then consider which
of the other scenes may by ingenuity be combined with them.

Evidently a dramatist must develop great ingenuity and skill in so
re-working scenes originally conceived as occurring in widely separated
places and times that they may be acted in a single set. As has been
said, the audience of the public theatres in Shakespeare's day
imaginatively shifted the scene at any hint from text, stage properties,
or even signs. With the Restoration came elaborate scenery, a gift from
earlier performances at the English court and from the continental
theatres which the English nobility had attended in their exile. By
means of the "drawn scene" dramatists now changed rapidly from place to
place. In _The Spanish Friar_, Scene 1 of Act II is "The Queen's
ante-chamber." For Scene 2, "The scene draws, and shows the Queen
sitting in state; Bertram standing next her; then Teresa, etc." These
drawn scenes held the stage until very recently. Painted on flats which
could be pulled off stage from left and right, these scenes could not be
"drawn" without hurting theatrical illusion. If moved in any light, all
illusion departed; if changed in darkness, but not instantaneously, they
interfered with illusion. To overcome these objections there have been
many inventions in recent years--Revolving, Wagon, Sinking Stages.[16]
Undoubtedly, these make changes of scene within the act well-nigh
unobjectionable. The difficulty with them is that most are elaborate and
expensive, and therefore exist in only a few theatres. It is,
consequently, useless to stage a play with them in mind, for on the road
it will not find the conditions of production essential to its success.
Occasionally, as in _On Trial_, some simple, easily portable device
makes these very quick changes possible even on the road. At present,
though invention tries steadily to make change of scene so swift as to
be unobjectionable, it is wiser to keep to one setting to an act, unless
the play will greatly suffer by so doing, or the change is one which may
be made almost instantaneously when the lights are lowered or the
curtain dropped.

On the other hand, recently dramatists have rather overdone reducing
possible settings to the minimum. While a change of setting within the
act always demands justification, forcing a play of three to five acts
into one or two settings when, at a trifling additional cost, a
pleasing variety to the eye and a change of place helpful to the
dramatist might have been provided, is undesirable. Lately there have
been signs that our audiences are growing weary of plays of only one
set, especially when they suspect the play has been thus arranged by
skill, rather than necessity. Certainly, the newer group of dramatists
permit themselves changes of scene even within the act. Act II of _The
Silver Box_,[17] by Galsworthy, shows as Scene 1, "The Jones's lodgings,
Merthyr Street"; as Scene 2, "The Barthwicks' dining-room." In _Hindle
Wakes_,[18] by Stanley Houghton, Scene 1, Act I, is the "Kitchen of the
_Hawthorns'_ house"; Scene 2 is the "Breakfast room of the _Jeffcotes'_
house." To the preliminary statement of scenes the dramatist appended
words which hint the underlying danger in all changes of
setting,--disillusioning waits:

  Note.--The scene for Act I, Scene 1, should be very small, as a
  contrast to the room at the Jeffcotes'. It might well be set inside
  the other scene so as to facilitate the quick change between Scenes 1
  and 2, Act I.

All things considered, it is probably best to repeat the statement
already made: a change of scene within the act is desirable only when
absolutely necessary; a change of scene with each act is desirable,
except when truth to life, expense, or undue time required for setting
it forbid.

What exactly does this constantly repeated word "Scene" mean? In English
theatrical usage today, and increasingly the world over, it signifies:
"a change of setting." All that happens from one change of set to
another change makes a scene. French usage, based on the Latin, till
very recently always marked off a scene when any person more important
than a servant or attendant entered or left the stage. For instance, in
_Les Petits Oiseaux_ of Labiche, known in English as _A Pair of
Spectacles_, four consecutive scenes in Act I, which throughout has no
change of setting read thus:

    SCENE 4. _Blandinet, Henriette, Leonce, then Joseph [a servant]._

A scene of some fourteen brief speeches follows, when:

    (_They start to go out, Tiburce appears._)

    SCENE 5. _The same persons, Tiburce_

After a scene of eleven short speeches,

    (_Blandinet goes over to left with Leonce._)

    SCENE 6. _Henriette, Tiburce_

  _Henriette, who sat down after the entrance of Tiburce, and took up
  her work again, rises immediately on the exit of Blandinet, folding
  her work._

  _Tiburce._ (_Approaching her hesitatingly._) You are not working any
  longer, Aunt.... It's done already?
    (_Henriette bows to him frigidly and goes out at right._)

    SCENE 7. _Tiburce, then François_[19]

What this French use of the word "scene" leads to, when logically
carried out so that even servants entering or leaving the stage create a
scene, the following from Act IV of _George Barnwell_, will show:

    SCENE 5. _To them a Servant_

  _Thorowgood._ Order the groom to saddle the swiftest horse, and
  prepare himself to set out with speed!--An affair of life and death
  demands his diligence.   (_Exit Servant._)

    SCENE 6. _Thorowgood, Trueman, and Lucy_

  _Thorowgood._ For you, whose behavior on this occasion I have no time
  to commend as it deserves, I must ingage your farther assistance.
  Return and observe this Millwood till I come. I have your directions,
  and will follow you as soon as possible.   (_Exit Lucy._)

    SCENE 7. _Thorowgood and Trueman_

  _Thorowgood._ Trueman, you I am sure would not be idle on this
  occasion. (_Exit_.)

    SCENE 8.

  _Trueman._ He only who is a friend can judge of my distress.

This French division of scenes is, of course, made for the convenience
of the dramatist as he composes and for the reader, not for the actor or
the audience. Though somewhat copied in the past by English authors, it
is now rejected by most stages. Even French dramatists are breaking away
from it. Memory of this French usage, however, still affects popular
speech: when we speak of any part of an act in which two or more people
are on stage, we are very likely to call it their "scene" no matter
whether they have come on in a changed setting or not. Obviously if
_scene_ is to correspond with _setting_, we need another word for what
in our practice is the same as the older French _scene_.

Not only do necessary changes in setting make proportioning material
into acts and within acts difficult, but the time question also raises
many problems. It may be troublesome within the act, between the acts,
and at the opening of the play. In the final soliloquy of _Faustus_ (p.
35), an hour is supposed to elapse in some thirty lines. Though the
Elizabethan, in a case like this, was ready to assist the dramatist,
today we are so conscious of time spaces that practically all stage
clocks are temporarily out of order, lest they mark too distinctly the
discrepancy between pretended and real time.[21] The novelist, in a few
lines, tells us of many happenings in a considerable space of time, or
writes: "Thus, in idle talk, a full hour passed," and we do not query
the supposed passage of time. On the stage, however, when one gossip
says to another: "I must be off. I meant to stop a minute, and I have
gossiped an hour," auditors who recognize perfectly that the two people
have not talked ten minutes are likely to laugh derisively. As has been
pointed out,[22] this time difficulty has made it practically
impossible to dramatize satisfactorily Stevenson's _The Sire de
Maletroit's Door_. The swiftly-moving simple story demands the one-act
form, but certain marked changes in feeling, convincing enough when they
are said to come after ten or twelve hours of strong emotion, become,
when they are seen to occur after twenty minutes to an hour,
unconvincing. The central situation may be used, but for success on the
stage the story must be so re-told that the marked changes in feeling
are convincing even when seen. A dilemma results: lapses of time are
handled more easily in three or four acts than in one act; the moment
_The Sire de Maletroit's Door_ is re-cast into three or four acts, it
needs so much padding as to lose nearly all its original values.

When a dramatist faces the need to represent on stage, a passage of time
which could not in real life be coincident with the action of the scene,
he must (_a_) hypnotize an audience by a long scene of complicated and
absorbing emotion into thinking that the required time has passed; or
(_b_) must discover some motive sufficiently strong to account for a
swift change in feeling; (_c_) or must get his person or persons off
stage and write what is known as a "Cover Scene."

An audience led through an intense emotional experience does not mark
accurately the passage of time. Make the emotional experience
protracted, as well as absorbing, and you may imply or even state that
any reasonable length of time has passed. The fearful agony of _Faustus_
so grips an audience that it loses track of the time necessary for the
speech, or would, were it not for the unfortunate emphasis on the actual
time: "Ah, half the hour is passed; 'twill all be passed anon"; "The
clock strikes twelve." In _Hamlet_, the fourth act takes place during
the absence of Hamlet in England. By its many intensely moving
happenings, it makes an auditor willing to believe that Hamlet has been
absent for a long time, when in reality he has been on the stage within
a half hour. Such time fillings may, of course, be a portion of a
scene, a whole scene, or even a whole act. In most cases, it is quite
impossible that the time really requisite and the time of action should
coincide. The business of the dramatist is to make the audience feel as
if the time had passed--to create an illusion of time.

The second method of meeting the time difficulty, finding motivation of
some marked change in character or circumstances which permits it to be
as swift as it is on the stage, is best treated in the next chapter.

In _The Russian Honeymoon_,[23] a play once very popular with amateurs,
there is bad handling of a time difficulty. The hero, going out in his
peasant costume, must return after a few speeches, in full regimentals.
A lightning change of costume is, therefore, necessary. More than once
this lack of a proper Cover Scene has caused an awkward wait at this
point in the play. Mark the absurdly short time Steele, in his
_Conscious Lovers_ allows Isabella for bringing Bevil Junior on stage.
Apparently, the latter and all his group must have been waiting at the
end of the corridor.

  _Isabella._ But here's a claim more tender yet--your Indiana, sir,
  your long lost daughter.

  _Mr. Sealand._ O my child! my child!

  _Indiana._ All-gracious Heaven! Is it possible? Do I embrace my

  _Mr. Sealand._ And I do hold thee--These passions are too strong for
  utterance--Rise, rise, my child, and give my tears their way--O my
  sister! (_Embracing her_)

  _Isabella._ Now, dearest niece, my groundless fears, my painful cares
  no more shall vex thee. If I have wronged thy noble lover with too
  hard suspicions, my just concern for thee, I hope, will plead my

  _Mr. Sealand._ O! make him then the full amends, and be yourself the
  messenger of joy: Fly this instant!--Tell him all these wondrous
  turns of Providence in his favour! Tell him I have now a daughter to
  bestow, which he no longer will decline: that this day he still shall
  be a bridegroom: nor shall a fortune, the merit which his father
  seeks, be wanting: tell him the reward of all his virtues waits on his
  acceptance. (_Exit Isabella._) My dearest Indiana!
    (_Turns and embraces her._)

  _Indiana._ Have I then at last a father's sanction on my love? His
  bounteous hand to give, and make my heart a present worthy of Bevil's

  _Mr. Sealand._ O my child, how are our sorrows past o'erpaid by such a
  meeting! Though I have lost so many years of soft paternal dalliance
  with thee, yet, in one day, to find thee thus, and thus bestow thee,
  in such perfect happiness! is ample! ample reparation! And yet again
  the merit of thy lover--

  _Indiana._ O! had I spirits left to tell you of his actions! how
  strongly filial duty has suppressed his love; and how concealment
  still has doubled all his obligations; the pride, the joy of his
  alliance, sir, would warm your heart, as he has conquered mine.

  _Mr. Sealand._ How laudable is love, when born of virtue! I burn to
  embrace him--

  _Indiana._ See, sir, my aunt already has succeeded, and brought him to
  your wishes.

    (_Enter Isabella, with Sir John Bevil, Bevil Junior, Mrs. Sealand,
    Cimberton, Myrtle, and Lucinda._)

  _Sir John Bevil._ (_Entering._) Where! where's this scene of wonder!
  Mr. Sealand, I congratulate, on this occasion, our mutual

The inexperienced dramatist sending a servant out for wraps, brings him
back so speedily that, apparently, in a well-ordered Fifth Avenue or
Newport residence, garments lie all about the house or replace
tapestries upon the walls. The speed with which servants upon the stage
do errands shows that they have been trained in a basic principle of
drama: "Waste no time." A more experienced dramatist, realizing that
such speed destroys illusion, writes a brief scene which seems to allow
time for the errand.

The telephone and the automobile have been godsends to the young
dramatist. By use of the first, a lover can telephone from the
drug-store just around the corner, run all the way in his eagerness,
take an elevator, and be on the scene with a speed that saves the young
dramatist any long Cover Scene. Of course, if said lover be rich or
extravagant enough to own an automobile, the distance from which he may
telephone increases as the square of the horse-power of his machine. In
the old days, and even today, if the truth be regarded, something must
be taking place on the stage sufficient to allow time for a lover,
however ardent, to cover the distance between the telephone booth and
the house.

Here, however, a dramatist meets his Scylla and Charybdis. He yields to
Scylla, if he does not write any such scene; to Charybdis, if he writes
such a scene but does not advance his play by it--that is, if he merely
marks time. In a recent play, whenever a time space was to be covered, a
group of citizens talked. What they said was not uninteresting. The
characters were well sketched in. But the scene did not advance the
story at all. Bulwer-Lytton faced this difficulty in writing _Money_:

  I think in the first 3 acts you will find little to alter. But in Act
  4--the 2 scenes with Lady B. & Clara--and Joke & the Tradesman don't
  help on the Plot much--they were wanted, however, especially the last
  to give time for change of dress & smooth the lapse of the theme from
  money to dinner; you will see if this part requires any amendment.[25]

The principle here is this: Whatever is written to cover a time space,
long or short, must help the movement of the play to its climax. It may
be said that the fourth act of neither _Macbeth_ nor _Hamlet_ complies
with this statement; but more careful thought will show that in each
case the act is very important to the whole story. The title of each
play, and present-day interest in its characterization rather than its
story, make us miss greatly the leading figure, wholly absent in the
act. Therefore we hasten to declare, not recognizing that story was of
first importance in Shakespeare's day, that because this act is not
focused on Macbeth or Hamlet the act in question clogs the general

Otway, in _Venice Preserved_, handles passage of time admirably. Toward
the end of the first act, Pierre makes an appointment with Jaffier to
meet him that night on the Rialto at twelve. Exit Pierre. Immediately
Belvidera enters to Jaffier. Their talk, only about four pages in
length, is so passionately pathetic that a hearer loses all accurate
sense of time. There is an _entr'acte_, and then a scene between Pierre
and Aquilina. Again it is brief, only three and a half pages, but it is
dramatic, and complicates the story. Consequently, when Jaffier does
meet Pierre on the Rialto, we are quite ready to believe that
considerable time has passed and it is now twelve o'clock. Otway has
used three devices to cover a time space: an absorbing emotional scene,
an _entr'acte_, and a Cover Scene.[26]

All the methods just described have had to do with representing time on
stage. When time necessary for the telling of a story may be treated as
passing off stage, other devices may be used. Most of them gather about
a dropping of the curtain. Recently there has been much use of the
curtain to denote, without change of set, the passing of some relatively
brief time. When a group of people leave the stage for dinner, the
curtain is dropped, to rise again as the group, returning from dinner,
take up the action of the play. Just this occurs in Act I of Pinero's
_Iris_.[27] Mr. Belasco, in _The Woman_, dropped the curtain at the
beginning of a cross examination, to raise it for the next act as the
examination nears its climax. In _The Silver Box_,[28] dropping the
curtain twice in Act I makes it possible to see the Barthwicks'
dining-room "just after midnight," "at eight-thirty A.M.," and at "the
breakfast hour of Mr. and Mrs. Barthwick." Such curtains, though
justifiable, have one serious objection. They bring us back with a jolt
from absorbed following of the play to the disturbing truth that we are
not looking at life, but at life selectively presented under obvious
limitations of the stage. Scene 1 of _The Silver Box_, which began "just
after midnight," lasts only a few minutes; yet when the curtain "rises
again at once," we are to understand that eight hours have elapsed.

The simplest method of handling time off stage is to treat it as having
elapsed between acts or on the dropping of a curtain within an act.[29]
In how many, many plays--for instance, Sir Arthur Pinero's early _Lady
Bountiful_--has the hero, in whatever length of time between the fourth
and fifth acts the dramatist has preferred, become the regenerated
figure of the last act! All that is needed in _The Man Who Came Back_,
as produced, to change the dope-ridden, degenerating youth into a firm
character, even into a landed proprietor, is a sea voyage from San
Francisco to Honolulu--and an _entr'acte_! What takes place between acts
is far too often--medicinally, morally, dare we say dramatically?--more
significant than what we see. Yet why deride this refuge of the
dramatist? Such use is merely an extension of what we permit any
dramatist who, writing two plays on the same subject or person, implies
or states that very many years have elapsed between the two parts. No
one seriously objects when thousands of years are supposed to elapse
between the _Prometheus Bound_ and the _Prometheus Unbound_ of
Æschylus.[30] Surely, it is logical to treat spaces between acts like
spaces between plays on related subjects. The trouble lies, not in the
time supposed to have elapsed, but in the changes of character said to
have taken place. As long as our drama was primarily story, and not, as
it has come to be increasingly, a revealer of character, we were
content, if each act contained a thrilling dramatic incident, to be told
that this or that had happened between the acts. The early drama did
this by the Dumb Show and the Chorus.

    ACT II


    _Flourish. Enter Chorus_

  _Chorus._ Now all the youth of England are on fire,
  And silken dalliance in the wardrobe lies.
  Now thrive the armourers, and honour's thought
  Reigns solely in the breast of every man.
  They sell the pasture now to buy the horse,
  Following the mirror of all Christian kings,
  With winged heels, as English Mercuries.
  For now sits Expectation in the air,
  And hides a sword from hilts unto the point
  With crowns imperial, crowns, and coronets,
  Promis'd to Harry and his followers.
  The French, advis'd by good intelligence
  Of this most dreadful preparation,
  Shake in their fear, and with pale policy
  Seek to divert the English purposes.
  O England! model to thy inward greatness,
  Like little body with a mighty heart,
  What mightst thou do, that honour would thee do,
  Were all thy children kind and natural!
  But see thy fault! France hath in thee found out
  A nest of hollow bosoms, which he fills
  With treacherous crowns; and three corrupted men,
  One, Richard Earl of Cambridge, and the second,
  Henry Lord Scroop of Masham, and the third,
  Sir Thomas Grey, knight, of Northumberland,
  Have, for the gilt of France,--O guilt indeed!--
  Confirm'd conspiracy with fearful France;
  And by their hands this grace of kings must die,
  If hell and treason hold their promises,
  Ere he take ship for France, and in Southampton.
  Linger your patience on, and we'll digest
  The abuse of distance, force a play.
  The sum is paid; the traitors are agreed;
  The King is set from London; and the scene
  Is now transported, gentles, to Southampton.
  There is the playhouse now, there must you sit;
  And thence to France shall we convey you safe,
  And bring you back, charming the narrow seas
  To give you gentle pass; for, if we may,
  We'll not offend one stomach with our play.
  But, till the King come forth, and not till then,
  Unto Southampton do we shift our scene. (_Exit._) _Henry V._

As audiences, becoming more interested in characterization and less in
mere story, grew to expect that each act would show the central figure
growing out of the preceding act and into the next, they balked more and
more at hearing of changes instead of seeing them. They insisted that
the effective forces must work before their eyes. Hence the
disappearance of Dumb Show and Chorus. With _Lady Bountiful_[31] the
public did not object strongly to what was supposed to happen between
the fourth and fifth acts, because it took the whole play as a mere
story. But in _Iris_, when the author asked it to accept all the
important stages in the moral breakdown of Iris as taking place between
the fourth and fifth acts, there was considerable dissent. Contrast the
greater satisfactoriness when an auditor can watch important changes, as
he may with Sophy Fullgarney in the third act of the _Gay Lord
Quex_,[32] or with Mrs. Dane in the fourth act of _Mrs. Dane's Defence_.
To assume that a lapse of time stated to have passed in a just preceding
_entr'acte_, and a change of environment there, have produced marked
difference in character is not today enough. A dramatist may assume that
only as much time has passed between acts as he makes entirely plausible
by the happenings and characterization of the next act. For any needed
statement of what has happened since the close of a preceding act he
must depend only on deft exposition within the act in question.

Recent usage no longer insists that acts may not somewhat overlap.
"Toward the end of Act II of Eugene Walter's _Paid in Full_, Emma Brooks
is disclosed making an appointment with Captain Williams over a
telephone. In the next act we are transferred to Captain Williams's
quarters, and the dramatic clock has, in the meanwhile, been turned back
some fifteen minutes, for presently the telephone bell rings, and the
same appointment is made over again. In other words, Act II partly
overlaps Act I in time, but the scene is different."[33] There is a
similar use in _Under Cover_. At the beginning of the last act, a group,
sleepily at cards, is startled by the burglar alarm. The climax of the
preceding act was that same alarm.

The most difficult kind of off-stage time to treat comes not within or
between the acts. It is the time before the play begins in which events
took place which must be known as soon as the play opens, if auditors
are to follow the play understandingly. Every dramatist, as he turns
from his story to his plot, faces the problem: How plant in the mind of
the audience past events and facts concerning the characters which are
fundamental in understanding the play. The Chorus and the Dumb Show
again were, among early dramatists, the clumsy solution of this


  In Troy, there lies the scene. From isles of Greece
  The princes orgillous, their high blood chaf'd,
  Have to the port of Athens sent their ships,
  Fraught with the ministers and instruments
  Of cruel war. Sixty and nine, that wore
  Their crownets regal, from the Athenian bay
  Put forth toward Phrygia; and their vow is made
  To ransack Troy, within whose strong immures
  The ravish'd Helen, Menelaus' queen,
  With wanton Paris sleeps; and that's the quarrel.
  To Tenedos they come,
  And the deep-drawing barks do there disgorge
  Their warlike fraughtage. Now on Dardan plains
  The fresh and yet unbruised Greeks do pitch
  Their brave pavilions. Priam's six-gated city,
  Dardan, and Timbria, Helias, Chetas, Troien,
  And Antenorides, with massy staples
  And corresponsive and fulfilling bolts
  Spar up the sons of Troy.
  Now expectation, tickling skittish spirits,
  On one and other side, Troyan and Greek,
  Sets all on hazard; and hither am I come
  A prologue arm'd, but not in confidence
  Of author's pen or actor's voice, but suited
  In like conditions as our argument,
  To tell you, fair beholders, that our play
  Leaps o'er the vaunt and firstlings of those broils,
  Beginning in the middle, starting thence away
  To what may be digested in a play.
  Like or find fault; do as your pleasures are.
  Now good or bad; 'tis but the chance of war.[34]

A growing technique led the dramatists from Dumb Show and Chorus to
soliloquy, in order to provide this necessary preliminary exposition. Is
Richard, Duke of Gloucester, at the opening of _Richard III_, much more
than a re-christened Chorus?

    ACT I. SCENE I. (_London. A street._)

    _Enter Richard, Duke of Gloucester, solus_

  _Gloucester._ Now is the winter of our discontent
  Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
  And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
  In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.
  Now are our brows bound with victorious wreaths;
  Our bruised arms hung up for monuments;
  Our stern alarums chang'd to merry meetings,
  Our dreadful marches to delightful measures.
  Grim-visag'd War hath smooth'd his wrinkled front;
  And now, instead of mounting barbed steeds
  To fright the souls of fearful adversaries,
  He capers nimbly in a lady's chamber
  To the lascivious pleasing of a lute.
  But I, that am not shap'd for sportive tricks,
  Nor made to court an amorous looking-glass;
  I, that am rudely stamp'd, and want love's majesty
  To strut before a wanton ambling nymph;
  I, that am curtail'd of this fair proportion,
  Cheated of feature by dissembling nature,
  Deform'd, unfinish'd, sent before my time
  Into this breathing world, scarce half made up,
  And that so lamely and unfashionable
  That dogs bark at me as I halt by them;
  Why, I, in this weak piping time of peace,
  Have no delight to pass away the time,
  Unless to see my shadow in the sun
  And descant on mine own deformity.
  And therefore, since I cannot prove a lover
  To entertain these fair well-spoken days,
  I am determined to prove a villain
  And hate the idle pleasures of these days.
  Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous,
  By drunken prophecies, libels, and dreams,
  To set my brother Clarence and the King
  In deadly hate the one against the other;
  And if King Edward be as true and just
  As I am subtle, false, and treacherous,
  This day should Clarence closely be mew'd up
  About a prophecy, which says that G
  Of Edward's heirs the murderer shall be.
  Dive, thoughts, down to my soul; here Clarence comes.

Led by Shakespeare, dramatists have come to understand that such
information should, if in any way possible, be conveyed not by soliloquy
but within the play itself. It should, too, be so incorporated with the
text that it is acquired almost unconsciously by an auditor held
absorbed by the immediate dramatic action.

Sometimes, however, it is well-nigh impossible thus to incorporate
needed exposition with the dramatic action. For instance, a play
depicted the fortunes of a Jacobite's daughter. All that is dramatic in
her story as a young woman is predetermined by terrible scenes attending
the death of her father, when she was a child of six. Somehow the
audience must be made to understand very early in the play what these
scenes were which made a lasting, intense impression on the child. That
the young woman, when twenty, should recall the scenes with such
minuteness as to make the audience perfectly understand their dramatic
values is hardly plausible. To have some one come out of the past to
reawaken the old memories is commonplace, and likely, by long
descriptions to clog the movement of the act. Facing this problem,
present-day dramatists, avoiding chorus, soliloquy, and lengthy
description, have chosen to put such needed material into a division
which, because it is preliminary, they have at will distinguished from
the other acts as the Induction or more frequently the Prologue. The
latter term is a confusing use. Historically, it signifies the single
figure or group of figures who, before the curtain, bespeak the favor of
the audience for the play to follow. Very rarely, the Prologue partook a
little of the nature of Chorus, stating details that must be understood,
were the play to have its full effect. Dramatists, feeling that the
relation of this introductory division to the other divisions is not so
close as are the inter-relations of the other divisions, have called
this preliminary action, not _Act I_, but _Prologue_. A similar
situation exists for what has been dubbed Epilogue. Historically, a
figure from the play just ended, or an entirely new figure, strove,
often in lines not written by the dramatist, to point the story or, at
least, to win for it the final approval of the audience. Today, when a
dramatist wishes to point the meaning of a play which he seems to have
brought to a close, or to include it in some larger scheme, he writes
what he prefers to call, not an additional act, but an Epilogue.

A dramatist should be very careful that what he calls Prologue or
Epilogue is not merely an additional act. An act does not cease to be an
act, and become a prologue or an epilogue, because its length is shorter
than that usual for an act. True it is that most prologues and epilogues
are short, but that is not their distinguishing characteristic. If they
are brief, it is because the dramatist wants to move as quickly as
possible from his induction or prologue to his main story, or knows that
when the play proper is ended, he cannot with his epilogue hold his
audience long. Not always, however, are prologues, or epilogues short.
That of _Madame Sans Gêne_[35] has the same number of pages as Act II,
seventeen. The Prologue of _The Passing of the Third Floor Back_[36]
fills some sixty-two pages. The Epilogue of the same play covers
fifty-six pages. An act in this play makes seventy-eight pages. In _A
Celebrated Case_[37] the Prologue covers twenty-one pages; the
subsequent acts run from eight to twelve pages each.

Nor is an act changed into a prologue or epilogue because the space of
time between it and the other divisions is longer than between any two
of them. Does an act cease to be an act and become a prologue or
epilogue, when the space of time between it and the other acts is
twenty-five years, or should it be thirty? The absurdity of making the
use of the words Prologue or Epilogue depend upon the space of time
between one division and another is evident. It is true that the
Prologue of _Madame Sans Gêne_ takes place nineteen years before the
three acts which follow, but it concerns the same people. It might
equally well be called Act I. _The Passing of the Third Floor Back_
might just as correctly be announced as a play in three acts instead of
"An idle fancy in a Prologue, a Play, and an Epilogue." Recently _A
Successful Calamity_ was stated to be in two acts, each preceded by a
Prologue. Except for the novel appearance of the statement in the
program, it might more correctly have been called a play in four acts.
Little except the will of the dramatist settled that the last division
of Pinero's _Letty_ should be called an Epilogue. It occurs only two
years and a half after the preceding act. It presents the same people.
Similarly the Prologue to Tennyson's _Becket_ might just as well be
called Act I, except that this nomenclature would give the play six
acts. In the stage version by Henry Irving, the four acts and a Prologue
might correctly be called five acts.

The anonymous play, _The Taming of a Shrew_,[38] on which Shakespeare
founded his farce-comedy of similar title, shows a good use of Prologue
and Epilogue. By a practical joke, _Christopher Sly_ the beggar is made
to believe he is a Lord. As a part of the joke, the play is acted before
him. Now and again, in the course of it, he comments on it. He and his
group finish the performance in a sort of Epilogue. When Shakespeare
uses Sly, only to let him shortly withdraw for good, the arrangement
seems curiously incomplete and unsatisfactory. _Romance_, by Edward
Sheldon, shows right use of so-called epilogue and prologue. As the
curtain falls on the brief prologue, the aged Bishop is telling his
grandson the story of his love for the Cavallini. Then the play, which
is the Bishop's story, unrolls itself for three acts. In turn they fade
into the epilogue, in which the grandson, as the Bishop finishes his
story, goes off in spite of it to marry the girl he loves. By means of
the epilogue and prologue Mr. Sheldon gains irony and contrast, relates
the main play to larger values, and answers the inevitable question of
his audience at the end of his third act: What happened to them
afterward? Not to have used the so-called epilogue and prologue here
would have forced total reconstruction of the material and probably a
clumsier result. Such setting of a long play within a very brief play is
one of the conditions for the legitimate use of the so-called prologue
and epilogue.

Another legitimate use, though perhaps not so clear-cut, is illustrated
by the Prologue to _A Celebrated Case_.[39] The play might, perhaps, be
written without it, but, if it were, the scene of Act I in which
Adrienne recognizes the convict as her father, would be filled with much
more exposition, and the present emphasis on the powerful emotions of
the moment would be somewhat blurred by the emotions called up by
exposition of the past. Clearly, the play gains rather than loses by the
presence of the prologue. Obviously the latter stands somewhat apart
from the three acts which follow, less definitely related to them than
they are to one another. So it may, perhaps, better be called a prologue
than an act.

Of course, the distinction between prologue and act is a matter of
nomenclature, not of effectiveness in acting. Look at _My Lady's Dress_,
by Edward Knobloch. Scene 1, Act I, and Scene 3, Act III, have the same
setting, a boudoir, and are more closely related to each other than to
the rest of the play.[40] Indeed, what stands between are one-act plays
making the dream of Anne. According to present usage, Mr. Knobloch could
have called these scenes Prologue and Epilogue, and treated all that
stands between as the play proper. That he did or didn't makes no
difference in the acting. The growing use of the two words, Prologue and
Epilogue, merely marks an increasing sense of dramatic technique which
tries by nomenclature to emphasize for a reader nice differences which
the dramatist discerns in the inter-relations of his material.

To sum up, there is real significance, though present confusion, in
recent use of the words, Prologue and Epilogue. The use rests on a fact:
that sometimes a play is best proportioned, when it has at the beginning
or end, or both, a brief division related to the story and essential to
it, but not so closely related to any act as are the acts to one
another. The names Prologue and Epilogue should not, however, be used
interchangeably for acts. They should be kept for their historical
use--verse or prose spoken in front of the curtain before or at an end
of the play, in order to win or intensify sympathy for it. We should
find different names for these divisions,--perhaps, Induction and

What should be the length of an act? There can be no rule as to this.
Naturally, the work of the first and last acts differs somewhat from the
intervening acts, whether one or three in number. While it is the chief
business of the intervening acts to maintain and increase interest
already created, the first act must obviously create that interest as
swiftly as possible, and the last act bring that interest to a climactic
close. The first act, because in it the characters must be introduced,
necessary past history stated, and the story well started, is likely to
be longer than the other acts. The last act, inasmuch as even at its
beginning we are usually not distant from the climax of the play, is
most often the shortest division, for as soon as the climax is reached,
we should drop the curtain as quickly as possible. A glance at certain
notable plays of different periods will show, however, that the length
of an act most depends, not on any given rule, but on the skill of the
dramatist in accomplishing what he has decided the particular act must
do. In the Cambridge edition of Shakespeare's _Lear_ (printed in two
columns of fine type) the acts run as follows:

  Act I    9½ pages
  Act II   7 pages
  Act III  6½ pages
  Act IV   6¼ pages
  Act V    5¼ pages

_Kismet_, a play modeled on the Elizabethan, shows this division:

  Act I    48 pages
  Act II   33 pages
  Act III  22½ pages

For three plays of Richard Steele it is possible to give the exact

   _The Funeral_      _The Conscious Lovers_     _The Tender Husband_
  Act I    30 min.        Act I    33 min.          Act I   25 min.
  Act II   36 min.        Act II   28 min.          Act II  22 min.
  Act III  20 min.        Act III  24 min.          Act III 14 min.
  Act IV   20 min.        Act IV   28 min.          Act IV  15 min.
  Act V    20 min.        Act V    31 min.          Act V   18 min.

  Total, 2 hrs. 6 min.    Total, 2 hrs. 24 min.     Total, 1 hr. 34 min.

Two recent plays divide thus:

      _Candida_          _The Silver Box_
  Act I    27 pages     Act I    27 pages
  Act II   24 pages     Act II   27 pages
  Act III  21 pages     Act III  21 pages

The plays just cited are of very different lengths: _Kismet_[42] took
nearly three hours in performance; _Candida_[43] and _The Silver
Box_[44] are so short that they force a manager, if he is to provide an
entertainment of the usual length, to a choice: he must begin his
performance late, or allow long waits between the acts, or give a
one-act piece with the longer play. Yet it is noteworthy that in all
these plays except Steele's, the first is as long as any other act, or
longer, and the last act is the shortest. However, the only safe
principle is that of Dumas _père_ already quoted: "First act clear, last
act short, and everywhere interest."

In proportioning the whole material into acts, it should be remembered,
of course, that the time allowed for a theatrical performance ranges
from two hours to two hours and three quarters. Five to fifteen minutes
should be allowed for each _entr'acte_ unless the usual waits are to be
avoided by some mechanical device. Figure that a double-spaced
type-written page takes in acting something more than a minute, though
necessary dramatic pauses and "business" make it difficult to estimate
exactly the playing time of any page. Speaking approximately, it may be
said that a three-act play of one hundred and twenty typewritten pages
will fill, with the _entr'actes_, at least two hours and a half. In
apportioning the story into acts the first requisite is, then, that the
total, even with the necessary waits between acts, shall not exceed the
length of time during which the public will be attentive.

The length of each act must in every case be determined by the work in
the total which it has to do. Since pre-Shakespearean days, the artistry
of the act has been steadily developing. Until _circa_, 1595, what
dramatists "strove to do was, not so to arrange their material that its
inner relations should be perfectly clear, but to narrate a series of
events that did not, of necessity, possess such inner relations. It is
much to be doubted whether any thought of such relations ever entered
their heads."[45] Influenced particularly by Shakespeare, the drama from
that time has steadily improved in knowledge of what each act should do
in the sum total, and how it should be done. The act is "more than a
convenience in time. It is imposed by the limited power of attention of
the human mind, or by the need of the human body for occasional
refreshment. A play with a well-marked, well-balanced act-structure is a
higher artistic organism than a play with no act-structure, just as a
vertebrate animal is higher than a mollusc. In every crisis of real life
(unless it be so short as to be a mere incident) there is a rhythm of
rise, progress, culmination, and solution. Each act ought to stimulate
and temporarily satisfy an interest of its own, while definitely
advancing the main action."[46] Each act, then, should be a unit of the
whole, which accomplishes its own definite work.

Here is Ibsen's rough apportioning of the work for each act in a play of
which he was thinking.

  Do you not think of dramatising the story of Faste? It seems to me
  that there is the making of a very good popular play in it. Just

  Act 1.--Faste as the half-grown boy, eating the bread of charity and
  dreaming of greatness.

  Act 2.--Faste's struggle in the town.

  Act 3.--Faste's victory in the town.

  Act 4.--Faste's defeat and flight from the country.

  Act 5.--Faste's return as a victorious poet. He has found himself.

  It is a fine adventurous career to depict dramatically. But of course
  you would have to get farther away from your story first. You perhaps
  think this a barbarous and inhuman suggestion. But all your stories
  have the making of a drama in them.[47]

In _The Princess and the Butterfly_,[48] Act I not only disposes of
preliminary necessary exposition, but depicts different kinds of
restlessness in a group of women at or nearing middle age. Act II does
the same for a group of men, and in the proposed duel provides what
later may be made to reveal to Sir George how much Fay Zuliani cares for
him. Act III complicates the story by showing that Fay is not the niece
of Sir George, and illustrates the growing affection between the
Princess and Edward Oriel. Act IV reveals to Sir George and Fay how much
each cares for the other. The fifth act shows how Sir George and the
Princess, who have tried to be wise and restrained, impulsively and
instinctively choose the path of seeming unwisdom but immediate

In _The Trail of the Torch_,[49] Act I states the thesis of the play and
offers the first great sacrifice by Sabine for her daughter,
Marie-Jeanne. Sabine gives up Stangy in order to be with Marie-Jeanne,
only to find that her daughter is in love with Didier. Act II
illustrates that a mother will make every sacrifice for her children:
Madame Fontenais, the grandmother, when her daughter Sabine begs her to
sacrifice her fortune in order that Marie-Jeanne's anxiety as to the
finances of Didier may be set at rest, refuses, thinking to protect
Sabine's future. In turn, Sabine, putting aside all pride, calls Stangy
back to her, believing that he will give her the aid she desires for
Marie-Jeanne. Act III shows the extremes of sacrifice to which a mother
may go,--here the forgery, and the sacrifice by Sabine of her mother to
her daughter. Act IV illustrates the retribution for Sabine: the
revelation by Stangy that, after Sabine sent him away, he married;
Marie-Jeanne's announcement to her mother that she is to go to America
with her father and that Sabine cannot go; and the death of Madame
Fontenais caused, at least indirectly, by Sabine.

In all three cases we have only the baldest outline of what the act must
do. The illustrative dramatic action by which each act is to accomplish
its task is either in hand as part of a clearly defined story in the
mind of the dramatist, or must be found immediately. Granted that it has
been discovered (see chap. III, pp. 47-72), then as each act is shaped
up from this material it should have certain qualities. It should be
clear. It should lead the hearer on to the acts which follow: in other
words, it should at least maintain an interest already established, and
in most cases should increase that interest. To put these requisites
more briefly, each act should have clearness and movement. Movement in
an act means that, while thoroughly interesting itself, the act leads a
hearer on to its immediate successor and, above all, the finale. Good
movement depends on clearness and right emphasis. The emphasis in each
act and in the whole play should be such that ultimately it accomplishes
the purpose of the dramatist. How may these qualities, clearness, right
emphasis, and consequent movement be gained?


  [1] _Essay on Comedy_, p. 8. George Meredith. Copyright, 1897, by
    Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [2] _The Trojan Women._ Translated by Gilbert Murray. G. Allen &
    Sons, London.

  [3] _Electra_. Von Hofmannsthal. Translated by A. Symons. Brentano,
    New York.

  [4] Introduction to _Miss Julia_. Translated by E. Björkman.
    Copyright, 1912, by Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [5] _Hamburg Dramaturgy_, p. 370. Lessing. Bohn ed.

  [6] P. 13. Harper & Bros., New York.

  [7] _Chief Contemporary Dramatists_, pp. 517-546. T. H. Dickinson,
    ed. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

  [8] For all these plays, _idem_.

  [9] Belles-Lettres Series. W. Strunk, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston
    and New York.

  [10] In the seventh edition, a scene, "The place of execution," is
    inserted to replace the original brief final scene which apparently
    took place in the "room." Belles-Lettres Series. Sir A. W. Ward, ed.
    D. C. Heath & Co.

  [11] _Letters of Bulwer-Lytton to Macready_, XXVIII. Brander
    Matthews, ed.

  [12] _The Influence of Local Theatrical Conditions upon the Drama of
    the Greeks._ Roy C. Flickinger. _Classical Journal_, October, 1911.

  [13] See p. 83.

  [14] Introduction to _Macbeth_. Cambridge ed. Houghton Mifflin Co.,

  [15] Introduction to Marlowe's _Edward II_. Tatlock and Martin. The
    Century Co.

  [16] See _Play Production in America_. A. E. Krows. Henry Holt & Co.,
    New York.

  [17] _Plays_, pp. 33, 42. G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.

  [18] J. W. Luce & Co., Boston.

  [19] _Théâtre Complet_, vol. I. Calmann Lévy, Paris.

  [20] Belles-Lettres Series. Sir A. W. Ward, ed. D.C. Heath & Co.,
    Boston and New York.

  [21] Not often does a dramatist succeed in making real and supposed
    time agree as well as does Sir Arthur Pinero in Act III of _The Gay
    Lord Quex_. From seven to nine pages of absorbing action come between
    one chiming of the quarter hour and the next. Though a stopwatch
    would quickly reveal the somewhat disordered condition of that
    boudoir clock, an auditor, absorbed in the action of the moment,
    merely feels his tension increase if he notes the passing of time.

  [22] See p. 35.

  [23] Eugène Scribe, adopted by Mrs. Burton Harrison. Dramatic
    Publishing Co., Chicago.

  [24] Mermaid Series. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [25] _Letters of Bulwer-Lytton to Macready_, LXIII. Brander Matthews,

  [26] Belles-Lettres Series. C. F. McClumpha, ed. D. C. Heath & Co.,
    Boston and New York.

  [27] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [28] _Plays._ G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.

  [29] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [30] Everyman's Library. Plumptre, ed.

  [31] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [32] R. H. Russell & Co., New York.

  [33] _The Influence of Local Theatrical Conditions upon the Drama of
    the Greeks._ R. C. Flickinger. _Classical Journal_, October, 1911.

  [34] _Troilus and Cressida._

  [35] Samuel French, New York.

  [36] Hurst & Blackett, Ltd., London.

  [37] Penn Publishing Co., Philadelphia.

  [38] _Shakespeare's Library_, vol. VI. W. C. Hazlitt, ed. Reeves &
    Turner, London.

  [39] Penn Publishing Co., Philadelphia.

  [40] Drama League Series. Doubleday, Page & Co., New York.

  [41] _Life of Richard Steele_, vol. II, p. 368. G. Aitken. Wm.
    Isbister, London.

  [42] Methuen & Co., Ltd., London.

  [43] _Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant._ Brentano, New York.

  [44] _Plays._ G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.

  [45] _A Note on Act Division as practiced in the Early Elizabethan
    Drama._ Bulletin of Western Reserve University.

  [46] _Play-Making_, p. 136. Wm. Archer. Small, Maynard & Co., Boston.

  [47] _Letters of Henrik Ibsen_, p. 236; to Jonas Lie.

  [48] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [49] P. Hervieu. Drama League Series. Doubleday, Page & Co., New



The chief desideratum of a dramatist beginning to arrange his material
within a number of acts already decided on is to create interest as
promptly as possible. To that end neither striking dialogue nor stirring
situation is of prime consequence. Clearness is. When an audience does
not understand who the people are with whom the play opens and their
relations to one another, no amount of striking dialogue or stirring
situation will create lasting interest. The danger for a later public of
allusive reference clear enough at one time is shown by the verses sung
when the Helstone Furry, or Flower Dance, takes place in Cornwall. Lines
once full of meaning are today so out of date as to be meaningless.

  From an early hour the place is alive with drums and fifes, and
  townsmen hoarsely chanting a ballad, the burden of which conveys the
  spirit of the festival:

            With Hal-an-tow,
            Jolly rumble O,
    And we are up as soon as any day O,
    And for to fetch the Summer home,
        The Summer and the May O;
    For the Summer is a-come O,
    And Winter is a-go O!

  The verses of the ballad seem to convey topical allusions that have
  become traditional. One speaks of Robin Hood and Little John as gone
  to the fair, and the revellers will go too; another triumphs in the
  Spaniards eating the gray goose feather while the singers will be
  eating the roast. Another runs thus quaintly:

    God bless Aunt Mary Moses
        With all her power and might O;
    And send us peace in merry England
        Both night and day O.
            With Hal-an-tow,
            Jolly rumble O,
    And we were up as soon as any day O,
    And for to fetch the Summer home,
        The Summer and the May O;
    For the Summer is a-come O,
    And Winter is a-go O!

  Thus singing they troop through the town; if they find anyone at work,
  they hale him to the river and make him leap across; arrived at the
  Grammar School they demand a holiday; at noon they go "fadding" into
  the country, and come back with oak branches and flowers in their hats
  and caps; then until dusk they dance hand-in-hand down the streets,
  and through any house, in at any door, out at another; when night
  falls they keep up the dancing indoors. The character of the dancing
  is exactly that of the ancient Comus; and the whole spirit of the
  Cornish Furry is a fair representation of primitive nature festivals,
  except, of course, that modern devoutness has banished from the flower
  dance all traces of a religious festival;--unless a trace is to be
  found in the fact that the dancers at one point make a collection.[1]

The Greek dramatist, staging religious legends, could assume in his
audience common knowledge as to the identity and the historic background
of his figures which saved him much exposition. Today, readers of his
play demand explanatory notes because of these omissions.

The _Choephori_, like the plays of Æschylus generally, consists of
scenes from a story taken as known. Some indispensable parts of it are
represented only by allusions. Others can scarcely be said to be
represented at all. The history of Pylades belongs to the second class;
that of Strophius belongs to the first. What is evident is that the
author presumes us to be familiar with his conception of both, that as
a fact we are not, and that our only way of approaching the play
intelligently is by the assumption of some working hypothesis.[2]

Something like the position of these elder dramatists toward exposition
is held today by writers of plays on George Washington or Abraham
Lincoln. Dealing, as the dramatist ordinarily does, however, with a
mixture of historical and fictitious figures or with characters wholly
fictitious, he must in most cases carefully inform his audience at the
outset who his people are, and what are their relations to one another,
where the play is laid, and when.

Examine the first column of what follows: it is not a burlesque, but the
beginning of a so-called play. Why is it unsatisfactory?


  _Conservatory of the Strones' house. Natalie is walking about among
  the flowers and plants, arranging them for the day in the vases on the
  near-by table._

  _Natalie._                           _Natalie._
  (_To herself._) O-oh,                (_To herself._) O-oh,
  I'm sleepy this morning. It's        I'm sleepy this morning. It's
  very nice to have your fiancé live   very nice to have your fiancé
  in the next house, but when he       live in the next house, but when
  insists on writing his stories and   (Tom) insists on writing his stories
  things until two or three in the     and things until two and
  morning--well, I don't think         three in the morning--well, I
  it's very thoughtful of him.         don't think it's very thoughtful
  He might realize that his light      of him. He might realize
  shines directly across into my       that his light shines directly
  eyes and keeps me awake. Oh,         across into my eyes and keeps
  dear, Mary's been putting            me awake. Oh, dear, (that
  lilies-of-the-valley in all the      maid's) been putting
  vases again. I'll not have those     lilies-of-the-valley in all the
  everywhere when we've got orchids    vases again. I'll not have those
  instead. Flowers don't need          everywhere when we've got orchids
  fragrance anyway; they're just       instead. Flowers don't need
  meant to be seen. (_Dumping the      fragrance anyway; they're just meant
  wilted lilies in a basket by her     to be seen. (_Dumping the wilted
  side and arranging the newly-cut     lilies in a basket by her side and
  orchids in their place._) Tom [Who   arranging the newly-cut orchids
  is Tom--brother or fiancé?]          in their place._)
  always makes a fuss when I have      Tom always makes a fuss when
  nothing but orchids, so I suppose    I have nothing but orchids, so
  Mary put the others about            I suppose Mary put the others
  to calm him down. [Who is            about to calm him down.
  Mary, then: a maid, a sister,
  a girl friend, some one engaged
  to Tom?] Really I've
  got to speak to him about last       Really I've got to speak to (Tom
  night when he comes. The light       Hammond) about last night,
  is bad enough, but I won't           when he comes. The light is bad
  have him firing his gun out of       enough, but I won't have him
  the window besides. It must          firing his gun out of the window
  have been at that horrid thin        besides. It must have been
  cat that's always clawing Hopeful.   at that horrid thin cat that's
  [A cat, a dog, or a small            always clawing Hopeful.
  sister?] I'm glad _she_ [Hopeful        I'm glad (Hopeful)
  or the thin cat?] was locked up      was locked up indoors if Tom's
  indoors if Tom's going to act        going to act that way (with cats).
  that way. Oh, dear, these are        Oh, dear, these are the wrong
  the wrong shears again. (_Rings      shears again. (_Rings bell. Enter
  bell. Enter maid._) Mary, bring      maid._) Mary, bring me the
  me the other shears--and             other shears--and Mary,
  Mary, where's Hopeful this           where's Hopeful this morning;
  morning; I haven't seen her?         I haven't seen her?

  _Mary._ The kitten, Miss             _Mary._ The kitten, Miss
  Strone?                              Strone?

  _Natalie._. Yes, of course.          _Natalie._ Yes, of course.

  _Mary._ Why--why she hasn't          _Mary._ Why--why she hasn't
  been in this morning. (_Starts       been in this morning. (_Starts
  away._)                              away._)

  _Natalie._ Come back, Mary.          _Natalie._ Come back, Mary.
  Don't run off while I'm speaking     Don't run off while I'm speaking
  to you. Haven't you seen             to you. Haven't you seen
  her at all?                          her at all?

  _Mary._ Well--yes, Miss              _Mary._ Well--yes, Miss
  Strone--that is Parkins [another     Strone--that is (the butler)
  maid, a butler, or a                 found--I mean--
  milkman?] found--I mean--

  _Natalie._ (_Impatiently._) Well?    _Natalie._ (_Impatiently._) Well?

  _Mary._ The shots last night,        _Mary._ The shots last night,
  Miss Strone--that is we think        Miss Strone--that is we think
  it was--although she _was_ on        it was--although she _was_ on
  the _other_ side of the garden       the _other_ side of the wall when
  when Parkins came on her--and        Parkins came on her--and
  there's the wall and the alley       there's the wall and the alley
  between--still, Mr. Hammond          between--still, Mr. Hammond
  was shooting out of the              was shooting out of the upper
  upper windows and--                  windows and--

  _Natalie._ (_Quickly._) Has          _Natalie._ (_Quickly._) Has
  anything happened to Hopeful?        anything happened to Hopeful?

  _Mary._ Why--why, Parkins--          _Mary._. Why--why, Parkins--

    (_Enter Parkins._)                   (_Enter Parkins._)

  _Parkins._ (_Quietly._) I buried     _Parkins._ (_Quietly._) I buried
  her all right just now, Miss         her all right just now, Miss
  Strone. (_Louder._) Mr. Hammond.     Strone. (_Louder._) (Mr. Hammond.)

    (_Exit [sic.] Mary and Parkins,_     (_Exeunt Mary and Parkins,_
    _enter Tom Hammond._)                _enter Tom Hammond._)

In the left-hand column practically every one in the cast is
unidentified when first mentioned. That is, the text fails in the first
essential of clearness: we do not for some time know who the people are
and their relations to one another. The very slight changes in the
right-hand column do away with this fault.

Identify characters, then, as promptly as possible. Writing, "John Paul
Jones enters in full Admiral's uniform," a dramatist often runs on for
some time before the text itself reveals the identity of the person who
has entered. Except in so far as the costume or make-up presents a
well-known historical figure, or information carefully given before the
figure enters may reveal identity, every newcomer is an entirely unknown
person. He must promptly make clear who he is and his relation to the
story. The following opening of a play shows another instance of the
vagueness resulting when this identification is not well managed:


    ACT I

  _Evening of a June day. John Hathaway's Study. Door at right and at
  left back. Heavy, old-fashioned library furnishings. Walls lined with
  shelves of books. General disorder of books to produce the effect of
  recent using. Large flat-topped desk with a double row of drawers
  stands at front, half way between center and right wall. Desk is
  covered with books and loose manuscript. Chair at left front. Stool in
  front of desk. Other chairs toward back._

  _When the curtain rises, John Hathaway is seated at desk working. Anne
  enters at right, bangs the door, and stands with back to it._

  _Anne._ I hate Aunt Caroline. (_She hurries forward to stand at
  opposite side of desk._) Oh, I know what you will say--just preach and
  preach and call me "Anne" and tell me I must ask her pardon.--Why
  don't you begin?

  _John._ (_Smiling._) Now, Anne!

  _Anne._ Yes, there's the "Anne." I know the rest without your going
  on:--"Aunt Caroline is a peculiar woman, but is _most_ worthy. Her
  Puritanism keeps her from understanding your temperament, and you are
  too young to understand hers,--" and you'll go on preaching and
  smiling in that horrid way--you always do--and you'll make me see how
  wrong _I've_ been and how saintly _Aunt Caroline_ is, and at last I'll
  slink out of the room like a good little pussy-cat to find Aunt
  Caroline and beg her pardon. But it won't do _this_ time, for I begged
  her pardon _before_ I lost my temper so that you _couldn't_ send me
  back.--Oh, Duke, _can't_ we send Aunt Caroline away, and just you and
  me live here always together. (_She swings round the desk to sit on
  the stool at his side, her back to him. He turns a little in his
  chair, letting a hand fall on her shoulder._) When Dad died, he left
  me with you because next to me he loved you best in all the world.
  Hundreds and hundreds of times he told me that.--It would have been
  very nice, Duke, if Dad hadn't died, wouldn't it?

  _John._ Yes, Nan.

  _Anne._ In just that one thing God has not been quite fair to me. Aunt
  Caroline tries so hard to make me think I am wrong about it.--I know
  you think so too, but you never argue about it with me. I like you for
  that, Duke. You see, if Dad had lived, our kingdom would have been
  complete. Why! a kingdom's only _half_ a kingdom without a king.

  _John._ That's true,--but there are still a few of us left. There's
  the Prime Minister, and the Countess, and the Slave, every one of them
  loyal to the Princess. Even the War Department is loyal--in warfare.
  Perhaps, who knows, some day from out a great foreign land a great
  king may come riding, and the Princess will place him beside her on
  the throne--and--live happily ever afterward.

  _Anne._ (_Inattentively._) Perhaps. Duke, did you ever think that the
  Prime Minister was very fond of the Countess?

  _John._ Why, I have thought so at times.

  _Anne._ And did you ever think that perhaps the Prime Minister would
  like to _marry_ the Countess?

  _John._ Why, yes, now you mention it, that also has occurred to me.

  _Anne._ Well, why doesn't he?

  _John._ Perhaps the Countess isn't willing.

Who is this "Anne"? What is her last name? Is she the niece of "Duke"?
How could we learn from the text that "Duke" is John Hathaway? It is the
stage direction which gives us that information. And what are we to do
with this whole Burke's Peerage,--the Prime Minister, the Countess, the
Slave? The author is depending for identification upon a list of
_dramatis personæ_ just preceding what has been quoted:

  Time, present day.


    Anne Chesterfield, "The Princess."
    John Hathaway, Anne's guardian, "The Duke."
    Caroline Hathaway, John's aunt, "Head of the War Department."
    Doctor Stirling, a friend, "The Prime Minister."
    Katharine Bain, a friend, "The Countess."
    Tommy Bain, Katharine's young brother, "The Slave."
    Professor Heinrich Adler, "The Foreign Ambassador."
    James, a Servant.

Cut out this list of characters; in the stage directions strike out
"John Hathaway," substituting "A man"; strike out "Anne," substituting
"A young woman." At once it is clear that the dialogue reveals nothing
about these people, except that a young woman who speaks is a niece of
"Aunt Caroline." Yet these substitutions show what the scene looks like
to a man entering the theatre without a program. Whenever such
substitution of a type name for that of an individual in the titles
prefixed to the speeches leaves the speakers unidentified, it is time to
re-phrase the material for greater clearness.

Scenery and costume, of course, may show where the opening or later
action of a play takes place. If these make clear the nationality of the
speakers, or, at most, the province to which they belong, this is in
many instances enough for any audience. In some cases, however, the
nature of the plot is so dependent on the customs of a particular
community that it is necessary or wise to make the text farther
particularize any placing of the play by scenery or costumes. Simple
interiors, too, are not always easily identifiable as of this or that
province, or even country. If province or country at all determines the
action of the piece, the text should help out the setting. One reason
why the plays of Synge aroused bitter opposition was that some auditors
believed them representations of life anywhere in Ireland and not, as
they were meant to be, pictures of the manners of Aran Islanders, a
group so isolated as to retain much savagery. Also, if the text is clear
as to place, suggestion may take the place of realism in the scenery,
thus decreasing expense. The emphasis on place in the opening of _The
Rising of the Moon_ both permits scenery that merely suggests a quay and
plants in the minds of hearers a setting essential to the whole
development of the play:

  SCENE: _Side of a quay in a seaport town. Some posts and chains. A
  large barrel. Enter three policemen. Moonlight._

  _Sergeant, who is older than the others, crosses the stage to right
  and looks down steps. The others put down a pastepot and unroll a
  bundle of placards._

  _Policeman B._ I think this would be a good place to put up a notice.
  (_He points to a barrel._)

  _Policeman X._ Better ask him. (_Calls to Sergeant._.) Will this be a
  good place for a placard?   (_No answer._)

  _Policeman B._ Will we put up a notice here on the barrel?   (_No

  _Sergeant._ There's a flight of steps here that leads to the water.
  This is a place that should be minded well. If he got down here, his
  friends might have a boat to meet him; they might send it in here from

  _Policeman B._ Would the barrel be a good place to put a notice up?

  _Sergeant._ It might; you can put it there.   (_They paste the notice

  _Sergeant._ (_Reading it._) Dark hair--dark eyes, smooth face, height
  five feet five--there's not much to take hold of in that--It's a pity
  I had no chance of seeing him before he broke out of jail. They say
  he's a wonder, that it's he makes all the plans for the whole
  organization. There isn't another man in Ireland would have broken
  jail the way he did. He must have some friends among the jailers.

  _Policeman B._ A hundred pounds reward is little enough for the
  Government to offer for him. You may be sure any man in the force that
  takes him will get promotion.

  _Sergeant._ I'll mind this place myself. I wouldn't wonder at all if
  he comes this way. He might come slipping along there (_points to side
  of quay_) and his friends might be waiting for him there (_points down
  steps_), and once he got away it's little chance we'd have of finding
  him; it's maybe under a load of kelp he'd be in a fishing boat, and
  not one to help a married man that wants it to the reward.[3]

The period in which the play is supposed to take place, if of importance
to the action, needs careful statement. Helped out by setting and
costumes, the following shows that the play is taking place at the time
of the French Revolution.

  _At rise of curtain, drums are heard beating, trumpets sounding the
  charge in the distance. A report of a cannon as the curtain rises._

  _Jennie._ (_R., going up to door C._) Did you hear that? It must be
  somewhere near the Rue d'Echelle now.

  _Julie._ (_L. crossing to R._) My! I'm frightened to death.

  _Marie._ (_Carrots--up C._) I only hope they won't come fighting down
  _our_ street.

  _Julie._ (_Kneeling._) Bless us and save us!

  _Jennie._ (_Up C._) Down our street. What should they come here for?
  It's the Tuileries and the King they're after. (_Going to window L._)

  _First Neighbor and Omnes._ (_At back._) Of course they are. That's

  _First Woman._ (_Up C._) I tell you they're at the Carrousel. (_Report
  of cannon._)

  _Marie._ It will be a mercy if they don't smash every pane of glass in
  the shop.

  _Julie._ Well I shan't forget this 10th of August in a hurry.

    (_At back a National Guard wounded in the leg supported by two other
    guards enters at L., is taken into the druggist's shop. All the
    people move towards the shop._)[4]

Lapse of time between two acts, if important to the development of the
plot, should also be clearly stated. Dramatists like to depend on the
programs for such information, but they run the chance that many
auditors will not see the printed note. Doubtless a program would give
these words from the stage direction at the beginning of the fourth act
of Hauptmann's _Lonely Lives_: "Time between 4 and 5 P.M.," but the
quick passage of time is so important a fact in the development of the
plot that six or seven pages later there is the following dialogue:

  _Braun._ (_Looks at telegram._) It is the six o'clock train that Mr.
  Vockerat is coming by? What o'clock is it now?

  _Mrs. Vockerat._ Not half-past four yet.

  _Braun._ (_After a moment of reflection._) Has there been no change in
  the course of the week?

  _Mrs. Vockerat._ (_Shakes her head hopelessly._) None.

  _Braun._ Has she given no hint of any intention to go?[5]

  In _The Galloper_, by Richard Harding Davis, what the audience hears
  will place the play in a hotel at Athens, even if the scenery does

  _Before the curtain rises one hears a drum-and-fife corps playing a
  lively march, and the sound of people cheering. This comes from the
  rear and to the left, and continues after the curtain is up, dying
  away gradually as though the band, and the regiment with it, had
  passed and continued on up the street._

  _Anstruther is discovered seated on the lower right-end corner of the
  table, with his right foot resting on the chair at that corner. He is
  reading the Paris "New York Herald" and smoking a cigarette. He is a
  young man of good manner and soldierly appearance. He wears gray
  whipcord riding breeches, tan riding boots, and Norfolk jacket of
  rough tweed. His slouch hat, with a white puggaree wrapped round it,
  lies on the table beside him. Griggs stands at the edge of the French
  window looking off left. In his hand he holds a notebook in which he
  takes notes. He is supposed to be watching the soldiers who are
  passing. He is a pompous little man of about forty with eyeglasses. He
  wears a khaki uniform similar to that of an officer of the British
  army, with the difference that the buttons are of bone. His left chest
  is covered with ribbons of war medals. Hewitt, a young man with a
  pointed beard and moustache, stands to the left of Griggs, also
  looking off left. He wears a khaki coat made like a Norfolk jacket,
  khaki riding breeches, and canvas United States Army leggings and tan
  shoes. On the table are his slouch hat and the khaki-colored helmet of

  _Captain O'Malley enters right. He is a dashing young Irishman, in the
  uniform of an officer of the Greek Army. He halts to right of
  Anstruther and salutes._

  _Capt. O'Malley._ Pardon, I am Captain O'Malley of the Foreign Legion.
  Am I addressing one of the foreign war correspondents?

  _Capt. Anstruther._ Yes.

  _Capt. O'Malley._ (_Showing him a visiting card._) Pardon, is this
  your card?

  _Capt. Anstruther._ (_Reading card._) "Mr. Kirke Warren." No.

  _Capt. O'Malley._ Do you know if Mr. Warren is in this hotel?

  _Capt. Anstruther._ I couldn't tell you. We arrived in Athens only
  last night.

  _Capt. O'Malley._ (_Saluting and moving off left._) I thank you.

    (_He exits left._)[6]

But the dramatist prefaced this with a careful description of the
setting. What has just been quoted shows that the dramatist risked no
chance that what would probably identify this setting,--"Greek letters
of gilt" on the picture frames, and the distant view of the
Acropolis,--might fail him. He added what has just been quoted.

  _This scene shows the interior of the reading room in the Hotel
  Angleterre at Athens. It is large, cheerful-looking, and sunny, with a
  high ceiling. Extending nearly across the entire width of the rear
  wall is a French window, which opens upon the garden of the hotel.
  Outside it are set plants in green tubs, and above it is stretched a
  striped green-and-white awning. To the reading room the principal
  entrance is through a wide door set well down in the left wall. It is
  supposed to open into the hall of the hotel. Through this door one
  obtains a glimpse of the hall, where steamer trunks and hatboxes are
  piled high upon a black-and-white tiled floor. In the right wall there
  is another door, also well down on the stage. It is supposed to open
  into a corridor of the hotel. Below it against the wall are a writing
  desk and chair. A similar writing desk is placed against the rear wall
  between the right wall and the French window. On the left of the
  stage, end-on to the audience, is a long library table over which is
  spread a dark-green baize cloth. On top of it are ranged periodicals
  and the illustrated papers of different countries. Chairs of bent wood
  are ranged around this table, one being placed at each side of the
  lower end. Of these two, the chair to the left of the table is not
  farther from the left door than five feet. The walls of the room are
  colored a light, cool gray in distemper, with a black oak wainscot
  about four feet high. On the walls are hung photographs of the
  Acropolis and of classic Greek statues. On the black frames holding
  these photographs appear the names of shopkeepers in Greek letters of
  gilt. The floor is covered with a gray crash. The back drop, seen
  through the French window, shows the garden of the hotel, beyond that
  the trees of a public park, and high in the air the Acropolis. The
  light is that of a bright morning in May._

The test in deciding whether the place and the time should be stated is
not, "Has it been given in the program?" nor, "May it with ingenuity be
guessed from the settings and costumes?" but, first, "Does place or
time, or do both at all determine the action of the piece?" secondly,
"Will any intelligent observer be vague as to place or time, as the play
develops?" If the answer to either of these questions is yes, it is
wisest to make these matters clear in the text.

Far more troublesome than merely identifying the characters or
emphasizing the place and time of the play is showing the relations of
the characters to one another. This usually requires exposition of past
history which must be clearly understood if the play is to have its full
emotional effect. More than one reader has been disposed to believe the
theory that _Macbeth_, as we know it, is a cut stage version because,
when Lady Macbeth first enters, she seems less prepared for and less
clearly related to the other figures than is Shakespeare's custom.

SCENE 5. _Inverness. Macbeth's castle_

_Enter Lady Macbeth, alone, with a letter_

  _Lady Macbeth_. (_Reads._) "They met me in the day of success; and I
  have learn'd by the perfect'st report, they have more in them than
  mortal knowledge. When I burn'd in desire to question them further,
  they made themselves air, into which they vanish'd. Whiles I stood
  rapt in the wonder of it, came missives from the King, who all-hail'd
  me, 'Thane of Cawdor'; by which title, before, these weird sisters
  saluted me, and referr'd me to the coming on of time, with 'Hail, King
  thou shalt be!' This I have thought good to deliver thee, my dearest
  partner of greatness, that thou mightst not lose the dues of
  rejoicing, by being ignorant of what greatness is promis'd thee. Lay
  it to thy heart, and farewell."

  Glamis thou art, and Cawdor; and shalt be
  What thou art promis'd. Yet do I fear thy nature;
  It is too full o' the milk of human kindness
  To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great,
  Art not without ambition, but without
  The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly,
  That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
  And yet wouldst wrongly win. Thou'dst have, great Glamis,
  That which cries, "Thus thou must do, if thou have it";
  And that which rather thou dost fear to do
  Than wishest should be undone. Hie thee hither
  That I may pour my spirits in thine ear,
  And chastise with the valour of my tongue
  All that impedes thee from the golden round
  Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
  To have thee crown'd withal.

The Dumb Show, Chorus, and Soliloquy are now outworn devices for setting
forth necessary initial expository facts. Today any experienced
dramatist knows that such preliminary exposition demands the art which
conceals art, for an audience resents a mere recital of necessary facts.
Examine the first act of Schnitzler's _The Lonely Way_.[7] All of it is
interesting for characterization and statement of facts essential to an
understanding of the play, but it does not grip the attention as do the
other acts where drama, not exposition, is of first consequence.

Early steps in advance on the Chorus were the butler and the maid
servant, garrulously talking of what each must have known ever since he
came into his position. A closely related form is unbosoming oneself to
a male or female confidant.


(_Enter Hippolytus, Theramenes._)

  _Hippolytus._ My mind is settled, dear Theramenes,
  And I can stay not more in lovely Troezen.
  In doubt that racks my soul with mortal anguish,
  I grow ashamed of such long idleness.
  Six months and more my father has been gone,
  And what may have befallen one so dear
  I know not, nor what corner of the earth
  Hides him.

  _Theramenes._ And where, prince, will you look for him?
  Already, to content your just alarm,
  Have I not cross'd the seas on either side
  Of Corinth, ask'd if aught were known of Theseus
  Where Acheron is lost among the Shades,
  Visited Elis, doubled Toenarus,
  And sail'd into the sea that saw the fall
  Of Icarus? Inspired with what new hope,
  Under what favor'd skies think you to trace
  His footsteps? Who knows if the king, your father,
  Wishes the secret of his absence known?
  Perchance, while we are trembling for his life,
  The hero calmly plots some fresh intrigue,
  And only waits till the deluded fair--

  _Hippolytus._ Cease, dear Theramenes, respect the name
  Of Theseus. Youthful errors have been left
  Behind, and no unworthy obstacle
  Detains him. Phædra long has fix'd a heart
  Inconstant once, nor need she fear a rival.
  In seeking him I shall but do my duty,
  And leave a place I dare no longer see.

  _Theramenes._ Indeed! When, prince, did you begin to dread
  These peaceful haunts, so dear to happy childhood,
  Where I have seen you oft prefer to stay,
  Rather than meet the tumult and the pomp
  Of Athens and the court? What danger shun you,
  Or shall I say what grief?

  _Hippolytus._ That happy time
  Is gone, and all is changed, since to these shores
  The gods sent Phædra.

  _Theramenes._ I perceive the cause
  Of your distress. It is the queen whose sight
  Offends you. With a step-dame's spite she schemed
  Your exile soon as she set eyes on you.
  But if her hatred is not wholly vanish'd,
  It has at least taken a milder aspect.
  Besides, what danger can a dying woman,
  One too who longs for death, bring on your head?
  Can Phædra, sick'ning of a dire disease
  Of which she will not speak, weary of life
  And of herself, form any plots against you?

  _Hippolytus._ It is not her vain enmity I fear;
  Another foe alarms Hippolytus.
  I fly, it must be owned, from Aricia,
  The soul survivor of an impious race.

  _Theramenes._ What! You become her persecutor too!
  The gentle sister of the cruel sons
  Of Pallas shared not in their perfidy;
  Why should you hate such charming innocence?

  _Hippolytus._ I should not need to fly, if it were hatred.

  _Theramenes._ May I, then, learn the meaning of your flight?[8]

Another device is an intensely inquisitive stranger just returned from
foreign parts who listens with patience not always shared by an auditor
to any needed preliminary exposition.

_The Opportunity_,[9] by James Shirley, shows an ingenious adaptation of
the device of the inquisitive stranger newly come to some city. Aurelio,
a gentleman of Milan, coming to Urbino with his friend Pisauro, is
mistaken for Borgia, who has been banished from Urbino. As one person
after another, greeting Aurelio as Borgia, naturally talks to him of his
past, his family, and what is to be expected of him now that he is
returned, they identify and relate clearly to one another the chief
people whom Aurelio is to meet in the play. A hearer would take in
almost unconsciously the needed exposition, so amused would he be at the
increasing bewilderment of Aurelio.

Such ways and means as these three--the servant, the confidant, the
stranger--Buckingham ridiculed in the late seventeenth century in his

  _Enter Gentleman-Usher and Physician_

  _Physician._ Sir, by your habit, I should guess you to be the
  Gentleman-Usher of this sumptuous palace.

  _Usher._ And by your gait and fashion, I should almost suspect you
  rule the healths of both our noble Kings, under the notion of

  _Physician._ You hit my function right.

  _Usher._ And you mine.

  _Physician._ Then let's embrace.

  _Usher._ Come.

  _Physician._ Come.

  _Johnson._ Pray, sir, who are those so very civil persons?

  _Bayes._ Why, sir, the Gentleman-Usher and Physician of the two Kings
  of Brentford.

  _Johnson._ But, pray, then, how comes it to pass that they know one
  another no better?

  _Bayes._ Phoo! that's for the better carrying on of the plot.[10]

Another method, talking back to people off stage, as one enters, in such
a way as to bring out necessary facts, erence both used and ridiculed
centuries ago. This is his use of the device:

    _Enter Mysis_

  _Mysis._ (_Speaking to the housekeeper within._) I hear, Archilis, I
  hear: Your orders are to fetch Lesbia. On my word she's a drunken
  reckless creature, not at all a fit person to take charge of a woman
  in her first labour: am I to fetch her all the same? (_Comes

In the last lines of the following he ridicules this very use:

    _Re-enter Lesbia_

  _Lesbia._ (_Speaking through the doorway_.) So far, Archilis, the
  usual and proper symptoms for a safe delivery, I see them all here.
  After ablution give her the drink I ordered and in the prescribed
  quantity. I shall be back before long. (_Turning round._) Lor' me, but
  a strapping boy is born to Pamphilus. Heaven grant it live, for the
  father's a noble gentleman and has shrunk from wronging an excellent
  young lady. (_Exit._)

  _Simo._ For example now, wouldn't any one who knew you think you were
  at the bottom of this?

  _Davus._ Of what, sir?

  _Simo._ Instead of prescribing at the bedside what must be done for
  the mother, out she plumps and shouts it at them from the street.[12]

Lately the telephone, the stenographer, and most recently the dictaphone
have seemed to puzzled dramatists the swift road to successful initial
exposition. To all these human or unhuman aids some overburdened soul
has felt free to say anything the audience might need to hear. Probably
this use of the telephone has come to stay, for daily there is proof
that nothing is too intimate for it. There are, however, more ambitious
workers who, weary of servants, confidants, telephones, stenographers,
and dictaphones, want to set forth necessary information so naturally
that no one may question whether it might have come out in this way.
Also, they want the information to be so interestingly conveyed that an
auditor thinks of what is happening rather than merely of the facts.

In the first act of _The Second Mrs. Tanqueray_,[13] the audience must
hear a narrative setting forth Aubrey Tanqueray's position in society,
his first marriage, his relations with his daughter, and the nature of
his proposed second marriage. What complicates the task is that the
narrative must be told to old friends, so that much of it is to them
well known. What device will make the narrative, under the
circumstances, plausible? Here is where a modern dramatist sighs for the
serviceable heralds, messengers, and chorus of plays of decades long
past or for the freer methods in narrative of the novelist. How easy to
tell much of this in your own person, as have Thackeray or Meredith, in
comparison with stating it through another so placed that he will be
glad to hear again much which he already knows! The necessity creates
with Sir Arthur the device of the little supper party in Aubrey
Tanqueray's chambers in the Albany, to which he has invited four of his
oldest friends. The moment chosen for the opening of the play is when
the old friends, over the coffee, fall quite naturally into reminiscent
vein. What helps to freer exposition is their chance to talk of Cayley
Drummle, who, even yet, though bidden, has not appeared. Before the chat
is over and Cayley enters, much needed information is in the minds of
the audience. Cayley brings news of a terrible _mésalliance_ in a family
known to all the supper party. In his efforts to advise and comfort the
distracted mother he has been kept from the meeting of old friends. The
news leads Aubrey Tanqueray to avow his quixotic scheme for a second
marriage. Through the contrasting comments of the friends, even through
their reservations, the audience becomes perfectly informed as to the
view the world will take of this second marriage. Indeed, as the supper
party breaks up, all the audience requires in order to listen
intelligently to the succeeding acts, is a chance to see Paula herself.
Her impulsive visit to Tanqueray, just after the supper party ends,
provides the information needed, for in it her character is sketched in
broadly as it will be filled out in detail in the succeeding acts.
Evidently device, the ingenious discovery of a plausible reason for
exposition necessary in a play, is basal in the best stage narrative.
Without it, character is sacrificed to mere necessary exposition; with
it, the spectator, absorbed by incident or characterization, learns
unconsciously that without which he cannot intelligently and
sympathetically follow the story of the play. In other words, successful
discovery of devices for such exposition clearly means that disguising
which is essential to the best narrative in drama.

The first quality of good expository device is clearness. Secondly, it
should be an adequate reason for the exposition it contains: i.e., it
must seem natural that the facts should come out in this way. Thirdly,
and of the utmost importance, the device must be something so
interesting in itself as to hold the attention of an auditor while
necessary facts are insinuated into his mind. Lastly, the device should
permit this preliminary exposition to be given swiftly. It is hard to
conceal exposition as such if the movement is as slow as in the first
two scenes of Act I of _The Journey of Papa Perrichon_.


  _The Lyons railway station at Paris. At the back, a turn-stile opening
  on the waiting-rooms. At the back, right, a ticket window. At the
  back, left, benches, a cake vender; at the left, a book stall._

SCENE 1. _Majorin, A Railway Official, Travelers, Porters_

  _Majorin._ (_Walking about impatiently._) Still this Perrichon doesn't
  come! Already I've waited an hour.... Certainly it is today that he is
  to set out for Switzerland with his wife and daughter. (_Bitterly._)
  Carriage builders who go to Switzerland! Carriage builders who have
  forty thousand pounds a year income! Carriage builders who keep their
  carriages! What times these are! While I,--I am earning two thousand
  four hundred francs ... a clerk, hard-working, intelligent, always
  bent over his desk.... Today I asked for leave ... I said it was my
  day for guard duty.... It is absolutely necessary that I see Perrichon
  before his departure.... I want to ask him to advance me my quarter's
  salary.... Six hundred francs! He is going to put on his patronizing
  air ... make himself important ... a carriage builder! It's a shame!
  Still he doesn't come! One would say that he did it on purpose!
  (_Addressing a porter who passes, followed by travelers._) Monsieur,
  at what time does the train start for Lyons?

  _Porter._ (_Brusquely._) Ask the official. (_He goes out at the

  _Majorin._ Thanks ... clodhopper! (_Addressing the official who is
  near the ticket window._) Monsieur, at what time does the through
  train start for Lyons?

  _The Official._ (_Brusquely._) That doesn't concern me! Look at the
  poster. (_He points to a poster in the left wings._)

  _Majorin._ Thanks.... (_Aside._) The politeness of these corporations!
  If ever you come to my office, you...! Let's have a look at the
  poster.... (_He goes out at the left._)

  SCENE 2. _The Official, Perrichon, Madame Perrichon, Henriette_

    (_They enter at the right_)

  _Perrichon._ Here we are! Let's keep together! We couldn't find each
  other again.... Where is our baggage? (_Looking to the right; into the
  wings._) Ah, that's all right! Who has the umbrellas?

  _Henriette._ I, papa.

  _Perrichon._ And the carpet bag? The cloaks?

  _Madame Perrichon._ Here they are!

  _Perrichon._ And my panama? It has been left in the cab! (_Making a
  movement to rush out and checking himself._) Ah! No! I have it in my
  hand!... Phew, but I'm hot!

  _Madame Perrichon._ It is your own fault!... You hurried us, you
  hustled us!... I don't like to travel like that!

  _Perrichon._ It is the departure which is tiresome ... once we are
  settled!... Stay here, I am going to get the tickets.... (_Giving his
  hat to Henriette._) There, keep my panama for me.... (_At the ticket
  window._) Three, first class, for Lyons!...

  _The Official._ (_Brusquely._) Not open yet! In a quarter of an hour!

  _Perrichon._ (_To the official._) Ah! pardon me! It is the first time
  I have traveled.... (_Returning to his wife._) We are early.

  _Madame Perrichon._ There! When I told you we should have time. You
  wouldn't let us breakfast!

  _Perrichon._ It is better to be early! ... one can look about the
  station! (_To Henriette._) Well, little daughter, are you
  satisfied?... Here we are, about to set out!... A few minutes yet, and
  then, swift as the arrow of William Tell, we rush toward the Alps!
  (_To his wife._) You brought the opera glasses?

  _Madame Perrichon._ Of course!

  _Henriette._ (_To her father._) I'm not criticizing, papa, but it is
  now two years, at least, since you promised us this trip.

  _Perrichon._ My daughter, I had to sell my business.... A merchant
  does not retire from business as easily as his little daughter leaves
  boarding school.... Besides, I was waiting for your education to be
  ended in order to complete it by revealing to you the splendid
  spectacle of nature!

  _Madame Perrichon._ Are you going on in that strain?

  _Perrichon._ What do you mean?

  _Madame Perrichon._ Phrase-making in a railway station!

  _Perrichon._ I am not making phrases.... I'm improving the child's
  mind. (_Drawing a little notebook from his pocket._) Here, my
  daughter, is a notebook I've bought for you.

  _Henriette._ For what purpose?

  _Perrichon._ To write on one side the expenses, and on the other the

  _Henriette._ What impressions?

  _Perrichon._ Our impressions of the trip! You shall write, and I will

  _Madame Perrichon._ What! You are now going to become an author?

  _Perrichon._ There's no question of my becoming an author ... but it
  seems to me that a man of the world can have some thoughts and record
  them in a notebook!

  _Madame Perrichon._ That will be fine, indeed!

  _Perrichon._ (_Aside._) She is like that every time she doesn't take
  her coffee!

  _A Porter._ (_Pushing a little cart loaded with baggage._) Monsieur,
  here is your baggage. Do you wish to have it checked?

  _Perrichon._ Certainly! But first, I am going to count them ...
  because, when one knows the number ... One, two, three, four, five,
  six, my wife, seven, my daughter, eight, and for myself, nine. We are

  _Porter._ Put it up there!

  _Perrichon._ (_Hurrying toward the back._) Hurry!

  _Porter._ Not that way, this way! (_He points to the left._)

  _Perrichon._ All right! (_To the women._) Wait for me there! We
  mustn't get lost! (_He goes out running, following the porter._)[14]

The first scene undoubtedly helps to create the atmosphere of a large
railway station, but everything in it could be brought out in what is
now Scene 2. Even the way in which Majorin is passed from one employee
to the other could be transferred to Perrichon. Every fact in Majorin's
soliloquy is either repeated in the scenes which follow, or could easily
be brought out in them.

What has made necessary this swifter preliminary exposition is,
probably, the growing popularity of three or four acts as compared with
five. Less space has forced a swifter movement. Contrast, in the
five-act piece _Une Chaine_[15] by Scribe, the slow exposition in a
first act of thirty-two pages with the perfectly adequate re-statement
in six and a half pages in the one-act adaptation by Sidney Grundy, _In
Honour Bound_.[16]

It is easy, however, to overload a first act with what seems needed
exposition but is not. Careful consideration may show that some part may
be postponed for "later exposition." Here is the history which lies
behind Act I of Sudermann's _Heimat_, or _Magda_.[17] The famous singer,
Dall'Orto, who was Magda Schwartze, has returned to her native place for
a music festival. Ten years before she was driven from home by her
father, an army officer, because she would not marry the man of his
choice, Pastor Hefferdingt. Going to Berlin to train her voice, she was
betrayed by young von Keller, a former acquaintance. After six months he
deserted her. A child was born to whom she is passionately devoted. Von
Keller is now a much respected citizen of the home town, who lives in
awe of public opinion. He and Magda have not met since their Berlin days
and he does not know there was a child. Since his return to the town he
has kept away from the Schwartzes. Hefferdingt has remained single,
devoting himself to good works. Magda's father nearly lost his mind
from an apoplectic shock when he learned of her flight, but he has won
back some part of his health through the wise and tender aid of
Hefferdingt. There has been no communication between Magda and her
family in the ten years. Now the younger sister Marie is engaged to the
nephew of von Keller, Max, but the young people have not enough money to
marry. They have been hoping that an aunt, Franziska, who caused Magda
much unhappiness in the old days, will aid them. The narrow life of the
town and the subservience of the Schwartzes to it had much to do with
the rebelliousness of Magda as a girl. Through hard work and much bitter
experience, she has won a supreme place in the world of music. She has
developed a somewhat cynical philosophy of life which calls for complete
self-expression, at any cost to others. She craves sight of her family
again, and especially of Marie, a mere child when Magda left home.

Somewhere in the course of the play an audience must learn all these
facts. How many of them must be set forth in Act I, and how many may be
set apart for "later exposition"? Sudermann decided to postpone till Act
II any detailed statement of the past relations between Magda and
Hefferdingt. In Act I we learn only that he wished to marry Magda, and
that there is anger in the family because of the way in which she
refused him. What that was is not stated. Thus by giving mystery to
these past relations of Magda and Hefferdingt, curiosity and interest
are aroused and suspense created.

Of Magda's relations with von Keller we really learn nothing in Act I.
We are, it is true, made to suspect that his admitted meeting with her
in Berlin covers more than he is willing to reveal, and that his
avoidance of the Schwartzes means something, but we learn nothing
clearly until Act III. Not till then do we know a child was born and is
still alive. In other words, postponing detailed exposition of these
matters provides the most important scene of Act II, that of Hefferdingt
and Magda, and the central scene of Act III between von Keller and
Magda. Note that deciding what shall be preliminary and what later
exposition has much to do here, as always, with creating Suspense, a
subject which will be treated under Movement. A difficult task for the
dramatist is this determining what in the historical background of his
play must be treated as preliminary exposition, and what may be
postponed for later treatment, when the real action of the play is well
under way.

Even when it is clear just what must go into preliminary exposition the
ordering of the details chosen is very important. Look again at _Magda_.
It is love for Marie which, in large part, draws Magda to her home, and
at first keeps her there. The love affair which Magda fled from seemed
to her conventional. Sudermann opens his play, therefore, with a picture
of the thoroughly conventional engagement of Max and Marie, but
remembering that the sooner a dramatist creates interest the better, he
starts with the mysterious bouquet, far too expensive if sent by Max to
Marie and wholly unacceptable if sent by any one else. When Max,
entering, says that the flowers are not from him, there is a chance to
emphasize two points of importance: the lovers' lack of money, and their
fear of gossip. Meantime the fact has been planted that there is a music
festival in the town. As the two young people talk of their need and the
people who might help them, we learn that the father thinks Magda's
departure was for some reason a "blot" on the family, and that
Hefferdingt wished to marry her. The call of von Keller shows that since
his return home he has been distant toward the Schwartzes; that he is
afraid of public opinion; and that he met Magda in Berlin, "but only for
a moment, on the street." With the entrance of the father and mother we
have the petty social ambitions of the latter, and the tyrannical
attitude of the former toward his family. The scene with von Klebs and
Beckmann not only illustrates social conditions in the town, but begins
to connect Dall'Orto with the lost daughter by showing the extraordinary
interest of Hefferdingt in meeting the singer. The coming of Aunt
Franziska with her announcement that the Dall'Orto is Magda ends the
preliminary exposition, for with the arrival of Hefferdingt and his
effort to bring Magda home, the real action of the play begins.
Obviously much thought and care have gone into the re-ordering of these
details, so that the facts which must be first understood are stated
first and so that there shall be growing interest through the creation
of more and more suspense.

In one of the early drafts of _Rosmersholm_, the opening page ran as
follows. Note that there is no mention of any "white horses."

  (_Mrs. Rosmer is standing by the farthest window, arranging the
  flowers. Madam Helset enters from the right with a basket of table

  _Madam Helset._ I suppose I had better begin to lay the tea-table,

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ Yes, please do. He must soon be in now.

  _Madam Helset._ (_Laying the cloth._) No, he won't come just yet; for
  I saw him from the kitchen--

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ Yes, yes--

  _Madam Helset._--on the other side of the millpond. At first, he was
  going straight across the foot-bridge; but then he turned back--

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ Did he?

  _Madam Helset._ Yes, and then he went all the way round. Ah, it's
  strange about such places. A place where a thing like that has
  happened--there--. It stays there; it isn't forgotten so soon.

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ No, it is not forgotten.

  _Madam Helset._ No, indeed it isn't. (_Goes out to the right._)

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ (_At the window, looking out._) Forget. Forget, ah!

  _Madam Helset._ (_In the doorway._) I've just seen the rector, ma'am.
  He's coming here.

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ Are you sure of that?

  _Madam Helset._ Yes, he went across the millpond.

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ And my husband is not at home.

  _Madam Helset._ The tea is ready as soon as you want it.

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ But wait; we can't tell whether he'll stay.

  _Madam Helset._ Yes, yes. (_Goes out to the right._)

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ (_Goes over and opens the door to the hall._) Good
  afternoon; how glad I am to see you, my dear Rector![18]

In this version the "white horses" appear, definitely explained, after
some sixteen pages:

  _Rosmer._ ... My former self is dead. I look upon it as one looks upon
  a corpse.

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ Yes, but that is just when these white horses appear.

  _Rosmer._ White horses? What white horses?

  (_Madam Helset brings in the tea-urn and puts it on the table._)

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ What was it you told me once, Madam Helset? You said
  that from time immemorial a strange thing happened here whenever one
  of the family died.

  _Madam Helset._ Yes, it's true as I'm alive. Then the white horse

  _Rosmer._ Oh, that old family legend--

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ In it comes when the night is far gone. Into the
  courtyard. Through closed gates. Neighs loudly. Launches out with its
  hind legs, gallops once round and then out again and away at full

  _Madam Helset._ Yes, that's how it is. Both my mother and my
  grandmother have seen it.

  _Mrs. Rosmer._ And you too?

  _Madam Helset._ Oh, I'm not so sure whether I've seen anything myself.
  I don't generally believe in such things. But this about the white
  horse--I do believe in that. And I shall believe in it till the day of
  my death. Well, now I'll go and-- (_Goes out to the right._)[19]

In the final draft, Ibsen put the "white horses" into his opening page.
The beginning of this draft emphasizes particularly a grim, unexplained
tragedy. The most mysterious touch in the new arrangement is given by
the "white horses," here treated referentially, not in definite

  (_Sitting-room at Rosmersholm; spacious, old-fashioned, and

  (_Rebecca West is sitting in an easy chair by the window and
  crocheting a large white woolen shawl, which is nearly finished. Now
  and then she looks out expectantly through the leaves of the plants.
  Soon after, Madam Helseth enters from the right._)

  _Madam Helseth._ I suppose I'd better begin to lay the table, Miss?

  _Rebecca West._ Yes, please do. The Pastor must soon be in now.

  _Madam Helseth._ Do you feel the draught, Miss, where you're sitting?

  _Rebecca._ Yes, there is a little draught. Perhaps you had better shut
  the window.

    (_Madame Helseth shuts the door into the hall, and then comes to the

  _Madam Helseth._ (_About to shut the window, looks out._) Why, isn't
  that the Pastor over there?

  _Rebecca._ (_Hastily._) Where? (_Rises._) Yes, it's he. (_Behind the
  curtain._) Stand aside, don't let him see us.

  _Madam Helseth._ (_Keeping back from the window._) Only think, Miss,
  he's beginning to take the path by the mill again.

  _Rebecca._ He went that way the day before yesterday, too. (_Peeps out
  between the curtains and the window frame._) But let us see whether--

  _Madam Helseth._ Will he venture across the foot-bridge?

  _Rebecca._ That's what I want to see. (_After a pause._) No, he's
  turning. He's going by the upper road again. (_Leaves the window._) A
  long way round.

  _Madam Helseth._ Dear Lord, yes. No wonder the Pastor thinks twice
  about setting foot on _that_ bridge. A place where a thing like that
  has happened--

  _Rebecca._ (_Folding up her work._) They cling to their dead here at

  _Madam Helseth._ Now _I_ would say, Miss, that it's the dead that
  clings to Rosmersholm.

  _Rebecca._ (_Looks at her._) The dead?

  _Madam Helseth._ Yes, it's almost as if they couldn't tear themselves
  away from the folk that are left.

  _Rebecca._ What makes you fancy that?

  _Madam Helseth._ Well, if it weren't for that, there would be no white
  horse, I suppose.

  _Rebecca._ Now what _is_ all this about the white horse, Madam

  _Madam Helseth._ Oh, I don't like to talk about it. And, besides, you
  don't believe in such things.

  _Rebecca._ Do _you_ believe in them?

  _Madam Helseth._ (_Goes and shuts the window._) Now you're making fun
  of me, Miss. (_Looks out._) Why, isn't that Mr. Rosmer on the mill
  path again--?

  _Rebecca._ (_Looks out._) That man there? (_Goes to the window._) No,
  it's the Rector!

  _Madam Helseth._ Yes, so it is.

  _Rebecca._ How glad I am! You'll see, he's coming here.

  _Madam Helseth._ He goes straight over the foot-bridge, _he_ does, and
  yet she was his sister, his own flesh and blood. Well, I'll go and lay
  the table then, Miss West.

    (_She goes out to the right. Rebecca stands at the window for a short
    time; then smiles and nods to some one outside. It begins to grow

  _Rebecca._ (_Goes to the door on the right._) Oh, Madam Helseth, you
  might give us some little extra dish for supper. You know what the
  Rector likes best.

  _Madam Helseth._ (_Outside._) Oh yes, Miss, I'll see to it.

  _Rebecca._ (_Opens the door to the hall._) At last! How glad I am to
  see you, my dear Rector.[20]

How a dramatist opens his play is, then, very important. He is writing
supposedly for people who, except on a few historical subjects, know
nothing of his material. If so, as soon as possible, he must make them
understand: (1) who his people are; (2) where his people are; (3) the
time of the play; and (4) what in the present and past relations of his
characters causes the story. Is it any wonder that Ibsen, when writing
_The Pillars of Society_, said: "In a few days I shall have the first
act ready; and that is always the most difficult act of the play"?[21]

What has just been said as to ordering the details in preliminary
exposition is equivalent to saying: Decide where, in this exposition,
you will place your emphasis. What a dramatist is trying to do will not
be clear throughout his play unless he knows how properly to emphasize
his material, for it is above all else emphasis which reveals the
meaning of a play. Right emphasis depends basally on knowing what
exactly is the desired total effect of the piece,--a picture, a thesis,
a character study, or a story. Remember that Dumas fils said: "You
cannot very well know where you should come out, when you don't know
where you are going." Often, too, a play is either meant to set people
thinking of undesirable social conditions, or to state a distinct
thesis. With these two kinds particularly in mind, Mr. Galsworthy has
said: "A drama must be shaped so as to have a spire of meaning."[22]

Whatever we make prominent by repetition, by elaborate treatment, by the
position given it in an act or in the play as a whole, or by striking
illustration, we emphasize, for it stays in the memory and shapes the
meaning of a play for an auditor. In _Othello_, why does Shakespeare
bring forward Iago at the end of an act as chorus to his own villainy?
In order that the audience may not go astray as to the purposes of Iago
and the general meaning of the play. Hence the soliloquies: "Thus do I
ever make my fool my purse," as well as "And what's he, then, that says
I play the villain?" It might almost be said that good drama consists in
right selection of necessary illustrative action and in right emphasis.

Even though the general exposition of a play be clear, it is sure,
without well-handled emphasis, to leave a confused effect. When a play
runs away with its author, its emphasis is always bad. The cause of this
trouble usually is that the author drifts or rushes on, as the case may
be, lured by an idea which he tries to present dramatically; or by the
development of some character who, for the moment, possesses his
imagination; or by the handling of some scene of large dramatic
possibilities. In a recent play meant to illustrate amusingly a series
of situations arising from the gossip of a small town, Act I so ended
that a reader could not tell whether the school principal, a woman
dentist, or the atmosphere of gossip was meant to be of prime
importance. Nor was this poor emphasis ever corrected anywhere. Result:
a confusing play.

A story-play in some respects of great merit failed in its total effect
because the author never really knew whether it was a study of the
deterioration of a young man's character or of a mother's
self-sacrificing and redeeming love, a mere story-play, or a drama
intended to drive home a central idea which, apparently, always eluded
the author. Fine realism of detail, good characterization in places, and
genuine if scattered interest could not carry this play to success.

In another play, Act I ended with the failure of a well-intentioned
friend to take a child from her father for her better bringing-up.
Apparently, we were entering upon a study of parental affection. In Act
II, however, this interest practically disappeared, and we were asked to
give all our attention to the way in which a son-in-law was bringing
ruin upon this same parent. In Act III, another cause for anxiety on the
part of the parent appeared, the other disappearing. At the end of the
play, however, we were expected to understand that the fond parent was
in sight of calm weather. Proper emphasis which would have brought out
the central idea illustrated by each of the acts was missing.

In _The Trap_, a four-act play developed from a vaudeville sketch, lack
of good emphasis went far to spoil an interesting play. In the original
sketch, a woman, induced by lies of the villain, comes to the apartment
of a man who has at one time been in love with her. She is determined to
know whether what the villain has told her is true or not. All is a trap
which the villain has set for her. From it the astuteness and quick
decision of her former admirer rescue her. In the vaudeville sketch, it
was the former lover who was the active person,--advising, scheming, and
controlling the situation. When this was made over, in Act I the heroine
was the central figure; in Act II the villain took this position away
from her; in Act III the hero, as in the original sketch, had the centre
of the stage; in Act IV there was an attempt to bring the heroine back
into prominence, but she divided interest with the hero. As a result of
this uncertain emphasis, the play seemed intended for the heroine but
taken away from her by the greater human appeal of the hero. Just as the
lecturer keeps clear from start to finish the main theme of his
discourse and the bearing upon it of the various divisions of the work,
the dramatist keeps his main purpose clear and also the relations to it
of scenes and acts. This he does by well-handled emphasis. Othello, for
instance, must have some proof which the audience will believe
conclusive for him of Desdemona's infidelity. This is the handkerchief
which Iago tells Othello that Desdemona gave to Cassio. Notice the
iteration with which this handkerchief is impressed upon the attention
of the public just before it is used as conclusive proof of Desdemona's

  _Othello._ I have a pain upon my forehead here.

  _Desdemona._ Faith, that's with watching; 'twill away again:
  Let me but bind it hard, within this hour
  It will be well.

  _Othello._ Your napkin is too little;    (_Lets fall her napkin._)
  Let it alone. Come, I'll go in with you.

  _Desdemona._ I am very sorry that you are not well.
                                (_Exeunt Othello and Desdemona._)

  _Emilia._ I am glad I have found this napkin;
  This was her first remembrance from the Moor.
  My wayward husband hath a hundred times
  Woo'd me to steal it; but she so loves the token,
  For he conjur'd her she should ever keep it,
  That she reserves it evermore about her
  To kiss and talk to. I'll have the work ta'en out,
  And give it to Iago. What he will do with it
  Heaven knows, not I;
  I nothing but to please his fantasy.

    (_Re-enter Iago_)

  _Iago._ How now! what do you here alone?

  _Emilia._ Do not you chide; I have a thing for you.

  _Iago._ A thing for me? It is a common thing--

  _Emilia._ Ha!

  _Iago._ To have a foolish wife.

  _Emilia._ Oh, is that all? What will you give me now
  For that same handkerchief?

  _Iago._ What handkerchief?

  _Emilia._ What handkerchief!
  Why, that the Moor first gave to Desdemona;
  That which so often you did bid me steal.

  _Iago._ Hast stolen it from her?

  _Emilia._ No, faith; she let it drop by negligence,
  And, to the advantage, I, being here took't up.
  Look, here it is.

  _Iago._ A good wench; give it me.

  _Emilia._ What will you do with't, that you have been so earnest
  To have me filch it?

  _Iago._ (_Snatching it._) Why, what is that to you?

  _Emilia._ If it be not for some purpose of import,
  Give't me again. Poor lady, she'll run mad
  When she shall lack it.

  _Iago._ Be not acknown on't; I have use for it,
  Go, leave me.                          (_Exit Emilia._)
  I will in Cassio's lodging lose this napkin,
  And let him find it. Trifles light as air
  Are to the jealous confirmations strong
  As proofs of holy writ; this may do something.
  The Moor already changes with my poison,
  Dangerous conceits are, in their natures, poisons,
  Which at the first are scarce found to distaste,
  But with a little act upon the blood,
  Burn like the mines of sulphur.[23]

Five times the handkerchief is mentioned. The first time the action is
such that Othello specially notices the handkerchief. The second time we
find another reason why the Moor should specially remember the
handkerchief, and learn that Iago wants it for some reason of his own.
The third time appears the iteration,

           ... that same handkerchief?

  _Iago._ What handkerchief?

  _Emilia._ What handkerchief!

and emphasis on the ideas already stated:

  _Emilia._ Why, that the Moor first gave to Desdemona;
  That which so often you did bid me steal.

The next time, the action, as Iago snatches the handkerchief and Emilia
tries to get it back, holds it before our attention. Finally, Iago, left
alone, tells us his malicious scheme in regard to it. Surely, after all
this, the audience has been properly prepared for the scenes in which
Iago deceives and enrages Othello by means of this very handkerchief.

In the first few minutes of the play, _Lady Windermere's Fan,_ the
attention of the audience is drawn to the fan:

  _Lady Windermere._ My hands are all wet with these roses. Aren't they
  lovely? They came up from Selby this morning.

  _Lord Darlington._ They are quite perfect. (_Sees a fan lying on the
  table._) And what a wonderful fan! May I look at it?

  _Lady Windermere._ Do. Pretty, isn't it! It's got my name on it, and
  everything. [Note the emphasis here.] I have only just seen it myself.
  It's my husband's birthday present to me. You know today is my

  _Lord Darlington._ No? Is it really?[24]

Just before the close of the first act, it is with this fan that Lady
Windermere points her threat against Mrs. Erlynne:

  _Lady Windermere._ (_Picking up fan._) Yes, you gave me this fan
  today; it was your birthday present. If that woman crosses my
  threshold I shall strike her across the face with it.

That Lady Windermere owns a fan; that it bears her name; that, as a gift
chosen by her husband and recently given her, he must recognize it on
sight: all these important facts have been planted by neat emphasis when
Act I ends. Even in Act II, the fan is kept before the public. Just
before Mrs. Erlynne enters, we have:

  _Lady Windermere._ Will you hold my fan for me, Lord Darlington?

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Lady Windermere._ (_Moves up._) Lord Darlington, will you give me
  back my fan, please? Thanks.... A useful thing, a fan, isn't it?

When Mrs. Erlynne enters, Lady Windermere "clutches at her fan, then
lets it drop on the floor":

  _Lord Darlington._ You have dropped your fan, Lady Windermere. (_Picks
  it up and hands it to her._)

Such careful emphasizing makes sure that Lord Windermere's instant
recognition of the significance of finding the fan in Lord Darlington's
rooms, in the critical scene of the third act, will be immediately
shared by any audience.

Mr. Augustus Thomas, in Act II of _As a Man Thinks_, wishes his audience
to feel instantly the full significance of the opera libretto picked up
by Hoover, as he watches Elinor enter the apartment of De Lota.
Therefore, earlier in the act he emphasizes as follows:

  _Elinor._ (_To Burril._) Here's a libretto of Aida. Find that passage
  of which you spoke.

  _Burril._ There were several.

  _Mrs. Seelig._ Our coffee won't interfere with your cigars.

  _De Lota._ Do you mind?

  _Elinor._ This room is dedicated to nicotine. (_To Mrs. Seelig._)
  Besides, we're going to take Dr. De Lota to the piano.

  _De Lota._ Are you?

  _Elinor._ (_To Vedah._) Aren't we?

  _Vedah._ We are.

  _Burril._ Here's one place. (_His pencil breaks._) Ah!

  _Clayton._ (_Offering a pencil attached to his watch chain._) Here.

  _Burril._ (_Giving libretto to Clayton._) Just mark that passage--"My
  native land," etc. (_To Elinor._) Now follow that when Aida sings
  Italian and note how the English stumbles.[25]

Two pages later, as Elinor goes out to the automobile, in order that the
audience may see the libretto of which we have heard so much pass into
the hands of De Lota, we have this:

  _Elinor._ Take this for me. (_Hands libretto to De Lota._)

Later in the act, when Judge Hoover is telling Clayton that he saw some
woman with De Lota as he was entering the apartment, the dialogue runs:

  _Clayton._ You spoke to him?

  _Hoover. Called_ to him.

  _Clayton._ Called?

  _Hoover._ Yes--I was forty feet away.

  _Clayton._ Had your nerve with you.

  _Hoover._ The girl dropped something--I thought it was a fan.

  _Clayton._ Well?

  _Hoover._ 'Twasn't--but that's why I called De Lota.

  _Clayton._ How do you know it wasn't?

  _Hoover._ I picked it up.

  _Clayton._ What was it?

  _Hoover._ A libretto.

  _Clayton._ What libretto?

  _Hoover._ Don't know--but grand opera--I remember that and libretto--

  _Clayton._ You threw it away?

  _Hoover._ No--kept it.

  _Clayton._ Where is it?

  _Hoover._ Overcoat pocket.

  _Clayton._ (_Pause._) I'd like to see it. Think I could have some fun
  with De Lota.

  _Hoover._ (_Going up the hallway._) My idea too--fun and word of
  caution. (_Gets coat and returns, feeling in pocket for libretto._)

  _Clayton._ Caution--naturally.

  _Hoover._ Here it is. (_Reads._) Aida.

  _Clayton._ (_Taking libretto savagely._) Aida--let me see it.

  _Hoover._ What's the matter? (_Puts coat on a chair._)

  _Clayton._ (_In sudden anger, throws book._) The dog! Damn him--damn
  both of them!

  _Hoover._ What is it? See here--Who's with Dick?

  _Clayton._ Not his mother--no! (_Points to libretto on the floor._)
  Marked. _I_ did that myself, not an hour ago, and gave it to her.

  _Hoover._ To Elinor?

  _Clayton._ (_Calling as he rushes to the hall._) Sutton! Sutton!

  _Hoover._ Hold on, Frank--there's some mistake.

  _Clayton._ Get me a cab--never mind--I'll take Seelig's machine.
  (_Disappears._) Here! Doctor Seelig says to take me to--
    (_He goes out. Door bangs._)

    _Sutton enters from the dining-room_

  _Sutton._ Is Master Dick in danger, sir?

  _Hoover._ (_Nervously._) I don't know, Sutton. Where's his mother?

  _Sutton._ Opera, sir.

  _Hoover._ With whom?

  _Sutton._ Mr. De Lota.

Because of the emphasis given the libretto in the first quotation, the
audience's suspicions are roused at the same time as Clayton's and his
emotions are theirs. Yet, even in this last scene, note the care of Mr.
Thomas to make all absolutely clear. He does not stop when Hoover says
"A libretto," and "Of grand opera," but he lets the audience see the
same libretto which passed from Elinor to De Lota pass from Hoover to
Clayton, the latter identifying it in his cry, "Aida." That there may be
absolutely no doubt in the evidence piling up against Elinor, he has
Clayton point to the marked place with the words: "I did that myself."

Emphasis, as in these three instances, may come on some
detail--handkerchief, fan, libretto--which is to be made important later
in the development of the plot. It may come within a scene or act, or at
the end of either to emphasize a part or the whole of the scene or act.
The soliloquies of Iago referred to on page 183 are of this sort.
Emphasis may stress little by little or with one blow what the play
means. The significance of the whole play _Strife_--the utter
uselessness of the conflict chronicled--is thus emphasized in the last
lines of the play:

  _Harness._ A woman dead; and the two best men both broken!

  _Tench._ (_Staring at him--suddenly excited._) D'you know, sir--these
  terms, they're the _very same_ we drew up together, you and I, and put
  to both sides before the fight began? All this--all this--and--and
  what for?

  _Harness._ (_In a slow, grim voice._) That's where the fun comes in!
  (_Underwood without turning from the door makes a gesture of assent._)

    _The curtain falls_[26]

_The Second Mrs. Tanqueray_[27] illustrates the play in which emphasis
little by little brings out the meaning of the whole piece. Examine even
the first act. It is full of the feeling: "It cannot nor it will not
come to good." Tanqueray himself says frankly, "My marriage is not even
the conventional sort of marriage likely to satisfy society." Drummle
coming in declares that George Orreyed is "a thing of the past,"
because he has married Mabel Hervey. The group of old friends show
anxiety, and it is clear that to the mind of Cayley Drummle Tanqueray is
but repeating the rash step of Orreyed. The whole act prepares for the
finale of the play.

Hervieu's _The Trail of the Torch_ shows the emphasis which strikes one
hard blow and leaves to the rest of the play illustration of what has
been clearly stressed. About one third of the way through Act I, Maravon
explains to Sabine the thesis which the entire play illustrates:

  _Sabine._ (_Pointing to the two who have just gone._) Ah, my dear
  Maravon, what an absurd friend I have there!

  _Maravon._ Mme. Gribert, you mean?

  _Sabine._ Haven't you noticed that she is beginning to look like a
  governess? I suppose it's because she has been doing a governess' work
  for so long that she has ceased to have any personal existence. She no
  longer cares to possess anything of her own, everything belongs to her
  daughter, and her husband works his fingers to the bone to pay for
  Beatrice's dresses, while Beatrice lords it over both of them in a way
  that is beginning to be just a trifle odious.

  _Maravon._ I'm afraid I don't agree with you, Madame. With naively
  natural beings, like these, I enjoy watching the family wheels
  function with such simplicity. People of this kind conform to the law
  which begins by demanding of the mother the flesh of her flesh, often
  her beauty, her health, and, if need be, her life, for the formation
  of the child. And then, for the profit of the newer generation, Nature
  exerts herself to despoil the old. She exacts without stint from the
  parents in the shape of labors, anxieties, expenses, gifts, and
  sacrifices, all of their vital forces to equip, arm, and decorate
  their sons and daughters who are descending into the plain of the
  future. Take my own case, for instance. There was the question of my
  son's position in life. Didier was able to persuade me very quickly
  that my property would be better placed, for the future, in his hands.
  To show you that Mme. Gribert and her daughter are merely following
  out a tradition of the remotest antiquity, if you can endure the
  pedantry of an old college professor, I will give you an example from
  the classics.

  _Sabine._ Oh! Please do.

  _Maravon._ You have probably never heard of the "Lampadophories," have
  you? Well, on certain solemn occasions the citizens of Athens placed
  themselves at regular intervals, forming a sort of chain through the
  city. The first one lighted a torch at an altar, ran to the second and
  passed to him the light, and he to a third who ran to the fourth and
  so on, from hand to hand. Each one of the chain ran onward without
  ever looking back and without any idea except to keep the flame alight
  and pass it on to the next man. Then, breathlessly stopping, each saw
  nothing but the progress of the flaming light, as each followed it
  with his eyes, his then useless anxiety, and superfluous vows. In that
  Trail of the Torch has been seen a symbol of all the generations of
  the earth, though it is not I, but my very ancient friend Plato, and
  the good poet Lucretius, who made the analogy.

  _Sabine._ That is not at all my idea of family relations. From my
  point of view, receiving life entails as great an obligation as giving
  it. There is a certain sort of link which makes the obligations
  counter balance. Since Nature has not made it possible for children to
  bring themselves into the world, of their own accord, I say that it
  was her intention to impose upon them a debt to those who give them

  _Maravon._ They absolve that debt by giving life in turn to their

  _Sabine._ They absolve it by filial piety which has been the
  inspiration of many deeds of heroism as you seem to forget.[28]

A recent editor of Hauptmann's _Gabriel Schilling's Flight_ writes of
it: "His analysis is projected creatively in the characters of the two
women--Evelyn Schilling and Hanna Elias. What is it, in these women,
that--different as they are--menaces the man and the artist Schilling?
It is a passion for possession, for absorption, a hunger of the nerves
rather than of the heart. These modern women have abandoned the simple
and sane preoccupations of their grandmothers; the enormous garnered
nervous energy that is no longer expended in household tasks and in
childbearing strikes itself, beak and clawlike, into man. But man has
not changed. His occupations are not gone. He cannot endure the double
burden. That is why Gabriel Schilling, rather than be destroyed
spiritually by these tyrannies and exactions, seeks a last refuge in the
great and cleansing purity of the sea.

  'The modern malady of love is nerves.'"[29]

It is possible that all this may be derived from the play, but the
Berlin audience which watched its first night left the theatre
bewildered in more than one respect. There were a half-dozen opinions as
to what this ugly story of a very weak man was meant to signify. Was it
simply the tale of a weak man? Was it meant to show, as Professor
Lewisohn thinks, that creation in an artist not naturally weak at first
may be killed if he is pursued by women selfish in their love? Does the
ending, however, show that Hanna is entirely selfish? Does the play
signify that the man who chooses to follow women rather than his art is
lost? Why is there so much emphasis on the awesomeness of Nature on the
island? Have these conditions of Nature anything to do with Schilling's
death? If so, do they not mitigate the effect upon him of the women?
Lack of well-placed emphasis made _Gabriel Schilling's Flight_ a
failure, interesting as were the questions it raised and masterly as is
much of its characterization.

Too often young dramatists forget that the beginning and the ending of
acts and plays emphasize even when the author does not so intend. As in
real life, it is first and final impressions, rather than intermediate,
which count most. An able young dramatist complained that though he
wished one of his characters to dominate Act I she certainly failed to
do this. The trouble was that an attractive old gardener, the character
who took the act away from the young woman, opened the play attractively
characterized and closed Act I with effective speech and pantomime,
when the woman was busy only with unimportant pantomime. The prominence
unintentionally given to the old gardener emphasized him at the expense
of the young woman.

For the value of openings in emphasizing the meaning of the whole play,
see Tennyson's _Becket_ as originally written, and as rearranged by Sir
Henry Irving.[30] Tennyson's _Becket_ begins with Henry and the future
Archbishop at chess, talking of matters in state and church.


  _A Castle in Normandy. Interior of the hall. Roofs of a city seen
  through windows. Henry and Becket at chess._

  _Henry._ So then our good Archbishop Theobald
  Lies dying.

  _Becket._ I am grieved to know as much.

  _Henry._ But we must have a mightier man than he
  For his successor.

  _Becket._           Have you thought of one?

  _Henry._ A cleric lately poison'd his own mother,
  And being brought before the courts of the Church,
  They but degraded him. I hope they whipt him.
  I would have hang'd him.

  _Becket._       It is your move.

  _Henry._           Well--there. (_Moves._)
  The Church in the pell-mell of Stephen's time
  Hath climb'd the throne and almost clutched the crown;
  But by the royal customs of our realm
  The Church should hold her baronies of me,
  Like other lords amenable to law.
  I'll have them written down and made the law.

  _Becket._ My liege, I move my bishop.

  _Henry._              And if I live,
  No man without my leave shall excommunicate
  My tenants or my household.

  _Becket._            Look to your king.

  _Henry._ No man without my leave shall cross the seas
  To set the Pope against me--I pray your pardon.

  _Becket._ Well--will you move?

  _Henry._          There.    (_Moves._)

  _Becket._                Check--you move so wildly.

  _Henry._ There then!        (_Moves._)

  _Becket._            Why--there then, for you see my bishop
  Hath brought your king to a standstill. You are beaten.

  _Henry._ (_Kicks over the board._) Why, there then--down go bishop and
     king together.
  I loathe being beaten; had I fixt my fancy
  Upon the game I should have beaten thee,
  But that was vagabond.

  _Becket._        Where, my liege? With Phryne,
  Or Lais, or thy Rosamund, or another?

  _Henry._ My Rosamund is no Lais, Thomas Becket;
  And yet she plagues me too--no fault in her--
  But that I fear the Queen would have her life.

  _Becket._ Put her away, put her away, my liege!
  Put her away into a nunnery!
  Safe enough there from her to whom thou art bound
  By Holy Church. And wherefore should she seek
  The life of Rosamund de Clifford more
  Than that of other paramours of thine?

  _Henry._ How dost thou know I am not wedded to her?

  _Becket._ How should I know?

  _Henry._         That is my secret, Thomas.

  _Becket._ State secrets should be patent to the statesman
  Who serves and loves his king, and whom the king
  Loves not as statesman, but true lover and friend.

  _Henry._ Come, come, thou art but deacon, not yet bishop,
  No, nor archbishop, nor my confessor yet.
  I would to God thou wert, for I should find
  An easy father confessor in thee.

Irving, transposing, takes us at once into the plotting of the Queen
against Becket because of her hatred for Rosamund and Becket's supposed
protection of the King's mistress. A secondary interest in Tennyson's
presentation becomes by this shifting first interest with Irving.


  SCENE 1. _A Castle in Normandy. Eleanor. Fitz Urse_

  _Eleanor._ Dost thou love this Becket, this son of a London merchant,
  that thou hast sworn a voluntary allegiance to him?

  _Fitz Urse._ Not for my love toward him, but because he hath the love
  of the King. How should a baron love a beggar on horseback, with the
  retinue of three kings behind him, outroyaltying royalty?

  _Eleanor._ Pride of the plebeian!

  _Fitz Urse._ And this plebeian like to be Archbishop!

  _Eleanor._ True, and I have an inherited loathing of these black sheep
  of the Papacy. Archbishop? I can see farther into man than our
  hot-headed Henry, and if there ever come feud between Church and
  Crown, and I do not charm this secret out of our loyal Thomas, I am
  not Eleanor.

  _Fitz Urse._ Last night I followed a woman in the city here. Her face
  was veiled, but the back methought was Rosamund--his paramour, thy
  rival. I can feel for thee.

  _Eleanor._ Thou feel for me!--paramour--rival! No paramour but his own
  wedded wife! King Louis had no paramours, and I loved him none the
  more. Henry had many and I loved him none the less. I would she were
  but his paramour, for men tire of their fancies; but I fear this one
  fancy hath taken root, and borne blossom too, and she, whom the King
  loves indeed, is a power in the State. Follow me this Rosamund day and
  night, whithersoever she goes; track her, if thou can'st, even into
  the King's lodging, that I may (_clenches her fist_)--may at least
  have my cry against him and her,--and thou in thy way shouldst be
  jealous of the King, for thou in thy way didst once, what shall I call
  it, affect her thine own self.

  _Fitz Urse._ Ay, but the young filly winced and whinnied and flung up
  her heels; and then the King came honeying about her, and this Becket,
  her father's friend, like enough staved us from her.

  _Eleanor._ Us!

  _Fitz Urse._ Yea, by the blessed Virgin! There were more than I
  buzzing round the blossom--De Tracy--even that flint De Brito.

  _Eleanor._ Carry her off among you; run in upon her and devour her,
  one and all of you; make her as hateful to herself and to the King as
  she is to me.

  _Fitz Urse._ I and all should be glad to wreak our spite on the
  rose-faced minion of the King, and bring her to the level of the
  dust, so that the King--

  _Eleanor._ If thou light upon her--free me from her!--let her eat it
  like the serpent and be driven out of her paradise!

The story of Nathan Hale might be made into a play with patriotism as
its dominant idea, a close character study of Hale himself, or little
more than a love story. Notice the way in which with Clyde Fitch the
close of the acts steadily emphasizes the love story as the central
interest. The first scene is in the school room where Hale is the
teacher of Alice Adams.

  (_Hale goes toward Alice with his arms outstretched to embrace her;
  Alice goes into his arms--a long embrace and kiss; a loud tapping on a
  drum outside startles them._)

  _Hale._ The Tory meeting!

  _Alice._ Fitzroy will be back. I don't want to see him!

  _Hale._ Quick--we'll go by the window! (_Putting a chair under the
  window he jumps onto chair; then leans in the window and holds out his
  hands to Alice, who is on the chair._) And if tomorrow another drum
  makes me a soldier--?

  _Alice._ It will make me a soldier's sweetheart!

  _Hale._ Come.

    (_She goes out of the window with his help, and with loud drum
    tattoo and bugle call, the stage is left empty and the curtain

The second act at Colonel Knowlton's house closes on Hale's decision to
serve his country as a spy:

  _Alice._ (_In a whisper._) You _will_ go?

  _Hale._ I must.

  _Alice._ (_A wild cry._) Then I hate you!

  _Hale._ And I _love you_ and always will so long as a heart beats in
  my body. (_He wishes to embrace her._)

  _Alice._ No!

    (_She draws back her head, her eyes blazing, she is momentarily
    insane with fear and grief, anger and love. Hale bows his head and
    slowly goes from the room. Alice, with a faint heartbroken cry,
    sinks limply to the floor, her father hurrying to her as the curtain

This is the close of Act III.

  _Fitzroy._ Look!

    (_And he bends Alice's head back upon his shoulder to kiss her on
    the lips._)

  _Hale._ Blackguard!

    (_With a blow of his right arm he knocks Cunningham on the head,
    who, falling, hits his head against the pillar of the porch and is
    stunned. Meanwhile, the moment he has hit Cunningham, Hale has
    sprung upon Fitzroy, and with one hand over his mouth has bent his
    head back with the other until he has released Alice. Hale then
    throws Fitzroy down and seizing Alice about the waist dashes off
    with her to the right, where his horse is. Fitzroy rises and runs to
    Cunningham, kicks him to get his gun, which has fallen under him._)

  _Fitzroy._ Get up! Get up! You fool!

  (_Horse's hoofs heard starting off._)

  _Third Picket's Voice._ (_Off stage._) Who goes there?

  _Fitzroy._ (_Stops, looks up, and gives a triumphant cry._) Ah, the
  picket! They're caught! They're caught!

  _Hale._ Returning with Alice Adams on private business.

  _Picket._ The password.

  _Hale._ "Love!"

  _Fitzroy._ Damnation! Of course he heard! (_Runs off right, yelling._)
  Fire on them! Fire! For God's sake, fire!

    (_A shot is heard, followed by a loud defiant laugh from Hale, and
    echoed "Love," as the clatter of the horse's hoofs dies away, and
    the curtain falls._)

Act IV has a double ending: the closing of the love story and the
execution. The chief interest thus far created for the audience could
end with the parting of the lovers.

  (_The soldiers sing the air of what is now called "Believe Me If All
  Those Endearing Young Charms." Hale stands listening for the sound of
  Alice's coming. The Sentinel retires to the farther corner of the
  tent, and stands with arms folded, his back towards Hale. Tom comes on
  first, bringing Alice. As they come into Hale's presence, Alice glides
  from out of Tom's keeping, and her brother leaves the two together.
  They stand looking at each other a moment without moving and then
  both make a quick movement to meet. As their arms touch in the
  commencement of their embrace, they remain in that position a few
  moments, looking into each other's eyes. Then they embrace, Hale
  clasping her tight in his arms and pressing a long kiss upon her lips.
  They remain a few moments in this position, silent and immovable. Then
  they slowly loosen their arms--though not altogether discontinuing the
  embrace--until they take their first position and again gaze into each
  other's faces. Alice sways, about to fall, faint from the effort to
  control her emotions, and Hale gently leads her to the tree stump at
  right. He kneels beside her so that she can rest against him with her
  arms about his neck. After a moment, keeping her arms still tight
  about him, Alice makes several ineffectual efforts to speak, but her
  quivering lips refuse to form any words, and her breath comes with
  difficulty. Hale shakes his head with a sad smile, as if to say, "No,
  don't try to speak. There are no words for us." And again they
  embrace. At this moment, while Alice is clasped again tight in Hale's
  arms, the Sentinel, who has his watch in his hand, slowly comes out
  from the tent. Tom also re-enters, but Alice and Hale are oblivious.
  Tom goes softly to them and touches Alice very gently on the arm,
  resting his hand there. She starts violently, with a hysterical
  taking-in of her breath, and an expression of fear and horror, as she
  knows this is the final moment of parting. Hale also starts slightly,
  rising, and his muscles grow rigid. He clasps and kisses her once
  more, but only for a second. They both are unconscious of Tom, of
  everything but each other. Tom takes her firmly from Hale, and leads
  her out, her eyes fixed upon Hale's eyes, their arms outstretched
  toward each other. After a few paces she breaks forcibly away from
  Tom, and with a wild cry of "No! No!" locks her hands about Hale's
  neck. Tom draws her away again and leads her backward from the scene,
  her lips dry now and her breath coming in short, loud, horror-stricken
  gasps. Hale holds in his hand a red rose she wore on her breast, and
  thinking more of her than of himself, whispers, as she goes, "Be
  brave! be brave!" The light is being slowly lowered, till, as Alice
  disappears, the stage is in total darkness._)

The second ending merely connects the play more closely with history.

  _Colonel Rutger's Orchard, the next morning. The scene is an orchard
  whose trees are heavy with red and yellow fruit. The centre tree has a
  heavy dark branch jutting out, which is the gallows; from this branch
  all the leaves and the little branches have been chopped off; a heavy
  coil of rope with a noose hangs from it, and against the trunk of the
  tree leans a ladder. It is the moment before dawn, and slowly at the
  back through the trees is seen a purple streak, which changes to
  crimson as the sun creeps up. A dim gray haze next fills the stage,
  and through this gradually breaks the rising sun. The birds begin to
  wake, and suddenly there is heard the loud, deep-toned, single toll of
  a bell, followed by a roll of muffled drums in the distance. Slowly
  the orchard fills with murmuring, whispering people; men and women
  coming up through the trees make a semicircle amongst them, about the
  gallows tree, but at a good distance. The bell tolls at intervals, and
  muffled drums are heard between the twittering and happy songs of
  birds. There is the sound of musketry, of drums beating a funeral
  march, which gets nearer, and finally a company of British soldiers
  marches in, led by Fitzroy, Nathan Hale in their midst, walking alone,
  his hands tied behind his back. As he comes forward the people are
  absolutely silent, and a girl in the front row of the spectators falls
  forward in a dead faint. She is quickly carried out by two bystanders.
  Hale is led to the foot of the tree before the ladder. The soldiers
  are in double lines on either side._

  _Fitzroy._ (_To Hale._) Nathan Hale, have you anything to say? We are
  ready to hear your last dying speech and confession!

    (_Hale is standing, looking up, his lips moving slightly, as if in
    prayer. He remains in this position a moment, and then, with a sigh
    of relief and rest, looks upon the sympathetic faces of the people
    about him, with almost a smile on his face._)

  _Hale._ I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country!

    (_Fitzroy makes a couple of steps toward him; Hale turns and places
    one foot on the lower rung of the ladder, as the curtain

Watch, then, the beginning and the ending of scenes and acts, lest an
unconscious and undesired emphasis result.

An important means of emphasis is contrast--in character, situation, and
even dialogue. Melodrama has always rested, in large part, for its
definite emotional appeals on sharply contrasted characters--the
spotless hero, the double-dyed villain, the adventuress, and the heroine
so innocent of the world as to provide unlimited dramatic situations.
Recall the impetuous Julia and the gentle Sylvia of _The Two Gentlemen
of Verona_. If it be said that such direct contrasting of dissimilar
figures belongs more to the earlier plays of dramatists, this is not
true. In _The Gay Lord Quex_,[32] contrast of the old and the young
roués, Quex and Bastling, helps to make clear and to emphasize the point
of the play. _The Princess and the Butterfly_[33] largely depends upon
contrast,--among the restless women of Act I, the restless men of Act
II, between the Princess and Sir George, between the love of Fay Zuliani
for Sir George and that of Edward for the Princess.

Contrast in situation was a great reliance with the Elizabethans and,
even when very crudely used, remains popular with the American public
today. So much pleasure did the Elizabethan derive from contrasted
situation that he was willing to have it worked up as a separate
sub-plot, at times very slightly connected with the main plot. Take _The
Changeling_ of Middleton: the titular part, written for comic value,
deals with scenes in a madhouse; the other intensely tragic plot of De
Flores and Beatrice-Joanna is but slightly connected with it. Think of
the grave-diggers in _Hamlet_, just before the burial of Ophelia, and,
above all, consider in _Macbeth_ the consummate use of a contrasting
scene, in the porter at the gate just after the murder of Duncan.

It is a sense of the value of contrasting situation which produces the
best dramatic irony. When in Scene 2, Act I, of _Hindle Wakes_, we
listen to Alan Jeffcote's father and mother planning for his marriage,
the fine dramatic irony comes from the contrast we feel with the facts
of his conduct, known to us from the preceding scene, which may make his
marriage impossible. Dramatic irony depends on a preceding planting in
the minds of the auditors of information which makes what is true
contrast sharply with what the characters of the particular scene
suppose to be true. Contrast, then, underlies dramatic irony. An
audience, feeling the dramatic irony of a scene, is put into a state of
suspense as to how and when the blow they anticipate will fall.
Evidently, then, emphasis by means of contrast, when it results in
dramatic irony, makes for dramatic suspense.

Contrast may be used effectively in dialogue. The modern dramatist
sometimes overdoes this use. Because he has observed that the greatest
suffering of the strongest natures rarely finds expression in rich or
varied speech, he tries to discover words which in their feebleness,
their inappositeness, or their unexpected commonplaceness, contrast
sharply with what a hearer feels is the intensity of the emotion behind
them. This has given us in recent drama some dialogue unnatural in its
tameness. This kind of contrast, however, when handled with real
understanding, is extremely effective. In the parting of Laurie and the
heroine in _Iris_,[34] the very commonplaceness of the details of which
they talk shows that they do not dare to speak of what is really in
their minds, and makes the best preparation for the sudden loosing of
emotion by Iris in what would be ordinarily a simple request: "Close the

Except in our recent revival of Moralities for the delectation of moral
Broadway, we are growing away dramatically from mere contrasting of
types of character and from plays in which a serious and a comic plot
are but loosely connected. Yet dramatists will always find contrast
highly useful in emphasizing points of characterization and important
values in the story. Moreover, any trained dramatist knows that when his
audience has been somewhat exhausted by laughter or tears, a scene of
contrasting emotional value is of the highest importance. By changing
the focus of interest, it renews the power of response exhausted in the
just preceding scene. As has been pointed out again and again, though it
may be true that the drunken porter in _Macbeth_ was funnier for an
Elizabethan public than he is today, nevertheless his coming breaks the
tension of the terrible murder scene and makes it possible even now to
turn to fresh horrors with surer responsiveness. There is no space here
to go into any satisfactory analysis of the basal relations between the
serious and the comic, but every competent actor knows that frequently,
if the full desired comic values are to appear, it is necessary to play
a part, or all the parts, with great seriousness, even in a piece meant
to be broadly comic for the audience. This is true not merely in some of
Shaw's plays,--_Man and Superman_, _You Never Can Tell_, etc., but in
many old farces and even in burlesque. In the contrast the audience
makes between the seriousness of the characters in what they do and say
and the attitude the dramatist creates toward them lie the real comic
values. Often it is only on the flint of the serious that one may strike
the most brilliant spark of the comic.

Emphasis is needed not only to keep clear the development of the story
and its thesis, if there be any, but also to determine and maintain the
dramatic form in which it is cast--farce, comedy, melodrama, and
tragedy. If an audience is kept long in the dark as to whether the
dramatist is thinking of his material seriously or with amusement, or if
they feel at the end that the story has been told with no coordinating
emphasis to determine whether it is farce or comedy or tragedy, they are
confused and likely to hold back part of their proper responsiveness. As
has been pointed out, it is more than doubtful whether the scene of the
attempted suicide in what is otherwise a genuine comedy of character,
_The Girl with the Green Eyes_,[35] did not seriously hurt the
effectiveness of the play for a great many people.

Here, again, beginnings and endings are of the utmost consequence.
Notice the extreme care of Maeterlinck, at the outset of _Pelleas and
Melisande_[36] to create a mood for his play. One is prepared for the
tragic and the mysterious by the opening scene of the handmaidens
washing the mysterious stain from the palace steps. An auditor has not
heard ten speeches of Synge's _Riders to the Sea_[37] before he knows
that the dramatist is dealing seriously with grim matters, that, in all
probability, the play is a tragedy. Look at Rostand's _The
Romancers_.[38] It is to be a graceful telling of a jest played upon two
sentimental children by two fond fathers. The author must make clear
early in the play that what may be tragic enough for the young people is
to be fantastic comedy for any hearers. Could anything be better than
the opening: these two children, on the wall between their homes, so
reading _Romeo and Juliet_ together that it is obvious that they are in
love with being in love, nothing more? There is the perfect emphasis
which establishes early the attitude of the dramatist toward his
material, in this case making the play poetic comedy. Can any one feel
much doubt what form of drama is _The Importance of Being Earnest_?[39]
The first few pages show that dialogue is to count heavily as such.
Evidently the mood is comic. As evidently, there is exaggeration. Thus
we move from initial farce to the more broadly farcical mourning for the
death of the supposititious Earnest and to the fateful black handbag. If
the ending of _The Romancers_ be played as it was in London, with the
speakers of the last lines gradually fading from sight in the dimming
lights, surely that emphasis must mean to the audience that it has been
seeing a fantasy.[40]

However, as has been said, danger lurks in these places of easy
emphasis, the beginning and the ending, for at times something effective
in itself swings the emphasis the wrong way. In _Masks and Faces_,[41]
two generations have shed tears over the woes of Triplet as meant for
"real life," only to be somewhat rebuffed when, just before the final
curtain, all the characters step out of the play for the "Epilogue," and
so stamp it as "only a story after all."

In brief, unless some special purpose is subserved thereby, an audience
should not long be left in the dark as to the form in which the
dramatist thinks he has cast his play. He who treats his material in
many different moods runs the chance of confusing his hearers. Only by
sure and well-placed emphasis can he keep his chosen form clear.
Particularly is this true in the mixed forms, tragi-comedy and
farce-comedy. Only well-placed emphasis will carry an audience through
these with just the result desired by the dramatist.

How decide what to emphasize? Tom Taylor, despising the intelligence of
audiences of his day, used to say, "When you have something to say to an
audience, tell them you are going to say it. Tell them you 're saying
it. Tell them you've said it. Then, perhaps, they'll understand it."
Truth probably lies between this and the statement of a dramatist of
today, "I am re-writing a play originally composed some ten years ago.
Do you know what I am doing? I am cutting and condensing, because the
intervening years have taught me that I may suggest where I thought I
must explain in full, and state but once what I thought I must repeat.
Audiences are far quicker than ten years ago I supposed them to be."
Till the training of the dramatist gives him a kind of sixth sense
which tells him what in his plot needs emphasis for his public, he must
depend on the comments of really intelligent hearers to whom he reads
the manuscript and, above all, on retouching his play after the first

It is not enough, however, by clearness and right emphasis to maintain
interest: as the play develops, the interest should if possible be
increased. Either to maintain or to increase interest means that a
hearer must be led on from scene to scene, act to act, absorbed while
the curtain is up and, between the acts, eager for it to rise again.
Such attention given a play means that it has a third essential quality,
movement. The plays of tyro dramatists today are often sadly lacking in
good movement.

Good movement rests, first of all, on clearness; secondly, on right
emphasis; and thirdly, on something already mentioned in connection with
both clearness and right emphasis,--suspense. This means a straining
forward of interest, a compelling desire to know what will happen next.
Whether a hearer is totally at a loss to know what will happen, but
eager to ascertain; partly guesses what will take place, but deeply
desires to make sure; or almost holds back so greatly does he dread an
anticipated situation, he is in a state of suspense, for be it willingly
or unwillingly on his part, on sweeps his interest.

There should be good movement within the scene, the act, and even the
play as a whole. It is, however, easily checked. If scenes or characters
not essential are allowed place within a play, it has been shown on
pages 87-89 that this may interfere with either clearness or good
emphasis. They will hurt the movement of the play. Closely related as a
possible danger are necessary scenes not well placed. Often shifting
part of a scene or act makes all the difference between sustained and
interrupted suspense. For example, a young man, after some quarrelsome
words, threatens to shoot his sister. As they stand facing each other,
steps are heard outside. A group which enters brings about an amusing
scene. Good as it is, it may kill the suspense created by those two
tense figures, if it switches interest wholly or in large part from
them. If it does, any effective picking up the scene between the angry
brother and sister, when the visitors go out, may be impossible. On the
other hand, so write the scene that the audience, never diverted in its
attention to those two figures, feels that the moment the visitors leave
the quarrel will be resumed with greater intensity just because of the
interruption: then there will be no loss of tension. Just here lies the
important point: suspense once created must never be allowed to lapse so
long as to be lost. A scene for contrast or to renew the power of
desired emotional response in the audience or to develop part of a
correlated story may be introduced, but always what is put between
something which makes the audience strain forward and its goal should
leave it as eager, and preferably more eager for the solution.

A shift in order may do much to increase suspense. When Ibsen
transferred Rosmer's confession, which is very necessary to the play,
from Act II to the end of Act I, he greatly added to the suspense
created by the first act. To put it differently, he greatly accelerated
the movement of the play. An audience, knowing that Rosmer is "an
apostate from the faith of his fathers," eagerly desires to see what
will happen to him in such surroundings as those made clear in Act I. In
the earlier version, a reader learns that there are mysteries which the
play will probably solve, but has nothing on which to focus his
attention as a compelling element of suspense.

Any one knows that when an actor fails to come on at the right moment,
unless quick-witted actors invent dialogue or action, the stage "waits"
for the actor. There is something which exactly corresponds to this in
the text of plays. Henry Le Barren comes to call on Madge Ellsworth.
The maid, after showing him into the library, goes to find her mistress.
"_Meanwhile Henry looks idly at the books on the table till Madge
enters._" Unless Madge, perfectly sure that Henry would call at this
hour, is waiting just outside the door, some action is needed on the
stage to cover the time space until she can enter naturally. It is true
that looking at the books fills the time for Henry, but it does not
sustain for the audience interest already created in him or the story.
When nothing is taking place on the stage, something is taking place in
the audience which greatly concerns the dramatist: it is slipping away
from him because it is losing interest. For contrast, suppose that Henry
sits restlessly only a moment, then with a sigh picks up a book, tries
to read, falls to dreaming, and holds the book so that we may see he is
reading it upside down. He tries another book in vain. He starts three
or four times, thinking that the door is about to open. He
absent-mindedly examines a piece of bric-à-brac. He starts forward
eagerly the moment Madge enters. Now we are interested, because he is
either exhibiting emotions the cause of which we understand, emotions
which lead us to expect an interesting scene between him and Madge, or
his conduct sets us guessing as to what can lie ahead between the two.
In the first illustration, the play lacks movement; in the second,
commonplace as it is, the movement does not cease.

At times it helps suspense not only to shift the order of details but to
separate two elements of suspense, treating them separately in well
correlated groups. In _Hamlet_, Q1, the soliloquy, "To be, or not to be"
precedes the meeting of Ophelia and Hamlet, part of Hamlet's tricking of
Polonius, and the coming of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. The greater
part of the befuddling of Polonius then follows. The players enter and
plan with Hamlet the performance of _The Mousetrap_. Hamlet, left alone,
bursts into the soliloquy, "Why what a dunghill idiot slave am I!" Q2
rearranges thus: Polonius and Hamlet; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern;
Polonius returning to announce the players; the planning for _The
Mousetrap_; Hamlet left alone crying, "Oh what a rogue and peasant's
slave am I!" Here all the details bearing on the play are gathered
together. Next come the King and Queen with their plot to try out Hamlet
by means of Ophelia. The soliloquy, "To be, or not to be" follows this.
Then Hamlet and Ophelia have the scene "To a nunnery go!" Instead of
jumbling two elements of suspense,--probable results of the play planned
by Hamlet and of the Ophelia-Hamlet interest,--each is given added
suspense by separate treatment. In Q1, as we shift from one to the
other, each weakens the other or is momentarily blocked by it.
Rearranged, the very order of the details in each part makes not only
for clearer but stronger suspense.[42]

Today a plot made up of two or three but slightly related stories is far
less popular than in the days of Queen Elizabeth. Our public demands
that such stories shall be so correlated within the play as to be
mutually helpful. This desire results not from innate niceness of
feeling for unity of design but from dislike of a distribution of
interests which interferes with the suspense each story creates. Though
it is, of course, possible perfectly to maintain suspense in plays of
interwoven plots--the plays of Shakespeare and many writers since prove
this--it is far more difficult than maintaining suspense in a play of
single plot. Quite possibly this is the chief reason for the great
popularity today of plays of single plot: they are both easier to follow
and easier to write.

A related fault which interferes with suspense is the "stage wait"
treated on page 209. As has also been pointed out, there is danger in
transitional scenes meant to cover a time space or to shift the
interest of an audience. If they accomplish either purpose and do not
advance the plot, they really fail. Bulwer-Lytton met this difficulty in
writing _Money_:

  I think in the first 3 acts you will find little to alter. But in Act
  4--the 2 scene with Lady B. & Clara--& Joke & the Tradesman don't help
  on the Plot much--they were wanted, however, especially the last to
  give time for change of dress & smooth the lapse of the theme from
  money to dinner; you will see if this part requires any amendment.[43]

Also exposition, undoubtedly necessary but delayed too long, may so clog
an act as to weaken or kill it. In a play set in what was once a
fashionable dining-room, but is now the fitting-room of a dressmaker,
the scene is not placed for some time. Finally, a figure entering makes
clear the supposed setting, but for this the action on stage has to be
broken off.

The increasing popularity of a play of three or four acts as compared
with five has almost wholly done away with another destroyer of
suspense--the explanatory and adjusting last act. In it, intelligent
auditors who knew from the close of the fourth act how the story must
end were expected to watch with interest final disposition of the
characters. Dramatists of the eighties and nineties turned from this use
slowly. For proof examine the last act of _The Hypocrites_, by H. A.
Jones, in other respects a play well away from the older methods of
technique. Now, both the older and the younger generation of dramatists
expect to carry suspense as near the end of the play as they possibly
can. Letting an audience anticipate something of the end of a play is
all very well, but when it foresees just what is going to happen and has
no farther interest, except to learn whether it happens exactly as
anticipated, suspense and even attention cease. In that case an
audience begins to gather its belongings for departure. Something held
back which cannot surely be anticipated is the very basis of suspense.

It follows from what has just been said that there can never be perfect
suspense when the plot ends an act or more before the final curtain. It
is vain to try to start new interests in order to create fresh suspense.
Unless the latter part of a play grows out of the first, at least as
much as the Perdita-Florizel story grows out of that of Leontes and
Hermione, there can be no good suspense. When it seems necessary to tack
on new material because all suspense is ended, do not add: rewrite.

It has often been said that surprise--springing something unexpectedly
upon an audience--is better than suspense. Lessing said of the
comparative value of surprise and suspense:

  For one instance where it is useful to conceal from the spectator an
  important event until it has taken place there are ten and more where
  interest demands the very contrary. By means of secrecy a poet effects
  a short surprise, but in what enduring disquietude could he have
  maintained us if he had made no secret about it! Whoever is struck
  down in a moment, I can only pity for a moment. But how if I expect
  the blow, how if I see the storm brewing and threatening for some time
  about my head or his? For my part none of the personages need know
  each other if only the spectator knows them all. Nay I would even
  maintain that the subject which requires such secrecy is a thankless
  subject, that the plot in which we have to make recourse to it is not
  as good as that in which we could have done without it. It will never
  give occasion for anything great. We shall be obliged to occupy
  ourselves with preparations that are either too dark or too clear, the
  whole poem becomes a collection of little artistic tricks by means of
  which we effect nothing more than a short surprise. If on the contrary
  everything that concerns the personages is known, I see in this
  knowledge the source of the most violent emotions. Why have certain
  monologues such a great effect? Because they acquaint me with the
  secret intentions of the speaker and this confidence at once fills me
  with hope or fear. If the condition of the personages is unknown, the
  spectator cannot interest himself more vividly in the action than the
  personages. But the interest would be doubled for the spectator if
  light is thrown on the matter, and he feels that action and speech
  would be quite otherwise if the personages knew one another.

  Only then I shall scarcely be able to await what is to become of them
  when I am able to compare that which they really are with that which
  they do or would do.[44]

Look at the quotation from the _First Part of Henry VI_ on Pp. 97-100.
Talbot whispers to the Captain, and leaves us guessing what he means to
do at his meeting with the Countess of Auvergne. In like manner the
Countess merely refers to the plot she has laid with her Porter. We
never know just what was the plan of the Countess. We get only a
momentary sensation, surprise, when Talbot's soldiers force their way
in. Suppose we had been allowed to know the plans of the Countess, and
they had seemed very dangerous for Talbot. Then, as she played with him,
sure of her position, there would have been more suspense than in
Shakespeare's text, because an audience would have been wondering, not
merely "What is the blow Talbot will strike?" but "Can any blow he will
strike overcome the seemingly effective plans of the Countess?" Suppose
we had been allowed to know the plans of both. Then, as we watched the
Countess playing her scheme off against the plan of Talbot, of which she
would be unaware, might there not easily be even more suspense? At every
turn of their dialogue we should be wondering: "Why does not Talbot
strike now? Can he save the situation, if he delays? With all this
against him, can he save it in any case?" In the use of surprise, the
dramatist depends almost entirely on his situation. Suspense permits him
to elaborate his situation by means of the characters in it. In other
words, surprise is situation, suspense is characterization.

On this matter recent words of William Archer seem final:

  Curiosity [I said] is the accidental relish of a single night; whereas
  the essential and abiding pleasure of the theatre lies in
  foreknowledge. In relation to the characters of the drama, the
  audience are as gods looking before and after. Sitting in the theatre,
  we taste, for a moment, the glory of omniscience. With vision
  unsealed, we watch the gropings of purblind mortals after happiness
  and smile at their stumblings, their blunders, their futile quests,
  their misplaced exultations, their groundless panics. To keep a secret
  from us is to reduce us to their level, and deprive us of our
  clairvoyant aloofness. There may be a pleasure in that too; we may
  join with zest in the game of blind-man's-buff; but the theatre is in
  its essence a place where we are privileged to take off the bandage we
  wear in daily life, and to contemplate, with laughter or with tears,
  the blindfold gambols of our neighbors.[45]

What is basal in suspense is, of course, that an audience shall feel for
some person or persons of the play just the degree of sympathy the
dramatist desires. Unless their sympathy is as keen as his, the scene
must fall short emotionally. For instance, in a play produced some years
ago author and actors expected the audience to sympathize throughout
with a mother. At the climax of one of the acts she was left on-stage in
an agonized state of mind because her husband, who hates her
illegitimate child, has left the stage with threats to kill it. The
actress wrote of the first night: "In that scene I might as well have
recited the alphabet for all the audience cared for my emotion. Their
sympathy made them live, not with me, but with the defenceless child who
at any moment might be murdered off-stage by the cruel father." Suspense
for the audience there certainly was, but not of the kind intended. It
was necessary to rewrite the scene.

Evidently, what happens off-stage may, by its greater interest for the
audience, kill the effect of what is passing on-stage. What the
dramatist dares not try to represent on-stage because of its mechanical
difficulty or horror, he tries to carry off by vivid and even terrifying
description. By making the audience see the off-stage action through
the eyes of the person most affected, or by portraying vividly his
emotions when another describes the action to him, dramatists endeavor
to lose none of their desired suspense. The point to remember is that
the moment the off-stage action becomes of more importance than the
emotions caused by that action for persons on-stage, the real centre of
interest has been shifted, the desired suspense is gone, and the scene
must be rewritten. Suspense in a play is rightly handled, then, when it
is promptly created to the extent desired by the dramatist; carries on
with increasing intensity from act to act; and reaches its climax at or
just before the final curtain. Climax is, therefore, an integral part of
suspense. The point of greatest intensity reached in an incident, scene,
act, or play is the moment of climax. Climax is not the result of theory
but comes from long observation of audiences. A scene or act which
breaks off or declines in interest towards its close never delights an
audience as does a scene or act which closes with its strongest
emotional effect. Look at the ending of _The Troublesome Raigne of King
John, Part I_. Though King John declares himself "the joyfulst man
alive," the audience does not so sympathize with him that his delight is
a fitting climax to the play. Rather do they so keenly sympathize with
Prince Arthur and even the lords who have been outraged by Arthur's
proposed death that they want to know more of him and them.

  _Hubert._ My lord, attend the happie tale I tell,
  For heauens health send Sathan packing hence
  That instigates your Highnes to despaire.
  If Arthurs death be dismall to be heard,
  Bandie the newes for rumors of vnthruth:
  He liues my Lord, the sweetest youth aliue,
  In health, with eyesight, not a hair amisse.
  This hart tooke vigor from this froward hand,
  Making it weake to execute your charge.

  _Iohn._ What, liues he! Then sweete hope come home agen,
  Chase hence despaire, the purueyor for hell.
  Hye Hubert, tell these tidings to my Lords
  That throb in passions for yong Arthurs death:
  Hence Hubert, stay not till thou hast reueald
  The wished newes of Arthurs happy health.
  I go my selfe, the joyfulst man aliue
  To storie out this new supposed crime.      (_Exeunt._)[46]

The author, though he got from this a suspense which carried his
audience over to the performance of Part II on the next day, missed any
real climax for Part I.

Inexperienced playwrights, in spite of good characterization and
dialogue, frequently do not understand the value and the nature of real
climax. Consequently, an audience feels that any interest it has given
is cheated in the end. The following scenario, though its feebleness can
hardly be traced solely to lack of climax, illustrates what is meant.



  _Major Worthington_, an American financier;

  _Emil Richter_, a young poet;

  _Dr Van Metre_, \ who do "team work" for the hand of _Kitty_.
  _Willy Squeam_, /

  _Kitty Worthington_, the _débutante_.

  _Mme. Cavanaugh King_, a widow, _Kitty's_ aunt.

  SCENE: _Den, off the ballroom of Major Worthington's home. Music from
  the ballroom is heard intermittently during the action._

  DISCOVERED: _A group of guests who chatter and pass out, leaving
  Squeam and Van Metre. They talk of the attractions of Kitty, the
  débutante, and make a wager as to who will win out. Each agrees to
  back the other up in case of failure. They go off as Mrs. King and
  Major Worthington enter. She reproves her brother for looking tired
  and uninterested on this occasion of his daughter's "coming out."_
  _At length, exhausted by his sister's flippancy, he tells her that
  they are financially ruined, and that the crash will come on the
  morrow. Mrs. King is distracted, but they both brighten as Kitty
  enters in a whirl. She is radiantly happy, and hugs one and then the
  other, then both. Enter Richter, a stalwart young westerner, who does
  not know how to dance. They congratulate him on his little volume of
  verses which has just been published. After promising to sit out a
  dance with him, Kitty sends him off to talk with Miss Smithkins. He
  picks up a rose which Kitty has dropped and goes off with it. Enter
  Dr. Van Metre and Squeam. Exeunt Major Worthington and Mrs. King. Van
  Metre and Squeam take turns in proposing to Kitty. Enter Mrs. King, to
  whom Squeam finds himself making violent love, mistaking her for
  Kitty. He starts to bolt, but she lays hold of him, and they go off
  together. Kitty and Van Metre go of to dance, she laughing at his
  ardent protestations. Enter Major. He takes out a revolver from his
  writing desk, and puts it back as some dancers pass through. Enter
  Emil, and the two exeunt arm-in-arm. Enter Mrs. King and Kitty. Mrs.
  King bluntly tells Kitty their financial straits, and adds that Kitty
  must give up any sentimental feelings she has for Richter, and must,
  if she gets the chance, accept Van Meter or Squeam on the spot. With
  this, she hastily departs, leaving Kitty in tears. The tears turn to
  dimples the moment Richter appears, and she tries to shock him into a
  dislike for her. Nevertheless, he makes a clumsy effort at proposing
  which is interrupted by Van Metre, then Squeam, then both, who insist
  on taking her to supper. She dismisses them. (Soft music.) Richter
  proposes, and Kitty refuses him, telling him the reason frankly, as
  her aunt has just given it to her. He reprimands her for having
  mercenary motives, and makes an eloquent plea for the equality of men.
  Enraged, she leaves the room, but quickly returns and throws herself
  into his arms. Enters Mrs. King hastily, and says they may go right on
  embracing, as the Major has just received a telegram stating that he
  has won out in a law suit involving millions of dollars' worth of iron
  mines. Enter the Major hilarious. Enter Squeam and Van Meter. They
  shake hands and declare the wager off. Enter the dancers from a
  cotillion figure. They are arrayed in grotesque paper hats and bonnets
  and garlands of paper flowers. They circle about Kitty and Richter,
  and pelt them with paper flowers. Exeunt. Tableau: Kitty and Richter
  looking into firelight._


Obviously, though some slight suspense has been created as to the
possible solution of Kitty's difficulties, the proposed play goes all to
pieces the moment Mrs. King enters with her news. When an audience knows
that had the dramatist so willed, the fateful telegram might have
arrived at any moment in the play other than the point chosen, it is
likely to vote unanimously that the telegram should have been received
before the curtain was ever rung up. Except in amateur performances
arranged for admiring friends, there is no hope that such a fizzle can
be covered by introducing dancers to make a pretty picture and a

Climax is, then, whatever in action, speech, pantomime, or thought
(whether conveyed or suggested) will produce in an audience the
strongest emotion of the scene, act, or play.

The means to climax range from mere action to quiet speech, from pure
theatricality to lifelike subtlety. The poisoned cup, the fatal duel,
indeed, the general slaughter at the end of _Hamlet_ make a tremendous
climax of action. Mere action, however, does not necessarily give
climax. The writer of the scenario just quoted, missing a real climax,
tried to offset this by the gay dance. Whether a dance, parade, or
tableau is a genuine climax depends on whether it illustrates attainment
of that in regard to which suspense has been created. No mere dance in
costume, no spectacular parade or brilliant tableau is ever an adequate
substitute for a climax which brings to the greatest intensity
emotionalized interest already awakened in an audience. Such climax by
action may, then, be as purely theatrical as in _revues_, much musical
comedy, or pure melodrama, or as simple and true as in Heijermans' _The
Good Hope_. The women, Joe and Kneirtje, are left alone, wild with
anxiety for their fisherman-lover and son. A storm rages outside.

  _Jo._ (_Beating her head on the table._) The wind! It drives me mad,

  _Kneirtje._ (_Opens the prayerbook, touches Jo's arm. Jo looks up,
  sobbing passionately, sees the prayerbook, shakes her head fiercely.
  Again wailing, drops to the floor, which she beats with her hands.
  Kneirtje's trembling voice sounds._) O Merciful God! I trust! With a
  firm faith, I trust.

    (_The wind races with wild lashings about the house._)


Climax may come through surprise, as the discussion of suspense shows
(pp. 212-214). Such surprise may be theatrical, as in _Home_[48] where
it is obviously an arranged effect, or genuinely dramatic because
justified by the preceding characterization, as in _The Clod_.

  (_Mary goes to the cupboard; returns to the table with the salt.
  Almost ready to drop, she drags herself to the window nearer back, and
  leans against it, watching the Southerners like a hunted animal.
  Thaddeus sits nodding in the corner. The Sergeant and Dick go on
  devouring food. The Sergeant pours the coffee. Puts his cup to his
  lips, takes one swallow; then, jumping to his feet and upsetting his
  chair as he does so, he hurls his cup to the floor. The crash of china
  stirs Thaddeus. Mary shakes in terror._)

  _Sergeant._ (_Bellowing and pointing to the fluid trickling on the
  floor._) Have you tried to poison us, you God damn hag?

    (_Mary screams, and the faces of the men turn white. It is like the
    cry of the animal goaded beyond endurance._)

  _Mary._ (_Screeching._) Call my coffee poison, will ye? Call me a hag?
  I'll learn ye! I'm a woman, and ye're drivin' me crazy.

    (_Snatches the gun from the wall, points it at the Sergeant, and
    fires. Keeps on screeching. The Sergeant falls to the floor. Dick
    rushes for his gun._)

  _Thaddeus._ Mary! Mary!

  _Mary._ (_Aiming at Dick, and firing._) I ain't a hag. I'm a woman,
  but ye're killin' me.

    (_Dick falls just as he reaches his gun. Thaddeus is in the corner
    with his hands over his ears. Mary continues to pull the trigger of
    the empty gun. The Northerner is motionless for a moment; then he
    goes to Thaddeus, and shakes him._)

  _Northerner._ Go get my horse, quick!

    (_Thaddeus obeys. The Northerner turns to Mary. She gazes at him,
    but does not understand a word he says._)

  _Northerner._ (_With great fervor._) I'm ashamed of what I said. The
  whole country will hear of this, and you.

    (_Takes her hand, and presses it to his lips; then turns and hurries
    out of the house. Mary still holds the gun in her hand. She pushes a
    strand of gray hair back from her face, and begins to pick up the
    fragments of the broken coffee cup._)

  _Mary._ (_In dead, flat tone._) I'll have to drink out the tin cup

    (_The hoof-beats of the Northerner's horse are heard._)


Note the wholly unexpected turn after the final speech of the
Northerner. Yet this surprise merely rounds out the characterization of

This kind of climax by surprise recalls one of the principles in acting
which Joseph Jefferson laid down for himself: "Never anticipate a strong
effect; in fact, lead your audience by your manner, so that they shall
scarcely suspect the character capable of such emotion; then when some
sudden blow has fallen, the terrible shock prepares the audience for a
new and striking phase in the character; they feel that under these new
conditions you would naturally exhibit the passion which till then was
not suspected."[50]

Before the present insistence on reality held sway, it was possible to
close a play of pretended truth to life with a tag. Here is the quiet
ending of _Still Waters Run Deep_ (1855):

  _Potter._ My dear boy, you astonish me! But, however, there's an old
  proverb that says that "All is not gold that glitters."

  _Mildmay._ Yes, and there is another old proverb and one much more to
  the purpose that says, "Still waters run deep."

The convention which made that sort of ending desirable has passed.
However, today another convention,--the quiet ending,--might make it
possible to end this same play with the speech just preceding the two

  _Potter._ John Mildmay the master of this house? Emily, my dear, has
  your aunt been--I mean has your aunt lost her wits?

  _Mrs. Mildmay._ No, she has found them, papa, as I have done, thanks
  to dear John. Ask his pardon, papa, as we have, for the cruel
  injustice we have done him.

  _Potter._ Oh, certainly, if you desire it. John Mildmay, I ask your
  pardon--Jane and Emily say I ought; though what I have done, or what
  there is to ask pardon for--

  _Mildmay._ Perhaps you'll learn in time. But we're forgetting
  dinner--Langford, will you take my wife? (_He does so._) Markham,
  you'll take Mrs. Sternhold?[51]

Add to this, "They all go out to dinner," and you have one of the "quiet
endings" dear to the hearts of some recent dramatists. These writers,
after an act has swept to a strong emotional height, add some very quiet
ending such as going out to dinner or the conventional farewells of the
group assembled, as if for some reason either were more artistic than to
close on the moment of strong emotion. This is bad. On the other hand,
if the quiet ending carries characterization, or irony, to point the
scene, act, or play, or really illustrates the meaning, this and not the
absence of strong emotion or physical action is what gives both real
value and genuine climax. For instance, at the end of Act I of _Monsieur
Poirier's Son-in-Law_, by Augier, this is the dialogue:

    _Enter a Servant._

  _Servant._ Dinner is served.

  _Poirier._ (_To the Servant._) Bring up a bottle of 1811 Pomard--(_To
  the Duke._) The year of the comet, Monsieur le duc--fifteen francs a
  bottle! The king drinks no better. (_Aside to Verdelet._) You mustn't
  drink any--neither will I!

  _Gaston._ (_To the Duke._) Fifteen francs, bottle to be returned when

  _Verdelet._ (_Aside to Poirier._) Are you going to allow him to make
  fun of you like that?

  _Poirier._ (_Aside to Verdelet._) In matters of this sort, you must
  take your time. (_They all go out._)


Here it is not the quietude but the particularly apt, humorous
illustration of Poirier's character which gives climax. In _The
Amazons_, too, what could better illustrate acceptance of the usual by
all the group who have been fighting against it than the sedate and
utterly commonplace exeunt?

  _Lady Castlejordan._ Lord Tweenwayes--

    (_Tweenwayes comes with great dignity to Lady Castlejordan. The girls
    fall back._)

  _Lady Castlejordan._ Lord Litterly--Lady Noeline. Monsieur de
  Grival--Lady Wilhelmina. Mr. Minchin--Lady Thomasin.

    (_The couples are formed, and all go out sedately._)[53]

When quiet speech sums up the whole meaning of a scene or play, it too
gives climax. Ann's words at the end of _Man and Superman_, "John you
are still talking," make a fine ironic climax. Irony, whether quiet or
decidedly dramatic, is a very effective means to climax. At the end of
Act II, Herod, in the play of that name by Stephen Phillips, has ordered
Mariamne killed. Completely infatuated by her, he has done this only
when her enemies have forced him to believe that she is utterly false.
Almost instantly his love overwhelms his mistrust. He tries to revoke
his word, crying,

  Yet will I not be bound, I will break free,
  She shall not die--she shall not die--she shall not--

News of the triumph he has longed for interrupts:

    _Enter Attendant._

  _Attendant._ O king, the Roman eagles! See!

  _A cry._ (_Without._)    From Rome!

    _Enter Roman Envoy and Suite._

  _Envoy._ O king, great Cæsar sent us after you,
  But, though we posted fast, you still outran us.
  Thus then by word of mouth great Cæsar greets
  Herod his friend. But he would not confine
  That friendship to the easy spoken word,
  And hear I bear a proof of Cæsar's faith.
  Herein is added to thy boundaries
  Hippo, Samaria and Gadara,
  And high-walled Joppa, and Anthedon's shore,
  And Gaza unto these, and Straton's towers.   (_Moves down._)
  Here is the scroll, with Cæsar's own hand signed.

  _Herod._ (_Taking the scroll--at foot of steps._) Mariamne, hear you
  this? Mariamne, see you?    (_Turns to look at scroll._)

    (_Servant enters and moves down to Gadias down L._)
    (_He goes up the stairs._)

  Hippo, Samaria and Gadara,
  And high-walled Joppa, and Anthedon's shore,
  And Gaza unto these, and Straton's towers.

  _Servant._ (_Aside to Gadias._) O sir, the queen is dead!

  _Gadias._ (_Aside to Pheroras, Cypros, and Salome._) The queen is dead!

  _Herod._ Mariamne, hear you this? Mariamne, see you?
    (_Repeating the words, and going up steps._)

  Hippo, Samaria and Gadara,
  And high-walled Joppa, and Anthedon,   (_As he moves up._)
  And Gaza unto these, and Straton's towers![54]

The perfect climax lies in the irony of the fact that all Herod most
desires as ruler comes to him at just the moment when he has killed the
thing that most he loved.

At the end of Act III of _Chains_, by Elizabeth Baker, everybody--the
father-in-law and mother-in-law, Percy, the brother-in-law, and Sybil, a
pretty but useless bit of femininity--has been making Charlie entirely
miserable because no one can understand that his expressed desire to try
his fortunes in Australia and then send for his wife, Lily, is not a
pretext for abandoning her. Percy, with next to nothing a year, is just
engaged to Sybil. Foster wants to marry Margaret, Charlie's
sister-in-law, who is dissatisfied with her lot.

  _Enter Lily, dressed for going out, also Mrs. Massey. Lily goes round,
  kissing and shaking hands, with a watery smile and a forced tearful

  _Charley._ (_Without going all around and calling from the door._)
  Good night, all!    (_Exeunt Lily and Charley._)

  _Mrs. Massey._ Well, I must say--

  _Percy._ O, let's drop it, mother. Play something, Maggie.

  _Maggie._ I don't want to.

  _Mrs. Massey._ Walter would like to hear something, wouldn't
  you, Walter?

  _Foster._ If Maggie feels like it.

  _Maggie._ She doesn't feel like it.

  _Massey._ Be as pleasant as you can, my girl--Charley's enough
  for one evening.

    (_Maggie goes to the piano and sitting down plays noisily, with both
    pedals on, the chorus, "Off to Philadelphia."_)

  _Mrs. Massey._ Maggie, it's Sunday!

  _Maggie._ I forgot!

  _Mrs. Massey._ You shouldn't forget such things--Sybil, my

  _Sybil._ I don't play.

  _Massey._ Rubbish! Come on!

    (_Sybil goes to the piano and Percy follows her._)

  _Percy._ (_Very near to Sybil and helping her to find the music._)
  Charley is a rotter! What d'ye think he was telling me the other day?

  _Sybil._ I don't know.

  _Percy._ Told me to be sure I got the right girl.

  _Sybil._ Brute!

  _Percy._ What do you think I said? Darling!
    (_Kisses her behind music._)

  _Massey._ (_Looking around._) Take a bigger sheet.

  (_Sybil sits at piano quickly and plays the chorus to
  "Count Your Many Blessings." To which they all sing:_)

  Count your many blessings, count them one by one,
  Count your blessings, see what God has done.
  Count your blessings, count them one by one,
  And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.[55]

Is not the irony of this group of unsatisfied or dissatisfied people
singing "Count your many blessings," fully climactic?

Not quietness of speech or action, then, but appropriateness makes any
of these approved endings climactic and artistic.

There can hardly be any question that the original ending of _Still
Waters Run Deep_ is theatrical in the sense that it is climactic only by
the dramatic convention of its time. Except when theatricality is
intentionally part of the artistic design, it is, of course,
undesirable. Rostand, letting the figures in _The Romancers_ comment on
their own play as a kind of epilogue, has a really artistic though
theatrical climax.

  _Sylvette._ (_Summoning the actors about her._) And now we five--if
  Master Straforel please--
  Let us expound the play in which we've tried to please.

    (_She comes down stage and addresses the audience, marking time with
    her hand._)

  Light, easy rhymes; old dresses, frail and light;
  Love in a park, fluting an ancient tune.        (_Soft music._)

  _Bergamin._ A fairy-tale quintet, mad as Midsummer-night.

  _Pasquin._ Some quarrels. Yes!--but all so very slight!

  _Straforel._ Madness of sunstroke; madness of the moon!
  A worthy villain, in his mantle dight.

  _Sylvette._ Light, easy rhymes; old dresses, frail and light;
  Love in a park, fluting an ancient tune.

  _Percinet._ A Watteau picture--not by Watteau, quite;
  Release from many a dreary Northern rune;
  Lovers and fathers; old walls, flowery-bright;
  A brave old plot--with music--ending soon.

  _Sylvette._ Light, easy rhymes; old dresses, frail and light.

    (_The stage gradually darkens; the last lines are delivered in
    voices that grow fainter as the actors appear to fade away into mist
    and darkness._)


So light the finale, as in London, that the figures fade from sight till
only their voices are faintly heard, and theatricality helps to place
the play as a mere bit of fantasy. On the other hand, there is something
like genuine theatricality at the end of Sudermann's _Fritzschen_. Fritz
is going to his death in a prospective duel with a man who is an
unerring shot. Though the others present suspect or know the truth, his
mother thinks he is going to new and finer fortunes. Isn't the following
the real climax?

_Fritz._ (_Stretching out his hand to her cheerfully._) Dear Ag--(_Looks
into her face, and understands that she knows. Softly, earnestly._)
Farewell, then.

  _Agnes._ Farewell, Fritz!

  _Fritz._ I love you.

  _Agnes._ I shall always love you, Fritz!

  _Fritz._ Away, then, Hallerpfort! Au revoir, papa! Au revoir! Revoir!
  (_Starts for the door on the right._)

  _Frau von Drosse._ Go by the park, boys--there I have you longer in

  _Fritz._ Very well, mamma, we will do it! (_Passes with Hallerpfort
  through the door at the centre; on the terrace, he turns with a
  cheerful gesture, and calls once more._) Au Revoir! (_His voice is
  still audible._) Au revoir!

    (_Frau von Drosse throws kisses after him, and waves her
    handkerchief, then presses her hand wearily to her heart and sighs

Because the history of the theatre shows that the contained appeal
always moves an audience, Sudermann adds one more touch of misery as
the mother dwells on her dream of the night before:

    (_Agnes hurries to her, and leads her to a chair, then goes over to
    the Major, who, with heaving breast, is lost in thought._)

  _Frau von Drosse._ Thank you, my darling!--Already, I am quite well
  again!... God, the boy! How handsome he looked! And so brown and so
  healthy.... You see, I saw him exactly like that last night.... No,
  that is no illusion! And I told you how the Emperor led him in among
  all the generals! And the Emperor said--(_More softly, looking far
  away with a beatific smile_.) And the Emperor said--


Though a new twist is given our emotions, is not something lost to the
artistry of the play?

If the means to climax be various, the ways in which it may elude a
writer are several. If an audience foresees it, much of the value of
climax, perhaps all, disappears. Bulwer-Lytton, in writing _Money_,
recognized this:

  And principally with regard to Act 5 I don't feel easy. The first idea
  suggested by you & worked on by me was of course to carry on Evelyn's
  trick to the last--& bring in the creditors &c when it is discovered
  that he is as rich as ever. I so made Act 5 at first. But ... the
  trick was so palpable to the audience that having been carried thro'
  Acts 3 & 4, it became stale in Act 5--& the final discovery was much
  less comic than you w^d suppose.[59]

If anticipating a climax will impair it for an audience, repetition may
kill it. In the civic masque, _Caliban_,[60] as performed, many of the
historical scenes were introduced in the same way: Ariel asked his
master, Prospero, what he should show him next, and at his bidding
summoned the episode. No variety in phrasing could surmount the monotony
of this. There was consequent loss in suspense and climax.

It is easy, also, to miss possible climax by using more at a given point
than is absolutely necessary. Sometimes it is wiser to postpone part or
all of thoroughly desirable material for later treatment. In the novel,
_Les Oberlé_,[61] father and daughter sympathize with the Germans,
mother and son with the old French tradition. In patriarchal fashion,
the half-paralytic grandfather, as head of the house, keeps the keys.
When a young German officer, favored by the daughter, asks her hand,
feeling becomes intense and strained between the parents and the brother
and the sister. Suddenly the old paralytic enters, half-supported by his
attendant. Furious to think of his granddaughter as the wife of a German
he cries, with a superb gesture of dismissal, "Clear out! This is my
house!" (_Va t'en! Ici chez moi!_) The dramatizer saw that with the
accompanying action of all concerned, especially the silent going of the
German suitor, "Ici chez moi" made a sufficient climax. Therefore, with
a touch of real genius, he saved the "Va t'en" for a climax to a totally
different scene. Later in the play, Jean, who has determined to escape
across the French boundary rather than serve longer in the German army,
has been locked in his room by his outraged father. As usual, after the
house has been locked up for the night, the keys have been handed to the
old, half-paralytic grandfather, who lies sleepless in a room near
Jean's. Learning from Uncle Ulrich what has occurred, the grandfather
totters into the living room with his keys. Unlocking Jean's door, with
a fine gesture of affection, and command toward the outer door, he cries
to Jean, "Va." Here the dramatist gets two fine climaxes where the
novelist gained but one.

Sometimes a very effective climax at a given point should be postponed
because it will be even more effective later, and if given the first
position would check preferable movement in the play. At the end of Act
IV of _Magda_ (_Heimat_) by Sudermann, we seem all ready for a scene in
which Magda confesses the truth about her past life to her father.

  _Schwartze._ Magda,--I want Magda.

  _Marie._ (_Goes to the door and opens it._) She's coming now,--down
  the stairs.

  _Schwartze._ So! (_Pulls himself together with an effort._)

  _Marie._ (_Clasping her hands._) Don't hurt her!

  (_Pauses with the door open. Magda is seen descending the stairs. She
  enters in travelling dress, hat in hand, very pale but calm._)

  _Magda._ I heard you call, father.

  _Schwartze._ I have something to say to you.

  _Magda._ And I to you.

  _Schwartze._ Go in,--into my room.

  _Magda._ Yes, father.

    (_She goes to the door left. Schwartze follows her. Marie, who has
    drawn back frightened to the dining-room, makes an unseen gesture of

Now, any interview between Magda and her father will both unduly
lengthen an act already long and bring the play well into its final
climax. Stopping the act here creates superb suspense. Starting a new
act under slightly different conditions keeps all the suspense created
by Act IV and intensifies it by new details. The new act gives us the
chance easily to introduce von Keller, who is needed if the play is to
be more than another treatment of the erring daughter confessing her sin
to her father. Just through him comes emphasis which gives special
meaning to the play. Therefore, we gain by postponing the full
confession from the end of Act IV till well toward the end of Act V.

Evidently, climax rests on (a) right feeling for order in presenting
ideas; (b) a correct sense of what is weaker and what is stronger in
phrasing emotions; and (c) just appreciation of the feeling of the
audience toward the emotions presented. For both clearness and climax it
is usually a wise rule to consider but one idea at a time. In the
following illustration, column 1 shows confusion, because three
subjects--the fan, the greeting, and the compliment of Lady
Windermere--are started at the same time. In column 2, quoted from Miss
Anglin's acting version of _Lady Windermere's Fan_, treating each of
these subjects in its natural sequence brings both clearness and climax.

  _Parker._ Mrs. Erlynne.             _Parker._ Mrs. Erlynne.

    (_Lord Windermere starts.         (_Lord Windermere starts.
    Mrs. Erlynne enters, very           Mrs. Erlynne enters, very
    beautifully dressed and very        beautifully dressed and very
    dignified. Lady Windermere          dignified. Lady Windermere
    clutches at her fan, then           clutches at her fan, then
    lets it drop on the floor.          lets it drop on the floor.
    She bows coldly to                  She bows coldly to
    Mrs. Erlynne, who bows              Mrs. Erlynne, who bows
    to her sweetly in turn, and         to her sweetly in turn, and
    sails into the room._)              sails into the room._)

  _Lord Darlington._ You have         _Mrs. Erlynne._ (_C._) How do
  dropped your fan, Lady              you do again, Lord Windermere?
    (_Picks it up and hands it        _Lord Darlington._ You have
    to her_.)                         dropped your fan, Lady

  _Mrs. Erlynne._ (_C._) How do           (_Picks it up and hands it
  you do again, Lord Windermere?                to her._)
  How charming your sweet wife
  looks! Quite a picture!

  _Lord Windermere._ (_In a low       _Lord Windermere._ (_In a low
  voice._) It was terribly            voice._) It was terribly
  rash of you to come!                rash of you to come!

  _Mrs. Erlynne._ (_Smiling._)            _Mrs. Erlynne._ (_Smiling._)
  The wisest thing I ever did in my   The wisest thing I ever did in my
  life. And, by the way, you must     life. How charming your sweet
  pay me a good deal of attention     wife looks! Quite a picture! And,
  this evening.                       by the way, you must pay me a
                                      good deal of attention this

In the next extract, note that omission of "I want to live childless
still" and shifting the position of the words "For twenty years, as you
say, I have lived childless" permit an actress to work up to the
strongest climax of the speech, when spoken, "They made me suffer too
much." Miss Anglin, trained by years of experience to great
sensitiveness to the emotional values of words, has here arranged the
sentences better than the author himself.

  _Lord Windermere._ What do           _Lord Windermere._ What do
  you mean by coming here this         you mean by coming here this
  morning? What is your object?        morning? What is your object?

    (_Crossing L.C. and sitting._)        _(Crossing L.C. and sitting._)

  _Mrs. Erlynne._ (_With a note of     _Mrs. Erlynne._ (_With a note of
  irony in her voice._) To bid good-   irony in her voice._) To bid
  bye to my dear daughter, of          good-bye to my dear daughter, of
  course. (_Lord Windermere bites      course. (_Lord Windermere bites
  his underlip in anger. Mrs. Erlynne  his underlip in anger. Mrs. Erlynne
  looks at him, and her voice          looks at him, and her voice
  and manner become serious. In        and manner become serious. In
  her accents as she talks there       her accents as she talks there
  is a note of deep tragedy. For a     is a note of deep tragedy. For a
  moment she reveals herself._) Oh,    moment she reveals herself._) Oh,
  don't imagine I am going to have     don't imagine I am going to
  a pathetic scene with her, weep      have a pathetic scene with her,
  on her neck and tell her who I       weep on her neck and tell her
  am, and all that kind of thing.      who I am, and all that kind of
  I have no ambition to play the       thing. I have no ambition to
  part of mother. Only once in my      play the part of mother. For
  life have I known a mother's         twenty years, as you say, I have
  feelings. That was last night.       lived childless. Only once in my
  They were terrible--they made        life have I known a mother's
  me suffer--they made me suffer       feelings. That was last night.
  too much. For twenty years,          They were terrible--they made
  as you say, I have lived             me suffer--they made me suffer
  childless--I want to live            too much.[64]
  childless still.

When an eighteenth-century manager, in his production of _The School for
Scandal_, had colored fire set off in the wings as the falling screen
revealed Lady Teazle, he failed of his intended effect because he
thought that for his audience the falling of the screen was climactic.
Really, of course, the enjoyment of the audience, as it listens to the
dialogue, knowing that Lady Teazle overhears, is the chief source of
pleasure. It is the dismay of Sir Peter, when he sees who is really
behind the screen, which makes the climax. That dismay is not greater
against a background of red fire. Crowded with action as the end of
_Hamlet_ is, we close it in acting, not on the fatal wounding of Hamlet,
but either on his words, "The rest is silence," or as the soldiers of
Fortinbras march out with Hamlet's body on their shields. Experience has
proved that a stronger climax for an audience lies in those words or in
seeing the procession which passes among the kneeling courtiers,
stronger than from all the noisy emotions which have just preceded. In
brief, except when we feel sure that we have made our feeling as to the
emotions of a scene or act the public's, it is they who must determine
where the climax lies. Where it rests we must in all cases of doubt
decide from our past experience of the public and present observation of

From all these illustrations it must be clear that the only rule for
finding climax is: Understand clearly the audience for which you intend
your play; create in it the sympathetic relation toward your characters
you wish; then you may be sure that what seems to you a climax for your
scene will be so for your audience.

Movement depends, then, on clearness, unity, emphasis, and a right
feeling for suspense and climax. This movement may be steadily upward,
as in the last scene of _Hamlet_, or it may have the wave-like advance
found in Sigurjónsson's _Eyvind of the Hills_[65] or Sir Arthur Pinero's
_The Gay Lord Quex_. The emotional interest in each of these sweeps up
to a pure climax, drops back part way for a fresh start, and then
advances to a stronger climax.

Granted that a would-be playwright understands the proportioning of his
work and the correct development of it for clearness, emphasis and
movement, he is ready to repeat the words of Ibsen: "I have just
completed a play in five acts, that is to say, the rough draft of it.
Now comes the elaboration, the more energetic individualization of the
persons, and their modes of expression."[66] He is ready to perfect his
characterization and dialogue.


  [1] _Ancient Classical Drama_, chap. VII, "Elements of Comedy."
    Moulton. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

  [2] _The "Choephori" of Æschylus._ Introduction, p. xvi. A. W.
    Verral. The Macmillan Co., New York.

  [3] _The Rising of the Moon_, Lady Gregory. _Contemporary
    Dramatists_. T. H. Dickinson, ed. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

  [4] _Mme. Sans Gêne_, Prologue, Scene 1. Sardou and Moreau. Samuel
    French, New York.

  [5] _Lonely Lives_, Act IV. _The Dramatic Works of Gerhart
    Hauptmann_, vol. III, p. 265. Ludwig Lewisohn, ed. B. W. Huebsch, New

  [6] _Farces_, "The Galloper," Act I. Richard Harding Davis.
    Copyright, 1906, by Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [7] _The Lonely Way_, etc. _Three Plays by Arthur Schnitzler_.
    Translated by E. Björkman. Mitchell Kennerley.

  [8] _Phædra_, Act I. Racine. Translated by R. B. Boswell. _Chief
    European Dramatists._ Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

  [9] _Works_, vol. 3. W. Gifford and Dyce. Murray, London.

  [10] _The Rehearsal_, Act I. The Duke of Buckingham. Bell's _British
    Theatre_, vol. XV. London, 1780.

  [11] _The Lady of Andros_, Act I. Terence. Translated by J.
    Sargeaunt. The Macmillan Co., New York; W. Heinemann, London.

  [12] _The Lady of Andros_, Act III.

  [13] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [14] _Théâtre Complet_, vol. II. Calmann Lévy, Paris.

  [15] _Théâtre_, vol. II. Michel Lévy frères, Paris.

  [16] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston.

  [17] _Magda_, translated by A. E. A. Winslow. Lamson, Wolffe & Co.,

  [18] _From Ibsen's Workshop_, pp. 271-272. Translated by A. G.
    Chater. Copyright, 1911, by Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [19] _Idem_, pp. 288-289.

  [20] _Ibsen's Prose Dramas_, vol. V, Walter Scott, London; Chas.
    Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [21] _Letters of Henrik Ibsen_, p. 291. Fox, Duffield & Co., New

  [22] _Some Platitudes concerning Drama. Atlantic Monthly_,
    December, 1909.

  [23] _Othello_, Act III, Scene 3.

  [24] _Lady Windermere's Fan_, Act I. Oscar Wilde. J. W. Luce & Co.,

  [25] Duffield & Co., New York.

  [26] _Plays._ G. P. Putnam's Sons, New York.

  [27] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [28] _The Trail of the Torch_, Paul Hervieu. Translated by J. H.
    Haughton. Drama League Series, vol. XII. Doubleday Page & Co., New

  [29] _The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann_, vol. VI,
    Introduction, p. xi, Ludwig Lewisohn, ed. B. W. Huebsch, New York.

  [30] The Macmillan Co. publish both forms.

  [31] _Nathan Hale_, Act IV, Scene 2. Clyde Fitch. Little, Brown &
    Co., Boston.

  [32] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [33] _Idem._

  [34] Pp. 143-45. R. H. Russell, New York. Also published by Walter H.
    Baker & Co., Boston.

  [35] Act IV, Scene 2. The Macmillan Co.

  [36] _Contemporary Dramatists._ Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

  [37] J. W. Luce & Co., Boston.

  [38] Translated by May Hendee. Doubleday, McClure & Co., New York.

  [39] _Plays of Oscar Wilde_, vol. II. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston.

  [40] _The Fantasticks_, pp. 145-146. Translated by George Fleming. R.
    H. Russell, New York.

  [41] Samuel French, New York.

  [42] _The Devonshire Hamlets_, pp. 34-46. Sampson Low, Son & Co.,

  [43] _Letters of Bulwer-Lytton to Macready_, LXIII. Brander Matthews,

  [44] _Hamburg Dramaturgy_, p. 377. Lessing. Bohn, ed.

  [45] _Play-Making_, pp. 171-172. William Archer. Small, Maynard &
    Co., Boston.

  [46] _The Troublesome Raigne of King Iohn_, pp. 279-280;
    _Shakespeare's Library_, vol. V. Reeves & Turner, London.

  [47] _The Good Hope_, Act III. Herman Heijermans. _The Drama_,
    November, 1912.

  [48] See pp. 29-30.

  [49] _Washington Square Plays; The Clod._.\ Lewis Beach. Drama League
    Series, No. XX. Doubleday, Page & Co., New York.

  [50] _The Autobiography of Joseph Jefferson_, pp. 210-211. Century
    Co., New York.

  [51] The DeWitt Publishing House, New York.

  [52] _Monsieur Poirier's Son-in-Law_, Act I. Emile Augier. Translated
    by B. H. Clark. A. Knopf, New York.

  [53] _The Amazons_, Act III. Sir Arthur Pinero. Walter H. Baker &
    Co., Boston.

  [54] _Herod, A Tragedy_, Act. II. Stephen Phillips. John Lane, New

  [55] J. W. Luce & Co., Boston; Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., London.

  [56] _The Fantasticks_, Act III. Edmond Rostand. Translated by Geo.
    Fleming. R. H. Russell & Co., New York.

  [57] _Morituri, Fritzshen_, Herman-Sudermann. Translated by Archibald
    Alexander. Copyright, 1910, by Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [58] _Idem._

  [59] _Letters of Bulwer-Lytton to Macready_, Brander Matthews, ed.

  [60] Doubleday, Page & Co., New York.

  [61] _Les Oberlé._ René Bazin. Dramatized by E. Haraucourt.
    L'Illustration Théâtrale, December 9, 1905, p. 14.

  [62] _Magda._ Translated by C. E. A. Winslow. Lamson, Wolffe & Co.,

  [63] _Lady Windermere's Fan_, Act II. Oscar Wilde. Acting version as
    arranged by Miss Margaret Anglin.

  [64] _Idem_, Act IV. Acting version as arranged by Miss Margaret

  [65] _Eyvind of the Hills_, J. Sigurjónsson. American Scandinavian
    Society, New York.

  [66] _From Ibsen's Workshop_, p. 8. Copyright, 1911, by Chas.
    Scribner's Sons, New York.



In drama, undoubtedly the strongest immediate appeal to the general
public is action. Yet if a dramatist is to communicate with his audience
as he wishes, command of dialogue is indispensable. The permanent value
of a play, however, rests on its characterization. Characterization
focuses attention. It is the chief means of creating in an audience
sympathy for the subject or the people of the play. "A Lord," "A Page,"
in a pre-Shakespearean play usually was merely a speaker of lines and
little, if at all, characterized. When Robert Greene or his
contemporaries adapted such sources for their stage, with sure instinct
for creating a greater interest in their public, they changed these
prefixes to "Eustace," "Jacques," "Nano," etc. Merely changing the name
from type to individual called for individualization of character and
usually brought it. Indeed, in drama, individualization is always the
sign of developing art. In any country, the history of modern drama is a
passing, under the influence of the audience, from abstractions and
personifications, through type, to individualized character. In the
Trope, cited p. 17, one Mary cannot be distinguished from another. In a
later form it is not a particular unguent seller who meets the Maries on
the way to the tomb, but a type,--Unguent Seller. When a writer of a
Miracle Play first departed a little from the exact actions and dialogue
of the Bible, it was to add abstractions--Justice, Virtue, etc.--or
types: soldiers, shepherds, etc. From these he moved quickly or slowly,
as he was more or less endowed dramatically, to figures individualized
from types, such as the well-characterized shepherds of the Second
Towneley Play. The Morality illustrates this same evolution even more
clearly. Beginning with the pure abstractions of _Mundus et Infans_ or
_Mankind_ it passes through type characterization in _Lusty Juventus_ or
_Hyckescorner_ to as well individualized figures as Delilah and Ishmael
in _The Nice Wanton_.[1] Abstractions permit an author to say what he
pleases with the least possible thought for characterization. Type
presents characteristics so marked that even the unobservant cannot have
failed to discern them in their fellow men. Individualization
differentiates within the types, running from broad distinctions to
presentation of very subtle differences. Because individualization moves
from the known to the less known or the unknown, it is harder for an
audience to follow than type characterization, and far more difficult to
write. However, he who cannot individualize character must keep to the
broader kinds of melodrama and farce, and above all to that last asylum
of time-honored types--musical comedy.

Fundamentally, type characterization rests on a false premise, namely,
that every human being may be adequately represented by some dominant
characteristic or small group of closely related characteristics. All
the better recent drama emphasizes the comic or tragic conflict in human
beings caused by many contradictory impulses and ideas, some mutually
exclusive, some negativing others to a considerable extent, some
apparently dormant for a time, yet ready to spring into great activity
at unforeseen moments. Ben Jonson carried the false idea to an extreme
when he wrote of his "humour" comedies:

          In every human body,
  The choler, melancholy, phlegm, and blood,
  By reason that they flow continually
  In some one part and are not continent,
  Receive the name of humours. Now thus far
  It may, by metaphor, apply itself
  Unto the general disposition:
  As when some one peculiar quality
  Doth so possess a man that it doth draw
  All his affects, his spirits and his powers,
  In his confluctions, all to run one way,
  This may be truly said to be a humour.[2]

Were Ben Jonson's physiology sound, we should have, not occasional
cranks and neurotics as now, but a race of nothing else. Today modern
medical science has proved the bad physiology of his words, and
dramatists have followed its lead.

What gave the type drama its great hold, in the Latin comedy of Plautus
and Terence, in Ben Jonson and other Elizabethans, what keeps it alive
today in the less artistic forms--broad farce, pure melodrama--is
fourfold. Type characterization, exhibiting a figure wholly in one
aspect, or through a small group of closely related characteristics, is
easy to understand. Secondly, it is both easy to create, and, as Ben
Jonson's great following between 1605 and 1750 proves, even easier to
imitate. Thirdly, farce and melodrama, indeed all drama depending
predominantly on mere situation, may succeed, though lacking
individualization of character, with any audience which, like the Roman
or the Elizabethan, gladly hears the same stories or sees the same
figures handled differently by different writers. Much in the plays of
Reade, Tom Taylor, and Bulwer-Lytton[3] which passed, in the
mid-nineteenth century, for real life, depending as it did on a
characterization which barely rose above type, was only thinly disguised
melodrama. The recent increasing response of the public to better
characterization in both farce and melodrama has tended to lift the
former into comedy, the latter into story-play and tragedy. Just here
appears a fourth reason for the popularity of characterization by types.
Though entertaining plays may be presented successfully with type
characterization only, no dramatist with inborn or acquired ability to
characterize, can hold consistently to types. Observation,
interpretative insight, or a flash of sympathy will advance him now and
again, as Jonson was advanced more than once, to real individualization
of character. Contrast the thoroughly real Subtle, Face, and Doll of
_The Alchemist_[4] with the types, Ananias and Sir Epicure Mammon;
contrast the masterly, if very brief, characterization of Ursula in
_Bartholomew Fair_[5] with the mere type of Zeal-of-the-Land Busy. An
uncritical audience responding to the best characterization in a play,
overlooks the merely typical quality of the other figures. That is, the
long vogue of types upon the stage rests upon ease of comprehension,
entire adequacy for some crude dramatic forms, ease of imitation, and a
constant tendency in a dramatist of ability to rise to higher levels of
characterization. Now that we are more and more dissatisfied with types
in plays making any claim to realism, the keen distinction first laid
down by Mr. William Archer in his _Play-Making_ becomes essential. If
type presents a single characteristic or group of intimately related
characteristics, "character drawing is the presentment of human nature
in its commonly recognized, understood, and accepted aspects; psychology
is, as it were, the exploration of character, the bringing of hitherto
unsurveyed tracts within the circle of our knowledge and
comprehension."[6] Mr. Galsworthy in _The Silver Box_ and _Justice_ Mr.
Archer regards as a drawer of character; in _Strife_[7] as a
psychologist. He holds Sir Arthur Pinero a characterizer of great
versatility who becomes a psychologist in some of his studies of
feminine types--in Iris, in Letty, in the heroine of _Mid-Channel_.[8 ]
By this distinction, most good drama shows character drawing; only the
great work, psychology.

Drama which does not rise above interest in its action rests, as has
been said, on the idea that most people are simple, uncomplicated, and
easy to understand. Great drama depends on a firm grasp and sure
presentation of complicated character, but of course a dramatist has a
perfect right to say that, though he knows his hero--Cyrano de Bergerac,
for instance--may have had many characteristics, it is enough for the
purpose of his play to represent the vanity, the audacity, and the
underlying tenderness of the man. It is undeniable, too, that particular
characteristics of ours may be so strong that other characteristics will
not prevent them from taking us into sufficient dramatic complications
to make a good play. In such a case, the dramatist who is not primarily
writing for characterization will present the characteristics creating
his desired situations, and let all others go. Conversely, he who cares
most for characterization will try so to present even minor qualities
that the perfect portrait of an individual will be recognized. Often,
however, the happenings of a play may seem to an audience incompatible,
that is, the character in one place may seem to contradict himself as
presented elsewhere. Just here is where the psychologist in the
dramatist, stepping to the front, must convince his audience that there
is only a seeming contradiction. Otherwise, the play falls promptly to
the level of simple melodrama or farce. That is, the character-drawer
paints his portrait, knowing that, if it is well done, its life-likeness
will at once be recognized. The psychologist, knowing that the
life-likeness will not be readily admitted, by illustrative action
throws light on his character till his point is won. Our final judgment
of characterization must depend on whether the author is obviously
trying to present a completely rounded figure or only chosen aspects.

Thus the old statement, "Know thyself," becomes for the dramatist "Know
your characters as intimately as possible." Too many beginners in
play-writing who care more for situation than for character, sketch in a
figure with the idea that they may safely leave it to the actor to "fill
out the part." When brought to book they say: "I felt sure the actor in
his larger experience, catching my idea--you do think it was clearly
stated, don't you?--would fill it out perfectly, and be glad of the
freedom." Were modesty the real basis for this kind of work, there might
be good in it; but what really lies behind it are two great foes of good
dramatic writing: haste or incompetence. The interest and the delight of
a dramatist in studying people should lie in accurate conveying to
others of their contradictions, their deterioration or growth as time
passes, the outcropping of characteristics in them for which our
observation has not prepared us. Nobody who really cares for
characterization wants somebody else to do it for him. Nobody who has
really entered into his characters thoroughly will for a moment be
satisfied to sketch broad outlines and let the actor fill in details.
Rarely, however, does the self-deceived author of such slovenly work
deceive his audience. It meets at their hands the condemnation it
deserves. Such an author assumes that in all the parts of his play,
actors of marked ability and keen intelligence will be cast. Only in the
rarest cases does that happen. Many actors may not see the full
significance of the outlines. Others, whether they see them or not, will
develop a character so as to get as swiftly as possible effects not
intended by the author but for which they, as actors, are specially
famous. Such a playwright must, then, contend, except in specially
fortunate circumstances, against possible dullness, indifference, and
distortion. It is the merest common sense so to present characters that
a cast of average ability, or a stage manager of no extraordinary
imagination may understand and represent them with at least approximate
correctness, rather than so to write that only a group of creative
artists can do any justice to the play. Clear and definitive
characterization never hampers the best actors: for actors not the best
it is absolutely necessary unless intended values are to be blurred.

It frequently happens that a writer whose dialogue is good and who has
enough dramatic situations finds himself unable to push ahead. He knows
broadly what he wants a scene to be, but somehow cannot make his
characters move freely and naturally in it. Above all, the minor
transitional scenes prove strangely difficult to write. Of course a
scene or act may be thus clogged because the writer is mentally fagged.
If, when a writer certainly is not tired, or when, after rest, he cannot
with two or three sustained attempts develop a scene, the difficulty is
not far to seek. In real life do we surely find out about people at our
first, second, or even third meeting? Only if the people are of the
simplest and most self-revelatory kind. The difficulty in these clogged
scenes usually is that the author is treating the situation as if it
were not the creation of the people in it, and as if a skilful writer
could force any group of people into any situation. As Mr. Galsworthy
has pointed out, "character is situation."[9] The latter exists because
someone is what he is and so has inner conflict, or clashes with
another person, or with his environment. Change his character a little
and the situation must change. Involve more people in it, and
immediately their very presence, affecting the people originally in the
scene, will change the situation. In the left-hand column of what
follows, the Queen, though she has one speech, in no way affects the
scene: the situation is treated for itself, and barely. In the
right-hand column, the Queen becomes an individual whose presence
affects the speeches of the King and Hamlet. Because she is what she is,
Hamlet addresses to her some of the lines which in the first version he
spoke to the King: result, a scene far more effective emotionally.

  _King._ And now princely            _King._ But now my Cosin Hamlet,
    Sonne Hamlet,                       and my sonne.
  What meanes these sad and
    melancholy moodes?                _Ham._ A little more than kin,
  For your intent going to              and lesse then kind.
  Wee hold it most unmeet and         _King._ How is it that the
    unconvenient,                       clowdes still hang on you.

  Being the Joy and halfe heart       _Ham._ Not so much my Lord, I am
    of your mother.                     too much in the sonne.
  Therefore let mee intreat you
    stay in Court,                    _Queene._ Good Hamlet cast thy
  All Denmarkes hope our coosin         nighted colour off
    and dearest Soone                 And let thine eye looke like a
                                        friend on Denmarke,
                                      Doe not forever with thy vailed
                                      Seeke for thy noble Father in
                                        the dust,
                                      Thou know'st 'tis common all
                                        that lives must die,
                                      Passing through nature to

                                      _Ham._ I Maddam, it is common.

                                      _Quee._ If it be

                                      Why seemes it so perticuler
                                        with thee.

                                      _Ham._ Seemes Maddam, nay
                                        it is, I know not seemes,
  _Ham._ My lord, 'tis not            Tis not alone my incky cloake
    the sable sute I weare:             coold mother
  No nor the teares that still        Nor customary suites of solembe
    stand in my eyes,                   blacke
  Nor the distracted haviour in       Nor windie suspiration of forst
    the visage,                         breath
  Nor all together mixt with          No, nor the fruitfull river in
    outward semblance,                  the eye,
  Is equall to the sorrow of my       Nor the dejected havior of the
    heart,                              visage
  Him have I lost I must of force     Together with all formes moodes,
    forgoe,                             chapes of griefe
  These but the ornaments and         That can denote me truely, these
    sutes of woe.                       indeede seeme,
                                      For they are actions that a man
                                        might play
                                      But I have that within which
                                        passes showe
                                      These but the trappings and the
                                        suites of woe.

  _King._ This shewes a loving        _King._ Tis sweete and
    care in you, Sonne Hamlet,          commendable in your nature
  But you must thinke your father       Hamlet,
    lost a father,                    To give these mourning duties
  That father dead, lost his, and       to your father,
    so shalbe untill the              But you must knowe your
  Generall ending.  Therefore           father lost a father,
    cease laments,                    That father lost, lost his, and
  It is a fault gainst heaven,          the surviver bound
    fault gainst the dead,            In fillial obligation for some
  A fault gainst nature, and            tearme
    in reasons                        To do obsequious sorrowe, but
  Common course most certaine,          to persever
  None lives on earth, but hee        In obstinate condolement, is a
    is borne to die.                    course
                                      Of impious stubbornes ... etc.

  _Que._ Let not thy mother           _Quee._ Let not thy mother
    loose her praiers Hamlet,           loose her prayers Hamlet,
  Stay here with us, go not to        I pray thee stay with us, goe
    Wittenberg.                         not to Wittenberg

  _Ham._ I shall in all my best       _Ham._ I shall in all my best
    obay you madam.                     obay you madam.[10]

Inexperienced dramatists too often forget that a character who is simply
one of several in a scene may not act as he would alone.

  Mr. Macready's Bentevole is very fine in its kind. It is natural,
  easy, and forcible. Indeed, we suspect some parts of it were too
  natural, that is, that Mr. Macready thought too much of what his
  feelings might dictate in such circumstances, rather than of what the
  circumstances must have dictated to him to do. We allude particularly
  to the half significant, half hysterical laugh and distorted jocular
  leer, with his eyes towards the persons accusing him of the murder,
  when the evidence of his guilt comes out. Either the author did not
  intend him to behave in this manner, or he must have made the other
  parties on the stage interrupt him as a self-convicted criminal.[11]

Stevenson clearly recognized this truth:

  I have had a heavy case of conscience of the same kind about my
  Braxfield story. Braxfield--only his name is Hermiston--has a son who
  is condemned to death; plainly there is a fine tempting fitness about
  this; and I meant he was to hang. But now, on considering my minor
  characters, I saw there were five people who would--in a sense who
  must--break prison and attempt his rescue. They are capable, hardy
  folks, too, who might very well succeed. Why should they not, then?
  Why should not young Hermiston escape clear out of the country? and be
  happy if he could with his--But soft! I will betray my secret or my

When a scene clogs, don't hold the pen waiting for the impulse to write:
don't try to write at all. Study the situation, not for itself, but for
the people in it. "The Dramatist who depends his characters to his
plot," says Mr. Galsworthy, worthy, "instead of his plot to his
characters, ought himself to be depended."[13] If a thorough knowledge
of the characters in the particular situation does not bring a solution,
study them as the scene relates itself to what must precede in
characterization. More than once a dramatist has found that he could not
compose some scene satisfactorily till he had written carefully the
previous history of the important character or characters. The detailed
knowledge thus gained revealed whether or not the characters could enter
the desired situation, and if so, how. Pailleron, author of _Le Monde où
l'on s'ennuie_ declared that, in his early drafts, he always had three
or four times the material in regard to his _dramatis personæ_
ultimately used by him.

Intimate knowledge of his characters is the only safe foundation for the
ambitious playwright. It is well-nigh useless to ask managers and actors
to pass finally on a mere statement of a situation or group of
situations, without characterization. All they can say is: "Bring me
this again as an amplified scenario, or a play, which shows me to what
extent the people you have in mind give freshness of interest to this
story, which has been used again and again in the drama of different
nations, and I will tell you what I will do for you." Reduce any
dramatic masterpiece to simple statement of its plot and the story will
seem so trite as hardly to be worth dramatization. For instance: a man
of jealous nature, passionately in love with his young wife, is made by
the lies and trickery of a friend to believe that his wife has been
intriguing with another of his friends. The fact is that the calumniator
slanders because he thinks his abilities have not been properly
recognized by the husband and he has been repulsed by the wife. In a
fury of jealousy the husband kills his innocent wife and then himself.
That might be recognized as the story of any one of fifty French,
German, Italian, English, or American plays of the last hundred years.
It is, of course, the story of _Othello_--a masterpiece because
Shakespeare knew Othello, Iago, Desdemona, and Cassio so intimately that
by their interplay of character upon character they shape every scene
perfectly. In other words, though a striking dramatic situation is
undoubtedly dramatic treasure trove, whether it can be developed into
anything fresh and contributive depends on a careful study of the people
involved. What must they be to give rise to such a situation--not each
by himself, but when brought together under the conditions of the scene?
Even if a writer knows this, he must work backward into the earlier
history of his people before he can either move through the particular
scene or go forward into other scenes which should properly result from

Far too often plays are planned in this way. A writer thinks of some
setting that will permit him a large amount of local color--a barroom, a
dance hall, the wharf of an incoming ocean liner. Recognizing or not
that most of this local color is unessential to the real action of the
play, he does see that one or two incidents which are necessary and
striking may be set against this background. Knowing broadly, how he
wants to treat the scene, instead of studying the main and minor
characters in it till he knows them so intimately that he can select
from a larger amount of material than he can possibly use, he moves, not
where the characters lead him, but whither, _vi et armis_, he can drive
them. Rarely to him will come the delightful dilemma, so commonly
experienced by the dramatist who really cares for character, when he
must choose between what he was going to do and the scene as developed
by the creatures of his imagination who, as they become real, take the
scene away from him and shape it to vastly richer results.[14] When the
dramatist interested only in situation shapes the acts preceding his
most important scene, he searches simply for conditions of character
which will permit this important scene to follow. Result: earlier acts,
largely of exposition and talk, or of illustrative action slight and
unconvincing because characters forced into a crucial situation can
hardly reveal how they brought themselves to it. There is no middle way
for the dramatist who seeks truth in characterization. Given a
situation, either it must grow naturally out of the characters in it, or
the people originally in the mind of the author must be remodeled till
they fit naturally into the situation. In the latter case, all that
precedes and follows the central situation must be re-worked, not as the
dramatist may wish, but as the remodeled characters permit. A critic met
a well-known dramatist on the Strand. The dramatist looked worried.
"What's the matter," queried the critic, "anything gone wrong?" "Yes.
You remember the play I told you about, and that splendid situation for
my heroine?" "Yes. Well?" "Well! She won't go into it, confound her, do
the best I can." "Why make her?" "Why? Because if I don't there's an end
to that splendid situation." "Well?" "Oh, that's just why I'm bothered.
I don't want to give in, I don't want to lose that situation; but she's
right, of course she's right, and the trouble is I know I've got to

At first sight the problem may seem different in an historical play, for
here a writer is not creating incident but is often baffled by the
amount of material from which he must select,--happenings that seem
equally dramatic, speeches that cry out to be transferred to the stage,
and delightful bits of illustrative action. Yet, whether his underlying
purpose is to convey an idea, depict a character, or tell a story, how
can he decide which bits among his material make the best illustrative
action before he has minutely studied the important figures? Above all
others, the dramatist working with history is subject to the principles
of characterization already laid down. Lessing stated the whole case

  Only if he chooses other and even opposed characters to the
  historical, he should refrain from using historical names, and rather
  credit totally unknown personages with well-known facts than invent
  characters to well-known personages. The one mode enlarges our
  knowledge or seems to enlarge it and is thus agreeable. The other
  contradicts the knowledge that we already possess and is thus
  unpleasant. We regard the facts as something accidental, as something
  that may be common to many persons; the characters we regard as
  something individual and intrinsic. The poet may take any liberties he
  likes with the former so long as he does not put the facts into
  contradiction with the characters; the characters he may place in full
  light but he may not change them, the smallest change seems to destroy
  their individuality and to substitute in their place other persons,
  false persons, who have usurped strange names and pretend to be what
  they are not.[15]

There is, however, a contrasting danger to insufficient
characterization. Any one profoundly interested in character may easily
fill a scene with delicate touches which nevertheless swell the play to
undue length. When careful examination of a play which is too long makes
obvious that no act or scene can be spared in whole or in part, and that
the dialogue is nowhere wordy or redundant, watch the best characterized
scenes to discover whether something has not been conveyed by two
strokes rather than one. If so, choose the better. Watch the scenes also
lest delicate and sure touches of characterization may have been
included which, delightful though they be, are not absolutely necessary
to our understanding of the character. If so, select what most swiftly
yet clearly gives the needed information. Over-detail in
characterization is the reason why certain modern plays have sagged, or
hitched their way to a conclusion, instead of producing the effect
desired by the author.

For ultimate convincingness no play can rise above the level of its
characterization. The playwright who works for only momentary success
may doubtless depend upon the onward rush of events, in a play of strong
emotion, to blind his audience to lack of motivation in his characters.
John Fletcher is the great leader of these opportunists of the theatre.
Evadne, in _The Maid's Tragedy_,[16] killing the King, is a very
different woman from the Evadne who gladly became his mistress. Nor are
the reproaches and exhortations of her brother Melantius powerful enough
to change a woman of her character so swiftly and completely. An
audience, absorbed in the emotion of the moment, may overlook such
faults of characterization in the theatre. As it reviews the play in
calmer mood, however, it ranks it, no matter how poetic as a whole or
how well characterized in particular scenes, not as a drama which
interprets life, but as mere entertainment. Even perfect
characterization of some figures, when the chief are mere puppets,
cannot make us accept the play as more than pure fiction. In Thomas
Heywood's _A Woman Killed with Kindness_ and _English Traveler_,[17] if
the erring wives and their lovers were only as well characterized as the
fine-spirited husbands, the servants, and youths like Young Geraldine,
the plays might hold the stage today. Doubtless the actor's art in the
days of Elizabeth and James gave to villains like Wendoll and women like
Mrs. Frankford enough verisimilitude to make the plays far more
convincing than they are in the reading. But try as we may, we cannot
understand from the text either of these characters. Their motivation is
totally inadequate; that is, their conduct seems not to grow out of
their characters. Rather, they are the creatures of any situation into
which the dramatist wishes to thrust them.

This need of motivation may be fundamental, that is, the characters may
seem to an audience unconvincing from the start; or may be evident in
some insufficiently explained change, transition in character; or may
appear only in the last scene of the play, where characters hitherto
consistent are made to act in a way which seems to the audience
improbable. When Nathaniel Rowe produced his _Ambitious Stepmother_ in
1700, Charles Gildon bitterly attacked it as unconvincing in its very

  _Mirza_ is indeed a Person of a peculiar Taste; for a Cunning Man to
  own himself a Rogue to the Man he shou'd keep in ignorance, and whom
  he was to work to his ends, argues little pretence to that Name; but
  he laughs at _Honesty_, and professes himself a Knave to one he wou'd
  have honest to him....

  In the second Act, he talks of _Memnon's_ having recourse to Arms, of
  which Power we have not the least Word in the first: All that we know
  is, that he returns from Banishment on a day of Jubilee, when all was
  Safe and Free....[18]

For similar reasons, Mr. Eaton criticises unfavorably _The Fighting

  One of the best (or the worst) examples of false ethics in such a play
  is furnished by _The Fighting Hope_, produced by Mr. Belasco in the
  Autumn of 1908, and acted by Miss Blanche Bates. In this play a man,
  Granger, has been jailed, his wife and the world believe for another
  man's crime. The other man, Burton Temple, is president of the bank
  Granger has been convicted of robbing. A district attorney, hot after
  men higher up, is about to reopen the case. It begins to look bad for
  Temple. Mrs. Granger, disguised as a stenographer, goes to his house
  to secure evidence against him. What she secures is a letter proving
  that not he, but her husband, was after all the criminal.

  Of course this letter is a knockout blow for her. She realizes that
  the "father of her boys" is a thief, that the man she would send to
  jail (and with whom you know the dramatist is going to make her
  finally fall in love) is innocent. Still, in her first shock, her
  instinct to protect the "father of her boys" persists, and she burns
  the letter.

  So far, so good, but Mrs. Granger is represented as a woman of fine
  instincts and character. That she should persist in cooler blood in
  her false and immoral supposition that her boys' name will be
  protected or their happiness preserved--to say nothing of her own--by
  the guilt of two parents instead of one, is hard to believe. Yet that
  is exactly what the play asks you to believe, and it asks you to
  assume that here is a true dilemma. A babbling old housekeeper, whose
  chief use in the house seems to be to help the plot along, after the
  manner of stage servants, tells Mrs. Granger that she must not atone
  for her act by giving honest testimony in court, that of course she
  must let an innocent man go to jail, to "save her boys' name."

  It would be much more sensible should Mrs. Granger here strike the
  immoral old lady, instead of saving her blows for her cur of a
  husband, in the last act, who, after all, was the "father of her
  boys." But she listens to her. She appears actually in doubt not only
  as to which course she will pursue, but which she should pursue. She
  is intended by the dramatist as a pitiable object because on the one
  hand she feels it right to save an innocent man (whom she has begun to
  love), and on the other feels it her duty to save her sons' happiness
  by building their future on a structure of lies and deceit. And she
  reaches a solution, not by reasoning the tangle out, not by any real
  thought for her boys, their general moral welfare, not by any
  attention to principles, but simply by discovering that her husband
  has been sexually unfaithful to her. Further, he becomes a cad and
  charges her with infidelity. Then she springs upon him and beats him
  with her fists, which is not the most effective way of convincing an
  audience that she was a woman capable of being torn by moral problems.

  Of course as the play is written, there is no moral problem. The
  morality is all of the theatre. It belongs to that strange world
  behind the proscenium, wherein we gaze, and gazing sometimes utter
  chatter about "strong situations," "stirring climaxes," and the like,
  as people hypnotized. There might have been a moral problem if Mrs.
  Granger, before she discovered her husband's guilt, had been forced to
  fight a rising tide of passion for Temple in her own heart. There
  might have been a moral problem after the discovery and her first
  hasty, but natural, destruction of the letter, if she had felt that
  her desire to save Temple was prompted by a passion still illicit,
  rather than by justice. But no such real problems were presented. The
  lady babbles eternally of "saving her boys' good name," while you are
  supposed to weep for her plight. Unless you have checked your sense of
  reality in the cloak room, you scorn her perceptions and despise her
  standards. How much finer had she continued to love her husband! But
  he, after all, was only the "father of her boys."[19]

It is insufficiently motivated characterization which Mr. Eaton censures
in _The Nigger_:

  Obviously, the emotional interest in this play is--or should be,
  rather--in the tragedy of the proud, ambitious Morrow, who wakes
  suddenly to find himself a "nigger," an exile from his home, and
  hopes, from his sweetheart and his dreams. Yet, as Mr. Sheldon has
  written it, and as it was played by Mr. Guy Bates Post in the part of
  Morrow, and by the other actors, the play is most poignant in its
  moments of sheer theatrical appeal, almost of melodrama, such as the
  suspense of the cross-examination of the old mammy and her cry of
  revelation, or the pursuit of the fugitive in act one. Between his
  interest in the suspense of his story and in the elucidation of the
  broader aspects of the negro question in the South, Mr. Sheldon
  neglected too much his chief figure, as a human being. Unless the
  figures live and suffer for the audience, unless their personal fate
  is followed, their minds and hearts felt as real, the naturalistic
  drama of contemporary life can have but little value, after all. That
  is what makes its technique so difficult and so baffling. From the
  moment when Morrow learned of his birth, he became a rather nebulous
  figure, not suffering so much as listening to theories which were only
  said by the dramatist to have altered his character and point of

Perhaps it would be more strictly accurate to say that the comment on
_The Nigger_ points to inadequate treatment of character changing as the
play progresses. The favorite place of many so-called dramatists for a
change of character is in their vast silences between the acts. There,
the authors expect us to believe that marked and necessary changes take
place. They show us in clear-cut dramatic action the good character
before he became bad and after he has become bad, but for proof that the
changes took place, we must look off stage in the _entr'acte_. Read
_Lady Bountiful_ and note that between the last and the next to the last
acts large changes have taken place in the main characters. _Iris_ would
be a far greater play than it is could we have seen how its central
figure passes from the taking of the check book to the state of mind
which makes her accept Maldonado's apartment. Contrast with these plays
the thoroughly motivated change in the Sergeant of _The Rising of the
Moon_ or of Nora in _A Doll's House_.

Where American plays too frequently break down is in what may be called
the logic of character. Even when actions have been properly motivated
up to the last act or scene, this is handled in such a way as rather to
please the audience than to grow inevitably out of what has preceded.
Rumor has it that when _Secret Service_ was produced in one of the
central cities of New York State, the hero at the end chose his country
rather than the girl. The public, with that fine disregard in the
theatre for the values it places on action outside, disapproved.
Promptly, the ending was so changed that the two lovers could be started
on that sure road to happiness ever after which all men know an
engagement is--upon the stage. In a play such as _Secret Service_,
planned primarily to entertain, such a shift may be pardonable, but even
in such a case it must be done with skill if it is not to jar. _The Two
Gentlemen of Verona_ in some fifty lines at its close shows Proteus
madly in love with Silvia, and Valentine longing for her also; Valentine
threatening the life of Proteus when he discovers the latter's perfidy,
but forgiving him instantly when Proteus merely asks pardon; and
Proteus, when he discovers that the page who has been following him is
Julia, turning instantly away from Silvia to her. Here is faulty
characterization in two respects: each change is not sufficiently
motived; each does not accord with the characterization of Proteus and
Valentine in the earlier scenes.

  _Proteus._ Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving words
  Can no way change you to a milder form,
  I'll woo you like a soldier, at arms' end,
  And love you 'gainst the nature of love,--force ye.

  _Silvia._ O heaven!

  _Pro._       I'll force thee yield to my desire.

  _Valentine._ Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch,
  Thou friend of an ill fashion!

  _Pro._             Valentine!

  _Val._ Thou common friend, that's without faith or love,
  For such is a friend now! Treacherous man,
  Thou hast beguil'd my hopes! Nought but mine eye
  Could have persuaded me. Now I dare not say
  I have one friend alive; thou wouldst disprove me.
  Who should be trusted now, when one's right hand
  Is perjured to the bosom? Proteus,
  I am sorry I must never trust thee more,
  But count the world a stranger for thy sake.
  The private wound is deepest. O time most accurst,
  'Mongst all foes that a friend should be the worst!

  _Pro._ My shame and guilt confounds me.
  Forgive me, Valentine; if hearty sorrow
  Be a sufficient ransom for offence,
  I tender't here; I do as truly suffer
  As e'er I did commit.

  _Val._           Then I am paid;
  And once again I do receive thee honest.
  Who by repentance is not satisfied
  Is nor of heaven nor earth, for these are pleas'd.
  By penitence the Eternal's wrath's appeas'd;
  And, that my love may appear plain and free,
  All that was mine in Silvia I give thee.

  _Julia._ O me unhappy!          (_Swoons._)

  _Pro._ Look to the boy.

  _Val._ Why, boy! why, wag! how now! What's the matter? Look up; speak.

  _Jul._ O good sir, my master charg'd me to deliver a ring to
  Madame Silvia, which, out of my neglect, was never done.

  _Pro._ Where is that ring, boy?

  _Jul._          Here 'tis; this is it.

  _Pro._ How? let me see!
  Why this is the ring I gave to Julia.

  _Jul._ O, cry you mercy, sir, I have mistook;

  _Pro._ But how cam'st thou by this ring? At my depart
  I gave this unto Julia.

  _Jul._ And Julia herself did give it me;
  And Julia herself hath brought it hither.

  _Pro._ How! Julia!

  _Jul._ Behold her that gave aim to all thy oaths,
  And entertain'd 'em deeply in her heart.
  How oft hast thou with perjury cleft the root!
  O Proteus let this habit make thee blush!
  Be thou asham'd that I have took upon me
  Such an immodest raiment, if shame live
  In a disguise of love.
  It is the lesser blot, modesty finds,
  Women to change their shapes than men their minds.

  _Pro._ Than men their minds! 'tis true. O heaven! were man
  But constant, he were perfect. That one error
  Fills him with faults; makes him run through all the sins.
  Inconstancy falls off ere it begins.
  What is Silvia's face, but I may spy
  More fresh in Julia's with a constant eye?

  _Vol._ Come, come, a hand from either.
  Let me be blest to make this happy close;
  'Twere pity two such friends should be long foes.

  _Pro._ Bear witness, Heaven, I have my wish for ever.

  _Jul._ And I mine.

Similar inconsistencies are in many modern plays. A dramatist has a
particularly striking scene which he wishes to make the climax of his
play. Into it he forces his figures regardless. Lessing made fun of this

  ... In another still worse tragedy where one of the principal
  characters died quite casually, a spectator asked his neighbor, "But
  what did she die of?"--"Of what? Of the fifth act," was the reply. In
  very truth the fifth act is an ugly evil disease that carries off many
  a one to whom the first four acts promised a longer life.[21]

Or it may be, as in the case of Shakespeare just cited, that a dramatist
feels certain changes of character are necessary if the play is to end
as promptly as it must. Such changes, therefore, he brings about even if
it means throwing character or truth to the winds. English and American
plays of the 1880 and 1890 periods show many instances of theatrically
effective endings either forced upon the characters or only one of
several possible endings--and not the most probable. According to the
conventions of the time, any young woman who had parted with her virtue,
no matter what the circumstances, must make reparation by death. This
usually came from some wasting but not clearly diagnosed disease. There
was not always a clear distinction between inanition and inanity. A
similar convention usually saved from death the male partners of these
"faults," provided they indulged at the right moment in self-repentant
speeches. Sir Arthur Pinero, writing what he regarded as the logical
ending of _The Profligate_, was forced by the sentimentality of his
public to keep Dunstan Renshaw alive. Here are the two endings:


  _Dunstan._ (_He is raising the glass to his lips when he recoils with
  a cry of horror._) Ah! stop, stop! This is the deepest sin of all my
  life--blacker than that sin for which I suffer! No, I'll not! I'll
  not! (_He dashes the glass to the ground._) God, take my wretched life
  when You will, but till You lay Your hand upon me, I will live on!
  Help me! Give me strength to live on! Help me! Oh, help me!

    (_He falls on his knees and buries his face in his hands. Leslie
    enters softly, carrying a lamp which she places on the sideboard; then
    she goes to Dunstan._)

  _Leslie._ Dunstan! Dunstan!

  _Dunstan._ You! You!

  _Leslie._ I have remembered. When we stood together at our prayerless
  marriage, my heart made promises my lips were not allowed to utter. I
  will not part from you, Dunstan.

  _Dunstan._ Not--part--from me?

  _Leslie._ No.

  _Dunstan._ I don't understand you. You--will--not--relent? You cannot
  forget what I am!

  _Leslie._ No. But the burden of the sin you have committed I will bear
  upon my shoulders, and the little good that is in me shall enter into
  your heart. We will start life anew, always seeking for the best that
  we can do, always trying to repair the worst that we have done.
  (_Stretching out her hand to him._) Dunstan! (_He approaches her as in
  a dream._) Don't fear me! I will be your wife, not your judge. Let us
  from this moment begin the new life you spoke of.

  _Dunstan._ (_He tremblingly touches her hand as she bursts into
  tears._) Wife! Ah, God bless you! God bless you, and forgive me!

    (_He kneels at her side, and she bows her head down to his._)

  _Leslie._ Oh, my husband!


  _Dunstan._ Fool! Fool! Why couldn't you have died in Florence? Why did
  you drag yourself here all these miles--to end it _here_? I should
  have known better--I should have known better. (_He takes a phial from
  his pocket and slowly pours some poison into a tumbler._) When I've
  proved that I could not live away from her, perhaps she'll pity me. I
  shall never know it, but perhaps she'll pity me then. (_About to
  drink._) Supposing I am blind! Supposing there is some chance of my
  regaining her. Regaining her! How dull sleeplessness makes me! How
  much could I regain of what I've lost! Why, _she knows me_--nothing
  can ever undo that--_she knows me._ Every day would be a dreary,
  hideous masquerade; every night a wakeful, torturing retrospect. If
  she smiled, I should whisper to myself--"yes, yes, that's a very
  pretty pretence, but--_she knows you!_" The slamming of a door would
  shout it, the creaking of a stair would murmur it "_she knows you!_"
  And when she thought herself alone, or while she lay in her sleep, I
  should be always stealthily spying for that dreadful look upon her
  face, and I should find it again and again as I see it now--the look
  which cries out so plainly "Profligate! you taught one good woman to
  believe in you, but now _she knows you!_" No, no--no, no! (_He drains
  the contents of the tumbler._) The end--the end. (_Pointing towards
  the clock._) The hour at which we used to walk together in the garden
  at Florence--husband and wife--lovers. (_He pulls up the window-blind
  and looks out._) The sky--the last time--the sky. (_He rests drowsily
  against the piano._) Tired--tired. (_He walks rather unsteadily to the
  table._) A line to Murray. (_Writing._) A line to Murray--telling
  him--poison--morphine--message--(_The pen falls from his hand and his
  head drops forward._) The light is going out. I can't see. Light--I'll
  finish this when I wake--I'll rest. (_He staggers to the sofa and
  falls upon it._) I shall sleep tonight. The voice has gone.

    (_Leslie enters softly and kneels by his side._)

  _Leslie._ Dunstan, I am here. (_He partly opens his eyes, raises
  himself, and stares at her; then his head falls back quietly. Leslie's
  face averted._) Dunstan, I have returned to you. We are one and we
  will make atonement for the past together. I will be your Wife, not
  your Judge--let us from this moment begin the new life you spoke of.
  Dunstan! (_She sees the paper which has fallen from his hand, and
  reads it._) Dunstan! Dunstan! No, no! Look at me! Ah! (_She catches
  him in her arms._) Husband! Husband! Husband![22]

It is of course true, as M. Brieux maintains in regard to the two
endings of his early play, _Blanchette_,[23] that sometimes more than
one ending may be made plausible. Consequently he changed a tragic close
to something more pleasing to his audience. Belief grows, however, that
when a play has been begun and developed with a tragic ending in mind,
this cannot with entire convincingness be changed to something else
unless the play is rewritten from the start. There is inevitableness in
the conduct on the stage of the creatures of our brains even as with
people of real life. So strongly does Sir Arthur Pinero feel this as the
result of his long experience that, though he changed the ending of
_The Big Drum_ in 1915 in accordance with public demand, he restored the
original version when printing the play. He says in his Preface:

  _The Big Drum_ is published exactly as it was written, and as it was
  originally performed. At its first representation, however, the
  audience was reported to have been saddened by its "unhappy ending."
  Pressure was forthwith put upon me to reconcile Philip and Ottoline at
  the finish, and at the third performance of the play the curtain fell
  upon the picture, violently and crudely brought about, of Ottoline in
  Philip's arms.

  I made the alteration against my principles and against my conscience,
  and yet not altogether unwillingly. For we live in depressing times;
  and perhaps in such times it is the first duty of a writer for the
  stage to make concessions to his audience and, above everything, to
  try to afford them a complete, if brief, distraction from the gloom
  which awaits them outside the theatre.

  My excuse for having at the start provided an "unhappy" ending is that
  I was blind enough not to regard the ultimate break between Philip and
  Ottoline as really unhappy for either party. On the contrary, I looked
  upon the separation of these two people as a fortunate occurrence for
  them both; and I conceive it as a piece of ironic comedy which might
  not prove unentertaining that the falling away of Philip from his high
  resolves was checked by the woman he had once despised and who had at
  last grown to know and to despise herself.

  But comedy of this order has a knack of cutting rather deeply, of
  ceasing, in some minds, to be comedy at all; and it may be said that
  this is what has happened in the present instance. Luckily it is
  equally true that certain matters are less painful, because less
  actual, in print than upon the stage. The "wicked publisher"
  therefore, even when bombs are dropping round him, can afford to be
  more independent than the theatrical manager; and for this reason I
  have not hesitated to ask my friend Mr. Heinemann to publish _The Big
  Drum_ in its original form.[24]

What Ibsen thought of the ultimate effect of changing an ending to
accord with public sentiment, these words about _A Doll's House_ show:

  At the time when _A Doll's House_ was quite new, I was obliged to give
  my consent to an alteration of the last scene for Frau Hedwig
  Niemann-Raabe, who was to play the part of Nora in Berlin. At that
  time I had no choice. I was entirely unprotected by copyright law in
  Germany, and could, consequently, prevent nothing. Besides, the play
  in its original, uncorrupted form was accessible to the German public
  in a German edition which was already printed and published. With its
  altered ending it had only a short run. In its unchanged form it is
  still being played.[25]

Dumas fils was even more severe in his strictures:

  If at the second performance you are ready to modify your central
  idea, your development or your conclusion to please the public whom
  the night before you were pretending to teach something fresh, you may
  be, perhaps, an ingenious worker in the theatre, an adroit impresario,
  a facile inventor; you will never be a dramatist. You can make
  mistakes in details of execution; you have no right to make a mistake
  in the logic of your play, its correlations of emotions and acts, and
  least of all, in their outcome.[26]

Characterization, then, should be watched carefully in its fundamentals,
all changes, and especially for its logical outcome. Long ago, Diderot
summed up the subject thus:

  One can form an infinitude of plans on the same subject and developed
  around the same characters. But the characters being once settled,
  they can have but one manner of speaking. Your figures will have this
  or that to say according to the situation in which you may have placed
  them, but being the same human beings in all the situations, they will
  not, fundamentally, contradict themselves.[27]

How may we know whether our motivation is good or not? First of all, it
must be clear. If an audience cannot make out why one of our characters
does what he is doing, from that moment the play weakens. It is on this
ground that William Archer objected to the _Becket_ of Tennyson:

  "Some gents," says the keeper, in _Punch_, to the unsuccessful
  sportsman, "goes a-wingin' and a-worritin' the poor birds; but you,
  sir--you misses 'em clane and nate!" With the like delicate tact
  criticism can only compliment the poet on the "clane and nate" way in
  which he has missed the historical interest, the psychological
  problem, of his theme. What was it that converted the Becket of
  Toulouse into the Becket of Clarendon--the splendid
  warrior-diplomatist into the austere prelate? The cowl, we are told,
  does not make the monk; but in Lord Tennyson's psychology it seems
  that it does. Of the process of thought, the development of feeling,
  which leads Becket, on assuming the tonsure, to break with the
  traditions of his career, with the friend of his heart and with his
  own worldly interest--of all this we have no hint. The social and
  political issues involved are left equally in the vague. Of the two
  contending forces, the Church and the Crown, which makes for good, and
  which for evil? With which ought we to sympathize? It might be argued
  that we have no right to ask this question, and that it is precisely a
  proof of the poet's art that he holds the balance evenly, and does not
  write as a partisan. But as a matter of fact this is not so. The poet
  is not impartial; he is only indefinite. We are evidently intended to
  sympathize, and we _do_ sympathize, with Becket, simply because we
  feel that he is staking his life on a principle; but what that
  principle precisely is, and what its bearings on history and
  civilization, we are left to find out for ourselves. Thus the
  intellectual opportunity, if I may call it so, is missed "clane and

Contrast the third, fourth, and fifth acts of _Michael and His Lost
Angel_[29] with the first and second. So admirable is the
characterization of Acts I and II that a reader understands exactly what
Audrie and Michael are doing and why. In the other acts, though what
they are doing is clear, why the Audrie and Michael of the first two
acts behaved thus is by no means clear and plausible. Indeed,
plausibility and clearness go hand in hand as tests of motivation.
Accounting for the deeds of any particular character is easy if the
conduct rests on motives which any audience will immediately recognize
as both widespread and likely to produce the situation. It is just here,
however, that national taste and literary convention complicate the work
of the dramatist. An American, watching a performance of _Simone_[30] by
M. Brieux, hardly understood the loud protests which burst from the
audience when the heroine, at the end of the play, sternly denounced her
father's conduct. To him, it seemed quite natural that an American girl
should assume this right of individual judgment. The French audience
felt that a French girl, because of her training, would not, under the
circumstances, thus attack her father. M. Brieux admitted himself wrong
and changed the ending. It is this fact, that conduct plausible for one
nation is not always equally plausible for another, which makes it hard
for an American public to understand a goodly number of the masterpieces
of recent Continental dramatic literature.

What literary convention may do in twisting conduct from the normal, the
pseudo-classic French drama of Corneille and Racine, and its foster
child, the Heroic Drama of England, illustrate. Dryden himself points
out clearly the extent to which momentary convention among the French
deflected the characters in their tragedies from the normal:

  The French poets ... would not, for example, have suffer'd Cleopatra
  and Octavia to have met; or, if they had met, there must only have
  passed betwixt them some cold civilities, but no eagerness of
  repartee, for fear of offending against the greatness of their
  characters, and the modesty of their sex. This objection I foresaw,
  and at the same time contemn'd; for I judg'd it both natural and
  probable that Octavia, proud of her new-gain'd conquest, would search
  out Cleopatra to triumph over her; and that Cleopatra, thus attack'd,
  was not of a spirit to shun the encounter: and 'tis not unlikely that
  two exasperated rivals should use such satire as I have put into their
  mouths; for, after all, tho' the one were a Roman, and the other a
  queen, they were both women.

       *       *       *       *       *

  Thus, their Hippolytus is so scrupulous in point of decency that he
  will rather expose himself to death than accuse his stepmother to his
  father; and my critics I am sure will commend him for it: but we of
  grosser apprehensions are apt to think that this excess of generosity
  is not practicable, but with fools and madmen. This was good manners
  with a vengeance; and the audience is like to be much concern'd at the
  misfortunes of this admirable hero; but take Hippolytus out of his
  poetic fit, and I suppose he would think it a wiser part to set the
  saddle on the right horse, and choose rather to live with the
  reputation of a plain-spoken, honest man, than to die with the infamy
  of an incestuous villain. In the meantime we may take notice that
  where the poet ought to have preserv'd the character as it was
  deliver'd to us by antiquity, when he should have given us the picture
  of a rough young man, of the Amazonian strain, a jolly huntsman, and
  both by his profession and his early rising a mortal enemy to love, he
  has chosen to give him the turn of gallantry, sent him to travel from
  Athens to Paris, taught him to make love, and transformed the
  Hippolytus of Euripides into Monsieur Hippolyte.[31]

One of the chief elements in the genius of Shakespeare is his power to
transcend momentary conventions, fads, and theories, and to discern in
his material, whether history or fiction, eternal principles of conduct.
Thus he wrote for all men and for all time. In _Love's Labor's Lost_ he
wrote for a special audience, appealing to its ideas of style and humor.
In _Twelfth Night_ he let his characters have full sway. Which is the
more alive today?

Nor is it only the literary conventions of an audience which affect the
problem of plausibility set an author. The French public of 1841 which
came to the five-act play of Eugène Scribe, _Une Chaine_,[32] asked, not
a convincing picture of life, but mere entertainment. Therefore they
accepted insufficient motivation and artificiality in handling the
scenes. Louise, the wife, discovering from words of her husband as she
enters the room that her former lover, Emmeric, now prefers Aline to
her, sits down and dashes off a signed letter releasing him. Just why is
not clear. In order that she may do this writing unobserved of her
husband, two characters must, for some time, be so managed as to stand
between him and her. In order that the husband may never know she has
been in love with Emmeric, the letter must be kept out of his hands, and
read only by the guardian of Aline, Clerambeau. All this requires
constant artifice. Sidney Grundy made a one-act adaptation of _Une
Chaine_ called _In Honor Bound_.[33] In this, Lady Carlyon, waking from
sleep on the divan in her husband's study, hears, unobserved by Philip
and Sir George, the young man's admission that he no longer cares for
her. When her cry reveals her, Sir George, her husband, thinking her
unwell, goes to bring her niece, Rose, to her aid. Lady Carlyon learns
promptly from Philip that the guardian of the girl he is engaged to
demands a letter releasing him from any former entanglement. Lady
Carlyon, to cover her chagrin, with seeming willingness writes and signs
a letter. Thus the writing takes place when the husband is off stage,
and the evident chagrin of Lady Carlyon motivates it better. The
relation of the husband to the letter is also handled better than in the
original. He, unlike St. Geran, strongly suspects that his wife has
cared for the younger man. Lady Carlyon is unaware that Sir George is
the guardian in question and that the girl is her niece, Rose.
Consequently she lets slip that Philip possesses the desired letter. Sir
George demands it as his right, noting her disturbance when she learns
that her husband is involved in the situation. When Philip refuses to
surrender the letter, Sir George courteously permits him to read it
aloud. Just before the signature is reached, he stops Philip, asking him
if the letter is signed. When Philip admits that it is, Sir George
insists on having the letter, then, without looking at it, burns it at
the lamp with words of sympathy for the writer. All this turns the
husband in this scene from a mere lay figure into a character, and
greatly lessens the artificiality of the original. By means of better
characterization a motivation fundamentally more plausible is provided.
Why? Because an English audience of 1880-90 expected much more
probability in a play than did a French or English audience of 1841.

Of course, conduct initially unconvincing may be so treated as to become
entirely satisfactory. One of the delights in characterization is so
preparing for an exhibition of character likely to seem unreal of itself
that when it is presented it is accepted either at once or before the
scene closes. Any motive which a dramatist can make acceptable to his
audience is ultimately just as good as one accepted unquestioningly.
Shylock's demand for the pound of flesh is in itself unplausible
enough--the act of one demented or insane. But Shakespeare's emphasis on
his racial hate lends it possibility. His presentation of the other
people in the play as accepting the bond with the minimum of question
makes it seem probable. If a would-be dramatist were to rule out as
material not to be treated whatever at the outset seems improbable or
impossible, think what our drama would lose: such plays as _Faust_,
_Midsummer Night's Dream_, _The Blue Bird_, and even _Hamlet_.

Repeatedly in treating plausibility it has been implied or stated that
what is said or done must be "in character." This suggests another test
of good motivation. What happens must be plausible, not only in that it
accords with known human experience, but with what has been done by the
character in preceding portions of the play. In _The Masqueraders_, when
Sir Brice and David stake Dulcie and her child against the fortune of
the latter, and let all turn upon a game of cards, a reader is
skeptical, for even if it be admitted that Sir Brice might do this, it
does not accord with what we know of David from the earlier scenes of
the play.

    (_Exit Dulcie. The two men are left alone. Another slight pause. Sir
    Brice walks very deliberately up to David. The two men stand close to
    each other for a moment or two._)

  _Sir Brice._ You've come to settle your little account, I suppose?

  _David._ I owe you nothing.

  _Sir Brice._ But I owe you six thousand pounds. I haven't a penny in
  the world. I'll cut you for it, double or quits.

  _David._ I don't play cards.

  _Sir Brice._ You'd better begin. (_Rapping on the table with the

  _David._ (_Very firmly._) I don't play cards with _you_.

  _Sir Brice._ And I say you shall.

  _David._ (_Very stern and contemptuous._) I don't play cards with you.
  (_Going towards door; Sir Brice following him up._)

  _Sir Brice._ You refuse?

  _David._ I refuse.

  _Sir Brice._ (_Stopping him._) Once for all, will you give me a chance
  of paying back the six thousand pounds that Lady Skene has borrowed
  from you? Yes or no?

  _David._ No.

  _Sir Brice._ No?

  _David._ (_Very emphatically._) No. (_Goes to door, suddenly turns
  round, comes up to him._) Yes. (_Comes to the table._) I _do_ play
  cards with you. You want my money. Very well. I'll give you a chance
  of winning all I have in the world.

  _Sir Brice._ (_After a look of astonishment._) Good. I'm your man. Any
  game you like, and any stakes.

  _David._ (_Very calm, cold, intense tone all through._) The stakes on
  my side are some two hundred thousand pounds. The stakes on your side
  are--your wife and child.

  _Sir Brice._ (_Taken aback._) My wife and child.

  _David._ Your wife and child. Come--begin! (_Points to the cards._)

  _Sir Brice._ (_Getting flurried._) My wife and child? (_Puts his hand
  restlessly through his hair, looks intently at David. Pause._) All
  right. (_Pause. Cunningly._) I value my wife and child very highly.

  _David._ I value them at all I have in the world. (_Pointing to the
  cards_.) Begin!

  _Sir Brice._ You seem in a hurry.

  _David._ I believe I haven't six months to live. I want to make the
  most of those six months. If I have more I want to make the most of
  all the years. Begin!

  _Sir Brice._ (_Wipes his face with his handkerchief._) This is the
  first time I've played this game. We'd better arrange conditions.

  _David._ There's only one condition. We play till I'm beggared of
  every farthing I have, or till you're beggared of them. Sit down!

  _Sir Brice._ (_Sits down._) Very well. (_Pause._) What game?

  _David._ The shortest.

  _Sir Brice._ Simple cutting?

  _David._ What you please. Begin!

  _Sir. Brice._ There's no hurry. I mean to have a night's fun out of

  _David._ Look at me. Don't trifle with me! I want to have done with
  you. I want them to have done with you. I want to get them away from
  you. Quick! I want to know now--now--this very moment--whether they
  are yours or mine. Begin.

  _Sir Brice._ (_Shuffles the cards._) All right. What do we cut for?

  _David._ Let one cut settle it.

  _Sir Brice._ No. It's too much to risk on one throw.

  _David._ One cut. Begin.

  _Sir Brice._ It's too big. I can't. (_Gets up, walks a pace or two._)
  I like high play, but that's too high for me. (_David remains at back
  of table, very calm; does not stir all through the scene; Sir Brice
  walking about._) No, by Jove! I'll tell you what I'll do. Three cuts
  out of five. Damn it all! I'm game! Two out of three. By Jove, two out
  of three! Will that do?

  _David._ So be it! Shuffle. Sit down!

    (_Sir Brice sits down; begins shuffling the cards. All through the
    scene he is nervous, excited, hysterical, laughing. David as cold as
    a statue._)[34]

An almost similar situation in a play set in a remote part of the West,
_Believe Me, Xantippe_, is more convincing. A loutish beast agrees to
gamble for a woman he is kidnapping with a young adventurer who sees at
the moment no other way to save her from the other man's clutches. The
scene is not at all improbable for either man. In _The Princess and the
Butterfly_, all the preceding acts are but a preparation for what the
world will call the unreason, in the last act, of the marriages of Sir
George and the Princess Pannonia,--of middle age with youth. Their final
conduct would seem unplausible were it not entirely in keeping with
their characters as carefully developed in the earlier parts of the
play. _The Rising of the Moon_ of Lady Gregory shows a final situation
for the Police Sergeant which, at the opening of the play, would seem
impossible for him. In a few pages, however, the dramatist so develops
the character that we are perfectly ready to accept his sacrifice of the
"hundred pounds reward" which he so coveted at the outset.

Motivation should not, however, be allowed to obtrude itself, but should
be subordinated to the emotional purpose of the scene. The modern
auditor prefers to gather it almost unconsciously as the action of the
play proceeds rather than to have it emphasized for him, as does Iago,
at the end of several acts of _Othello_. Another instance of this frank
motivation among the Elizabethans may be found in the soliloquy from
_The Duchess of Malfi_:

  _Cardinal._ The reason why I would not suffer these
  About my brother is because at midnight
  I may with better privacy convay
  Julias body, to her owne lodging. O, my conscience!
  I would pray now: but the divell takes away my heart
  For having any confidence in praier.
  About this hour I appointed Bosola
  To fetch the body: when he hath serv'd my turne,
  He dies.[35]

Good motivation, then, must be clear; either plausible naturally or made
so by the art of the dramatist; should in each particular instance
comport with the preceding actions and speech of the character; and
should not be so stressed as to draw attention away from the emotional
significance of the scene.

It is by well-motived characterization that drama passes from melodrama
to story-play and so to tragedy; or, from the broadest farce or
extravaganza through low comedy to high. As long as we care little what
the people in our play are, and greatly for comic or serious happenings,
we may string situations together almost at will. The moment that our
figures come alive, as has been pointed out, selection in our possible
material has begun. Some of the incidents in our melodrama or broad
farce will drop out as wholly impossible for these figures which have
come to life. Others must be modified if the figures are to take part in
them. Give a melodrama sustaining, convincing characterization and it
must at least turn into a story-play, something which after a mingling
of the serious and the comic does not end tragically. So characterize in
a story with a serious ending that the tragic result develops inevitably
from the sequence of preceding scenes, and tragedy is born. Watch the
way in which Shakespeare lifts the Hubert and Arthur scene of the old
play of _King John_ by the infused characterization. In the old play the
author presents us with puppets depending for their effect on the
contained horror of the scene. Shakespeare creates a winsome, brave
young prince, and a very human Hubert. The scene moves us, not, simply
from our dread of physical torture, but because of our growing intense
sympathy for the lad who is fighting for his life.

                                     ACT IV. SCENE 1. _Northampton.
                                     A Room in the castle_

  _Enter Hubert de Burgh with        _Enter Hubert and two Attendants_
  three men_
                                     _Hub._ Heat me these irons hot,
  _Hub._ My masters, I have             and look thou stand
  shewed you what warrant I have     Within the arras: when I strike
  of this attempt; I perceive          my foot
  by your heavie countenances,       Upon the bosom of the ground, rush
  you had rather be otherwise          forth,
  imployed, and for my owne part,    And bind the boy, which you shall
  I would the King had made choyce     find with me,
  of some other executioner; onely   Fast to the chair: be heedful.
  this is my comfort, that a King      Hence, and watch.
  commaunds, whose precepts
  neglected or omitted, threatneth   _1. Attend._ I hope, your warrant
  torture for the default.             will bear out the deed.
  Therefore in briefe, leave me,     _Hub._ Uncleanly scruples: fear not
  and be readie to attend the          you: look to't.--
  adventure: stay within that            (_Exeunt Attendants._)
  entry, and when you hear me        Young lad, come forth; I have to
  crie, God save the King, issue       say with you.
  sodainly foorth, lay handes on
  Arthur, set him in his chayre,       _Enter Arthur_
  wherein (once fast bound) leave
  him with me to finish the rest.    _Arth._ Good morning, Hubert.

                                     _Hub._ Good morrow, little prince.

  _Attendants._ We goe, though       _Arth._ As little prince (having
  loath. (_Exeunt._)                   so great a title
                                     To be more prince,) as may be.--You
  _Hub._ My Lord, will it please       are sad.
  your Honour to take the benefite
  of the faire evening?              _Hub._ Indeed I have been merrier.

  _Enter Arthur to Hubert de Burgh_  _Arth._ Mercy on me!
                                     Methinks nobody should be sad but
  _Arth._ Gramercie Hubert for thy     I:
    care of me,                      Yet, I remember, when I was in
  In or to whom restraint is newly     France,
    knowen,                          Young gentlemen would be as sad as
  The joy of walking is small          night,
    benefit,                         Only for wantonness. By my
  Yet will I take thy offer with       christendom,
    small thankes,                   So I were out of prison and kept
  I would not loose the pleasure       sheep,
    of the eye.                      I should be as merry as the day is
  But tell me curteous Keeper if       long;
    you can,                         And so I would be here, but that I
  How long the King will have me        doubt
    tarrie here                      My uncle practises more harm to me:
                                     He is afraid of me and I of him.
  _Hub._ I know not Prince, but      Is it my fault that I was Geffrey's
    as I gesse, not long.               son?
  God send you freedome, and God     No, indeed, is't not; and I would
    save the King.                     to heaven,
      (_They issue forth._)          I were your son, so you would love
                                       me, Hubert.
  _Arth._ Why now sirs, what may     _Hub. (Aside.)_ If I talk to him,
    this outrage meane?                with his innocent prate
  O help me Hubert, gentle Keeper    He will awake my mercy, which lies
    helpe;                             dead:
  God send this sodaine mutinous     Therefore I will be sudden, and
    approach                           dispatch.
  Tend not to reave a wretched
    guiltless life.                  _Arth._ Are you sick, Hubert? you
                                       look pale today.
  _Hub._ So sirs, depart, and        In sooth, I would you were a little
    leave the rest for me.             sick;
                                     That I might sit all night, and
  _Arth._ Then Arthur yeeld,           watch with you:
    death frowneth in thy face,      I warrant I love you more than you
  What meaneth this? Good Hubert       do me.
    plead the case.
                                     _Hub. (Aside.)_ His words do take
  _Hub._ Patience yong Lord, and       possession of my bosom.--
    listen words of woe,             Read here, young Arthur,
  Harmful and harsh, hells horror
    to be heard:                         (_Showing a paper._)
  A dismall tale fit for a furies
    tongue.                          (_Aside._) How now, foolish rheum!
  I faint to tell, deepe sorrow      Turning dispiteous torture out of
    is the sound.                      door?
                                     I must be brief; lest resolution
  _Arth._ What, must I die?            drop
                                     Out at mine eyes in tender womanish
  _Hub._ No newes of death, but        tears.--
    tidings of more hate,            Can you read it? Is it not fair
  A wrathfull doome, and most          writ?
    unluckie fate:
  Deaths dish were daintie at so     _Arth._ Too fairly, Hubert, for so
    fell a feast,                      foul effect.
  Be deafe, heare not, its hell      Must you with hot irons burn out
    to tell the rest.                  both mine eyes?

  _Arth._ Alas, thou wrongst my      _Hub._ Young boy, I must.
    youth with words of feare,
  Tis hell, tis horror, not for
    one to heare:
  What is it man if needes be don,
  Act it, and end it, that the
    paine were gon.

  _Hub_. I will not chaunt such      _Arth_.   And will you?
    dolour with my tongue,
  Yet must I act the outrage with    _Hub_.     And I will.
    my hand.
  My heart, my head, and all my      _Arth_. Have you the heart? When
    powers beside,                     your head did but ache,
  To aide the office have at once    I knit my handkerchief about your
    denide.                            brows,
  Peruse this Letter, lines of       (The best I had, a princess wrought
    treble woe,                         it me,)
  Reade ore my charge, and pardon    And I did never ask it you again:
    when you know.                   And with my hand at midnight held
                                       your head,
  Hubert, these are to commaund      And, like the watchful minutes to
  thee, as thou tendrest our quiet     the hour,
  in minde, and the estate of our    Still and anon cheer'd up the heavy
  person, that presently upon the      time,
  receipt of our commaund, thou      Saying, What lack you? and, Where
  put out the eies of Arthur           lies your grief?
  Plantaginet.                       Or, What good love may I perform
                                       for you?
  _Arth_. Ah, monstrous damned       Many a poor man's son would have
  man! his very breath infects the     lain still,
  elements.                          And ne'er have spoken a loving word
  Contagious venyme dwelleth in        to you;
    his heart;                       But you at your sick service had a
  Effecting meanes to poyson all       prince.
    the world.                       Nay you may think my love was
  Unreverent may I be to blame         crafty love,
    the heavens                      And call it cunning: do, an if you
  Of great injustice, that the         will.
    miscreant                        If heaven be pleas'd that you will
  Lives to oppresse the innocents      use me ill,
    with wrong.                      Why, then you must.--Will you put
  Ah, Hubert! makes he thee his        out mine eyes?
    instrument,                      These eyes that never did, nor
  To sound the tromp that causeth      never shall
    hell triumph?                    So much as frown on you?
  Heaven weepes, the Saints do
    shed celestiall teares,          _Hub_.       I have sworn to do it,
  They feare thy fall, and cyte      And with hot irons must I burn them
    thee with remorse,                 out.
  To knock thy conscience, moving
    pitie there,                     _Arth._ Ah! none but in this iron
  Willing to fence thee from the       age would do it.
    range of hell,                   The iron of itself, though heat
  Hell, Hubert, trust me all the       red-hot,
    plagues of hell                  Approaching near these eyes would
  Hangs on performance of this         drink my tears,
    damned deede.                    And quench this fiery indignation,
  This seale, the warrant of the     Even in the matter of mine
    bodies blisse,                     innocence:
  Ensureth Satan chieftaine of       Nay, after that, consume away in
    thy soule:                         rust,
  Subscribe not Hubert, give not     But for containing fire to harm
    Gods part away,                    mine eye.
  I speake not only for eyes         Are you more stubborn hard than
    priviledge,                        hammered iron?
  The chiefe exterior that I would   An if an angel should have come
    enjoy:                             to me,
  But for they perill, farre         And told me Hubert should put out
    beyond my paine,                   mine eyes,
  Thy sweetes soules losse, more     I would not have believ'd him; no
    than my eyes vaine lack:           tongue but Hubert's.
  A cause internall, and eternall
    too,                             _Hub._ Come forth.    (_Stamps._)
  Advise thee Hubert, for the case
    is hard,                         _Re-enter Attendants, with Cord,
  To loose salvation for a Kings     Irons, &c._
                                     Do as I bid you do.
  _Hub._ My Lord, a subject
    dwelling in the land             _Arth._ Oh! save me, Hubert, save
  Is tyed to execute the Kings          me! my eyes are out,
    commaund.                        Even with the fierce looks of these
                                        bloody men.
  _Arth._ Yet God commaunds whose
    power reacheth further,          _Hub._ Give me the iron, I say, and
  That no commaund should stand in     bind him here.
    force to murther.
                                     _Arth._ Alas! what need you be so
                                     I will not struggle; I will stand
                                     For heaven's sake, Hubert, let me
                                       not be bound.
                                     Nay, hear me Hubert: drive these
                                       men away,
                                     And I will sit as quiet as a lamb;
  _Hub._ But that same Essence hath  I will not stir nor wince, nor
    ordained a law,                    speak a word,
  A death for guilt, to keepe the    Nor look upon the iron angerly.
    world in awe.                    Thrust but these men away, and I'll
                                       forgive you,
  _Arth._ I pleade, not guiltie,     Whatever torment you do put me to.
    treasonlesse and free.
                                     _Hub._ Go, stand within: let me
  _Hub._ But that appeale, my          alone with him.
    Lord, concernes not me.
                                     _1. Attend._ I am best pleas'd to
  _Arth._ Why thou art he that         be from such a deed.
    maist omit the perill.
                                          (_Exeunt Attendants._)
  _Hub._ I, if my Soveraigne
    would remit his quarrell.        _Arth._ Alas! I then have chid away
                                       my friend:
  _Arth._ His quarrell is            He hath a stern look, but a gentle
    unhallowed false and wrong.        heart.--
                                     Let him come back that his
  _Hub._ Then be the blame to whom     compassion may
    it doth belong.                  Give life to yours.

  _Arth._ Why thats to thee if       _Hub._ Come, boy, prepare yourself.
    thou as they proceede,
  Conclude their judgement with so   _Arth._ Is there no remedy?
    vile a deede.
                                     _Hub._ None but to lose your eyes.
  _Hub._ Why then no execution can
    be lawfull,                      _Arth._ O heaven!--that there were
  If Judges doomes must be reputed     but a mote in yours,
    doubtfull.                       A grain, a dust, a gnat, a wandering
  _Arth._ Yes where in forme of      Any annoyance in that precious
    Lawe in place and time,            sense!
  The offended is convicted of the   Then, feeling what small things are
    crime.                             boisterous there,
                                     Your vile intent must needs seem
  _Hub._ My Lord, my Lord, this        horrible.
    long expostulation,
  Heapes up more griefe, than        _Hub._ Is this your promise? go to;
    promise of redresse;               hold your tongue.
  For this I know, and so resolude
    I end,                           _Arth._ Hubert, the utterance of a
  That subjects lives on Kings         brace of tongues
    commaunds depend.                Must needs want pleading for a pair
  I must not reason why he is your     of eyes:
    foe,                             Let me not hold my tongue; let me
  But doo his charge since he          not, Hubert:
    commaunds it so.                 Or Hubert, if you will, cut out my
  _Arth._ Then doo thy charge, and   So I may keep mine eyes. O! spare
    charged be thy soule               mine eyes;
  With wrongfull persecution don     Though to no use, but still to look
    this day.                          on you.
  You rowling eyes, whose            Lo! by my troth, the instrument is
    superficies yet                    cold,
  I doo behold with eyes that        And would not harm me.
    Nature lent:
  Send foorth the terror of your     _Hub._          I can heat it, boy.
    Moovers frowne,
  To wreake my wrong upon the        _Arth._ No, in good sooth; the fire
    murtherers                         is dead with grief,
  That rob me of your faire          Being create for comfort, to be
    reflecting view:                   us'd
  Let hell to them (as earth they    In undeserv'd extremes: see else
    wish to me)                        yourself;
  Be darke and direfull guerdon      There is no malice in this burning
    for their guylt,                   coal;
  And let the black tormentors of    The breath of heaven hath blown his
    deepe Tartary                      spirit out,
  Upbraide them with this damned     And strew'd repentant ashes on his
    enterprise,                        head.
  Inflicting change of tortures on
    their soules.                    _Hub._ But with my breath I can
  Delay not Hubert, my orisons are     revive it, boy.
  Begin I pray thee, reave me of     _Arth._ And if you do, you will but
    my sight:                          make it blush,
  But to performe a tragedie         And glow with shame of your
    indeede,                           proceedings, Hubert:
  Conclude the period with a         Nay, it, perchance, will sparkle in
    mortal stab.                       your eyes;
  Constance farewell, tormenter      And like a dog that is compell'd to
    come away,                         fight,
  Make my dispatch the Tyrants       Snatch at his master that doth tarre
    feasting day.                      him on.
                                     All things that you should use to do
  _Hub._ I faint, I feare, my          me wrong,
    conscience bids desist:          Deny their office: only you do lack
  Faint did I say? fear was it       That mercy, which fierce fire, and
    that I named:                      iron, extends,
  My King commaunds, that warrant    Creatures of note for mercy-lacking
    sets me free:                      uses.
  But God forbids, and he
    commandeth Kings,                _Hub._ Well, see to live; I will not
  That great Commaunder                touch thine eyes
    counterchecks my charge,         For all the treasures that thine
  He stayes my hand, he maketh         uncle owes:
    soft my heart.                   Yet I am sworn, and I did purpose,
  Goe cursed tooles, your office       boy,
    is exempt,                       With this same very iron to burn
  Cheere thee young Lord, thou         them out.
    shalt not loose an eye,
  Though I should purchase it with   _Arth._ O! now you look like Hubert;
    losse of life.                     all this while
  Ile to the King and say his will   You were disguised.
    is done,
  And of the langor tell him thou    _Hubert._ Peace! no more. Adieu.
    art dead,                        Your uncle must not know but you
  Goe in with me, for Hubert was       are dead:
    not borne                        I'll fill these dogged spies with
  To blinde those lampes that          false reports;
    nature pollisht so.              And pretty child, sleep doubtless,
                                       and secure,
  _Arth._ Hubert, if ever Arthur     That Hubert for the wealth of all
    be in state,                       the world
  Looke for amends of this           Will not offend thee.
    received gift,
  I tooke my eyesight by thy         _Arth._           O heaven!--
    curtesie,                        I thank you, Hubert.
  Thou lentst them me, I will not
    be ingrate.                      _Hub._ Silence! no more. Go closely
  But now procrastination may          in with me;
    offend                           Much danger do I undergo for thee.
  The issue that thy kindness               (_Exeunt._)
  Depart we Hubert, to prevent the
    worst.   (_Exeunt._)[36]

For further illustration of Shakespeare's clear understanding that the
emotions of well-characterized figures are better means of controlling
an audience than a merely horrific situation, study his handling of the
ghost scene in _Richard III_ or _Julius Cæsar_ in contrast with similar
places in _Hamlet_. What most transmuted the _Ur-Hamlet_ of Thomas Kyd
into one of the greatest tragedies of all time was the characterization
Shakespeare put into it. Certainly, characterization makes for
dramatists the stepping-stones on which they may rise from dead selves
to higher things.

How may all this needed characterization best be done? A dramatist
should not permit himself to describe his characters, for in his own
personality he has no proper place in the text. There the characters
must speak and act for themselves. There has been, however, an
increasing tendency lately to describe the _dramatis personæ_ of the
play in programs, either in the list of characters or in a summary of
the plot. Some writers apparently assume that every auditor reads his
program carefully before the curtain goes up. Such an assumption is
false: more than that it is lazy, incompetent, and thoroughly vicious,
putting a play on the level with the motion pictures, which cannot
depend wholly on themselves but would often be wholly vague without
explanatory words thrown upon the canvas. Nor can the practice of the
older dramatists like Wycherley and Shadwell, who often prefixed to
their printed plays elaborate summaries describing the _dramatis
personæ_, be cited as a final defense.

  Sir William Belfond, a Gentleman of above 3,000 per annum, who in his
  youth had been a spark of the town, but married and retired into the
  country, where he turned to the other extreme, rigid and morose, most
  sordidly covetous, clownish, obstinate, positive, and froward.

  Sir Edward Belfond, his Brother, a merchant, who by lucky hits had
  gotten a great estate, lives single, with ease and pleasure,
  reasonably and virtuously. A man of great humanity and gentleness and
  compassion towards mankind; well read in good books possessed with all
  gentleman-like qualities.

  Belfond, Senior, eldest son to Sir William; bred after his father's
  rustic, swinish manner, with great rigour and severity; upon whom his
  father's estate is entailed; the confidence of which makes him break
  out into open rebellion to his father, and become lewd, abominably
  vicious, stubborn, and obstinate.

  Belfond, Junior, second Son to Sir William; adopted by Sir Edward, and
  bred from his childhood by him, with all tenderness, and familiarity,
  and bounty, and liberty that can be, instructed in all the liberal
  sciences, and in all gentlemanlike education. Somewhat given to women,
  and now and then to good fellowship, but an ingenious,
  well-accomplished gentleman: a man of honour, and of excellent
  disposition and temper.

  Truman, his friend, a man of honour and fortune.

  Cheatly, a rascal, who by reason of debts dares not stir out of
  Whitefriars, but there inveigles young heirs in tail, and helps them
  to goods and money upon great disadvantages; is bound for them, and
  shares with them, till he undoes them. A lewd, impudent, debauched
  fellow, very expert in the cant about town.

  Shamwell, cousin to the Belfonds, an heir, who being ruined by
  Cheatly, is made a decoy-duck for others; not daring to stir out of
  Alsatia, where he lives. Is bound with Cheatly for heirs, and lives
  upon them a dissolute, debauched life.

  Captain Hackum, a blockheaded bully of Alsatia; a cowardly, impudent,
  blustering fellow; formerly a sergeant in Flanders, run from his
  colours, retreated into Whitefriars for a very small debt, where, by
  the Alsatians, he is dubbed a captain; marries one that lets lodgings,
  sells cherry brandy, and is a bawd.

  Scrapeall, a hypocritical, repeating, praying, psalm-singing, precise
  fellow, pretending to great piety, a godly knave, who joins with
  Cheatly, and supplies young heirs with goods and money.

  Attorney to Sir William Belfond, who solicits his business and
  receives all his packets.

  Lolpoop, a North-country fellow, servant to Belfond, Senior, much
  displeased at his master's proceedings.[37]

It is more than doubtful if anything so elaborate could be found in the
manuscripts of Wycherley and Shadwell. Their purpose was doubtless the
same as that of certain modern dramatists who, with a view to making
plays less difficult for those unaccustomed to reading them, greatly
amplify the stage directions before their plays go to print. Mr.
Granville Barker in the manuscripts of his plays is particularly frugal
of stage directions, but in the printed form of _The Madras House_,[38]
practically the whole history of Julia is given in the opening stage

  _Julia started life--that is to say, left school--as a genius. The
  head mistress had had two or three years of such dull girls that
  really she could not resist this excitement. Watercolour sketches were
  the medium. So Julia was dressed in brown velveteen, and sent to an
  art school, where they wouldn't let her do watercolour drawing at all.
  And in two years she learnt enough about the trade of an artist not
  ever to want to do those watercolour drawings again. Julia is now over
  thirty, and very unhappy. Three of her watercolours (early
  masterpieces) hang on the drawing-room wall. They shame her, but her
  mother won't have them taken down. On a holiday she'll be off now and
  then for a solid day's sketching; and as she tears up the vain attempt
  to put on paper the things she has learnt to see, she sometimes cries.
  It was Julia, Emma, and Jane who, some years ago, conspired to present
  their mother with that intensely conspicuous cosy corner. A cosy
  corner is apparently a device for making a corner just what the very
  nature of a corner should forbid it to be. They beggared themselves;
  but one wishes that Mr. Huxtable were more lavish with his dress
  allowances, then they might at least have afforded something not quite
  so hideous._

Such characterizing is an implied censure on the ability of most readers
to see the full significance of deft touches in the dialogue. If not,
then it is necessary because some part of it is not given in the text as
it should be, or it is wholly unnecessary and undesirable, for the text,
repeating all this detail, will be wearisome to an intelligent reader.
The safest principle is, in preparing a manuscript for acting, to keep
stage directions to matters of setting, lighting, essential movements,
and the intonations which cannot, by the utmost efforts of the author,
be conveyed by dialogue.[39] In this last group belong certain every-day
phrases susceptible of so many shadings that the actor needs guidance.
In the last line of this extract from the opening of Act III of _Mrs.
Dane's Defence_, the "tenderly" is necessary.

    _Enter Wilson right, announcing Lady Eastney. Enter Lady Eastney.
    Exit Wilson._

  _Lady Eastney._ (_Shaking hands._) You're busy?

  _Sir Daniel._ Yes, trying to persuade myself I am forty--solely on
  your account.

  _Lady Eastney._ That's not necessary. I like you well enough as you

  _Sir Daniel._ (_Tenderly._) Give me the best proof of that.

Notice that the statement just formulated as to stage directions reads,
"cannot be conveyed," not "may not." Cross the line, and differences
between the novel and the play are blurred, for the author runs a fair
chance of omitting exposition needed in the text and of writing
colorless dialogue. A recently published play prefaces not only every
speech, but even parts of the speeches with careful statements as to how
they should be given, even when the text is perfectly clear. Nothing is
left to the imagination, and the text is often emotionally colorless.

Let it be remembered, then, that the stage direction is not a pocket
into which a dramatist may stuff whatever explanation, description, or
analysis a novelist might allow himself, but is more a last resort to
which he turns when he cannot make his text convey all that is

The passing of the soliloquy and the aside[40] makes the dramatist of
today much more limited than were his predecessors in letting a
character describe itself. Today everything depends on the naturalness
of the self-exposition. The vainglorious, the self-centered, the
garrulous will always talk of themselves freely. The reserved, the
timid, and persons under suspicion will be sparing of words. When the
ingenuity of the dramatist cannot make self-exposition plausible, the
scene promptly becomes unreal. The point to be remembered is, as George
Meredith once said, that "The verdict is with the observer." Not what
seems plausible to the author but what, as he tries it on auditors,
proves acceptable, may stand.

Description of one character by another is usually more plausible than
the method just treated. Even here, however, the test remains
plausibility. It requires persuasive acting to make the following
description of Tartuffe perfectly natural. There is danger that it will
appear more the detailed picture the dramatist wishes to place in our
minds than the description the speaker would naturally give his

  _Orgon._ Ah! If you'd seen him, as I saw him first,
  You would have loved him just as much as I.
  He came to church each day, with contrite mien,
  Kneeled, on both knees, right opposite my place,
  And drew the eyes of all the congregation,
  To watch the fervor of his prayers to heaven;
  With deep-drawn sighs and great ejaculations.
  He humbly kissed the earth at every moment;
  And when I left the church, he ran before me
  To give me holy water at the door.
  I learned his poverty, and who he was,
  By questioning his servant, who is like him,
  And gave him gifts; but in his modesty
  He always wanted to return a part.
  "It is too much," he'd say, "too much by half;
  I am not worthy of your pity." Then,
  When I refused to take it back, he'd go,
  Before my eyes, and give it to the poor.
  At length Heaven bade me take him to my home,
  And since that day, all seems to prosper here.
  He censures nothing, and for my sake
  He even takes great interest in my wife;
  He lets me know who ogles her, and seems
  Six times as jealous as I am myself.
  You'd not believe how far his zeal can go:
  He calls himself a sinner just for trifles;
  The merest nothing is enough to shock him;
  So much so, that the other day I heard him
  Accuse himself for having, while at prayer,
  In too much anger caught and killed a flea.[41]

The scene in which Melantius draws from his friend Amintor (_The Maid's
Tragedy_, Act III, Scene 2) admission of his wrongs, shows admirable use
of both kinds of description--of oneself and of another person.

  _Melantius._              You may shape, Amintor,
  Causes to cozen the whole world withall,
  And you yourselfe too; but tis not like a friend
  To hide your soule from me. Tis not your nature
  To be thus idle: I have seene you stand
  As you were blasted midst of all your mirth;
  Call thrice aloud, and then start, faining joy
  So coldly!--World, what doe I here? a friend
  Is nothing! Heaven, I would ha told that man
  My secret sinnes! Ile search an unknowne land,
  And there plant friendship; all is withered here.
  Come with a complement! I would have fought,
  Or told my friend a lie, ere soothed him so.
  Out of my bosome!

  _Amintor._ But there is nothing.

  _Mel._       Worse and worse! farewell.
  From this time have acquaintance, but no friend.

  _Amin._ Melantius, stay; you shall know what that is.

  _Mel._ See; how you plaid with friendship! be advis'd
  How you give cause unto yourselfe to say
  You ha lost a friend.

  _Amin._      Forgive what I ha done;
  For I am so oregone with injuries
  Unheard of, that I lose consideration
  Of what I ought to doe.--Oh!--Oh!

  _Mel._ Doe not weepe.
  What ist? May I once but know the man
  Hath turn'd my friend thus!

  _Amin._        I had spoke at first,
  But that--

  _Mel._   But what?

  _Amin._       I held it most unfit
  For you to know. Faith, doe not know it yet.

  _Mel._ Thou seest my love, that will keepe company
  With thee in teares; hide nothing, then, from me;
  For when I know the cause of thy distemper,
  With mine old armour Ile adorn myselfe,
  My resolution, and cut through my foes,
  Unto thy quiet, till I place thy heart
  As peaceable as spotless innocence.
  What is it?

  _Amin._   Why, tis this--it is too bigge
  To get out--let my teares make way awhile.

  _Mel._ Punish me strangely, Heaven, if he escape
  Of life or fame, that brought this youth to this.[42]

The cry with which Electra turns to her peasant husband in the play of
Euripides is perhaps as fine an instance as there is of natural
description by one person of her relations to another.

  _Peasant._ What wouldst thou now, my sad one, ever fraught
  With toil to lighten my toil? And so soft
  Thy nurture was! Have I not chid thee oft,
  And thou wilt cease not, serving without end?

  _Electra._ (_Turning to him with impulsive affection._)
  O friend, my friend, as God might be my friend,
  Thou only hast not trampled on my tears.
  Life scarce can be so hard, 'mid many fears
  And many shames, when mortal heart can find
  Somewhere one healing touch, as my sick mind
  Finds thee.... And should I wait thy word, to endure
  A little for thine easing, yea, or pour
  My strength out in thy toiling fellowship?
  Thou hast enough with fields and kine to keep;
  'Tis mine to make all bright within the door.
  'Tis joy to him that toils, when toil is o'er,
  To find home waiting, full of happy things.

  _Peasant._ If so it please thee, go thy way.[43]

Unquestionably, however, the best method of characterization is by
action. In the first draft of Ibsen's _A Doll's House_, Krogstad uses
with his employer Helmar, because he is an old school fellow, the
familiar "tu." This under the circumstance illustrates his tactlessness
better than any amount of description. When Helmar is irritated by this
familiarity, his petty vanity is perfectly illustrated. Any one who
recalls the last scene of _Louis XI_ as played by the late Sir Henry
Irving remembers vividly the restless, greedily moving fingers of the
praying King. They told far more than words. The way in which Mrs.
Lindon, throughout the opening scene of Clyde Fitch's _The Truth_,[44]
touches any small article she finds in her way perfectly indicates her
fluttering nervousness.

  _At Mrs. Warder's.... A smart, good-looking man-servant, Jenks, shows
  in Mrs. Lindon and Laura Fraser. The former is a handsome, nervous,
  overstrung woman of about thirty-four, very fashionably dressed; Miss
  Fraser, on the contrary, a matter-of-fact, rather commonplace type of
  good humor--wholesomeness united to a kind of sense of humor....

  Mrs. Lindon nervously picks up check-book from the writing-table,
  looks at it but not in it, and puts it down....

  She opens the cigar box on the writing-table behind her and then bangs
  it shut....

  She picks up stamp box and bangs it down.

  Rises and goes to mantel, looking at the fly-leaves of two books on a
  table which she passes._

Does not the action of this extract from Middleton's _A Chaste Maid in
Cheapside_ help most in depicting the greed and dishonesty of
Yellowhammer, as well as the humor and ingenuity of the suitor?

  _Touchwood junior._ (_Aside._) 'Twere a good mirth now to set him
  To make her wedding-ring; I must about it:
  Rather than the gain should fall to a stranger,
  'Twas honesty in me t' enrich my father.

  _Yellowhammer._ (_Aside._) The girl is wondrous peevish. I fear nothing
  But that she's taken with some other love,
  Then all's quite dashed: that must be narrowly looked to;
  We cannot be too wary in our children.--
  What is't you lack?

  _Touch. jun._ O, nothing now; all that I wish is present:
  I'd have a wedding-ring made for a gentlewoman
  With all speed that may be.

  _Yel._ Of what weight, sir?

  _Touch. jun._ Of some half ounce, stand fair
  And comely with the spark of a diamond;
  Sir, 'twere pity to lose the least grace.

  _Yel._ Pray, let's see it. (_Takes stone from Touchwood junior._)
  Indeed, sir 'tis a pure one.

  _Touch. jun._ So is the mistress.

  _Yel._ Have you the wideness of her finger, sir?

  _Touch. jun._ Yes, sure, I think I have her measure about me:
  Good faith, 'tis down, I cannot show it to you;
  I must pull too many things out to be certain.
  Let me see--long and slender, and neatly jointed;
  Just such another gentlewoman--that's your daughter, sir?

  _Yel._ And therefore, sir, no gentlewoman.

  _Touch. jun._ I protest.
  I ne'er saw two maids handed more alike;
  I'll ne'er seek farther, if you'll give me leave, sir.

  _Yel._ If you dare venture by her finger, sir.

  _Touch. jun._ Ay, and I'll bide all loss, sir.

  _Yel._ Say you so, sir?
  Let us see.--Hither, girl.

  _Touch. jun._ Shall I make bold
  With your finger, gentlewoman?

  _Moll._ Your pleasure, sir.

  _Touch. jun._ That fits her to a hair, sir.
    (_Trying ring on Moll's finger._)

  _Yel._ What's your posy, now, sir?

  _Touch. jun._ Mass, that's true: posy? i'faith, e'en thus, sir:
    "Love that's wise
    Blinds parents' eyes."

  _Yel._ How, how? if I may speak without offence, sir, I hold my life--

  _Touch. jun._ What, sir?

  _Yel._ Go to,--you'll pardon me?

  _Touch. jun._ Pardon you? ay, sir.

  _Yel._ Will you, i' faith?

  _Touch. jun._ Yes, faith, I will.

  _Yel._ You'll steal away some man's daughter: am I near you?
  Do you turn aside? you gentlemen are mad wags!
  I wonder things can be so warily carried,
  And parents blinded so: but they're served right,
  That have two eyes and were so dull a' sight.

  _Touch. jun._ (_Aside._) Thy doom take hold of thee!

  _Yel._ Tomorrow noon
  Shall show your ring well done.

  _Touch. jun._ Being so, 'tis soon.--
  Thanks, and your leave, sweet gentlewoman.

  _Moll._ Sir, you're welcome.--
    (_Exit Touchwood junior._)
  O were I made of wishes, I went with thee![45]

Could any description or analysis by the author or another character
paint as perfectly as does the action of the following lines the wistful
grief of the child pining for his mother?

    _Enter Giovanni, Count Lodovico._

  _Francisco._ How now, my noble cossin! what, in blacke?

  _Giovanni._ Yes, unckle, I was taught to imitate you
  In vertue, and you must imitate mee
  In coloures of your garments: my sweete mother

  _Fran._ How? where?

  _Giov._ Is there; no, yonder; indeed, sir, Ile not tell you,
  For I shall make you weepe.

  _Fran._      Is dead.

  _Giov._ Do not blame me now,
  I did not tell you so.

  _Lodovico._     She's dead, my lord.

  _Fran._ Dead!

  _Monticelso._ Blessed lady; thou art now above thy woes!
  Wilt please your lordships to withdraw a little?
    (_Exeunt Ambassadors._)

  _Giov._ What do the deade do, uncle? do they eate,
  Heare musicke, goe a hunting, and bee merrie,
  As wee that live?

  _Fran._ No, cose; they sleepe.

  _Giov._         Lord, Lord, that I were dead!
  I have not slept these sixe nights. When doe they wake?

  _Fran._ When God shall please.

  _Giov._       Good God let her sleepe ever!
  For I have knowne her wake an hundredth nights,
  When all the pillow, where she laid her head,
  Was brine-wet with her teares. I am to complaine to you, sir.
  Ile tell you how they have used her now shees dead:
  They wrapt her in a cruell fould of lead,
  And would not let me kisse her.

  _Fran._        Thou didst love her.

  _Giov._ I have often heard her say she gave mee sucke,
  And it would seeme by that shee deerely lov'd mee
  Since princes seldome doe it.

  _Fran._ O, all of my poore sister that remaines!
  Take him away, for Gods sake!

    (_Exeunt Giovanni, Lodovico, and Marcello._)[46]

In brief, then, understand your characters thoroughly, but do not, in
your own personality, describe them anywhere. Let them describe
themselves, or let other people on the stage describe or analyze them,
when this is naturally convincing or may be made plausible by your
skill. Trust, however, above all, to letting your characters live
before your audience the emotions which interest you, thus making them
convey their characters by the best means of communication between actor
and audience--namely, action.

In the chapter (VI) dealing with clearness in exposition the extreme
importance of identifying the characters for the audience has been
carefully treated.[47] Closely connected with this identifying is the
matter of entrances and exits.

The characterizing value of exits and entrances is usually little
understood by the inexperienced dramatist. Yet in real life, men and
women cannot enter or leave a room without characterization. Watch the
people in a railroad car as it nears the terminus. The people who rise
and stand in the aisles are clearly of different natures from those who
remain quietly seated till the train reaches its destination. The twenty
or thirty standing wait differently and leave the car with different
degrees of haste, nervousness or anticipation. Those who remain seated
differ also. Some are absorbed in conversation, oblivious of the
approaching station; others, somewhat ostentatiously, watch the waiters
in the aisles with amused contempt. Study, therefore, exits and
entrances. Very few will be found negative in the sense that they add
nothing to the knowledge of the characters. How did Claude enter in the
following extract from a recent play? Claude, it should be said, has
been mentioned just in passing, as a suitor of Marna. Other matters,
however, have been occupying attention.

    _Enter Claude_

  _Claude._ (_Sitting beside her on the settle._) I thought I should not
  see you tonight.

  _Marna._ I wondered if you would come.

Claude must really have entered in character--quickly, impetuously, or
ardently. He may have paused an instant on the threshold; he may have
dashed in, leaving the door ajar; he may have closed it cautiously; he
may have come in through the window. And how did they get to the settle?
The author may know all this, but he certainly does not tell. He should
visualize his figures as he writes, seeing them from moment to moment as
they move, sit, or stand. Otherwise, he will miss much that is
significant and characterizing in their actions.

In a play that was largely a study of a self-indulgent, self-centred
youth, to the annoyance of all he is late at the family celebration of
his cousin's birthday. Sauntering in, he meets a disappointing silence.
Looking about, he says, "Nobody has missed me." And then, as all wait
for his excuses, he shifts the burden of speech to his mother with the
words, "Hasn't her ladyship anything to say?" Surely this entrance

Illusion disappears, also, when people needed on the stage, from
taxi-cab drivers to ambassadors, are apparently waiting just outside the
door. A play of very interesting subject-matter became almost ridiculous
because whenever anybody was needed, he or she was apparently waiting
just outside one of the doors. As some of these were persons involved in
affairs of state and others supposedly lived at a distance, their prompt
appearance partook of wizardry. People should not only come on in
character, but after time enough has been allowed or suggested to permit
them to come from the places where they are supposed to have been.

How much the entrance of a character should be prepared for must be left
to the judgment of the dramatist. Whatever is needed to make the
entrance produce the effect desired must be planted in the minds of the
audience before the character appears. Phormio, in Terence's play of
that name, does not appear before the second act. His entrance is
undoubtedly held back both to whet curiosity to the utmost before he
appears, and in order to set forth clearly the tangle of events which
his ingenuity must overcome. Magda, in Sudermann's _Heimat_, also
appears first in the second act. This is not done because some leading
lady wished to make as triumphant an entrance as possible, an inartistic
but time-honored reason in some plays, but because, till we have lived
with Magda's family in the home from which she was driven by her
father's narrowness and inflexibility, we cannot grasp the full
significance of her character in this environment when she returns.
Usually, of course, a character of importance does appear in the first
act, but naturalness first and theatrical effectiveness second determine
the point at which it is proper that a character should appear. The
supposed need in the audience for detailed information, slight
information, or no information as to a figure about to enter must decide
the amount of preliminary statement in regard to him. If possible, a
character enters, identifies himself, and places himself with regard to
the other persons involved in the action as nearly as possible at one
and the same time. The more important the character, the more involved
the circumstances which we must understand before he can enter properly,
the greater the amount of preliminary preparation for him. In
_Phormio_[48] and _Heimat_ (or _Magda_) this preparation fills an act;
in Tartuffe it fills two acts. More often bits here and there prepare
the way, or some one passage of dialogue, as in the introduction of Sir
Amorous La-Foole in Ben Jonson's _Epicoene_.[49]

  _Dauphine._ We are invited to dinner together, he and I, by one that
  came thither to him, Sir La-Foole.

  _Clerimont._ I, that's a precious mannikin!

  _Daup._ Do you know him?

  _Cler._ Ay, and he will know you too, if e'er he saw you but once,
  though you should meet him at church in the midst of prayers. He is
  one of the braveries, though he be none of the wits. He will salute a
  judge upon the bench, and a bishop in the pulpit, a lawyer when he is
  pleading at the bar, and a lady when she is dancing in a masque, and
  put her out. He does give plays and suppers, and invite his guests to
  them, aloud, out of his window, as they ride by in coaches. He has a
  lodging in the Strand for the purpose: or to watch when ladies are
  gone to the china-houses, or the Exchange, that he may meet them by
  chance, and give them presents, some two or three hundred pounds'
  worth of toys, to be laughed at. He is never without a spare banquet,
  or sweetmeats in his chamber for their women to alight at, and come up
  to for bait.

  _Daup._ Excellent! he was a fine youth last night; but now he is much
  finer! what is his Christian name? I have forgot.

    _Re-enter Page_

  _Cler._ Sir Amorous La-Foole.

  _Page._ The gentleman is here below that owns that name.

  _Cler._ 'Heart, he's come to invite me to dinner, I hold my life.

  _Daup._ Like enough: prithee, let's have him up.

  _Cler._ Boy, marshall him.

In Scene 1, Act I, of _Becket_, as written by Lord Tennyson, we have:

  _Enter Rosamund de Clifford, flying from Sir Reginald Fitz Urse, drops
  her veil_

  _Becket._ Rosamund de Clifford!

  _Rosamund._ Save me, father, hide me--they follow me--and I must not
  be known.

Sir Henry Irving arranged this for the stage as follows:

    _Enter Rosamund de Clifford. Drops her veil_

  _Rosamund._ Save me, father, hide me.

  _Becket._ Rosamund de Clifford!

  _Rosamund._ They follow me--and I must not be known.

There are real values in these seemingly slight changes. With a rush and
in confusion, Rosamund enters. As it is her first appearance in the
play, it is of the highest importance that she be identified for the
audience. If Becket gives her name as she enters, it may be lost in her
onward rush. If entering, she speaks the line, "Save me, father, hide
me," she centers attention on him and he may fully emphasize the
identification in, "Rosamund de Clifford!" Note as bearing on what has
already been said in regard to unnecessary use of stage direction that
Irving cut out "flying from Sir Reginald Fitz Urse." He knew that
Rosamund's speeches and her action would make the fleeing clear enough,
and that the scene immediately following with Fitz Urse would show who
was pursuing her. Entrances, when well handled, therefore, must be in
character, prepared for, and properly motivated.

Exits are just as important as entrances. The exit of Captain Nat in
_Shore Acres_ has already been mentioned under pantomime. Mark the
significance of the exit of Hamlet in the ghost scene, as he goes with
sword held out before him. The final exit of Iris in Pinero's play is
symbolic of her passing into the outer and under world.

  _Maldonado._ You can send for your trinkets and clothes in the
  morning. After that, let me hear no more of you. (_She remains
  motionless, as if stricken._) I've nothing further to say.

    (_A slight shiver runs through her frame and she resumes her walk. At
    the door, she feels blindly for the handle; finding it, she opens the
    door narrowly and passes out._)

The absurdities in which the ill-managed exit or entrance may land us,
Lessing shows amusingly:

  Maffei often does not motivate the exits and entrances of his
  personages: Voltaire often motivates them falsely, which is far worse.
  It is not enough that a person says why he comes on, we ought also to
  perceive by the connection that he must therefore come. It is not
  enough that he say why he goes off, we ought to see subsequently that
  he went on that account. Else, that which the poet places in his mouth
  is mere excuse and no cause. When, for example, Eurykles goes off in
  the third scene of the second act, in order, as he says, to assemble
  the friends of the queen, we ought to hear afterwards about these
  friends and their assemblage. As, however, we hear nothing of the
  kind, his assertion is a schoolboy "Peto veniam exeundi," the first
  falsehood that occurs to the boy. He does not go off in order to do
  what he says; but in order to return a few lines on as the bearer of
  news which the poet did not know how to impart by means of any other
  person. Voltaire treats the ends of acts yet more clumsily. At the
  close of the third act, Polyphontes says to Merope that the altar
  awaits her, that all is ready for the solemnizing of their marriage
  and he exits with a "Venez, Madame." But Madame does not come, but
  goes off into another coulisse with an exclamation, whereupon
  Polyphontes opens the fourth act, and instead of expressing his
  annoyance that the queen has not followed him into the temple (for he
  had been in error, there was still time for the wedding) he talks with
  his Erox about matters he should not ventilate here, that are more
  fitting conversation for his own house, his own rooms. Then the fourth
  act closes--exactly like the third. Polyphontes again summons the
  queen into the temple, Merope herself exclaims, "Courons nous vers le
  temple où m'attend mon outrage"; and says to the chief priests who
  come to conduct her thither, "Vous venez à l'autel entrainer la
  victime." Consequently we must expect them inside the temple at the
  beginning of the fifth act, or are they already back again? Neither;
  good things will take time. Polyphontes has forgotten something and
  comes back again and sends the queen back again. Excellent! Between
  the third and fourth, between the fourth and fifth acts nothing occurs
  that should, and indeed, nothing occurs at all, and the third and
  fourth acts only close in order that the fourth and fifth may

At the end of Act II of _The Princess and the Butterfly_ the exits are
as important as any part of the text. Note particularly the last.

  _Denstroude._ (_On the steps, pausing and looking back._) You cycle at
  Battersea tomorrow morning?

  _Mrs. St. Roche._ It's extremely unlikely.

  _Denstroude._ I shall be there at ten. Don't be later.

    (_He kisses his hand to her and departs. She stands quite still,
    thinking. A Servant enters, crosses to the billiard-room, and
    proceeds to cover up the billiard-table. She walks slowly to the
    ottoman and sits, looking into the fire. St. Roche reappears and
    comes down the steps. She does not turn her head. He goes to the
    table and mixes some spirits and water._)

  _St. Roche._ (_As he mixes the drink._) What d'ye think--what d'ye
  think that silly, infatuated feller's goin' to do?

  _Mrs. St. Roche._ Demailly?

  _St. Roche._ (_Glancing toward the billiard-room._) Sssh! (_With a
  nod._) _Um!_

    (_He comes to her, bringing her the tumbler in which he has mixed the

  _Mrs. St. Roche._ (_Taking the tumbler, her eyes never meeting his._)
  Well, what is he going to do?

  _St. Roche._ Marry that low woman.

  _Mrs. St. Roche._ (_Callously._) Great heavens! the fool!

  _St. Roche._ Yes. Shockin', ain't it?

  _Mrs. St. Roche._ (_Putting the glass to her lips, with a languid
  air._) She has blinded him, I suppose, with some story or other; or he
  would hardly have committed the outrage, tonight, of presenting her to

  _St. Roche._ (_Returning to the table and mixing a drink for
  himself._) That's it--blinded him. And yet it's almost
  incomprehensible how a feller can be as blind as all that. Why, the
  very man-in-the-street--

    (_The Servant switches off the lights in the billiard-room, and comes
    out from the room._)

  _St. Roche._ (_To the man._) I'll switch off the lights here.

    (_The Servant goes out._)

  _Mrs. St. Roche._ Well, you had better let him know that he mustn't
  attempt to come to this house again.

  _St. Roche._ Poor chap!

  _Mrs. St. Roche._ We can't be associated, however remotely, with such
  a disgraceful connection.

  _St. Roche._ Of course, of course. (_Coming down, glass in hand._) I
  could tell you things I've heard about this Mrs. Ware--

  _Mrs. St. Roche._ (_Rising._) Please don't! I want no details
  concerning a person of her world.

    (_She ascends the steps slowly, carrying her cloak and her
    tumbler--without looking back._)


  _St. Roche._ (_With a wistful glance at her._) Goodnight.

    (_She departs. He stands for a little while contemplating space;
    then he switches off the light. The room remains partially illumined
    by the fire-glow. He turns to examine the fire. Apparently assured
    on that point, he walks, still carrying his tumbler, to the door
    which is in the centre wall; where, uttering a little sigh as he
    opens the door, he disappears._)[51]

The passages quoted (pp. 268-275) from _The Troublesome Reign of King
John_ and Shakespeare's play show crude and perfect handling of exits
and entrances. In the old play the murderers merely enter and go out
again as ordered. In Shakespeare they enter at the moment which makes
them the climactic touch in the terror of Arthur and the audience. When
Hubert orders them to go, it is the first sign that he may relent.

The inexperienced dramatist is almost always wasteful in the number of
characters used. An adaptation of a Spanish story called for a cast of
about a dozen important figures and some sixty supernumeraries as
soldiers and peasants--all this in a one-act play. It meant very little
labor to cut the soldiery to a few officers and some privates, and the
peasantry to some six or eight people. Ultimately, the total cast did
not contain a quarter as many people as the original, yet nothing
important had been lost. Rewriting a play often is, and should be, a
"slaughter of the innocents." Don't use unneeded people. You must
provide them with dialogue, and as the play goes on, some justification
for existence. The manager must pay them salaries. First of all, get rid
of entirely unnecessary people. They usually hold over from the story as
originally heard or read. For instance, a recent adaptation used from
the original story a blinking dwarf sitting silent, forever watchful, at
a table in the restaurant where the story was placed. His smile simply
emphasized the cynicism of the story enacted in his sight. He was in no
way necessary to the telling of the story,--and so he disappeared in the
final form of the play. One is constantly tempted to bring in some
figure for purposes of easy exposition only to find that one must either
bind him in with the story as it develops, or drop him out of sight the
moment his expository work is done. The trouble with such figures is
that they are likely to give false clues, stirring a hearer to interest
in them or their apparent relation to the story, when nothing is to come
of one or the other. Usually a little patience and ingenuity will give
this needed exposition to some character or characters essential to the
plot. In a recent play of Breton life during the Chouan War, an
attractive peasant boy was introduced in order to plant in the minds of
the audience certain ideas as to immediate conditions of the war, and
the relation of the woman to whom he is talking with the Prince, his
leader. Wishing to show the devotion of the Prince's followers, the
author had the boy talk much of his own loyalty to his leader. Just
there was the false clue. Every auditor expected his loyalty to lead to
something later in the play; but the youth, having told his tale,
disappeared for good. It took very little time to discover that all the
young man told could perfectly well be made clear in one preceding scene
between the woman and her son, and two of the other scenes immediately
following, between the woman and the young Prince. It is these
unnecessary figures who are largely responsible for the scenes already
spoken of in chapter IV which clog the movement of a play.

Sometimes, too, similar figures at different places in a play do exactly
or nearly the same work,--servants for instance. When it does not
interfere with verisimilitude, give the tasks to one person rather than
two, or two rather than three. That is, use only people absolutely
needed. Sometimes these carelessly introduced figures stray through a
play like an unquiet spirit. In _The Road to Happiness_ one character,
Porter, was of so little importance that most of the time, when on the
stage, he had nothing to do. When really acting, it was largely in
pantomime, or with speech that, not effectively, reiterated what some
one else was saying. He existed really for two scenes. In the first act
he might just as well have been talked about as shown, and in the second
act what he did could well have been done by one of the other important
characters. When any character in a play shows a tendency not to get
into the action readily; when for long periods he is easily overlooked
by the author; it is time to consider whether he should not be given the
_coup de grâce_.

Today we are fortunately departing from an idea somewhat prevalent in
the middle of the nineteenth century, that a figure once introduced into
a play should be kept there until the final curtain. That is exalting
technique, and the so-called "well-made" play, above truth to life. When
a character is doing needed work, use him when and as long as he would
appear in real life, and no longer. Use each character for a purpose,
and when it is fulfilled, drop him. Naturalness and theatrical economy
are the two tests: the greater of these is naturalness.

All that has been said comes to this. Know your characters so intimately
that you can move, think, and feel with them, supplied by them with far
more material than you can use in any one play. See that they are
properly introduced to the audience; that they are clearly and
convincingly presented. Do not forget the importance of entrances and
exits. Cut out all unnecessary figures.

There follow three bits of characterization from very different types of
play: Sir John Vanbrugh's _The Provoked Wife_, a comedy of manners; G.
B. Shaw's farce-comedy, _You Never Can Tell_; and Eugène Brieux's thesis
play, _The Cradle_. The first scene aims merely to present vividly the
riotous and drunken squire. The second, while characterizing William,
aims to illustrate that contentment lies in doing that to which one is
accustomed, under accustomed conditions. The third not only
characterizes; it shows that no law of man can wholly give a woman to a
second husband when common anxiety with the first husband for the child
of their marriage draws them together. Note in all three the use of
action as compared with description or analysis; the connotative value
of the phrasings; the succint sureness.


ACT IV. SCENE, _Covent Garden_

    _Enter Lord Rake, Sir John, &c., with Swords drawn_

  _Lord Rake._ Is the Dog dead?

  _Bully._ No, damn him, I heard him wheeze.

  _Lord Rake._ How the Witch his Wife howl'd!

  _Bully._ Ay, she'll alarm the Watch presently.

  _Lord Rake._ Appear, Knight, then; come you have a good Cause to fight
  for, there's a Man murder'd.

  _Sir John._ Is there? Then let his Ghost be satisfy'd, for I'll
  sacrifice a Constable to it presently, and burn his body upon his
  wooden Chair.

    _Enter a Taylor, with a Bundle under his Arm_

  _Bully._ How now; what have we here? a Thief.

  _Taylor._ No, an't please you, I'm no Thief.

  _Lord Rake._ That we'll see presently: Here; let the General examine

  _Sir John._ Ay, ay, let me examine him, and I'll lay a Hundred Pound I
  find him guilty in spite of his Teeth--for he looks--like a--sneaking

  Come, Sirrah, without Equivocation or mental Reservation, tell me of
  what opinion you are, and what Calling; for by them--I shall guess at
  your Morals.

  _Taylor._ An't please you, I'm a Dissenting Journyman Taylor.

  _Sir John._ Then, Sirrah, you love Lying by your Religion, and Theft
  by your Trade: And so, that your Punishment may be suitable to your
  Crimes--I'll have you first gagg'd--and then hang'd.

  _Taylor._ Pray, good worthy Gentlemen, don't abuse me; indeed I'm an
  honest Man, and a good Workman, tho I say it, that shou'd not say it.

  _Sir John._ No words, Sirrah, but attend your Fate.

  _Lord Rake._ Let me see what's in that Bundle.

  _Taylor._ An't please you, it is the Doctor of the Parish's Gown.

  _Lord Rake._ The Doctor's Gown!--Hark you, Knight, you won't stick at
  abusing the Clergy, will you?

  _Sir John._ No. I'm drunk, and I'll abuse anything--but my wife; and
  her I name--with Reverence.

  _Lord Rake._ Then you shall wear this Gown, whilst you charge the
  Watch: That tho the Blows fall upon you, the Scandal may light upon
  the Church.

  _Sir John._ A generous Design--by all the Gods--give it me.

    (_Takes the Gown, and puts it on._)

  _Taylor._ O dear Gentlemen, I shall be quite undone, if you take the

  _Sir John._ Retire, Sirrah; and since you carry off your Skin--go
  home, and be happy.

  _Taylor._ (_Pausing._) I think I had e'en as good follow the
  Gentleman's friendly Advice; for if I dispute any longer, who knows
  but the Whim may take him to case me? These Courtiers are fuller of
  Tricks than they are of Money; they'll sooner cut a Man's Throat, than
  pay his Bill. (_Exit Taylor._)

  _Sir John._ So, how d'ye like my Shapes now?

  _Lord Rake._ This will do to a Miracle; he looks like a Bishop going
  to the Holy War. But to your Arms, Gentlemen, the Enemy appears.

    _Enter Constable and Watch_

  _Watchman._ Stand! Who goes there? Come before the Constable.

  _Sir John._ The Constable's a Rascal--and you are the Son of a Whore.

  _Watchman._ A good civil answer for a Parson, truly!

  _Constable._ Methinks, Sir, a Man of your Coat might set a better

  _Sir John._ Sirrah, I'll make you know--there are Men of my Coat can
  set as bad Examples--as you can, you Dog you.

    (_Sir John strikes the Constable. They knock him down, disarm him,
    and seize him. Lord Rake &c. run away._)

  _Constable._ So, we have secur'd the Parson however.

  _Sir John._ Blood, and Blood--and Blood.

  _Watchman._ Lord have mercy upon us! How the wicked Wretch raves of
  Blood. I'll warrant he has been murdering some body tonight.

  _Sir John._ Sirrah, there's nothing got by Murder but a Halter: My
  Talent lies towards Drunkenness and Simony.

  _Watchman._ Why that now was spoke like a Man of Parts, Neighbours;
  it's pity he should be so disguis'd.

  _Sir John._ You lye--I'm not disguis'd; for I am drunk bare-fac'd.

  _Watchman._ Look you here again--This is a mad Parson, Mr. Constable;
  I'll lay a Pot of Ale upon's Head, he's a good Preacher.

  _Constable._ Come, Sir, out of Respect to your Calling, I shan't put
  you into the Round house; but we must secure you in our Drawing-Room
  till Morning, that you may do no Mischief. So, come along.

  _Sir John._ You may put me where you will, Sirrah, now you have
  overcome me--But if I can't do Mischief, I'll think of Mischief--in
  spite of your Teeth, you Dog you. (_Exeunt._)[52]



  _Waiter. (Entering anxiously through the window._) Beg pardon, ma'am;
  but can you tell me what became of that--(_He recognizes Bohun, and
  loses all his self-possession. Bohun waits rigidly for him to pull
  himself together. After a pathetic exhibition of confusion, he
  recovers himself sufficiently to address Bohun weakly, but
  coherently._) Beg pardon, sir, I'm sure, sir. Was--was it you, sir?

  _Bohun._ (_Ruthlessly._) It was I.

  _Waiter._ (_Brokenly._) Yes, sir. (_Unable to restrain his tears._)
  You in a false nose, Walter! (_He sinks faintly into a chair at the
  table._) I beg your pardon, ma'am, I'm sure. A little giddiness--

  _Bohun._ (_Commandingly._) You will excuse him, Mrs. Clandon, when I
  inform you that he is my father.

  _Waiter._ (_Heartbroken._) Oh, no, no, Walter. A waiter for your
  father on the top of a false nose! What will they think of you?

  _Mrs. Clandon._ (_Going to the waiter's chair in her kindest manner._)
  I am delighted to hear it, Mr. Bohun. Your father has been an
  excellent friend to us since we came here. (_Bohun bows gravely._)

  _Waiter._ (_Shaking his head._) Oh, no, ma'am. It's very kind of
  you--very ladylike and affable indeed, ma'am; but I should feel at a
  great disadvantage off my own proper footing. Never mind my being the
  gentleman's father, ma'am: it is only the accident of birth, after
  all, ma'am. (_He gets up feebly._) You'll excuse me, I'm sure, having
  interrupted your business.

    (_He begins to make his way along the table, supporting himself from
    chair to chair, with his eye on the door._)

  (_Bohun._) One moment. (_The waiter stops, with a sinking heart._) My
  father was a witness of what passed to-day, was he not, Mrs. Clandon?

  _Mrs. Clandon._ Yes, most of it, I think.

  _Bohun._ In that case we shall want him.

  _Waiter._ (_Pleading._) I hope it may not be necessary, sir. Busy
  evening for me, sir, with that ball: very busy evening indeed, sir.

  _Bohun._ (_Inexorably._) We shall want you.

  _Mrs. Clandon._ (_Politely._) Sit down, won't you?

  _Waiter._ (_Earnestly._) Oh, if you please, ma'am, I really must draw
  the line at sitting down. I couldn't let myself be seen doing such a
  thing, ma'am: thank you, I am sure, all the same.

    (_He looks round from face to face wretchedly, with an expression
    that would melt a heart of stone._)

  _Gloria._ Don't let us waste time. William only wants to go on taking
  care of us. I should like a cup of coffee.

  _Waiter._ (_Brightening perceptibly._) Coffee, miss? (_He gives a
  little gasp of hope._) Certainly, miss. Thank you, miss: very timely,
  miss, very thoughtful and considerate indeed. (_To Mrs. Clandon,
  timidly, but expectantly._) Anything for you, ma'am?

  _Mrs. Clandon._ Er--oh, yes: it's so hot, I think we might have a jug
  of claret cup.

  _Waiter._ (_Beaming._) Claret cup, ma'am! Certainly ma'am.

  _Gloria._ Oh, well, I'll have claret cup instead of coffee. Put some
  cucumber in it.

  _Waiter._ (_Delightedly._) Cucumber, miss! yes, miss. (_To Bohun._)
  Anything special for you, sir? You don't like cucumber, sir.

  _Bohun._ If Mrs. Clandon will allow me--syphon, Scotch.

  _Waiter._ Right, sir. (_To Crampton._) Irish for you, sir, I think
  sir? (_Crampton assents with a grunt. The waiter looks enquiringly at

  _Valentine._ I like the cucumber.

  _Waiter._ Right, sir. (_Summing up._) Claret cup, syphon, one Scotch,
  and one Irish?

  _Mrs. Clandon._ I think that's right.

  _Waiter._ (_Perfectly happy._) Right ma'am. Directly, ma'am. Thank

    (_He ambles off through the window, having sounded the whole gamut of
    human happiness, from the bottom to the top in a little over two



[Laurence and Raymond, her first husband, meet by chance by the sick bed
of their little boy, M. de Girieu, the second husband, who is madly
jealous of Raymond, and of Laurence's love for her boy, has just refused
Raymond's request to be allowed to watch by the child till he is out of
danger. Resting confidently on the control over Laurence and the boy
which the laws give him, M. de Girieu is sure he can keep his wife and
her former husband apart.]

  _Long silent scene. The door of little Julien's room opens softly.
  Laurence appears with a paper in her hand. The two men separate,
  watching her intently. She looks out for a long time, then shuts the
  door, taking every precaution not to make a noise. After a gesture of
  profound grief, she comes forward, deeply moved, but tearless. She
  makes no more gestures. Her face is grave. Very simply she goes
  straight to Raymond._

  _Raymond._ (_Very simply to Laurence._) Well?

  _Laurence._ (_In the same manner._) He has just dropped asleep.

  _Ray._ The fever?

  _Lau._ Constant.

  _Ray._ Has the temperature been taken?

  _Lau._ Yes.

  _Ray._ How much?

  _Lau._ Thirty-nine.

  _Ray._ The cough?

  _Lau._ Incessant. He breathes with difficulty.

  _Ray._ His face is flushed?

  _Lau._ Yes.

  _Ray._ The doctor gave you a prescription?

  _Lau._ I came to show it to you. I don't thoroughly understand this.

    (_They are close to each other, examining the prescription which
    Raymond holds._)

  _Ray._ (_Reading._) "Keep an even temperature in the sick room."

  _Lau._ Yes.

  _Ray._ "Wrap the limbs in cotton wool, and cover that with oiled
  silk." I am going to do that myself as soon as he wakes. Tell them to
  warn me.

  _Lau._ What ought he to have to drink? I forgot to ask that, and he is

  _Ray._ Mallow.

  _Lau._ I'm sure he doesn't like it.

  _Ray._ Yes, yes. You remember when he had the measles.

  _Lau._ Yes, yes. How anxious we were then, too!

  _Ray._ He drank it willingly. You remember perfectly?

  _Lau._ Yes, of course I remember. Some mallow then. Let us read the
  prescription again. I haven't forgotten anything? Mustard plasters.
  The cotton wool, you will attend to that. And I will go have the drink
  made. "In addition--every hour--a coffee-spoonful of the following

    (_The curtain falls slowly as she continues to read. M. de Girieu has
    gone out slowly during the last words._)[54]

Finally, contrast the treatment by John Webster and Robert Browning of
the same dramatic situation. Which is the clearer, which depends more on
illustrative action?

    _Enter Antonio_

  _Duchess._    I sent for you; sit downe:
  Take pen and incke, and write: are you ready?

  _Antonio._             Yes.

  _Duch._ What did I say?

  _Ant._ That I should write some-what.

  _Duch._      Oh, I remember:
  After this triumph and this large expence,
  It's fit (like thrifty husbands) we enquire,
  What's laid up for tomorrow.

  _Ant._ So please your beauteous excellence.

  _Duch._          Beauteous?
  Indeed I thank you: I look yong for your sake.
  You have tane my cares upon you.

  _Ant._     I'le fetch your grace
  The particulars of your revinew and expence.

  _Duch._ Oh, you are an upright treasurer: but you mistooke,
  For when I said I meant to make enquiry
  What's layd up for tomorrow, I did meane
  What's layd up yonder for me.

  _Ant._        Where?

  _Duch._         In heaven.
  I am making my will (as 'tis fit princes should
  In perfect memory), and I pray sir, tell me
  Were not one better make it smiling, thus,
  Then in deepe groanes, and terrible ghastly lookes,
  As if the guifts we parted with procur'd
  That violent distraction?

  _Ant._      Oh, much better.

  _Duch._ If I had a husband now, this care were quit:
  But I intend to make you over-seer.
  What good deede shall we first remember? say.

  _Ant._ Begin with that first good deede began i' th' world,
  After man's creation, the sacrament of marriage.
  I'ld have you first provide for a good husband:
  Give him all.

  _Duch._       All?

  _Ant._     Yes, your excellent selfe.

  _Duch._ In a winding sheete?

  _Ant._        In a cople.

  _Duch._ St. Winifrid, that were a strange will!

  _Ant._ 'Twere strange if there were no will in you
  To marry againe.

  _Duch._      What doe you thinke of marriage?

  _Ant._ I take't, as those that deny purgatory,
  It locally containes or heaven or hell;
  There's no third place in't.

  _Duch._         How doe you affect it?

  _Ant._ My banishment, feeding my mellancholly,
  Would often reason thus--

  _Duch._        Pray let's heare it.

  _Ant._ Say a man never marry, nor have children,
  What takes that from him? onely the bare name
  Of being a father, or the weake delight
  To see the little wanton ride a cock-horse
  Upon a painted sticke, or heare him chatter
  Like a taught starling.

  _Duch._     Fye, fie, what's all this?
  One of your eyes is blood-shot; use my ring to't.
  They say 'tis very soveraigne; 'twas my wedding-ring,
  And I did vow never to part with it,
  But to my second husband.

  _Ant._ You have parted with it now.

  _Duch._ Yes, to helpe your eye-sight.

  _Ant._ You have made me starke blind.

  _Duch._           How?

  _Ant._ There is a sawcy and ambitious divell
  Is dauncing in this circle.

  _Duch._      Remoove him.

  _Ant._           How?

  _Duch._ There needs small conjuration, when your finger
  May doe it: thus, is it fit?

  _Ant._        What sayd you?  (_He kneeles._)

  _Duch._            Sir,
  This goodly roofe of yours is too low built;
  I cannot stand upright in't, nor discourse,
  Without I raise it higher: raise yourselfe,
  Or if you please, my hand to help you: so.

  _Ant._ Ambition, madam, is a great man's madnes,
  That is not kept in chaines and close-pentoomes,
  But in fair lightsome lodgings, and is girt
  With the wild noyce of pratling visitants,
  Which makes it lunatique, beyond all cure.
  Conceive not I am so stupid but I ayme
  Whereto your favours tend: but he's a foole
  That (being a cold) would thrust his hands i' th' fire
  To warme them.

  _Duch._      So, now the ground's broake,
  You may discover what a wealthy mine
  I make you lord of.

  _Ant._        Oh my unworthiness!

  _Duch._ You were ill to sell your selfe:
  This darkning of your worth is not like that
  Which trades-men use i' th' city; their false lightes
  Are to rid bad wares off: and I must tell you,
  If you will know where breathes a compleat man
  (I speake it without flattery), turne your eyes,
  And progresse through your selfe.

  _Ant._ Were there nor heaven, nor hell,
  I should be honest: I have long serv'd vertue,
  And nev'r tane wages of her.

  _Duch._           Now she paies it.
  The misery of us that are borne great,
  We are forc'd to woe, because none dare woe us:
  And as a tyrant doubles with his words,
  And fearefully equivocates, so we
  Are forc'd to expresse our violent passions
  In ridles and in dreames, and leave the path
  Of simple vertue, which was never made
  To seeme the thing it is not. Goe, go brag
  You have left me heartlesse; mine is in your bosom:
  I hope 'twill multiply love there. You doe tremble:
  Make not your heart so dead a peece of flesh,
  To feare, more then to love me. Sir, be confident,
  What is't distracts you? This is flesh and blood, sir;
  'Tis not the figure cut in allablaster
  Kneeles at my husbands tombe. Awake, awake, man,
  I do here put off all vaine ceremony,
  And onely doe appeare to you a yong widow
  That claimes you for her husband, and like a widow,
  I use but halfe a blush in't.

  _Ant._           Truth speake for me,
  I will remaine the constant sanctuary
  Of your good name.[55]

This is Browning's version:

  _Duchess._ Say what you did through her, and she through you--
  The praises of her beauty afterward!
  Will you?

  _Valence._ I dare not.

  _Duch._       Dare not?

  _Val._             She I love
  Suspects not such a love in me.

  _Duch._           You jest.

  _Val._ The lady is above me and away.
  Not only the brave form, and the bright mind,
  And the great heart combine to press me low--
  But all the world calls rank divides us.

  _Duch._            Rank!
  Now grant me patience! Here's a man declares
  Oracularly in another's case--
  Sees the true value and the false, for them--
  Nay, bids them see it, and they straight do see.
  You called my court's love worthless--so it turned:
  I threw away as dross my heap of wealth,
  And here you stickle for a piece or two!
  First--has she seen you?

  _Val._           Yes.

  _Duch._            She loves you, then.

  _Val._ One flash of hope burst; then succeeded night:
  And all's at darkest now. Impossible!

  _Duch._ We'll try: you are--so to speak--my subject yet?

  _Val._ As ever--to the death.

  _Duch._           Obey me, then!

  _Val._ I must.

  _Duch._    Approach her, and ... no! first of all
  Get more assurance. "My instructress," say,
  "Was great, descended from a line of kings,
  "And even fair"--(wait why I say this folly)--
  "She said, of all men, none for eloquence,
  "Courage, and (what cast even these to shade)
  "The heart they sprung from,--none deserved like him
  "Who saved her at her need: if she said this,
  "Why should not one I love, say?"

  _Val._            Heaven--this hope--
  Oh, lady, you are filling me with fire!

  _Duch._ Say this!--nor think I bid you cast aside
  One touch of all the awe and reverence;
  Nay, make her proud for once to heart's content
  That all this wealth of heart and soul's her own!
  Think you are all of this,--and, thinking it,
  ... (Obey!)

  _Val._    I cannot choose.

  _Duch._               Then, kneel to her!
                          (_Valence sinks on his knee._)
  I dream!

  _Val._ Have mercy! yours, unto the death,--
  I have obeyed. Despise, and let me die!

  _Duch._ Alas, sir, is it to be ever thus?
  Even with you as with the world? I know
  This morning's service was no vulgar deed
  Whose motive, once it dares avow itself,
  Explains all done and infinitely more,
  So, takes the shelter of a nobler cause.
  Your service names its true source,--loyalty!
  The rest's unsaid again. The Duchess bids you,
  Rise, sir! The Prince's words were in debate.

  _Val._ (_Rising._) Rise? Truth, as ever, lady, comes from you!
  I should rise--I who spoke for Cleves, can speak
  For Man--yet tremble now, who stood firm then.
  I laughed--for 'twas past tears--that Cleves should starve
  With all hearts beating loud the infamy,
  And no tongue daring trust as much to air:
  Yet here, where all hearts speak, shall I be mute?
  Oh, lady, for your sake look on me!
  On all I am, and have, and do--heart, brain,
  Body and soul,--this Valence and his gifts!
  I was proud once: I saw you, and then sank,
  So that each, magnified a thousand times,
  Were nothing to you--but such nothingness,
  Would a crown gild it, or a sceptre prop,
  A treasure speed, a laurel-wreath enhance?
  What is my own desert? But should your love
  Have ... there's no language helps here ... singled me,--
  Then--oh, that wild word "then!"--be just to love,
  In generosity its attribute!
  Love, since you pleased to love! All's cleared--a stage
  For trial of the question kept so long:
  Judge you--Is love or vanity the best?
  You, solve it for the world's sake--you, speak first
  What all will shout one day--you, vindicate
  Our earth and be its angel! All is said.
  Lady, I offer nothing--I am yours:
  But, for the cause' sake, look on me and him,
  And speak!

  _Duch._ I have received the Prince's message:
  Say, I prepare my answer!

  _Val._           Take me, Cleves! (_He withdraws._)[56]

The formula for the would-be dramatist so far as his people are
concerned is this: A play which aims to be real in depicting life must
illustrate character by characterization which is in character.


  [1] For all of these except _Hyckescorner_ see _Specimens of
    Pre-Shakespearean Drama_. J. M. Manly. 2 vols. Ginn & Co., Boston.
    For _Hyckescorner_ see _The Origin of the English Drama_, Vol. I. T.
    Hawkins, ed. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

  [2] _Induction, Every Man in His Humour._ Mermaid Series or
    Everyman's Library.

  [3] See _Two Loves and a Life_, _The Ticket of Leave Man_, _The Lady
    of Lyons_. All published by Samuel French, New York.

  [4] Belles-Lettres Series. F. E. Schelling, ed. D. C. Heath & Co.;
    Mermaid Series, vol. III, or Everyman's Library.

  [5] Mermaid Series, vol. II. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [6] _Play-Making_, pp. 376, 378. Small, Maynard & Co., Boston.

  [7] _Plays_. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [8] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [9] _Some Platitudes Concerning Drama_, _Atlantic Monthly_, December,

  [10] _The Devonshire Hamlets_, Act I, pp. 9-10.

  [11] _Dramatic Essays._ William Hazlitt.

  [12] _The Stage in America_, pp. 81-82. N. Hapgood. The Macmillan Co.

  [13] _Some Platitudes Concerning Drama_, _Atlantic Monthly_,
    December, 1909.

  [14] See the quotation from Stevenson, p. 243, as to _Weir of

  [15] _Hamburg Dramaturgy_, p. 324. Lessing. Bohn ed.

  [16] Belle-Lettres Series. A. H. Thorndike, ed. D. C. Heath & Co.,
    Boston and New York.

  [17] Mermaid Series for both plays. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [18] _A New Rehearsal, or Bays the Younger._ Charles Gildon. 1714-15.

  [19] _At the New Theatre_, pp. 189-192. W. P. Eaton. Small, Maynard &
    Co., Boston.

  [20] _Idem_, pp. 47-48.

  [21] _Hamburg Dramaturgy_, p. 238. Bohn ed.

  [22] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [23] P. V. Stock, Paris. Published in translation by J. W. Luce &
    Co., Boston.

  [24] Walter E. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [25] _Letters of Henrik Ibsen_, p. 437.

  [26] _Au Public, La Princesse Georges._ Calmann Lévy, Paris.

  [27] _Oeuvres_, vol. VII, p. 320. Garnier Frères, Paris.

  [28] _The Theatrical World for 1893_, pp. 46-47. W. Archer. Walter
    Scott, Ltd., London.

  [29] The Macmillan Co., New York.

  [30] P. V. Stock, Paris.

  [31] _Selected Dramas of John Dryden_, p. 230. Preface, _All for
    Love_. G. R. Noyes, ed. Scott, Foresman & Co., New York.

  [32] _Théâtre_, vol. II. Michel Lévy Frères, Paris.

  [33] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston.

  [34] The Macmillan Co., New York. Act III.

  [35] Belles-Lettres Series, p. 373. M.W. Sampson, ed. D.C. Heath &
    Co., Boston.

  [36] _Shakespeare's Library_, vol. v, pp. 267-271. W. C. Hazlitt, ed.

  [37] _Squire of Alsatia_ Mermaid Series. G. Saintsbury, ed. Chas.
    Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [38] Mitchell Kennerley, New York.

  [39] For illustration of good work, see pp. 25-26, 36, 49, 162, 174,
    181, 190.

  [40] See for discussion of these, pp. 382-96.

  [41] _Tartuffe_, Act I. _Chief European Dramatists._ Brander
    Matthews, ed. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

  [42] Act III, Scene 2. Belles-Lettres Series. A. H. Thorndike, ed. D.
    C. Heath & Co.

  [43] Act I. Tr. Gilbert Murray. Geo. Allen & Sons, London.

  [44] The Macmillan Co., N.Y.

  [45] Mermaid Series. Vol. I, Act. I, Scene 1. Chas. Scribner's Sons,
    New York.

  [46] _Vittoria Corambona_, Act III, Sc. 2. Webster. Belles-Lettres
    Series. M. W. Sampson, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York.

  [47] See pp. 154-161.

  [48] _Chief European Dramatists._ Brander Matthews, ed. Houghton
    Mifflin Co., Boston.

  [49] Act I, Scene 1. Mermaid Series, vol. III, of Everyman's Library.

  [50] _Hamburg Dramaturgy_, pp. 367-368. Bohn ed.

  [51] Samuel French, New York; W. Heinemann, London.

  [52] _Plays._ Vol. I. J. Tonson, London, 1730.

  [53] _Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant._ Brentano, New York.

  [54] P. V. Stock, Paris.

  [55] _The Duchess of Malfi_, Act I, Sc. 2. Webster. Belles-Lettres
    Series. M. W. Sampson, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York.

  [56] _Colombe's Birthday_, Act IV Scene 1. Robert Browning.
    Belles-Lettres Series A. Bates, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New



Modern dramatic dialogue had beginnings far from realistic. It
originated, as the Latin tropes show, in speeches given in unison and to
music--a kind of recitative. What was the aim of this earliest dramatic
dialogue? It sought to convey, first, last, and always, the facts of the
episode or incident represented: "Whom seek ye here, O Christians? Jesus
of Nazareth, the Crucified, O Heavenly Ones." And that is what good
dramatic dialogue has always done, is doing, and must always do as its
chief work--state clearly the facts which an auditor must understand if
the play is to move ahead steadily and clearly. Already enough has been
said (chapter VI, pp. 154-183) as to the need of clear preliminary and
later exposition to show how axiomatic is the statement that the chief
purpose of good dialogue is to convey necessary information clearly.

Even, however, when dialogue is clear in its statement of needed
information, it may still be confusing for reader or hearer. What is the
trouble with the text in the left-hand column--from an early draft of a
play dealing with John Brown and his fortunes?

SCENE: _The Prison at Harper's Ferry_

  _Brown._ Mary! I'm glad to          _Brown._ Mary! I'm glad to
  see you, Mary.                      see you, Mary.
    (_For a few seconds, silence._)     (_For a few seconds, silence._)

  _Mrs. Brown._ (_Crying out._)       _Mrs. Brown._ (_Crying out._)
  Oh, my dear husband, it is a        Oh, my dear husband, it is a hard
  hard fate.                          fate. It's been so long since
                                      I heard your voice.

  _Brown._ (_Strong in his            _Brown._ (_Strong in his
  composure._) Well, well, Mary,      compposture._) Well, well, Mary,
  let us be cheerful. We must all     let us be cheerful. We must all
  bear it the best we can.            bear it the best we can.

    (_Stroking her hair._)             (_Stroking her hair._)

  _Mrs. Brown._ Oh! You to go         _Mrs. Brown._ Oh! You to go
  from me forever.                    from me forever.

   (_Sinks her head on his breast       (_Sinks her head on his breast
     again._)                             again._)

  _Brown._ It must be,--and all       _Brown._ It must be,--and all
  is for the best. There, there.      is for the best. There, there.

    (_Pats her head in an effort      (_Pats her head in an effort
      to comfort her._)                 to comfort her._)

  _Mrs. Brown._ But our poor          _Mrs. Brown._ (_After a moment's
  children, John.                     silence._)  Do they treat you
                                      well here John?
  _Brown._ Those that have died
  are at peace in the next world.
  (_She breaks out weeping again._)   _Brown._ Like Joseph, I have
  Come, come, dry your tears; sit     gained favor in the sight of the
  down and tell me about those at     prison-keeper. He is a most humane
  home. (_He tries to lead her to     gentleman--never mistreats or
  chair on right of table, but she    tries to humiliate me.
  checks her grief and seats
  herself. He goes slowly back to     _Mrs. Brown._ May God bless such
  the other chair._) It weakens       a man. Do you sleep any, John?
  me to stand. Now tell me about
  home.                               _Brown._ Like a child,--all
                                      night in peace.

  _Mrs. Brown._ It's a sad place.     _Mrs. Brown._ I am glad of
  We couldn't believe the first       that. I worried about it. Are
  reports about you and the boys      the days long and lonesome?
  being taken prisoners. We
  _couldn't_ believe you had          _Brown._ All hours of the day
  _failed._ Then a New York paper     glorious thoughts come to me.
  came. We sat by the fire in the     I am kept busy reading and
  living room. There was Watson's     answering letters from my
  widow--                             friends. I have with me my Bible,
                                      here. (_Placing his hand_
  _Brown._ Poor Isabel, with          _on the leather-bound volume at
  her little Freddie.                 the end of the table._) It is of
                                      infinite comfort. I never enjoyed
  _Mrs. Brown._ And William           life more than since coming to
  Thompson's widow, our Ruth,         prison. I wish all my poor family
  and Annie, and Oliver's widow--     were as composed and as happy.

  _Brown._ Poor Martha. When
  the time came it was hard for
  her to leave the farm house and     _Mrs. Brown._ But our poor
  Oliver behind. She kind of felt     children, John. Poor Oliver and
  that she wouldn't see him any       Watson. We shall never see
  more.                               them again.

  _Mrs. Brown._ We said almost
  nothing while Salmon read. We       _Brown._ Those that have died
  felt in our blindness God had       are at peace. (_She breaks out
  been unfaithful to you and the      weeping again._) But we shall
  boys.                               meet together in that other world
                                      where they do not shoot and
  _Brown._ My dear wife, you          hang men for loving justice and
  must keep up your spirits.          desiring freedom for all men.
  Don't blame God. He has taken       Come, come, dry your tears.
  away my sword of steel, but He      Sit down and tell me about those
  has given me the sword of the       at home. (_He tries to lead her
  Spirit.                             to chair on right of table, but
                                      she checks her grief and seats
  _Mrs. Brown. (Looking up            herself. He goes slowly back to
  into his face with almost a sad     the other chair._) It weakens me
  smile upon hers._) That sounds      to stand. Now, tell me about home,
  just like you, John. Oh, it's       for that will give me comfort,
  been so long since I heard your     Mary. No man can get into
  voice.                              difficulties too big to be
                                      surmounted if he has a firm
  _Brown._ Tell me more about         foothold at home.
  the family.

  _Mrs. Brown._ Owen doesn't dare     _Mrs. Brown._ It's a sad place.
  come home yet.                      We couldn't believe the first
                                      reports about you and the boys
  _Brown._ Do you know where he is?   being taken prisoners. _We
                                      wouldn't_ believe you had failed.
  _Mrs. Brown._ Hiding among
  friends in Ohio. Poor boy, he is
  called all kinds of vile names,
  just for being with you.            _Brown._ I have been a great
                                      deal disappointed in myself for
  _Brown._ For the cause we have      not keeping to my plan.
  all suffered much in the past;
  we shall have to in the future.     _Mrs. Brown._ You made a mistake
  We should rejoice at his escape.    only in judging how much you could
  _Mrs. Brown._ I do, John, but
  O, poor Oliver and Watson! We       _Brown._ I acted against my better
  shall never see them again.         judgment.

  _Brown._ Not in this world,         _Mrs. Brown._ But after taking the
  but                                 arsenal, why didn't you flee to the
  we shall meet together in that      mountains, as we thought you would?
  other world where they do not
  shoot and hang men for loving
  justice and desiring freedom for    _Brown._ The delay was my mistake.
  all men.                            But in God's greater and broader
                                      plan maybe it was infinitely
  _Mrs. Brown._ Yes, and they _did    better. It was fore-ordained to
  die_ for a great and good cause!    work out that way, determined
             (_Said with spirit._)    before the world was made.

  _Brown._ Some day all the           _Mrs. Brown._ His ways are
  people of the earth will say        mysterious and wonderful.
  that. (_A moment's silence._)       (_A slight pause as both think._)

  _Mrs. Brown._ Do they treat         _Brown._ How did you first get
  you well here, John?                the news?

  _Brown._ Like Joseph, I have        _Mrs. Brown._ A New York paper
  gained favor in the sight of the    came. We sat by the fire in the
  prison-keeper. He is a most         living room. There was Watson's
  humane gentleman--never mistreats   widow--
  or tries to humiliate me.
                                      _Brown._ Poor Isabel, with her
  _Mrs. Brown._ May God bless         little Freddie.
  such a man. Do you sleep any,
  John?                               _Mrs. Brown._ And William
                                      Thompson's widow, our Ruth, and
  _Brown._ Like a child,--all         Annie, and Oliver's widow--
  night in peace.

  _Mrs. Brown._ I'm glad of that.     _Brown._ Poor Martha.
  I worried about it. Are the days    When the time came, it was hard for
  long and lonesome?                  her to leave the farm house and
                                      Oliver behind. She kind of felt
  _Brown._ All hours of the day       she wouldn't see him any more.
  glorious thoughts come to me.
  I am kept busy reading and          _Mrs. Brown._ We said almost
  answering letters from my           nothing while Salmon read. We
  friends. I have with me my          felt in our blindness God had
  Bible, here. (_Placing his hand     been unfaithful to you and the
  on the leather-bound volume at the  boys.
  end of the table._) It is of
  infinite comfort. I never enjoyed   _Brown._ My dear wife, you must
  life more than since coming to      keep up your spirits. Don't blame
  prison. I wish all my poor family   god. He has taken away my sword of
  were as composed and as happy.      steel, but He has given me the
                                      sword of the Spirit.

  _Mrs. Brown._ We have become more   _Mrs. Brown_. (Looking up _into
  and more resigned.                  his face with almost a sad smile
                                      upon her._) That sounds just like
  _Brown._ Do any feel disgrace or    you, John. We have become more
  shame?                              and more resigned.

  _Mrs. Brown._ Not one, John.        _Brown._ Do any feel disgrace
  You are, in our eyes, a noble       or shame?
  martyr. The chains on your legs
  bind our hearts all the closer      _Mrs. Brown._ Not one, John.
  to you.                             You are, in our eyes, a noble
                                      martyr. The chains on your
                                      legs bind our hearts all the
  _Brown._ That gives me comfort,     closer to you.
  Mary. No man can get
  into difficulties too big to be     _Brown._ Tell me more about the
  surmounted, if he has a firm        family.
  foothold at home.
                                      _Mrs. Brown._ Owen doesn't dare
  _Mrs. Brown._ You made a mistake    come home yet.
  only in judging how much you
  could do.                           _Brown._ Do you know where he is?

  _Brown._ I have been a great
  deal disappointed in myself for     _Mrs. Brown._ Hiding among
  not keeping to my plan. I acted     friends in Ohio. Poor boy, he is
  against my better judgment.         called all kinds of vile names,
                                      just for being with you.
  _Mrs. Brown._ But after taking
  the arsenal, why didn't you flee    _Brown._ For the cause we have
  to the mountains, as we thought     all suffered much in the past;
  you would?                          we shall have to in the future.
                                      We should rejoice at his escape.
  _Brown._ The delay was my mistake.
  But in God's greater and broader    _Mrs. Brown._ I do, John. And
  plan, maybe it was infinitely       Oliver and Watson _did die_ for
  better. It was fore-ordained to     a great and good cause!
  work out that way, determined
  before the world was made.            (_Said with spirit._)

  _Mrs. Brown._ His ways are          _Brown._ Some day, all the
  mysterious and wonderful.           people of the earth will say that.

    (_Avis comes in._)                  (_Avis comes in._)

There are several faults in the original dialogue, but perhaps the chief
is not regarding the principle that clearness dramatically consists, not
merely in stating needed facts, but in so stating them that interest is
not allowed to lapse. The original dialogue was scrappy, lacking
sequence, not so much of thought as of emotion. If it be said that at
such a moment talk is often fitful, it must be remembered that our
time-limits forbid giving every word said in such a scene. We must
present merely its essentials. Only in that way may a play, a condensed
presentation of life, hope to give a total effect for a scene equal to
that of the original. The re-ordered dialogue of the right-hand column
seeks merely to bring together ideas really closely related, and to
move, in a way in keeping with the characters, from lesser to stronger
emotion. With the disappearance of the scrappy effect, is not the result
clearer? Even now, the dialogue might well be condensed and made
emotionally more significant.

If we let the dialogue of a play merely state necessary facts, what is
the result? At the worst, something like the left-hand column. Two young
women, one the married hostess and the other the friend of her girlhood,
are opening their morning mail on the piazza. Serena, the hostess, has
known nothing of the engagement of Elise to Teddy.

  ORIGINAL                            REVISION

  _Elise._ (_Looking up from her_     _Elise._ Is he coming?
  _letters._) Is he coming?
                                      _Serena._ I don't know yet, but I
  _Serena._ I don't know yet, but I   wish he were still in South Africa.
  wish he were still in South         Look at this: (_Showing letter_.) A
  Africa. If he does come, I don't    letter from Aunt Deborah.
  know what will happen. There's a
  letter from Aunt Deborah.           _Elise._ Yes?

  _Elise._ Yes? What does she         _Serena._ Aunt Deborah had a
  want?                               terrible quarrel with Teddy just
                                      before he went!
  _Serena._ Did you know she
  had a terrible quarrel with         _Elise._ Oh, that must be all made
  Teddy just before he went to        up now.
  South Africa?
                                      _Serena._ Listen! (_Reading from
  _Elise._ I had a vague idea         letter_.) "If I see that man I'll
  of it. It must all be made up       have a shock," and (_with a
  now and they'll be delighted        despairing gesture_) she very
  to meet here.                       gladly accepts our invitation!

  _Serena._ No, she won't. She
  says she's sure she'll have a
  shock if she sees him and very
  gladly accepts our kind
  invitation because so she can
  avoid meeting him.

From the left-hand column we surely do learn that a before-mentioned
Teddy has been in South Africa; that he and a certain Aunt Deborah have
quarreled; and that though she particularly does not wish to meet Teddy,
she is coming, as he is, to visit at this house--three important points.
Like everyday speech, the quoted dialogue lacks compactness. Let us
first, therefore, cut out all that is not absolutely necessary. We do
not need, in the first speech of Elise, anything more than the query,
"Yes?" The inflection will give the rest. In the second speech of Serena
we can cut "to South Africa," for we have already mentioned where Teddy
has been. In the second speech of Elise, it is the words "It must be all
made up now" that are important. What precedes and what follows may be
omitted. Similarly, in the first and second speeches of Serena, it is
the first and the third sentences which are important. The second, if
given, really anticipates an effect which will be stronger later. If we
change the second speech from a query to an assertion or an exclamation,
we shall gain and slightly condense. It will then read, "Aunt Deborah
had a terrible quarrel with Teddy just before he went!" Because we have
cut the last speech of Elise, the first sentence of the next speech of
Serena becomes unnecessary. It will be necessary, however, to re-phrase
what remains of this final speech, so hard is it to deliver. The revised
dialogue may still be poor enough, but it says all the original did in
less space--that is condensation. The effect is better because we have
cut out some parts, and have slightly changed others. That is selection.
The slight changes have been made in order to make the sequence of ideas
clearer, to suggest emotion more clearly, or to make the dialogue
natural--and all that means the beginning of characterization. The final
word on this dialogue is, however, that even now either speaker could
utter the words of the other, and that is all wrong. Clearly, then,
even in stating facts, dialogue may be bad, indifferent, and good.

The following opening of a Japanese No drama shows that even more
trained writers may write dialogue with no virtue except its clearness:


_A drama by J. Mushakoji_

  SCENE: _A forest glade on the nobleman's estate. A cross for
  crucifixion in the foreground. Two men A and B standing on either side
  of the cross holding spears._

  _A._ That fellow has behaved foolishly!

  _B._ Yes, and the girl also.

  _A._ It was certain that they would be killed when found out.

  _B._ And nothing could prevent the discovery.

  _A._ Our master is extremely indignant.

  _B._ There has not been one person crucified since the present lord

  _A._ Although the stewards have assured him that it is the established
  law of the land, the present master has never given permission for the
  punishment of criminals by crucifixion and fire. But now he has
  announced that he will kill them in this manner, and we are
  commissioned to carry out the disagreeable duty.

  _B._ Even though we refused to obey the command at first and requested
  him to excuse us he would not listen to our petition.

  _A._ The master must have been very fond of this young girl.

  _B._ Yes. Rumour has it that he became attached to her while the late
  mistress was still living.

  _A._ He did not care very much for his wife. Anyway, she was too
  inferior to be his companion.

  _B._ It was said that he did not grieve over her death.

  _A._ And I have heard that the girl fainted when her mistress died.

  _B._ She must have been a favourite among the other attendants who
  accompanied the lady when she became the wife of the lord.

  _A._ She was clever and pretty and had a strong character.

  _B._ Why did the girl fall in love with that fellow, I wonder?

  _A._ He is the kind of a man a woman admires.

  _B._ And because the girl loved him he now receives such severe

  _A._ We can never tell. What seems good luck may mean unexpected

  _B._ She would have been happier if she had obeyed the master's will
  instead of rejecting him.

  _A._ Probably she did not like him.

  _B._ But he seemed to care a great deal for her.

  _A._ It may not be right to say so, but his decision seems to have
  been taken because of his jealousy.

  _B._ Yes, that is true. I wonder why he has commanded us to prepare
  only one cross.

  _A._ Perhaps it is his plan to save one of them.

  _B._ I don't think that could be done very well.

  _A._ But someone said the master told the girl that he would save her
  life if she would only desert the young man for him.

  _B._ That may be so. Perhaps he intends to crucify the young man first
  in the presence of the girl so as to break her obstinate spirit and
  thus gain her love.

  _A._ That may be so.

  _B._ It is said that the young man has already repented of his love
  for the girl. But she was not at all frightened when the punishment
  was announced and she was informed that she was to be crucified. The
  man, on the contrary, at once turned white and almost fainted when he
  heard the judgment passed upon him.

  _A._ But a woman is much braver in love affairs than a man.

  _B._ You speak as though you had had experience!

  _A._ Ha! Ha! Ha!

  _B._ Perhaps the master wishes to kill the young man in as cruel a
  manner as possible.

  _A._ Hush! The lord is here! We are now obliged to remain silent and
  witness a living drama.

  _B._ And we have a dreadful task to perform.[1]

Though this omits nothing in the way of necessary information, how
colorless it is! When we note how perfectly either A or B could speak
the lines of the other, we see where the difficulty lies. The lines lack
all characterization. The history of the drama shows that while the
facts of a play may be interesting in themselves, they are much more
interesting to an audience which hears them as they present themselves
to well-defined characters of the story. It is axiomatic that sympathy
quickens interest. Take a much better known illustration of the same
point. The left-hand column gives the opening lines of the first quarto,
_Hamlet_. The right-hand column shows the opening of the second quarto.

                                    _Enter Barnardo and Francisco,
  _Enter two Centinels_             two Centinels_

  _1._ Stand: who is that?          _Barnardo._ Whose there?

  _2._ Tis I.                       _Francisco._ [Nay answere me.]
                                    Stand and unfolde your selfe.

                                    _Bar._ Long live the King.

                                    _Fran._ Barnardo.

                                    _Bar._ Hee.
  _1._ O you come most carefully
  upon your watch.                  _Fran._ You come most carefully
                                    upon your houre.

                                    _Bar._ Tis now strooke twelfe,
                                    get thee to bed Francisco.

                                    _Fran._ For this relief much
                                    thanks, [tis bitter cold,] And I
                                    am sick at heart.

                                    _Bar._ Have you had quiet guard?

                                    _Fran._ [Not a mouse stirring.]

                                    _Bar._ Well, good night:
  _2._ And if you meete Marcellus   If you doe meete Horatio and
    and Horatio,                      Marcellus,
  The partners of my watch, bid     The rivals of my watch, bid them
    them make haste.                  make hast.

  _1._ I will: See who goes there.

  _Enter Horatio and Marcellus_     _Enter Horatio and Marcellus_

                                    _Fran._ I think I heare them,
                                    stand ho, who is there?

  _Horatio._ Friends to this        _Horatio._ Friends to this
  ground.                           ground.

  _Marcellus._ And leegemen to      _Marcellus._ And leegemen to the
    the Dane,                         Dane.

                                    _Fran._ Give you good night.

  O farewell honest souldier, who   _Mar._ O, farewell honest souldiers,
    hath relieved you?                who hath relieved you?

  _1._ Barnardo hath my place,      _Fran._ Barnardo hath my
    give you good night.            place; give you good night.

                                      (_Exit Francisco._)[2]

The first of these extracts, without question gives the necessary facts
of the changing of the watch. It busies itself only with this absolutely
necessary action. The second quarto identifies the speakers, and, by a
different phrasing with additional lines, both characterizes them and
gives the scene atmosphere. Study the re-phrasings and bracketed
additions of the second scene--"Nay answere me," "Tis bitter cold," "Not
a mouse stirring"--and note that this dialogue gains over the first in
that it interests by what it adds as much as by the essential action.

A second quotation from _Hamlet_ in the two quartos illustrates the same
point even better. The text in the left-hand column, merely stating the
facts necessary to the movement of the scene, leaves to the actor all
characterizing of Montano, and gives the player of Corambis only the
barest hints. The second quarto text, in the right-hand column, makes
Polonius so garrulous that he cannot keep track of his own ideas; shows
his pride in his would-be shrewdness; indeed, rounds him out into a real
character. It even makes Reynaldo a man who does not yield at once, but
a person of honorable instincts who is overborne. Can there be any
question which scene holds the attention better?

  _Enter Corambis and Montano_     _Enter old Polonius, with his_
                                   _man or two_

  _Corambis._ Montano; here,       _Polonius._ Give him this money and
    these letters to my sonne,     these notes Reynaldo.
  And this same money with my
    blessing to him,               _Reynaldo._ I will my Lord.
  And bid him ply his learning
    good Montano.                  _Pol._ You shall doe marviles wisely
                                     good Reynaldo
                                   Before you visite him to make inquire
                                   Of his behaviour.

  _Montano._ I will my lord.       _Rey._ My Lord, I did intend it.

  _Cor._ You shall do very well    _Pol._ Mary well said, very well
     Montano, to say thus,           said; look you sir,
                                   Enquire me first what Danskers are
                                     in Parris,
                                   And how, and who, what meanes and
                                     where they keepe,
                                   What companie, at what expence, and
                                   By this encompasment, and drift of
                                   That they doe know my sonne, come you
                                     more neerer
                                   Then your particular demands will
                                     tuch it,
                                   Take you as t'were some distant
                                     knowledge of him,
  I knew the gentleman, or know    As thus, I know his father, and his
     his father                      friends,
  To inquire the manner of his     And in part him, doe you marke this,
     life,                           Reynaldo?
  And thus; being amongst his
    acquaintance,                  _Rey._ I, very well my Lord.
  You may say, you saw him at
    such a time, marke you mee,    _Pol._ And in part him, but you may
                                     say, not well,
                                   But y'ft be he I meane, hee's very
                                   Adicted so and so, and there put on
                                   What forgeries you please, marry none
                                     so ranck
                                   As may dishonour him, take heede of
                                   But sir, such wanton, wild, and
                                     usuall slips
                                   As are companions noted and most
                                   To youth and libertie.

                                   _Rey._ As gaming my Lord.

  At game, or drincking,           _Pol._ I, or drinking, fencing,
      swearing, or drabbing,         swearing.
  You may go so farre.             Quarrelling, drabbing, you may
                                     go so far.
  _Mon._ My Lord, that will
   impeach his reputation.         _Rey._ My Lord, that would dishonour
  _Cor._ I faith not a whit, no
    not a whit,                    _Pol._ Fayth as you may season it in
                                     the charge.
                                   You must not put another scandell on
                                   That he is open to incontinencie.
                                   That's not my meaning, but breath his
                                     faults so quently
                                   That they may seeme the taints of
                                   The flash and out-breake of a fierie
                                   A savagenes in unreclamed blood
                                   Of generall assault.

                                   _Rey._ But my good Lord.

                                   _Pol._ Wherefore should you do this?

                                   _Rey._ I my Lord, I would know that.

                                   _Pol._ Marry, sir, heer's my drift,
                                   And I believe it is a fetch of wit,
                                   You laying these slight sallies on my
                                   As t'were a thing a little soyld with
                                   Marke you, your partie in converse,
                                     him you would sound
                                   Having ever seene in the prenominat
                                   The youth you breath of guiltie, be
  Now happely hee closeth with     He closes with you in this
    you in the consequence,          consequence,
  As you may bridle it not         Good sir, (or so,) or friend, or
    disparage him a iote.            gentleman,
                                   According to the phrase, or the
                                   Of man and country.

                                   _Rey._ Very good my Lord.

                                   _Pol._ And then sir, doos a this,
  What was I about to say,           a doos, what was I about to say?
                                   By the masse I was about to say
                                   Where did I leave?

  _Mon._ He closeth with you       _Rey._ At closes in the
    in the consequence.              consequence.[3]

Even the dialogue, which with broad characterization states necessary
facts clearly, is by no means so effective as dialogue so absorbing by
its characterization that we assimilate the facts unconsciously.
Contrast the opening of _The Good Natur'd Man_ with that of _Hindle
Wakes_. The first is so busy in characterizing an absent but important
figure that it presents the two speakers only in the broadest way. That
is, exposition exists here as its only excuse for being. In _Hindle
Wakes_, the rapid development of an interesting situation through two
characters who as individuals become more distinct and interesting with
every line, probably conceals from most auditors or readers the fact
that seven important bits of information are given before Fanny enters.


SCENE--_An apartment in Young Honeywood's house

    Enter Sir William Honeywood, Jarvis_

  _Sir William._ Good Jarvis, make no apologies for this honest
  bluntness. Fidelity like yours is the best excuse for every freedom.

  _Jarvis._ I can't help being blunt, and being very angry, too, when I
  hear you talk of disinheriting so good, so worthy a young gentleman as
  your nephew, my master. All the world loves him.

  _Sir Will._ Say, rather, that he loves all the world; that is his

  _Jarv._ I'm sure there is no part of it more dear to him than you are,
  tho' he has not seen you since he was a child.

  _Sir Will._ What signifies his affection to me, or how can I be proud
  of a place in a heart where every sharper and coxcomb find an easy

  _Jarv._ I grant you that he's rather too good natur'd; that he's too
  much every man's man; that he laughs this minute with one, and cries
  the next with another; but whose instructions may he thank for all

  _Sir Will._ Not mine, sure? My letters to him during my employment in
  Italy taught him only that philosophy which might prevent, not defend
  his errors.

  _Jarv._ Faith, begging your honour's pardon, I'm sorry they taught him
  any philosophy at all; it has only served to spoil him. This same
  philosophy is a good horse in the stable, but an arrant jade on a
  journey. For my own part, whenever I hear him mention the name on't,
  I'm always sure he's going to play the fool.

  _Sir Will._ Don't let us ascribe his faults to his philosophy, I
  entreat you. No, Jarvis, his good nature rises rather from his fears
  of offending the importunate, than his desire of making the deserving

  _Jarv._ What it arises from, I don't know. But to be sure, everybody
  has it that asks it.

  _Sir Will._ Ay, or that does not ask it. I have been now for some time
  a concealed spectator of his follies, and find them as boundless as
  his dissipation.

  _Jarv._ And yet, faith, he has some fine name or other for them all.
  He calls his extravagance generosity; and his trusting everybody,
  universal benevolence. It was but last week he went security for a
  fellow whose face he scarce knew, and that he call'd an act of exalted
  mu-mu-munificence; ay, that was the name he gave it.

  _Sir Will._ And upon that I proceed, as my last effort, tho' with very
  little hopes to reclaim him. That very fellow has just absconded, and
  I have taken up the security. Now, my intention is to involve him in
  fictitious distress, before he has plunged himself into real calamity.
  To arrest him for that very debt, to clap an officer upon him, and
  then let him see which of his friends will come to his relief.[4]


  _The scene is triangular, representing a corner of the living-room of
  No. 137, Burnley Road, Hindle, a house rented for about 7s. 6d. a
  week. In the left-hand wall, low down, there is a door leading to the
  scullery. In the same wall, but further away from the spectator, is a
  window looking on to the backyard. A dresser stands in front of the
  window. About half-way up the right-hand wall is the door leading to
  the hall or passage. Nearer, against the same wall, a high cupboard
  for china and crockery. The fire-place is not visible, being in one of
  the walls not represented. However, down in the L. corner of the stage
  is an arm-chair, which stands by the hearth. In the middle of the room
  is a square table, with chairs on each side. The room is cheerful and
  comfortable. It is nine o'clock on a warm August evening. Through the
  window can be seen the darkening sky, as the blind is not drawn.
  Against the sky an outline of roof tops and mill chimneys. The only
  light is the dim twilight from the open window. Thunder is in the air.
  When the curtain rises, Christopher Hawthorn, a decent, white-bearded
  man of nearly fifty, is sitting in the arm-chair, smoking a pipe. Mrs.
  Hawthorn, a keen, sharp-faced woman of fifty-five, is standing, gazing
  out of the window. There is a flash of lightning and a rumble of
  thunder far away._

  _Mrs. Hawthorn._ It's passing over. There'll be no rain.

  _Christopher._ Ay! We could do with some rain.
    (_There is a flash of lightning._)

  _Chris._ Pull down the blind and light the gas.

  _Mrs. H._ What for?

  _Chris._ It's more cozy-like with the gas.

  _Mrs. H._ You're not afraid of the lightning?

  _Chris._ I want to look at that railway guide.

  _Mrs. H._ What's the good. We've looked at it twice already. There's
  no train from Blackpool till half-past ten, and it's only just on nine

  _Chris._ Happen we've made a mistake.

  _Mrs. H._ Happen we've not. Besides, what's the good of a railway
  guide? You know trains run as they like on Bank Holiday.

  _Chris._ Ay! Perhaps you're right. You don't think she'll come round
  by Manchester!

  _Mrs. H._ What would she be doing coming round by Manchester?

  _Chris._ You can get that road from Blackpool.

  _Mrs. H._ Yes. If she's coming from Blackpool.

  _Chris._ Have you thought she may not come at all?

  _Mrs. H._ (_Grimly_.) What do you take me for?

  _Chris._ You never hinted.

  _Mrs. H._ No use putting them sort of ideas into your head.
    (_Another flash and a peal of thunder._)

  _Chris._ Well, well, those are lucky who haven't to travel at all on
  Bank Holiday.

  _Mrs. H._ Unless they've got a motor car, like Nat Jeffcote's lad.

  _Chris._ Nay, _he's_ not got one.

  _Mrs. H._ What? Why I saw him with my own eyes setting out in it last
  Saturday week after the mill shut.

  _Chris._ Ay! He's gone off these Wakes with his pal George Ramsbottom.
  A couple of thick beggars, those two!

  _Mrs. H._ Then what do you mean telling me he's not got a motor car?

  _Chris._ I said he hadn't got one of his own. It's his father's. You
  don't catch Nat Jeffcote parting with owt before his time. That's how
  he holds his lad in check, as you might say.

  _Mrs. H._ Alan Jeffcote's seldom short of cash. He spends plenty.

  _Chris._ Ay! Nat gives him what he asks for, and doesn't want to know
  how he spends it either. But he's _got_ to ask for it first. Nat can
  stop supplies any time if he's a mind.

  _Mrs. H._ That's likely, isn't it?

  _Chris._ Queerer things have happened. You don't know Nat like I do.
  He's a bad one to get across with.
    (_Another flash and gentle peal. Mrs. H. gets up._)

  _Mrs. H._ I'll light the gas.
    (_She pulls down the blind and lights the gas._)

  _Chris._ When I met Nat this morning he told me that Alan had
  telegraphed from Llandudno on Saturday asking for twenty pounds.

  _Mrs. H._ From Llandudno?

  _Chris._ Ay! Reckon he's been stopping there. Run short of brass.

  _Mrs. H._ And did he send it?

  _Chris._ Of course he sent it. Nat doesn't stint the lad. (_He laughs
  quietly._) Eh, but he _can_ get through it, though!

  _Mrs. H._ Look here. What are you going to say to Fanny when she

  _Chris._ Ask her where she's been?

  _Mrs. H._ Ask her where she's been. Of course we'll do that. But
  suppose she won't tell us?

  _Chris._ She's always been a good girl.

  _Mrs. H._ She's always gone her own road. Suppose she tells us to mind
  our own business?

  _Chris._ I reckon it _is_ my business to know what she's been up to.

  _Mrs. H._ Don't you forget it. And don't let her forget it either. If
  you do, I promise you I won't.

  _Chris._ All right. Where's that post-card?

  _Mrs. H._ Little good taking heed of that.

    (_Christopher rises and gets a picture post-card from the dresser._)

  _Chris._ (_Reading._) She'll be home before late on Monday. Lovely
  weather. (_Looking at the picture._) North Pier, Blackpool. Very like,

  _Mrs. H._ (_Suddenly._) Let's have a look. When was it posted?

  _Chris._ It's dated Sunday.

  _Mrs. H._ That's nowt to go by. Any one can put the wrong date. What's
  the postmark? (_She scrutinizes it._) "August 5th, summat P.M." I
  can't make out the time.

  _Chris._ August 5th. That was yesterday all right. There'd only be one
  post on Sunday.

  _Mrs. H._ Then she was in Blackpool till yesterday, that's certain.

  _Chris._ Ay!

  _Mrs. H._ Well, it's a mystery.

  _Chris._ (_Shaking his head._) Or summat worse.

  _Mrs. H._ Eh? You don't think _that_, eh?

  _Chris._ I don't know what to think.

  _Mrs. H._ Nor me neither.

    (_They sit silent for a time. There is a rumble of thunder, far
    away. After it has died away, a knock is heard at the front door.
    They turn and look at each other. Mrs. Hawthorn rises and goes out
    in silence. In a few moments, Fanny Hawthorn comes in, followed by
    Mrs. Hawthorn._)[5]

What usually keeps a writer from passing to well characterized dialogue
from dialogue merely clear as to essential facts is that he is so bound
to his facts that he sees rather than feels the scene. The chief trouble
with the dialogue of the John Brown play was an attempt to keep so close
to historical accounts of the particular incident that sympathetic
imagination was benumbed. One constantly meets this fault in the earlier
Miracle Plays before writers had come to understand that audiences care
more for the human being in the situation than for the situation itself,
and that only by representing a situation not for itself but as felt by
the people involved can it be made fully interesting. At the left is a
speech of Mary in _The Crucifixion_ of the York Cycle; at the right is
her speech in the Hegge or so-called Coventry Plays.

  _Mary_. Alas! for my sweet       _Mary_, O my son, my son! my darling
    son, I say,                      dear!
  That dolefully to deed thus is   What have I defended [offended] thee?
    dight,                         Thou hast spoke to all of those that
  Alas! for full lovely thou lay     be here,
  In my womb, this worthely wight  And not a word thou speakest to me.
  Alas! that I should see this     To the Jews thou art full kind,
    sight                          Thou hast forgiven all here
  Of my son so seemly to see,        misdeed;
  Alas! that this blossom so       And the thief thou hast in mind,
    bright                         For once asking mercy heaven is his
  Untruly is tugged to this tree,    meed.
    Alas!                          Ah! my sovereign lord, why wilt thou
  My lord, my life,                  not speak
  With full great grief,           To me that am thy mother in pain for
  Hanges as a thief,                 thy wrong?
  Alas! he did never trespass.[6]  Ah, heart, heart why wilt thou not
                                   That I were out of this sorrow so

The writer of the Hegge speech had discovered long before Ralph Waldo
Emerson that the secret of good dialogue is "truth carried alive into
the heart by passion." The second requisite, then, of good dialogue is
that it must be kindled by feeling, made alive by the emotion of the
speaker. For the would-be dramatist the secret is so to know his
characters that facts are not mere facts, but conditions moving him
because they move the characters he perfectly understands. As he
interprets between character and audience, he must be like Planchette or
the clairvoyant, the creature of another's will, whose ideas and
emotions rather than his own he tries with all the power that is in him
to convey. In brief, then, though it is absolutely necessary that
dialogue give the facts as to what happens, who the people are, their
relations to one another, etc., it is better dialogue if, while doing
all this, it seems to be busied only with characterization.

Unassigned dialogue usually makes a reader or hearer promptly recognize
his preference for characterized rather than uncharacterized speech.
When a group, as in many stage mobs, speaks in chorus, or at best in
sections, the result is unreality for many hearers and absurdity for the
more critical. Every hearer knows that people do not really, when part
of a mob, say absolutely the same thing, and rarely speak in perfect
unison. Common sense cries out for individualization among the possible
speakers. When we read the following extract from Andreiev's _Life of
Man_, we may agree with what is apparently the author's idea, that it
makes no difference which one of the speakers delivers a particular line
or sentence; but the moment the scene is staged everything changes.

  _A profound darkness within which nothing moves. Then there can be
  dimly perceived the outlines of a large, high room and the grey
  silhouettes of Old Women in strange garments who resemble a troop of_
  _grey, hiding mice. In low voices and with laughter to and fro the
  Old Women converse_.

       *       *       *       *       *

  When they sent him to the drug store for some medicine he rode up and
  down past the store for two hours and could not remember what he
  wanted. So he came back.

    (_Subdued laughter. The crying again becomes louder and then dies
    away. Silence_.)

  What has happened to her? Perhaps she is already dead.

  No, in that case we should hear weeping. The doctor would run out and
  begin to talk nonsense, and they would bring out her husband
  unconscious, and we should have our hands full. No, she is not dead.

  Then why are we sitting here?

  Ask Him. How should we know?

  He won't tell.

  He won't tell. He tells nothing.

  He drives us here and there. He rouses us from our beds and makes us
  watch, and then it turns out that there was no need of our coming.

  We came of our own accord. Didn't we come of our own accord? You must
  be fair to Him. There, she is crying again. Aren't you satisfied?

  Are _you_?

  I am saying nothing. I am saying nothing and waiting.

  How kind-hearted you are!

    (_Laughter. The cries become louder_.)[8]

Of course every rule has its exception, and it may be urged that the
final lines of David Pinski's _The Treasure_ need no assigning to
special speakers. This, if true, results from the fact that Mr. Pinski,
as the last touch in his study of the universal perversion of man
through lust for money, wishes to represent even all the dead as sharing
in this greed. Even here, however, Mr. Pinski is careful, by his
headings "Many" and "The Pious Rabbi," to distinguish among speeches to
be given by one person, the chorus, and a figure he wishes specially to
individualize, the Rabbi.

    _The Dead_

  (_In shrouds and praying shawls appear singly and in groups amid the
  graves. They whisper and breathe their words._) Swiftly into the
  synagogue!... Hasten!... The hour of midnight is long past....

    (_They hasten to the gate. One sees only their silhouettes in the
    dim light of the veiled moon._)

  I thought we would not come out today at all.

  The dead fear the breath of the living.

  We fear them more than they do us. There is no peace betwixt life and

  No peace ... no peace....

  Indeed life vexed me grievously today.

  Vexed is not the word. I lived in their life so really that I
  shuddered and feared.

  Shuddered with fear or with longing? Did you feel a yearning for your

    (_Ghostly laughter shakes the rows of the dead._)

  The distinguished and the wealthy must surely have had a bad day.

  It fairly smelled of money and they had to lie with the worms.

  It almost threw them out of their graves.


  Money ... money ... money....   (_Ghostly laughter._)

  But you poor devils hadn't a much better time either. It smelled of
  money and you couldn't even beg.   (_Laughter._)

  It is high time for all of you to be forgetting life.... Come quickly
  into the synagogue....   (_Many of the dead vanish._)

  It gave me really an exalted feeling to see how little fear of us they

  Don't flatter yourself. We would have been no better. We were no
  better either.


  (_At the same time._) Money ... Money ... Money....


  And that is life ... that is life ... that is life....

   It exalted me in my grave too. So many women walked about here
  today. Young ones and pretty ones, I wager....   (_Laughter._)

  Who speaks thus? Who opens his mouth to speak such ugly words?

  It's the petty field surgeon who lies buried by the wall.

  _The Pious Rabbi_

  (_In passing. His praying shawl hangs but loosely over his left
  shoulder._) They have dug up my whole grave.... They have dug away my
  right arm. Woe, how shall I now put on my praying shawl? How shall I
  appear before God? (_To a group._) Will not some one help me to put on
  my praying shawl?

    (_They surround and help him. They show signs of deep feeling at the
    sight of the missing arm. Murmurs of astonishment and compassion._)


  Woe ... woe ... woe....


  Money ... money ... money....

    _The Rabbi_

  Now will I go and appear before God.... Now I will ask him.... (_He
  vanishes through the gate._)


  He will get no answer ... he will get no answer.

    _One of the Dead_

  (_With feeling._) They who are in life still stand at the same point.
  Generation dies after generation and all remains as it has been. As it
  was aforetime, so it was in my time and so it is today.


  Money ... money ... money....
  And yet it must lead to something. Surely there must be a goal.
  Only God knows that....
  And man must learn what it is.
  That will be his greatest victory.
  Man's greatest victory.




  The living one's.... And we?

    (_A ghostly breathing of laughter and sighing_.)

    _The First_

  Man's greatest victory ...


Staging this, several facts will confront us. We certainly shall not let
different actors of the group speak different lines on successive
nights. That is, each supernumerary will be given one speech or more. If
certain speeches seem to belong together, they will be given to one
actor, and characterization will emerge as he speaks his lines.
Unquestionably, too, if speeches which seem in themselves
uncharacterizing are given to marked physical types, such as stout, very
thin, very tall, or very short people, persons of markedly quick or slow
physical movement, some of the speeches may seem unfitting. Rarely,
then, is there any value in the unassigned speech. It may pass in the
reading, as has been admitted, but the public prefers the assigned
speech, and still more the speech so characterized that it must be
assigned. Compare this passage from _Julius Cæsar_ with its assignments
to the First, the Second, the Third, and the Fourth Plebeian with the
passage from Andreiev's play. Can there be any question that
Shakespeare's assigned speeches are somehow clearer, more dramatic?

SCENE III. _A Street_

    _Enter Cinna the poet, and after him the Plebeians_

  _Cinna._ I dreamt tonight that I did feast with Cæsar,
  And things unluckily charge my fantasy.
  I have no will to wander forth of doors.
  Yet something leads me forth.

  _1. Plebeian._ What is your name?

  _2. Plebeian._ Whither are you going?

  _3. Plebeian._ Where do you dwell?

  _4. Plebeian._ Are you a married man or a bachelor?

  _2. Plebeian._ Answer every man directly.

  _1. Plebeian._ Ay, and briefly.

  _4. Plebeian._ Ay, and wisely.

  _3. Plebeian._ Ay, and truly, you were best.

  _Cinna._ What is my name? Whither am I going? Where do I dwell? Am I a
  married man or a bachelor? Then, to answer every man directly and
  briefly, wisely and truly: wisely I say, I am a bachelor.

  _2. Plebeian._ That's as much as to say, they are fools that marry.
  You'll bear me a bang for that, I fear. Proceed; directly.

  _Cinna._ Directly, I am going to Cæsar's funeral.

  _1. Plebeian._ As a friend or an enemy?

  _Cinna._ As a friend.

  _2. Plebeian._ That matter is answered directly.

  _4. Plebeian._ For your dwelling,--briefly.

  _Cinna._ Briefly, I dwell by the Capitol.

  _3. Plebeian._ Your name, sir, truly.

  _Cinna._ Truly, my name is Cinna.

  _1. Plebeian._ Tear him to pieces; he's a conspirator.

  _Cinna._ I am Cinna the poet, I am Cinna the poet.

  _4. Plebeian._ Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad

  _Cinna._ I am not Cinna the conspirator.

  _4. Plebeian._ It is no matter, his name's Cinna. Pluck but his name
  out of his heart and turn him going.

  _3. Plebeian._ Tear him, tear him! Come, brands, ho! fire-brands! To
  Brutus', to Cassius'; burn all! Some to Decius' house, and some to
  Casca's; some to Lingarius'. Away, go!   (_Exeunt._)[10]

It may almost be stated as a general principle that assigning a speech
is the first step in focusing the attention of an audience on that
speech. The value of such focusing has been discussed earlier under
"Characterization." In exceptional cases, as the citation from _The
Treasure_ shows, there may be some justification for unassigned
speeches, but in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, when any lines of
the play seem not to need assigning to any particular person, they lack
the characterization which belongs to them.

The thesis play or the problem play, which have been so current in the
last few years, have brought into special prominence a common fault in
so-called dramatic dialogue. The speeches narrate, describe, expound or
argue, and well, but not in the character of the supposed speaker.
Rather the author himself is speaking. Such dialogue, whether it be as
clever as some in Mr. Shaw's plays, as beautiful as certain passages by
George Chapman, or as commonplace as in many modern instances, should be
rewritten till the author can state the desired idea or facts as the
imagined speaker would have stated them. This was the fault with the
extract from the John Brown play, and whether it has its source in an
intense desire of the author to present his own ideas, or to phrase his
sense of beauty, in lack of characterizing power or in mere
carelessness, it is reprehensible. In the following instance, the writer
is so absorbed in his own ideas that he forgets characterization.

  _Senator Morse._ ... What great motive--?

  _Mary._ One more imperious than empires or coalitions--(_Mary turns to
  Mrs. Morse_)--one that mothers know--(_Mary turns to Senator
  Morse_)--and fathers, too. It is the commonest thing in the world, and
  the one most completely overlooked. Woman's love and faith and charity
  are the motives of that great, imperious impulse by which nature is
  trying to rule this world and perpetuate the human soul. Individual
  self-control and the governance of the world are themselves in
  embryo.... Creation is from God and _it_ is _divine_. It is the thing
  and the only thing that kills wantonness and makes love pure. The
  higher modesty is the peculiar inheritance of our race. It is our duty
  to understand it, respect it, make it sacred, and have it raised out
  of the darkness of ignorance and mystery in its true dignity as
  patriotic impulse and made the true basis of society, its government,
  and its provision for the general welfare.

Does this sound like an individual woman or like the author using one of
his characters for the sounding phrases of his own thinking?

In the next illustration, from _George Barnwell_, the colorlessness
comes from the lack of quickening sympathy with character which marks
most of Lillo's work.

  _Thorowgood._ Thou know'st I have no heir, no child but thee; the
  fruits of many years successful industry must all be thine. Now, it
  would give me pleasure great as my love, to see on whom you would
  bestow it. I am daily solicited by men of the greatest rank and merit
  for leave to address you; but I have hitherto declin'd it, in hopes
  that by observation I shou'd learn which way your inclination tends;
  for as I know love to be essential to happiness in the marriage state,
  I had rather my approbation should confirm your choice than direct it.

  _Maria._ What can I say? How shall I answer, as I ought, this
  tenderness, so uncommon even in the best of parents? But you are
  without example; yet had you been less indulgent, I had been most
  wretched. That I look on the croud of courtiers that visit here with
  equal esteem, but equal indifference, you have observed, and I must
  needs confess; yet had you asserted your authority, and insisted on a
  parent's right to be obey'd, I had submitted and to my duty sacrificed
  my peace.

  _Thor._ From your perfect obedience in every other instance, I fear'd
  as much; and therefore wou'd leave you without a byass in an affair
  wherein your happiness is so immediately concern'd.

  _Ma._ Whether from a want of that just ambition that wou'd become your
  daughter, or from some other cause, I know not; but I find high birth
  and titles don't recommend the man who owns them to my affections.

  _Thor._ I wou'd not that they shou'd, unless his merit recommends him
  more. A noble birth and fortune, tho' they make not a bad man good,
  yet they are a real advantage to a worthy one, and place his virtues
  in the fairest light.

  _Ma._ I cannot answer for my inclinations, but they shall ever be
  submitted to your wisdom and authority; and, as you will not compel me
  to marry where I cannot love, so love shall never make me act
  contrary to my duty. Sir, I have your permission to retire?

  _Thor._ I'll see you to your chamber.   (_Exeunt_.)[11]

Too often even somewhat skilled dramatists are led astray by the belief
that to write in a style approved at the moment, or which they
themselves hold beautiful, is better than to let the characters speak
their own language. Examining the early plays of John Lyly--_Alexander
and Campaspe_, _Sapho and Phao_, _Endymion_[12] (1579-1590)--we find in
the more serious portions both action and characterization subordinated
to standards of expression supposed at the time to be best. Contrasting
the lovers' dialogue of _Love's Labor's Lost_ with the scenes of Orsino
and Viola in _Twelfth Night_, we see perfect illustration of the greater
effectiveness of dialogue growing out of the characters as compared with
dialogue which puts style first. The Heroic Drama of the second half of
the seventeenth century rested upon theory rather than reality. Here is
the way in which Almahide and Almanzor state strong feeling.

  _Almahide._ Then, since you needs will all my weakness know,
  I love you; and so well, that you must go.
  I am so much oblig'd, and have withall
  A heart so boundless and so prodigal
  I dare not trust myself, or you, to stay,
  But, like frank gamesters, must foreswear the play.

  _Almanzor._ Fate, thou art kind to strike so hard a blow;
  I am quite stunn'd, and past all feeling now.
  Yet--can you tell me you have pow'r and will
  To save my life, and at that instant, kill![13]

All that these two worthy people are trying to say is

  _Almahide._ I love you; and so well that I dare not trust myself or
  you to stay.

  _Almanzor._ Can you tell me you have power and will to save my life
  and at that instant kill!

Dryden makes Almahide describe her own emotional condition and, as is
proper at any critical moment in Heroic Drama, drop into simile.
Almanzor, too, confidently diagnoses his own condition and apostrophizes
fate. All this was quite correct in its own day, not for real life, but
for the people of the myth land conjured up by the dramatic theories of
the _litterati_. Did people under such circumstances speak in this way?
Surely not.

This scene from _George Barnwell_, 1731, illustrates the same
substitution of an author's idea of what is effective because "literary"
for a phrasing that springs from the real emotion of perfectly
individualized figures.

SCENE 7. _Uncle. George Barnwell at a distance_

  _Uncle._ O Death, thou strange mysterious power,--seen every day, yet
  never understood but by the incommunicative dead--what art thou? The
  extensive mind of man, that with a thought circles the earth's vast
  globe, sinks to the centre, or ascends above the stars; that worlds
  exotick finds, or thinks it finds--thy thick clouds attempts to pass
  in vain, lost and bewilder'd in the horrid gloom; defeated, she
  returns more doubtful than before; of nothing certain but of labour

    (_During this speech, Barnwell sometimes presents the pistol and
    draws it back again; at last he drops it, at which his uncle starts
    and draws his sword._)

  _Barnwell._ Oh, 'tis impossible!

  _Uncle._ A man so near me, arm'd and masqu'd!

  _Barn._ Nay, then there's no retreat.
    (_Plucks a poniard from his bosom, and stabs him._)

  _Uncle._ Oh! I am slain! All-gracious heaven regard the prayer of thy
  dying servant! Bless, with thy choicest blessings, my dearest nephew;
  forgive my murderer, and take my fleeting soul to endless mercy!

    (_Barnwell throws off his mask, runs to him, and, kneeling by him,
    raises and chafes him._)

  _Barn._ Expiring saint! Oh, murder'd, martyr'd uncle! Lift up your
  dying eyes, and view your nephew in your murderer! O, do not look so
  tenderly upon me! Let indignation lighten from your eyes, and blast
  me e're you die!--By Heaven, he weeps in pity of my woes.
  Tears,--tears for blood! The murder'd, in the agonies of death, weeps
  for his murderer.--Oh, speak your pious purpose, pronounce my pardon
  then--and take me with you!--He wou'd, but cannot. O why with such
  fond affection do you press my murdering hand!--What! will you kiss
  me! (_Kisses him. Uncle groans and dies._) He's gone forever--and oh!
  I follow. (_Swoons away by his uncle's body._) Do I still live to
  press the suffering bosom of the earth? Do I still breathe and taint
  with my infectious breath the wholesome air! Let Heaven from its high
  throne, in justice or in mercy, now look down on that dear murder'd
  saint, and me the murderer. And, if his vengeance spares, let pity
  strike and end my wretched being!--Murder the worst of crimes, and
  parricide the worst of murders, and this the worst of parricides!
  Cain, who stands on record from the birth of time, and must to its
  last final period, as accurs'd, slew a brother, favour'd above him.
  Detested Nero by another's hand dispatched a mother that he fear'd and
  hated. But I, with my own hand, have murder'd a brother, mother,
  father, and a friend, most loving and belov'd. This execrable act of
  mine's without a parallel. O may it ever stand alone--the last of
  murders, as it is the worst!

    The rich man thus, in torment and despair,
    Prefer'd his vain, but charitable prayer.
    The fool, his own soul lost, wou'd fain be wise
    For others good; but Heaven his suit denies.
    By laws and means well known we stand or fall,
    And one eternal rule remains for all.

    _The End of the Third Act_.[14]

Have you noticed that people under stress of strong emotion stop to
depict their emotional condition, to analyze it, or neatly to
apostrophize fate or Providence? The more real the emotion the more
compact and connotative, usually, is its expression. People under high
emotional strain who can tell you just what they ought to feel, or who
describe elaborately what they are feeling are usually "indeed exceeding
calm." Dryden's Lyndaraxa builded better than she knew when she said:

  By my own experience I can tell
  Those who love truly do not argue well.

Bulwer-Lytton was thinking of the weakness of self-descriptive woe when
he wrote Macready, while composing _Richelieu_, "In Act 4--in my last
alteration, when Richelieu, pitying Julie, says, 'I could weep to see
her thus--But'--the effect would I think be better if he felt the tears
with indignation at his own weakness--thus:

  'Are these tears?
   O, shame, shame, Dotage'--"

Emotion, if given free way, finds the right words by which to express
itself. When a character stands outside itself, describing what it
feels, the speaker is really the author in disguise, describing what he
is incompetent, from lack of sympathetic power, to phrase with simple,
moving accuracy. M. de Curel has described perfectly the right relation
of author to character and dialogue.

  During the first days of work I have a very distinct feeling of
  creation. Later I move on instinctively and that is much better. When
  the sentiments of my characters are in question I am absolutely in
  their skins, for my own part indifferent as to their griefs or joys. I
  can be moved only later in re-reading, and then this emotion seems to
  arise from the fact that I have to do with characters absolutely
  strange to me. I experience sometimes, and then personally, a feeling
  of irony, of flippancy, in regard to my characters who tangle
  themselves up and get themselves into difficulties. That transpires
  sometimes in the language of some other character who, at the moment,
  ceases to speak correctly because he speaks as I should. As a result,
  corrections later. At the end of a year, my play, when I re-read it,
  seems something completely apart from me, written by another.[15]

Allowing a character to express itself exactly raises inevitably the
question of dialect. On the one hand it must be admitted that nothing
more quickly characterizes a figure, as far as type is concerned, than
to let him speak like a Yankee, a Scotchman, a Negro, etc. If the
character utters phrases which an audience recognizes instantly as
characteristic of his supposed type, there is special satisfaction to
the audience in such recognition. On the other hand, very few audiences
know any dialect thoroughly enough to permit a writer to use it with
absolute accuracy. The moment dialect begins to show the need of a
glossary, it is defeating its own ends. As a result a compromise has
arisen, dating from the very early days of the drama--stage dialects. A
character made up to represent Scotchman, Welshman, Frenchman, Negro, or
Indian, speaks in a way that has become time-honored on the stage as
representing this or that figure among these types. Till recently most
dialect on the stage has been at best a mere popular approximation to
real usage. Until within a few years the peasant dialogue of _Gammer
Gurton's Needle_, the famous sixteenth-century Interlude, was supposed
to represent dialect of its time in the neighborhood of Cambridge,
England. Recently philologists have shown that the speech of these
peasants is unlike any dialect of the period of the play, and was
obviously a stage convention of the time. Study the Welshmen and other
dialect parts in Shakespeare, and you will reach approximately the same
conclusion. With our developing sense of historical truth and of
realism, we have, in recent years, been trying to make our characters
speak exactly as they would in real life. The plays of the Abbey Theatre
are in large part a revolt from the Irish dialogue which the plays of
Dion Boucicault had practically established as true to life. Today we
try not only phonetically to represent the ways in which words are
spoken by the people of a particular locality, but by the use of words
and phrases heard among such people to make the characterization vivid
and convincing. Here, in Mr. Sheldon's play, _The Nigger_, is care to
reproduce phonetically the speech of negroes:

  _Jinny._ (_Wearily._) I speck yo' right. Hev yo' got suthin' fo' me
  t'night? Seems lak I might take it down wif me t' de cabin.

  _Simms._ (_Grumbling._) Fo' dat young good-fo'-nuffin hawg-grubbah t'
  swallow w'en he done come home? Laws me, w'y Marse Phil 'lows his
  fried chicken en' co'n-braid t' feed dat wo'thles rap-scallion, I jes'
  cain't see! Clar out o' heah, yo' ern'ry yallah gal!

  _Jinny._ (_Crushingly._) Yallah gal--! Sho'! I was livin' heah fo' yo'
  was bawn! Don' fo'get dat, yo' imperent, low-down li'tle niggah yo'!

  _Simms._ (_Pacifically._) Hol' on, Jinny! I ain't said nuffin'. Dat I
  ain't! Yo' g' long now en' I'll sen' down a gal t' yo' cabin wif a

  _Jinny._ (_Turning away._) Yo' sho' will--er Marse Phil'd--

  _Simms._ (_As he goes up the steps._) En' keep yo' gran'chillun out
  dat saloom, Jinny, ef yo' don' want t' see 'em cross de Jo'dan ahead
  o' yo'! Dat Joe! Lawd-a-massy! De white in him ain't done nobody no
  good's fah's dis--'Scuse me, sah!

    (_He stops suddenly and turns aside, bowing, on seeing Noyes and
    Georgie, who have opened the door and come out._)

Here is equal care to represent the speech of Southerners.

  _Noyes._ My fathah? Yes, he gave way t' his Comme'cial ambition by
  sellin' powda an' bullets t' the Union--way back in '62. That got him
  into a bunch o' trouble, but it wasn't what _sta'ted_ the--slight
  fam'ly coolness!

  _Georgie._ Wasn't it? Why, I always hea'd---

  _Noyes._ No, it came befo' that. My gran'fathah an' Phil's--they were
  brothahs-in-law, you know--they began it in the fo'ties.

  _Georgie._ Why?

  _Noyes._ (_Grimly._) I reckon the Morrows are tryin' now t' keep it
  da'k. But Lawd!--I don't mind tellin'. It's the old thing--both losin'
  theah heads ovah the same woman.

  _Georgie._ (_Innocently._) How romantic! Phil's gran'mothah?

  _Noyes._ (_After a pause._) No--niggah woman.

  _Georgie._ (_In a low voice, turning away._) Oh--I didn't--realize--

  _Noyes._ (_Clearing his throat._) Phil's gran'fathah--he won out. An'
  that's the kick that sta'ted the Noyes fam'ly a-rollin' t' pe'dition.

  _Georgie._ (_With difficulty._) But mos' people are willin' to
  fo'get--at least they ought to be.

  _Noyes._ (_Dryly._) Some ain't killed 'emselves tryin'. Howevah, on
  lookin' ahead I saw Phil an' I might be in a position t' help each
  othah, so we agreed t' sink it. I--I wish yo' mothah would follow
  Phil, Miss Byrd. I ce'tainly do wish that!

  _Georgie_. She's old-fashioned--oh, hopelessly so!--in things the
  world now considers--trivial.

  _Noyes._ (_Looking at his hands._) Such as--trade?

  _Georgie._ (_Gently._) That's one of them.[16]

Lady Gregory, after writing a rough draft of one of her plays, goes
among the people of her community and sets them talking of the subject
she is treating. Noting their racy, apt, and highly individualized
phrases, she gives them to her characters in the play as she re-writes.
Such intimate, loving study of dialect as Lady Gregory, Mr. Yeats, and
Synge have shown has given us an accurate representation of the Irish
peasant, and may ultimately drive from the English stage the
conventional absurdities of the past. Dialect, then, if carefully
studied, is highly desirable if two or three facts are borne in mind.
First of all, it should be accurate; but secondly it must be clear or
must be made clear for any audience. Unquestionably, Mr. Stanley
Houghton's memorable play _Hindle Wakes_ had a bad title away from its
birthplace,--Manchester, England. In the United States, this title is
perfectly meaningless. How many in any audience in this country could be
expected to know that the title means certain "autumn week-end holidays
in the town of Hindle." There could be no harm in using a different
title away from the birthplace of the play. Recently, in a manuscript
play, appeared a figure speaking a strange mixture of Negro and Irish
dialects. He seemed to all readers a clumsy attempt by the author at a
dialect part. Really, the figure was a portrait of a small political
boss who, from boyhood on, had acquired in the saloons and purlieus of
his district words and phrases of both the Negroes and the Irish. A
little preliminary exposition at the right place cleared up this
difficulty and turned what seemed inept characterization into a
particularly individual figure of richly characterizing phrase.
Obviously, then, dialect should, first, be written accurately. Then it
should be gone over to see what in it may not be clear to most auditors.
These words or phrases should be made clear because they are translated
by other people on the stage or by the speaker, who himself sees or is
told that some stage listener does not understand him. Only a little
ingenuity is needed to do away with such vaguenesses. To substitute for
such words and phrases others which, though incorrect, would be
instantly understood by the audience is to botch the dialect and produce
what is, after all, not different from the conventional stage dialect of
the past. This raises a third point in regard to dialect, and one very
frequently disregarded. Over and over again in plays using dialect
certain speeches are passed over by the author in his final revision
which neither phonetically nor in the words and phrases chosen comport
with the context. Instantly the mood and the color of the scene are lost
unless the actor supplies what the author failed to give. That is,
dialect, if used, should be used steadily and consistently. The
desiderata are, then, accuracy, persistent use, and clearness for the
general public. Thus used, dialect is one of the chief aids to

If, in writing dialogue, a dramatist must not speak as himself but in
character, must not be consciously or unconsciously literary if not in
character, how may one surely choose the right words? Perhaps one or
two illustrations will help here. The citation in the left-hand column
from the first quarto _Hamlet_ states the facts clearly enough, but
wholly uncolored by the emotion of the speaker. In the right-hand column
the passionate sympathy of Shakespeare has given him perfect
understanding of Hamlet's feeling.

  _Hamlet._ O fie Horatio, and if    _Hamlet._. O good Horatio, what a
    thou shouldst die,                 wounded name
  What a scandale wouldst thou       Things standing thus unknowne,
    leave behinde?                     shall I leave behind me?
  What tongue should tell the        If thou did'st ever hold me in
    story of our deaths,               thy hart,
  If not from thee? O my heart       Absent thee from felicity a
    sinckes Horatio,                   while
  Mine eyes have lost their sight,   And in this harsh world drawe
    my tongue his use:                 thy breath in paine
  Farewell Horatio, heaven receive   To tell my story; What warlike
    my soule.                          noise is this?
      (_Hamlet dies._)                   (_A march a farre off._)[17]

Speaking, not as the historian, not as the observer, but as Hamlet
himself, Shakespeare by his quickened feeling finds a phrasing of which
we may say what Swinburne said of some of the lines of John Webster:
that the character says, not what he might have said, not what we are
satisfied to have him say, but what seems absolutely the only thing he
could have said.

When a dramatist works as he should, the emotion of his characters gives
him the right words for carrying their feelings to the audience, and
every word counts. Writing to Macready of _Money_, Bulwer-Lytton said of
his play, "At the end of Act in your closing speech, will you remember
to say, you 'would' refuse me ten pounds to spend on benevolence. Not
you refuse me. The _would_ is important." [18]

In the left-hand column the complete sympathy of Heywood with his
characters makes them speak simply, out of the fullness of their
emotion. In the right-hand column, Heywood's collaborator, Rowley,
lacking complete understanding of his characters, is thinking more of
phrase for its own sake.

  ACT I. SCENE 4. _The street_         ACT II. SCENE 1. _Hounslow_

  _Enter Rainsford and Young           _Enter Rainsford and Young
     Forrest, meeting_                 Forrest_

  _Young Forrest._ Pray let            _Rainsford._ Your resolution
    me speak with you.                   holds then?

  _Rainsford._ With me, sir?           _Young Forrest._ Men that are
                                         easily mov'd are soon
  _Young For._ With you.                 remov'd.

  _Rains._ Say on.

  _Young For._ Do you not know me?    From resolution; but when, with
  _Rains._ Keep off, upon the         And with foresight we purpose,
     peril of thy life.                 our intents
  Come not within my sword's          Are not without considerate
    length, lest this arm               reasons alter'd.
  Prove fatal to thee and bereave
    thy life,                         _Rains._ Thou art resolv'd, and
  As it hath done thy brother's.        I prepar'd for thee.
                                      Yet thus much know, thy state
  _Young For._ Why now thou             is desperate,
    know'st me truly, by that         And thou art now in danger's
    token,                              throat already
  That thou hast slain my brother.    Ev'n half devoured. If I subdue
    Put up, put up!                     thee, know
  So great a quarrel as a brother's   Thou art a dead man; for this
    life                                fatal steel,
  Must not be made a street-brawl;    That search'd thy brother's
    'tis not fit                        entrails is prepar'd
  That every prentice should, with    To do as much to thee. If thou
    his shop club,                      survivest,
  Betwixt us play the sticklers.      And I be slain, th'art dead too,
    Sheathe thy sword.                  my alliance
                                      And greatness in the world will
  _Rains._ Swear thou wilt act          not endure
    no sudden violence,               My slaughter unavenged. Come,
  Or this sharp sword shall still       I am for thee.
    be interposed
  'Twixt me and thy own hatred.       _Young For._ I would my brother
                                        liv'd, that this our
  _Young For._ Sheathe thy              diff'rence
    sword.                            Might end in an embrace of
  By my religion and that interest      folded love;
  I have in gentry I will not be      But 'twas Heaven's will that
    guilty                              for some guilt of his
  Of any base revenge.                He should be scourged by thee;
                                        and for the guilt
  _Rains._ Say on.                    In scourging him, thou by my
                                        vengeance punish'd.
  _Young For._ Let's walk.            Come; I am both ways arm'd,
  Trust me. Let not thy guilty          against thy steel
    soul                              If I be pierc'd by it, or 'gainst
  Be jealous of my fury. This           thy greatness
    my hand                           If mine pierce thee.
  Is curbed and govern'd by an
    honest heart,                     _Rains._ Have at thee.
  Not by just anger. I'll not touch      (_They fight and pause_.)
    thee foully
  For all the world. Let's walk.      _Young For._ I will not bid
                                        thee hold; but if thy breath
  _Rains._ Proceed.                   Be as much short as mine, look
                                        to thy weakness.
  _Young For._ Sir, you did kill
    my brother. Had it been           _Rains._ The breath thou draw'st
  In fair and even encounter,            but weakly,
    tho' a child,                     Thou now shalt draw no more.
  His death I had not question'd.        (_They fight. Forrest loseth
                                           his weapon_.)
  _Rains._ Is this all?

  _Young For._ He's gone. The         _Young For._ That Heaven knows.
    law is past. Your life is         He guard my body that my
    clear'd;                            spirit owes!
  For none of all our kindred laid       (_Guards himself, and puts
    against                                by with his hat--slips--by
  You evidence to hang you.                the other, running, falls
    You're a gentleman;                    over him, and Forrest kills
  And pity 'twere a man of your            him_.)
  Should die a felon's death.         _Good._ My cousin's fall'n--
    See, sir, thus far                   pursue the murderer.
  We have demeaned fairly, like
    ourselves.                        _Foster._ But not too near.
  But, think you, though we wink         I pray; you see he's armed,
    at base revenge,                  And in this deep amazement
  A brother's death can be so soon      may commit
    forgot?                           Some desperate outrage.
  Our gentry baffled, and our
    name disgraced?
  No: 'tmust not be; I am a           _Young For._ Had I but known
    gentleman                            the terror of this deed,
  Well known; and my demeanor         I would have left it done
    hihterto                             imperfectly,
  Hath  promis'd  somewhat.           Rather than in this guilt of
    Should I swallow this,               conscience
  The scandal would outlive me.       Labour'd so far. But I forget
    Briefly then,                        my safety.
  I'll fight with you.                The gentleman is dead. My
                                         desperate life
  _Rains._ I am loath.                Will be o'erswayed by his allies
                                         and friends,
  _Young For._ Answer directly,       And I have now no safety but
  Whether you dare to meet me            my flight.
    on even terms;                    And see where my pursuers
  Or mark how I'll proceed.              come. Away!
                                      Certain destruction hovers o'er
  _Rains._ Say, I deny it.              my stay.  (_Exit_.)

  _Young For._ Then I say thou'rt         (_Fortune by Land and Sea_,
    a villain, and I challenge thee,         Act II, Scene 1.)[1]
  Where'er I meet thee next, in
    field or town,
  The father's manors, or thy
    tenants' grange,
  Saving the church, there is no
  In all this land for thy
    despised life.

    (_Fortune by Land and Sea_,
      Act I, Scene 4.)[19]

Two sets of extracts from the first and final versions of Ibsen's _A
Doll's House_ show the way in which perfected understanding of a
character reveals the apt phrase.

  (_Nora stands motionless. He        (_Nora stands motionless.
    goes to the door and opens           Helmer goes to the door
    it._)                                and opens it_.)

  _The Maid._ (_In the Hall._)        _Ellen._ (_Half-dressed in the
  Here is a letter for you, ma'am.    Hall_.) Here is a letter for you,

  _Helmer._ Give it here. (_He        _Helmer._ Give it to me. (_Seizes
  seizes the letter and shuts the     letter and shuts the door._) Yes,
  door._) Yes, from him. Look         from him. You shall not have it.
  here.                               I shall read it.

  _Nora._ Read it.                    _Nora._ Read it.

  _Helmer._ I have hardly the         _Helmer._ (_By the lamp_.) I
  courage. I fear the worst. We       have hardly the courage to. We
  may both be lost, both you and I.   may both be lost, both you and
  Ah! I must know. (_Hastily          I. Ah! I must know. (_Hastily
  tears the letter open; reads a      tears the letter open; reads a few
  few lines with a cry of joy._)      few lines, looks at an enclosure;
  Nora!                               a cry of joy._) Nora!

  (_Nora looks inquiringly at         (_Nora looks inquiringly at
  him._)                              him._)

  _Helmer._ Nora!--Oh, I must read    _Helmer._ Nora! Oh, I must read
  it again. Yes, yes, it is so. You   it again. Yes, yes, it is so.
  are saved, Nora, you are saved.     I are saved, Nora, I am saved.

  _Nora._ How, saved?                 _Nora._ And I?

  _Helmer._ Look here. He sends       _Helmer._ You too, of course;
  you back your promissory note.      we are both saved, both of us.
  He writes that he regrets and       Look here, he sends you back your
  apologises, that a happy turn       promissory note. He writes that
  in his life--Oh, what matter        he regrets and appologises; that
  what he writes. We are saved,       a happy turn in his life--Oh,
  Nora! There is nothing to           matter what he writes. We are
  witness against you. Oh, Nora,      saved, Nora! No one can harm you.
  Nora.[20]                           Oh, Nora, Nora.[21]

The text of the right-hand column brings out more clearly than the
original the complete but unconscious selfishness of Helmer. Ibsen,
understanding that character more fully than in his first draft, makes
not only the change from "You are saved, Nora" to the self-revelatory "I
am saved!" but also the change to that infinitely more dramatic "And I?"
which replaces Nora's "How, saved?"

In a second set of extracts from the same scene, a firmer grasp of the
characters has permitted Ibsen to replace the general and conventional
in the last two speeches of the left-hand column with the more specific
and characterizing lines of Helmer and the lines of Nora that are an

  _Nora._... It never for a moment    _Nora._... When Krogstad's letter
  occurred to me that you             lay in the box, it never occurred
  would think of submitting to        to me that you would think of
  that man's conditions, that you     submitting to that man's
  would agree to direct your          conditions. I was convinced that
  actions by the will of another. I   you would say to him, "Make it
  was convinced that you would        known to all the world"; and that
  say to him, "Make it known to       then--
  the whole world"; and that

  _Helmer._ Well? I should give       _Helmer._ Well? When I had
  you up to punishment and disgrace.  given my own wife's name up to
                                      disgrace and shame--?

  _Nora._ No; then I firmly believed  _Nora._ Then I firmly believed
  that you would come forward, take   that you would come forward,
  everything upon yourself, and say,  take everything upon yourself,
  "I am the guilty one"--             and say, "I am the guilty one."

  _Helmer._ Nora!                     _Helmer._ Nora!

  _Nora._ You mean I would            _Nora._ You mean I would
  never have accepted such a          never have accepted such a
  sacrifice? No, of course not. But   sacrifice? No, certainly not. But
  what would my word have been        what would my assertions have
  in opposition to yours? I so        been worth in opposition to yours?
  firmly believed that you would      That was the miracle that I hoped
  sacrifice yourself for me--"don't   for and dreaded. And it was to
  listen to her," you would           hinder that that I wanted to die.
  say--"she is not responsible;
  she is out of her senses"--you
  would say that it was love of
  you--you would move heaven
  and earth. I thought you would
  get Dr. Rank to witness that I
  was mad, unhinged, distracted.
  I so firmly believed that you
  would ruin yourself to save
  me. That is what I dreaded, and
  therefore I wanted to die.

  _Helmer._ Oh, Nora, Nora!           _Helmer._ I would gladly work
                                      for you day and night, Nora--
                                      bear sorrow and want for your
                                      sake--but no man sacrifices
                                      his honour, even for one he loves.

  _Nora._ And how did it turn         _Nora._ Millions of women have
  out? No thanks, no outburst of      done so.[23]
  affection, not a shred of a
  thought of saving me.[22]

Perfect phrasing rests, then, on character thoroughly understood and
complete emotional accord with the character. Short of that in dialogue,
one stops at the commonplace and colorless, the personal, or the

Even, however, when dialogue expounds properly and is thoroughly in
character, it will fail if not fitted for the stage. John Oliver Hobbes
stated a truth, if somewhat exaggeratedly, in these lines of her preface
to _The Ambassador_:

  Once I found a speech in prose--prose so subtly balanced, harmonious,
  and interesting that it seemed, on paper, a song: But no actor or
  actress, though they spoke with the voice of angels, could make it, on
  the stage, even tolerable.... Yet the speech is nevertheless fine
  stuff: it is nevertheless interesting in substance: it has
  imagination: it has charm. What, then, was lacking? Emotion in the
  _tone_ and, on the part of the writer, consideration for the speaking
  voice. Stage dialogue may have or may not have many qualities, but it
  must be emotional. It rests primarily on feeling. Wit, philosophy,
  moral truths, poetic language--all these count as nothing unless
  there is feeling of an obvious, ordinary kind.[24]

When reading a play aloud, do we give all the stage directions, or,
cutting out those which state how certain speeches should be read, try
to give these as directed? Even when reading some story aloud, do we not
often find troublesome full directions as to just how the speakers
delivered their lines? If given by us, they provide an awkward standard
by which to judge our reading. If we wish to suppress them, they are
not, in rapid reading, always seen in time. As was pointed out very
early in this book, gesture, facial expression, movement about the
stage, and above all, the voice, aid the dramatist as they cannot aid
the novelist. These aids and the time limits of a play have, as we shall
see, very great effect on dialogue. Note in the opening of _The Case of
Rebellious Susan_, by Henry Arthur Jones, the effects demanded from the
aids just named.

  ACT I. _SCENE. Drawing-room at Mr. Harabin's; an elegantly furnished
  room in Mayfair. At back, in centre, fireplace, with fire burning. To
  right of fireplace a door leading to lady Susan's sitting-room. A door
  down stage left._

    _Enter footman left showing in Lady Darby_

  _Lady Darby._ (_A lady of about fifty._) Where is Lady Susan now?

  _Footman._ Upstairs in her sitting-room, my lady.
    (_Indicating the door right._)

  _Lady D._ Where is Mr. Harabin?

  _Footman._ Downstairs in the library, my lady.

    _Enter Second Footman showing in Inez, a widow of about thirty,
    fascinating, inscrutable_

  _Lady D._ (_To First Footman._) Tell Lady Susan I wish to see her at

  _Inez._ And will you say that I am here too?

    (_Exit First Footman at door right. Exit Second Footman at door

  _Lady D._ (_Going affectionately to Inez, shaking hands very
  sympathetically._) My dear Mrs. Quesnel, you know?

  _Inez._ Sue wrote me a short note saying that she had discovered that
  Mr. Harabin had--and that she had made up her mind to leave him.

  _Lady D._ Yes, that's what she wrote me. Now, my dear, you're her
  oldest friend. You'll help me to persuade her to--to look over it and
  hush it up.

  _Inez._ Oh, certainly. It's the advice everybody gives in such cases,
  so I suppose it must be right. What are the particulars?

  _Lady D._ I don't know. But with a man like Harabin--a gentleman in
  every sense of the word--it can't be a very bad case.

    _Enter Lady Susan._[25]

If the voice does not deftly stress "now" in Lady Darby's first speech,
and the "upstairs" and the "downstairs" of the footman, this opening
will fail of its desired effect. Everything in this well-written
beginning of an interesting play depends on bringing to the delivery of
the lines right use of the dramatist's greatest aids: gesture, facial
expression, pantomime, and above all the exquisite intonations of which
the human voice is capable. Write this scene as a novelist would handle
it, and see to what different proportions it will swell. Note in the
final result how much less connotative, how much more commonplace the
dialogue probably is. Contrasting two passages--one from a novel, the
other in a play drawn from it--will perhaps best illustrate that the
dialogue of the novel and of the play treating the same story usually
differ greatly.

  And when it became clear that somebody, good or bad, was without,
  Patty, having regard to the lateness of the hour and the probability
  of supernatural visitations, was much disposed to make as though the
  knocking were unheard, and to creep quietly off to bed. But Mistress
  Beatrice prevailed upon her to depart from this prudent course; and
  the two peered from an upper window to see who stood before the door.

  At first they could see no one; but presently a little figure stepped
  back from the shadow, looking up to the window above, and Beatrice
  Cope, although she discerned not the face, felt more than ever certain
  that this summons was for her.

  "'Tis but a child there without, Patty," she said. "Maybe 'tis some
  poor little creature that has lost its way, and come here for help and
  shelter. Heaven forbid that we should leave it to wander about, all
  the dreary night through!"

  Patty's fears were not much calmed by the sight of this lonely child.
  "'Twas the Phantom Child," she murmured, "who comes wailing piteously
  to honest folks' doors o' nights; and if they take it in and cherish
  it, it works them grievous woe."

  Mistress Beatrice, however, tried to hear as little as she might of
  what Patty was saying; and she went downstairs and undid the heavy bar
  very cautiously. Then she opened the door a little space; and Patty
  Joyce stood by her staunchly, although disapproving of what she did.

  And when the door was opened, this persevering applicant proved to be
  only the boy Bill Lampeter, who was known at White-oaks as at Crowe
  Hall, and a score of country Granges beside. He did but crave a drink
  of milk and a bit to eat, he said. He had been a-foot all day, and had
  had nought to eat; and seeing a light burning in the houseplace, he
  made bold to knock and ask for what he needed.

  The boy's breath was short and hurried, and his grimy face was pale
  and damp with toil of hard running. He did not seek to enter, but kept
  glancing over his shoulder into the darkness behind him.

  Beatrice sent Patty for food and drink, standing still herself in the
  doorway; and the maid was no sooner gone than the boy drew nearer and

  "Oh, mistress," he said, hoarsely, "I have been beat to-night--but I
  told 'em nought. The corporal he raddled my bones terrible--but I set
  my teeth, and I told 'un nought. I bit him when he took they shining
  white things o' yourn, wi' the writing; them as I could not give to
  Mr. Cope, the day I warned the porter at Goodrest that the red-coats
  was upon 'em. I had the white things safe, mistress, hid in my
  smock"--(he put his hand to his breast, where the rough garment he
  wore was heavily quilted and closely drawn).--"And I would ha' giv'
  them to Mr. Cope, the first chance I got--I would, honest and true.
  But the scouting party caught me; and they says, 'Thee be allays
  running from one Grange to another, thee little ne'er-do-weel; thee
  can tell us what we wants to know about Goodrest in the hills'--And I
  was telling of 'em just what tales comed into my head, for fear of
  unpleasantness, mistress, when the corporal, a great rough chap,
  seizes hold of me, and says, says he, ''Tis all a pack o' lies, this
  here. Search him,' he says, 'and see if he carries messages or
  tokens.' And then I fought and bit, for I know'd they'd find your
  bright things in my smock; and I bit his hand nigh upon through, that
  I did," said Bill, with grim satisfaction, and an oath at which poor
  Beatrice shuddered.

  "Oh, hush!" she said. "There is no help in swearing, boy."

  "_He_ swore," Bill replied. "But when he got the tablets, he were fine
  and pleased. And he said, 'This is a stag of ten, my boys; and should
  he snuff the breeze too soon we have means to keep him where he is
  till morning. Hold that little viper fast,' says he,'and for your
  lives don't let him give us the slip.'--So one of the troopers took me
  behind him on his horse, with a rope round my body, drawn cruel tight
  at first. And I panted and groaned, and made as though he were killing
  of me; and after a bit he slacked the rope a little, so as I could put
  my head down and gnaw it through in the dark. And at the dip of a
  valley, where the shadow was deep under the trees, I slipped off
  quiet-like into the long grass. He knew the rope was loose in a
  minute, and he snapped his pistol; but the covert was good, and I
  crope into the heart of a holler tree covered o'er wi' ivy. I bided
  there, till they was tired o' hunting round.--But oh, mistress, the
  poor gentleman at Goodrest is undone!--They talked together while the
  trooper was making me fast upon his horse; and I heard a word now and
  again, for I listened with all my might. There were but four of 'em;
  and they said they weren't strong enough to surprise Goodrest, but
  must ride back to quarters for help. And as we went past Grantford
  Farm, the corporal called a halt; and one held his horse while he went
  in and spoke with the farmer. And, mistress, Hugh Stone of Grantford
  is known for a bitter Whig. ...And presently Hugh of Grantford comes
  out, and his little brother with him; and the boy had that as you
  wrote upon--that as they took from me--in his hand. And the corporal
  says, looking over his shoulder quick and short, 'Does he understand?'
  says he. 'Oh, aye,' says Hugh of Grantford, 'he understands fine.' And
  I could see wee Jock did not like the job he were put upon; and I made
  a face at him from ahint the trooper's back, and he liked it less nor
  ever then."

  "What job, Bill?"

  Bill Lampeter looked in amazement at this beautiful, terrified lady,
  who did not understand.

  "Don't 'ee see?" he said. "Jock o' Grantford were to take your writing
  to Goodrest, and play upon the gentleman there, to keep him biding
  till the red-coats come. What were it as you wrote down that day,

  As in a flash of painful memory Beatrice saw the dainty tablets once
  more, with words traced upon them in a hand rendered somewhat unsteady
  by the slow pace of the sorrel horse--a hand unmistakable, however, to
  the eyes of Charlie Cope.

  I pray you, do not stir far from home. There is risk abroad.


  She understood then; and she turned quickly to Patty Joyce, who had
  come back bringing bread and milk ere Bill's tale was half done. Bill,
  even in the eagerness of his disclosure, had clutched the bread and
  cheese; and now he drained the mug of milk, while the good-natured
  maid stood open-mouthed, her eyes fixed upon Mistress Beatrice.

  "Patty," the young lady whispered, "I think you are faithful and
  true.... I must trust you with a perilous secret. This gentleman whom
  they seek at Goodrest is my only brother; he has papers of importance
  in his keeping, and a warrant is out for his arrest. They will lure
  him to his destruction by means of me, his sister; he knows my
  handwriting and will trust to my warning. He will lie close at
  Goodrest, as a hare upon her form; and they will take him--oh! they
  will take him prisoner!--ere morning dawns. I must to Goodrest now, in
  the dark night.--Boy! is there time? is there time?"

  Bill Lampeter nodded, munching his bread.

  "They'll not be back afore the dawning, them troopers," he said.
  "They've limed the twig, ye see; the bird is made fast. If Mr. Cope do
  hear the country's up, he'll bide where he be there at Goodrest,
  reckoning 'tis safest to keep still. Between now and the first streak
  as shows over the Black Scaur, mistress, you can do as you will."

  "Eh, Mistress Beatrice, you can't never go," said Patty, trembling.
  "You couldn't dare to do it. And this here boy," she whispered,
  standing close to Mistress Beatrice, "is a very proverb for wicked
  story-telling. 'Tis a naughty little varlet; who knows that he has not
  been set on to bring this tale?"

  "'Tis true enough, though I be a story-teller," said Bill, whose ears
  were sharp. "Yon gentleman at Goodrest has need of thee the night,
  mistress. And now let me lie down on the straw in the big barn, for my
  bones do ache, and I be dizzy wi' running."

  He caught at the doorpost as he spoke; and Patty Joyce's suspicion
  vanished in pity for the worn-out creature. She kindled a flame to
  light the lanthorn which hung in the houseplace; and herself crossed
  the wide courtyard to make Bill a comfortable resting-place in the
  soft hay and clean straw which filled the great barn.[26]

This is the same scene in the play:

    (_Louder rapping. Trembling with rage and disappointment, Sandiland
    disappears down the path. Beatrice stands a moment, looking as if
    waking from a nightmare._)

  _Patty._ (_Outside, rapping more._) Miss Beatrice, Miss Beatrice!

  _Beatrice._ (_Crossing dazedly to door. By it, dully._) Who?

  _Patty._ Open quick. Me and Bill.

  _Beat._ (_Recovering._) Bill!

    (_Quickly she unbolts the door. Patty enters, half supporting Bill.
    She looks about as if surprised at not seeing any one beside
    Beatrice. Bill's clothes are torn and he is covered with dirt. There
    is blood on his hands where cords have torn the flesh. He looks
    white and wretched and breathes hard as if from recent running. He
    should play the whole scene with nervous excitement that suggests a
    collapse at the end of it._)

  _Bill._ (_Apologetically, as he stumbles toward Beatrice._) I've had a
  bit of a scrap. (_Aside to Beatrice._) Get rid o' 'er.

  _Beat._ You can trust her. What has happened?

  _Bill._ Scoutin' party got me. Corporal raddled my bones terrible when
  I fought and bit, fearin' they'd find your message hid in my smock.
  They near tore it off, damn 'em.

  _Beat._ You have the tablets?

  _Bill._ No.

  _Beat._ They have them? (_With relief._) Then they haven't reached

  _Bill._ The gentleman? Oh, ay. When we come to Grantford Farm--I were
  trussed up be'ind a trooper--Corporal called out little Jock o'
  Grantford--his fayther's a bitter Whig--and bade 'im take your message
  to Goodrest, to keep the gentleman waitin' till the red coats be come.

  _Beat._ (_To Patty._) Where's Grizel?

  _Patty._ In the paddock'm. But--

  _Beat._ Saddle her at once. I must to Goodrest.   (_Patty hesitates._)

  _Bill._ (_Menacingly as he reaches for a candle-stick._) She said--To

    (_Unwillingly but quickly, Patty goes out centre._)

  _Bill._ (_Pointing to the door where the full moon shines in
  clearly._) Ay, but that ain't 'id yet.

  _Beat._ (_As if struck by a sudden idea._) How did you get free?

  _Bill._ Gnawed the ropes; slipped off in the long grass. Trooper's
  pistol missed me. Stayed in a holler oak I knows till they was tired

  _Beat._ Knowing you are loose, they will start at once.

  _Bill._ If they ain't fools. But most folks be. Risk somethin' on
  that. (_Beatrice is busy with her dress and cloak. He starts to help
  her but has to support himself by table._) Don't go through Whitecross
  Village. There the soldiers be. Take the footpath by Guiting; the
  bridge be shaky but 'twill hold.

    (_Enter Patty, centre._)

  _Patty._ Grizel's ready'm.

  _Beat._ (_Nodding her understanding to Bill--to Patty._) Close up
  here. Look after Bill. Be ready to let me in when the first cock
  crows. My stirrup! (_Goes out swiftly, followed protestingly by Patty.
  Bill drags himself to right of door watching, and says after a
  minute._) She's up!

  _Patty._ (_Rushing in as there is the sound of swift hoof beats._)
  She's gone! (_She falls sobbing hysterically by the left side of

  _Bill._ (_As he holds himself up at right_.) The damned brave lady!


First of all, the novelist permits himself an amount of detail which the
dramatist must forego because of his more limited space. Interesting
details which do not forward the purpose of the scene or act the wise
dramatist denies himself--note in Ibsen's revision of certain lines in
_A Doll's House_ (p. 350) the cutting, between the first and final
versions, of what concerns Dr. Rank. It was in part unnecessary detail
which made the dialogue of the play on John Brown (pp. 309-313) so
ineffective. In what follows immediately, a skilful hand seems in column
one to have cut details of column two which, though interesting in
themselves, delay the essential movement of the scene and help to swell
the whole play to undue proportions.

  _Horatio._ Mary that can I, at      _Horatio._ That can I.
    least the whisper goes so,        At least the whisper goes so;
  Our late King, who as you know        our last King.
    was by Forten-                    Who[se image even but now
  Brasse of Norway.                     appeared to us,]
                                      Was as you knowe by Fortin-
                                        Brasse of Norway,
  Thereto prickt on by a most         Thereto prickt on by a most
    emulous cause, dared to             emulate pride
  The combate, in which our           Dar'd to the combat; in which
    valiant Hamlet,                     our valient Hamlet,
  For so this side of our knowne      (For so this side of our knowne
    world esteemed him,                 world esteemd him)
  Did slay this Fortenbrasse,         Did slay this Fortinbrasse, who
  Who by a scale compact well           by a seald compact
    ratified, by law                  Well ratified by lawe and heraldy
  And heraldrie, did forfeit with     Did forfeit (with his life) all
    his life all those                  these his lands
  His lands which he stoode           Which he stood seaz'd of, to
    seazed of by the conqueror,         the conquerour.
  Against the which a moity           Against the which a moitie
    competent,                          competent,
  Was gaged by our King:              Was gaged by our King, [which
                                        had returne
                                      To the inheritance of
                                      Had he bin vanquisher; as by
                                        the same comart,
                                      And carriage of the article
                                      His fell to Hamlet;] now Sir
  Now sir, young Fortenbrasse,          young Fortinbrasse
  Of unimprooved mettle, hot and      Of unimprooved mettle, hot and
    full,                               full,
  Hath in the skirts of Norway        Hath in the skirts of Norway
    heere and there                     heere and there
  Sharkt up a sight of lawelesse      Sharkt up a list of lawelesse
    Resolutes                           resolutes
  For food and diet to some           For foode and diet to some
    enterprise,                         enterprise,
  That hath a stomacke in't: and      That hath a stomacke in't
    this (I take it) is the             [which is no other
  Chief head and ground of our        As it doth well appeare unto
    watch.                              our state
                                      But to recover of us by strong
                                      And tearmes compulsatory,
                                        those foresaid lands
                                      So by his father lost;] and this
                                        I take it
                                      Is [the maine motive of our
                                      The source of this our watch,
                                        and] the chiefe head
                                      Of this post hast and Romadge
                                        in the land.

                                      [_Bar._ I thinke it be no
                                        other, but enso;
                                      Well may it sort that this
                                        portentous figure
                                      Comes armed through our
                                        watch so like the King
                                      That was and is the question of
                                        these warres.

                                      _Hora._ A moth it is to trouble
                                        the mindes eye:
                                      In the most high and palmy
                                        state of Rome,
                                      A little ere the mightiest Julius
                                      The graves stood tenantlesse,
                                        and the sheeted dead
                                      Did squeake and gibber in the
                                        Roman streets
                                      As starres, with traines of fier,
                                        and dewes of blood
                                      Disasters in the sunne; and the
                                        moist starre,
                                      Upon whose influence Neptunes
                                        Empier stands,
                                      Was sicke almost to doomesday
                                        with eclipse.
                                      And even the like precurse of
                                        feare events
                                      As harbindgers preceading still
                                        the fates
                                      And prologue to the Omen comming
                                      Have heaven and earth together
                                      Unto our Climatures and

  _Enter the Ghost_.                  _Enter Ghost_.

  But loe, bemold, see where it       But softe, behold, loe where it
    comes againe.                       comes againe
  Ile crosse it, though it blast      Ile crosse it though it blast
    me: stay illusion,                  mee: stay illusion,
  If there be any good thing to           (_It spreads his arms_)
    be done,                          [If thou hast any sound or use
  That may doe ease to thee, and        of voyce
  grace to mee,                       Speake to me,] if there be any
  Speake to mee.                        good thing to be done
                                      That may to thee doe ease, and
                                        grace to mee,
                                      Speake to me.[27]

Unnecessary detail should, then, be cut from dialogue both because it is
usually the chief offender in making the play unduly long, and because
it weakens the dialogue of which it is a part. In argument it is a
time-honored principle that it is far better not to pile up all the
evidence you can on a given point, but by selecting your best argument,
or two or three of the better type, to strike hard with the selected
material. The same principle underlies writing good dramatic dialogue.
Say what you have to say as well as you can, and except for emphasis or
when repetition produces some desired effect, don't repeat. In the
speech quoted below it became clear in rehearsal that the bracketed part
was not necessary because what preceded showed sufficiently the
affection Miss Helen had roused in the faithful old servant, Alec.
However characterizing or amusing the remainder might be, it clogged the
movement of the scene. Consequently it went out.

    _Dick._ Hello--what's this Alec?

    _Alec._ A grand pianner, sir.

    _Dick._ Of course, but where did it come from?

    _Alec._ Miss Helen, she gave it to 'em at Christmas.

    _Dick._ She--gave it to--them--?

    _Alec._ Yes.

    _Dick. (Laughing_.) But they don't play it, do they?

    _Alec._ No, she plays it--. An' you oughter hear her play, sir. At
    evenin's after supper when the wind'd howl around the house she'd
    make it sound like Heaven in here. If I ever get up there I don't
    want white angels and gold harps in mine,--I jes' want Miss Helen
    an' a grand pianner. (_Dick is very sober. [He doesn't speak_.) An'
    she can sing, too. You oughter hear her,--little soft things,--none
    o' this screechy stuff. An' all the old dames sit around--an' then
    when my work was done out in the barn I'd come in an' sit over there
    in the corner out o' the way like, an' listen like a old lady
    myself--with my Adam's apple getting tight every once in a while
    thinkin' o' things. I tell you she's--she's a regular--humdinger.]

    _Dick._ (_Quietly._) What time do you expect her back?

Time forbids any form of fiction to be encyclopædic. The drama is, as we
have seen, the most selective of the forms of fiction. Failure to
remember this has hurt the chances of many a promising dramatist. Few
have such skilled and loyal advisers as Lord Tennyson found in Sir Henry
Irving when his over-long _Becket_ must be cut for stage production. How
much of the following scene in the original do we think at first sight
we can spare? Much which Sir Henry removed we should like to keep, but
time-limits forbade and he cut with exceeding skill to the best dramatic
phrasing offered of the essentials of the scene.

  ACT I. SCENE 1. _Becket's House in London. Chamber barely furnished.
  Becket unrobing. Herbert of Bosham and Servant_.

  ORIGINAL                            REVSION

  _Servant._ Shall I not help         _Servant._ Shall I not help
     your lordship to your rest?         your lordship to your rest?

  _Becket._ Friend, am I so           _Becket._ Friend, am I so
    much better than thyself            much better than thyself
  That thou shouldst help me?         That thou shouldst help me?
    Thou art wearied out                Thou art wearied out
  With this day's work, get thee      With this day's work, get thee
    to thine own bed.                   to thine own bed.
  Leave me with Herbert, friend.      Leave me with Herbert, friend.
      (_Exit Servant.)                  (Exit Servant_.)
  Help me off, Herbert, with          Help me off, Herbert, with
    this--and this.                     this--and this.

  _Herbert._ Was not the people's     _Herbert._ Was not the people's
    blessing as we past                 blessing as we past
  Heart-comfort and a balsam to       Heart-comfort and a balsam to
    thy blood?                          thy blood?

  _Becket._ The  people know          _Becket._ The  people know
     their Church a tower of             their Church a tower of
     strength,                           strength,
  A bulwark against Throne and        A bulwark against Throne and
     Baronage.                           Baronage.
  Too heavy for me, this; off         Too heavy for me, this; off
     with it, Herbert!                   with it, Herbert!

  _Herbert._ Is it so much heavier    _Herbert._ Is it so much heavier
     than thy Chancellor's robe?        than thy Chancellor's robe?

  _Becket._ No; but the Chancellor's  _Becket._ No; but the Archbishop's
    and the Archbishop's                Chancellor's and the

  Together more than mortal man       Together more than mortal man
    can bear.                           can bear.

  _Herbert._ Not heavier than         _Herbert._ Not heavier than
    thine armour at Thoulouse?          thine armour at Thoulouse?

  _Becket._ O Herbert, Herbert,
    in my chancellorship
  I more than once have gone
    against the Church.

  _Herbert._ To please the King?

  _Becket._ Ay, and the King
    of kings,
  Or justice; for it seem'd to me
    but just
  The Church should pay her
    scutage like the lords.
  But hast thou heard this cry of     _Becket._ But hast thou heard
    Gilbert Foliot                      this cry of Gilbert Foliot
  That I am not the man to be         That I am not the man to be
    your Primate,                       your Primate,
  For Henry could not work a          For Henry could not work a
    miracle--                           miracle--
  Make an Archbishop of a soldier?    Make an Archbishop of a soldier?

  _Herbert._    Ay,                   _Herbert._    Ay,
  For Gilbert Foliot held himself     For Gilbert Foliot held himself
    the man.                            the man.

  _Becket._ Am I the man? My
    mother, ere she bore me,
  Dream'd that twelve stars fell
    glittering out of heaven
  Into her bosom.

  _Herbert._ Ay, the fire, the
  The spirit of the twelve Apostles
  Into thy making.

  _Becket._ And when I was a
  The Virgin, in a vision of my
  Gave me the golden keys of
    Paradise. Dream,
  Or prophecy, that?

  _Herbert._ Well, dream and
    prophecy both.

  _Becket._ And when I was of
    Theobald's household, once--
  The good old man would sometimes
    have his jest--
  He took his mitre off, and set it
    on me,
  And said, "My young Archbishop--
    thou wouldst make
  A stately Archbishop!" Jest
    or prophecy there?

  _Herbert._ Both, Thomas, both.

  _Becket._ Am I the man? That        _Becket._ Am I the man? That
    rang                                rang
  Within my head last night, and      Within my head last night, and
    when I slept                        when I slept
  Methought I stood in Canterbury     Methought I stood in Canterbury
    Minster,                            Minster,
  And spake to the Lord God, and      And spake to the Lord God and
    said, "O Lord,                      said,
  I have been a lover of wines
    and delicate meats,
  And secular splendours, and a
  Of players, and a courtier, and
    a feeder
  Of dogs and hawks, and apes,
    and lions, and lynxes.
  Am _I_ the man?" And the Lord
    answer'd me,
  "Thou art the man, and all the
    more the man."
  And then I asked again, "O Lord
    my God
  Henry the King hath been my         "Henry the King hath been
    friend, my brother                  my friend, my brother
  And mine uplifter in this           And mine uplifter in this world,
    world, and chosen me                and chosen me
  For this thy great                  For this thy great
    archbishoprick, believing           archbishoprick, believing
  That I should go against the        That I should go against the
    Church with him,                    Church with him,
  And I shall go against him with     And I shall go against him with
    the Church,                         the Church.
  And I have said no word of this
    to him:
  Am _I_ the man?" And the            Am _I_ the man?" And the
    Lord answer'd me,                   Lord answer'd me,
  "Thou art the man, and all the      "Thou art the man and all the
    more the man."                      more the man."
  And thereupon, methought, He        And thereupon, methought, He
    drew toward me,                     drew toward me,
  And smote me down upon the          And smote me down upon the
    Minster floor.                      Minster floor.
  I fell.                             I fell.

  _Herbert._ God make not thee but    _Herbert._ God make not thee
    thy foes, fall.                     but thy foes, fall.

  _Becket._ I fell. Why fall?
    Why did he smite me? What?
  Shall I fall off--to please the
    King once more?
  Not fight--tho' somehow traitor
    to the King--
  My truest and mine utmost for
    the Church?

  _Herbert._ Thou canst not fall
    that way. Let traitor be;
  For how have fought thine utmost
    for the Church,
  Save from the throne of thine
  And how been made archbishop
    hadst thou told him,
  "I mean to fight mine utmost for
    the Church, Against the King?"

  _Becket._ But dost thou think
    the King
  Forced mine election?

  _Herbert._  I do think the King
  Was potent in the election, and
    why not?
  Why should not Heaven have so
    inspired the King?
  Be comforted. Thou art the
    man--be thou
  A mightier Anselm.

  _Becket._ I do believe thee,
    then. I am the man.
  And yet I seem appall'd--on such    _Becket._ And yet I seem
    a sudden                            appall'd--on such a sudden
  At such an eagle-height I stand     At such an eagle-height I stand
    and see                             and see
  The rift that runs between me       The rift that runs between me
    and the King.                       and the King.
  I served our Theobald well when
    I was with him;
  I served King Henry well as
  I am his no more, and I must
    serve the Church.
  This Canterbury is only less
    than Rome,
  And all my doubts I fling from
    me like dust,
  Winnow and scatter all scruples
    to the wind,
  And all the puissance of the
  And all the wisdom of the
  And all the heap'd experiences
    of life,
  I cast upon the side of
  Our holy mother Canterbury,
    who sits
  With tatter'd robes. Laics and
    barons, thro'
  The random gifts of careless
    kings, have graspt
  Her livings, her advowsons,
    granges, farms,
  And goodly acres--we will
    make her whole;
  Not one rood lost. And for these
    Royal customs,
  These ancient Royal customs--they
    _are_ Royal,
  Not of the Church--and let
    them be anathema,
  And all that speak for them

  _Herbert._ Thomas, thou art         _Herbert._ Thomas, thou art
    moved too much.                     moved too much.

  _Becket._ Oh, Herbert here          _Becket._ O Herbert, here
  I gash myself asunder from the      I gash myself asunder from the
    King,                               King,
  Tho' leaving each, a wound: mine    Tho' leaving each, a wound; mine
    own, a grief                        own, a grief
  To show the scar forever--his,      To show the scar forever--his,
    a hate                              a hate
  Not ever to be heal'd.[28]          Not ever to be heal'd.[29]

Dialogue, then, should avoid all unnecessary detail, and should avoid
repetition except for desired dramatic ends--in other words, must select
and again select.

Practically every illustration thus far used in treating dialogue fitted
for the stage has shown the enormous importance of facial expression,
gesture, and voice. What the voice may do with just two words is the
substance of a little one-act piece made famous years ago by Miss
Genevieve Ward and later often read by the late George Riddle. An
actress applying to a manager is tested as to her power to express in
the two words "Come here" all the emotions described by her examiner. As
will be seen, the little play, when read in the study, lacks
effectiveness. Given by an actress who can put into the two words all
that is demanded, it becomes varied, exciting, and even amazing.

  _Actress._ ... Your selection may not be in my repertoire.

  _Manager._ Oh! yes, it is. I only require two words: "Come here."

  _Actress._ Come here?

  _Manager._ Yes, and with the words, the meaning, emphasis, and
  expressions, that situation, character, and the surroundings would

  _Actress._ (_Takes off her bonnet and shawl._) Well, then, I am ready.

  _Manager._ Before a mother stand a loving couple, who pray for her
  consent; the lover is poor; she battles with her pride, it is a great
  struggle for her; at last with open arms she cries--

  _Actress._ Come here!

  _Manager._ A mother calls her little daughter, who has done something
  to vex her.

  _Actress._ Come here!

  _Manager._ And now it is her step-child.

  _Actress._ Come here!

  _Manager._ A carriage is dashing by, the child is in the street, the
  mother's heart is filled with terror, she calls her darling and cries

  _Actress._ Come here!

  _Manager._ In tears and sorrow a wife has bid adieu to her departing
  husband, whom the State has called to defend his country on the
  battlefield; her only consolation is in her children, these she calls,
  and presses to her heart.

  _Actress._ Come here!

  _Manager._ The husband has returned, and full of joy she calls her
  children as she observes him coming home.

  _Actress._ Come here!

  _Manager._ While in his arms, she now observes his servant, and as
  with every one she would divide her joy she calls to him--

  _Actress._ Come here!

  _Manager._ The feelings of a mother in all her joys and tribulation,
  you have most perfectly sustained. Now show me, how in despair a
  widow, who has lost all she possessed through fire, confronts the
  creditors, who clamor for their dues, and whose cruelty has killed her
  husband. She stands by his body and points to all that now is left
  her, the remains of her dead husband, and calls on them to look at
  their work.

  _Actress._ Come here!

  _Manager._ I must confess you depict pain as if you felt it.[30]

Mark, when running through the scene in which Iago tempts Othello to his
final undoing (Act III, Scene 3.), the variety of intonation required in
the repetitions of "Honest" and "Think." In a novel containing this
scene the absence of the actors' trained intonations would cost the
author much labor in describing how the words should be uttered.

  _Othello._ Farewell, my Desdemona; I'll come to thee straight.

  _Desdemona._ Emilia, come.--Be as your fancies teach you;
  Whate'er you be, I am obedient.
    (_Exeunt Desdemona and Emilia_.)

  _Othello._ Excellent wretch! Perdition catch my soul,
  But I do love thee! and when I love thee not,
  Chaos is come again.

  _Iago._ My noble lord,--

  _Othello._         What dost thou say, Iago?

  _Iago._ Did Michael Cassio, when you woo'd my lady,
  Know of your love?

  _Othello._ He did, from first to last. Why dost thou ask?

  _Iago._ But for a satisfaction of my thought;
  No further harm.

  _Othello._    Why of thy thought, Iago?

  _Iago._ I did not think he had been acquainted with her.

  _Othello._ O, yes; and went between us very oft.

  _Iago._ Indeed!

  _Othello._ Indeed! ay, indeed. Discern'st thou aught in that?
  Is he not honest?

  _Iago._    Honest, my lord?

  _Othello._         Honest, ay, honest.

  _Iago._ My lord, for aught I know.

  _Othello._ What dost thou think?

  _Iago._          Think, my lord?

  _Othello._          Think, my lord!
  By heaven, he echoes me,
  As if there were some monster in his thought
  Too hideous to be shown.--Thou dost mean something.
  I heard thee say even now, thou lik'st not that,
  When Cassio left my wife. What didst not like?
  And when I told thee he was of my counsel,
  Of my whole course of wooing, thou criedst, "Indeed!"
  And didst contract and purse thy brow together,
  As if thou then hadst shut up in thy brain
  Some horrible conceit. If thou dost love me,
  Show me thy thought.

Even passages in a play which look very unpromising should not be
finally judged till a flexible, well-trained voice has done its best to
bring out any emotion latent in the words. If they were originally
chosen by an author writing in full sympathetic understanding of his
figures, they will, properly spoken, reveal unexpected emotional values.
Here is a passage from Kyd's _Spanish Tragedy_ at which many a critic
has poked fun. At first sight it undoubtedly seems merely "words, words,

  _Hieronimo._ O eyes! no eyes, but fountains fraught with tears:
  O life! no life but lively form of death:
  O world! no world but mass of public wrongs,
  Confus'd and fill'd with murder and misdeeds:
  O sacred heav'ns! if this unhallow'd deed,
  If this inhuman and barbarous attempt;
  If this incomparable murder thus,
  Of mine, but now no more my son,
  Should unreveal'd and unrevenged pass,
  How should we term your dealings to be just
  If you unjustly deal with those that in your justice trust?[31]

If we remember what the play has already told us of Hieronimo: that
having found his son hanging murdered in the arbor, he enters in a
perfect ecstasy of grief; and if we recall that the Elizabethan loved a
style as ornate as this, feeling it no barrier between him and the
thought behind it; the look of the passage begins to change. Put the
feeling of the father into the voice as one reads, and lo, these lines
are not a bad medium for expressing Hieronimo's grief. They may lack the
simplicity we demand today, but strong, clear feeling may be brought out
from behind them for any audience. For an Elizabethan audience it came
forth in a style delightful in itself. The fact is, time cannot wholly
spoil the value even of lines phrased according to the standards of some
literary vogue of the moment if the author originally wrote them with an
imagination kindled to accuracy of feeling by complete sympathy with his
characters. Never judge the dialogue of a play only by the eye. Hear it
adequately, interpretively spoken. Then, and then only, judge it

It is almost impossible, also, to separate the voice from gesture and
facial expression as aids in dramatic dialogue. Unquestionably each of
these would help the voice in the illustrations just given from _Come
Here, Othello_, and the _Spanish Tragedy_. When Antony, absorbed in
Cleopatra, and therefore unwilling to listen to the messenger bearing
tidings of the utmost importance from Rome, cries, "Grates me: the
sum!"[32] it is not merely the intonation but the accompanying gesture
in the sense of general bodily movement, and the facial expression,
which make the condensed phrasing both natural and immensely effective.
When Frankford (_A Woman Killed With Kindness_, Act III, Scene 2)[33]
asks his old servant, Nicholas, for proof of Mrs. Frankford's
unfaithfulness the answer is not, "I saw her," or "I saw her and her
lover with my eyes," but simply "Eyes, eyes." The last are what rightly,
in dramatic dialogue, may be called "gesture words," words demanding for
their full effect not only the right intonation, but facial expression
and all that pantomime may mean. The old man lifts his head, and, though
unwillingly, looks his master straight in the face as he speaks. Perhaps
he even emphasizes by lifting his hand toward his eyes. With the
concomitants of action and voice, the words take on finality and equal:
"What greater proof could I have? I saw the lovers with these eyes."

So close, indeed, is the relation between action and phrasing that often
we cannot tell whether dialogue is good or bad till we have made sure of
the "business" implied by it, or to be found in it by an imaginative
worker. The following passage from _The Revesby Sword Play_ is
distinctly misleading because of the word, "looking-glass" unless one
studies the context closely for implied business, and above all,
understands the sword dances of the period in which the play was

  _Fool._ Well, what dost thou call this very pretty thing?

  _Pickle Herring._ Why, I call it a fine large looking-glass.

  _Fool._ Let me see what I can see in this fine large looking-glass.
  Here's a hole through it, I see. I see, and I see!

  _Pickle Herring._ You see and you see, and what do you see?

  _Fool._ Marry, e'en a fool,--just like thee!

  _Pickle Herring._ It is only your own face in the glass.[34]

A "looking-glass" with "a hole through it" seems nearly a contradiction
in terms, but the word "glass" is synonymous with "nut," a name given to
the swords of English Folk Dances when so interwoven as to make a kind
of frame about a central space. This space is often large enough for a
man's head. The Fool has seen the dancers make such a nut. Holding it
up, he asks Pickle Herring what it is. Pickle Herring, seeing the Fool's
face through the opening and seizing his chance for a jest, calls the
nut a "looking-glass." The Fool carries on the conceit. Looking through
the hole he and Pickle Herring jibe at each other. The whole _Revesby
Sword Play_ provides illustration after illustration of the
inseparability of words and business in good dramatic dialogue.

By "business" is meant ordinarily either illustrative action called for
by a stage direction or clearly implied in the text. By "latent
business" is meant the illustrative action which a sympathetic and
imaginative producer finds in lines either ordinarily left without
business or treated with some conventional action. Mr. William Poel's
historic revival of _Everyman_ was crowded with such imaginative and
richly interpretive business. When Death cried,

  Everyman, thou art mad! Thou hast thy wits five,
  And here on earth will not amend thy life!
  For suddenly I do come--

on that last line he stretched out one arm and with the index finger of
his hand barely touched the heart of Everyman. In the gesture there was
a suggestion of what might be going to happen, even a suggestion that
already Death thus claimed Everyman for his own. It pointed finely the
immediate cry of Everyman,

  O wretched caitiff, whither shall I flee,
  That I might scape this endless sorrow?[35]

The text did not call for this gesture: it belongs to the best type of
interpretive business.

Few untrained persons hear what they write: they merely see it. The
skilled dramatist never forgets that he has to help him in his dialogue
all that intonation, facial expression, gesture, and the general action
of his characters may do for him. Which, after all, is the more
touching, the cry of pleasure with which some child of the streets, at a
charity Christmas tree, gazes at a rag doll some one holds out to her,
or the silent mothering gesture with which she draws it close to her,
her face alight? It is just because, at times, facial expression,
gesture, and movement may so completely express all that is needed that
pantomime is coming to play a larger and larger part in our drama. Older
readers of this book may recall the late Agnes Booth and her long silent
scene in _Jim, The Penman_. By comparison of a letter and a cheque, Kate
Ralston becomes aware that her husband is a famous forger, Jim, the
Penman. Through all this great scene of an otherwise cheap play, the
physical movement was very slight. The actress, three-quarters turned
toward the audience, sat near a table. It was her facial expression and,
rarely, a slight movement of the arms or body which conveyed her
succession of increasingly intense emotions. The significant pantomime
began with "She puts cheque with others." The acting of the next seven
lines of stage direction held an audience with increasing intensity of
feeling for some five minutes.

Nina (Mrs. Ralston) has just told her husband that she discovered
Captain Redwood asleep in the conservatory at the end of Act I. Though
she does not know it, this shows her husband that all his incriminating
interview with Dr. Hartfeld may have been overheard. He falls into
disturbed reverie and is so absorbed in thinking out the situation that
he is oblivious to what she does.

  _Nina._ Now then, for my pass-book.

    (_Opens pass-book and takes passed cheques out of side pocket of
    book. Music._)

  _Ralston._ (_Aside._) He heard all! If she had told me, she would
  have saved me.

  _Nina._ (_Looking at a cheque._) What is this cheque? I don't remember
  it. A cheque for five guineas in favor of Mrs. Chapstone.
  I never gave her a cheque. Oh, I recollect, that same evening
  she bothered you to take some tickets and you took them in my
  name. I never had the tickets, by-the-bye. I suppose she sold
  them over again. Yes, to be sure, you wrote the cheque. You
  asked permission to sign my name. How wonderfully like my
  writing! Why, it quite deceives me, it's so marvelous!

    (_Ralston, in chair, is lost in thought, and hardly attends to what
    she says. She puts cheque with others and goes through accounts.
    Pauses, puts pass-book down, and takes up cheque again, examines it;
    turns her head and looks at Ralston, observes his absorption, and
    after another look at him takes from drawer the letter which
    Percival gave her and the other. She places them and the cheque
    together, almost in terror; comparing them, a look of painful
    conviction comes over her face, which changes into one of terrible
    determination. She rises from chair. Stop music on the word

The greatest recent instance of pantomime is undoubtedly the third scene
of Act III of Mr. Galsworthy's _Justice_. Set in Falder's cell, it is
meant to illustrate the loneliness, the excitability, and even the
brutishness of a prisoner's life. Many people, while admitting the
effectiveness of this wordless scene, have declared it emotionally so
overwhelming that they could not endure seeing it a second time.

  _Falder's cell, a whitewashed space thirteen feet broad by seven deep,
  and nine feet high, with a rounded ceiling. The floor is of shiny
  blackened bricks. The barred window of opaque glass with a ventilator,
  is high up in the middle of the end wall. In the middle of the
  opposite end wall is a narrow door. In a corner are the mattress and
  bedding rolled up (two blankets, two sheets, and a coverlet). Above
  them is a quarter-circular wooden shelf, on which is a Bible and
  several little devotional books, piled in a symmetrical pyramid; there
  are also a black hair-brush, tooth-brush, and a bit of soap. In
  another corner is the wooden frame of a bed, standing on end. There is
  a dark ventilator over the window, and another over the door.
  Falder's work (a shirt to which he is putting button holes) is hung to
  a nail on the wall over a small wooden table, on which the novel,
  "Lorna Doone,"[37] lies open. Low down in the corner by the door is a
  thick glass screen, about a foot square, covering the gas-jet let into
  the wall. There is also a wooden stool, and a pair of shoes beneath
  it. Three bright round tins are set under the window._

  _In the fast failing daylight, Falder, in his stockings, is seen
  standing motionless, with his head inclined towards the door,
  listening. He moves a little closer to the door, his stockinged feet
  making no noise. He stops at the door. He is trying harder and harder
  to hear something, any little thing that is going on outside. He
  springs suddenly upright--as if at a sound, and remains perfectly
  motionless. Then, with a heavy sigh, he moves to his work, and stands
  looking at it, with his head down; he does a stitch or two, having the
  air of a man so lost in sadness that each stitch is, as it were, a
  coming to life. Then turning abruptly, he begins pacing the cell,
  moving his head, like an animal pacing its cage. He stops again at the
  door, listens, and, placing the palms of his hands against it with his
  fingers spread out, leans his forehead against the iron. Turning from
  it, presently, he moves slowly back towards the window, tracing his
  way with his finger along the top line of the distemper that runs
  round the wall. He stops under the window, and, picking up the lid of
  one of the tins, peers into it. It has grown very nearly dark.
  Suddenly the lid falls out of his hands with a clatter, the only sound
  that has broken the silence--and he stands staring intently at the
  wall where the stuff of the shirt is hanging rather white in the
  darkness--he seems to be seeing somebody or something there. There is
  a sharp tap and click; the cell light behind the glass screen has been
  turned up. The cell is brightly lighted. Falder is seen gasping for

  _A sound from far away, as of distant, dull beating on thick metal, is
  suddenly audible. Falder shrinks back, not able to bear this sudden
  clamour. But the sound grows, as though some great tumbril were
  rolling towards the cell. And gradually it seems to hypnotise him. He
  begins creeping inch by inch nearer to the door. The banging sound,
  travelling from cell to cell, draws closer and closer; Falder's hands
  are seen moving as if his spirit had already joined in this beating,
  and the sound swells till it seems to have entered the very cell._
  _He suddenly raises his clenched fists. Panting violently, he flings
  himself at his door, and beats on it._

    _The curtain falls_.[38]

Perhaps an even more interesting illustration of pantomime, because it
gives us, instead of the heightening emotion of one person, the action
of two characters upon each other, is found in Hugo von Hofmannsthal's
_Die Frau im Fenster_.

  _She remains leaning over the parapet thus for a long time. Suddenly
  she thinks she hears something as the curtain behind her, separating
  her balcony from the room, is thrown open. Turning her head she sees
  her husband standing in the doorway. She springs up; her features
  become distorted with the utmost anguish. Messer Braccio stands silent
  in the doorway. He wears a simple dark green dressing-gown, without
  weapons; low shoes. He is very tall and strong. His face has the
  quality that often shows itself in the old pictures of great lords and
  condottieri. He has an exceedingly large forehead, and little, dark
  eyes, thick black hair, short and curly, and a small beard round his
  face. Dianora wishes to speak, but can bring no sound from her throat.
  Messer. Braccio motions for her to draw in the ladder. Dianora does so
  automatically, rolls it together, and as though unconscious, lets the
  bundle fall at her feet. Braccio regards her calmly. Then he grasps
  his left hip with his right hand, also with his left hand, and looking
  down, notes that he has no dagger. Making an impatient movement of the
  lips he glances down into the garden and behind him. He lifts his
  right hand for an instant and looks at its palm. He goes back into the
  room with firm, unhurried steps._

  _Dianora looks after him continually; she cannot take her eyes from
  him. When the curtain falls behind him, she passes her fingers over
  her cheeks and through her hair. Then she folds her hands and with
  wildly twitching lips silently prays. Then she throws her arms
  backward and grasps the stone coping with her fingers, a movement
  revealing firm resolution and a hint of triumph._

  _Braccio steps out through the door again, carrying in his left hand a
  stool which he places in the doorway, and then sits down opposite his
  wife. His expression has not changed. From time to time he lifts his
  right hand mechanically and regards the small wound in its palm._

  _Braccio._ (_His tone is cold, slightly disdainful. He indicates the
  ladder with his foot and his eyes._) Who is it?

    (_Dianora lifts her shoulders, then lets them fall again slowly._)

  _Braccio._ I know.

    (_Dianora lifts her shoulders, then lets them fall again slowly. Her
    teeth are pressed tightly together._)

  _Braccio._ (_Raising his hand with the movement but touching his wife
  only with his glance; then he turns his gaze toward the garden
  again._) Palla degli Albizzi.[39]

Such elaborate pantomime as the cases just cited is naturally rare, but
a dramatist is always watching for an opportunity to shorten by
pantomime a speech or the dialogue of a scene, or to intensify by it the
effect of his words.[40] Is anything in _Shore Acres_, by James A.
Herne, more memorable than the last scene? In it Uncle Nat, who has
established the happiness of the household, lights his candle
deliberately and goes slowly up the long staircase to his bedroom,
humming softly. He is the very picture of spiritual content. Words would
have spoiled that scene as they have spoiled many and many a scene of an
inexperienced dramatist.

Iris, at the end of Act III of Pinero's play of that name, is on the
point of leaving Bellagio. Maldonado has left lying on her table a
checkbook on a bank in which he has placed a few hundred pounds in her
name. Because of the defalcation of her lawyer, she is in financial
straits. Maldonado wishes to help her but also to gain power over her.
Unwilling to take the checkbook, she has urged him to remove it. Lacking
firmness of character, however, she lets him leave it, saying she will
destroy it.

  _With a troubled, half-guilty look, Iris attires herself in her hat
  and cape; after which, carrying her gloves, she returns to her
  dressing-bag. Glancing round the room to assure herself that she has
  collected all her small personal belongings, her eyes rest on the
  checque-book which lies open on the writing-table. She contemplates it
  for a time, a gradually increasing fear showing itself in her face.
  Ultimately she walks slowly to the table and picks up a book. She is
  fingering it in an uncertain, frightened way when the servant

  _Man-servant._ (_Standing over the bag._) Is there anything more,

    (_She hesitates helplessly; then, becoming conscious that she is
    being stared at, she advances, drops the book into the bag, and
    passes out. The man shuts the bag and is following her as the
    curtain falls_.)[41]

This passage from Act I of _The Great Divide_ shows pantomime
supplementing speech as the dramatist of experience frequently employs
it. A writer of less sure feeling would have permitted his characters
some unnecessary or involved speech.

  (_Ruth selects a red flower, puts it in the dark mass of her hair, and
  looks out at the open door_.) What a scandal the moon is making out in
  that great crazy world! Who but me could think of sleeping on such a

    (_She sits down, folds the flowers in her arms, and buries her face
    in them. After a moment, she starts up, listens, goes hurriedly to
    the door, draws the curtains before the window, comes swiftly to the
    table, and blows out the light. The room is left in total darkness.
    There are muttering voices outside, the latch is tried, then a heavy
    lunge breaks the bolt. A man pushes in, but is hurled back by a
    taller man, with a snarling oath. A third figure advances to the
    table, and strikes a match. As soon as the match is lighted Ruth
    levels the gun, which she has taken from its rack above the mantel.
    There is heard the click of the hammer, as the gun misses fire. It
    is instantly struck from her hand by the first man (Dutch), who
    attempts to seize her. She evades him and tries to wrest a pistol
    from a holster on the wall. She is met by the second man (Shorty),
    who frustrates the attempt, pocketing the weapon. While this has
    been going on, the third-man (Ghent) has been fumbling with the
    lamp, which he has at last succeeded in lighting. All three are
    dressed in rude frontier fashion, the one called Shorty is a Mexican
    half-breed, the others are Americans. Ghent is younger than Dutch,
    and taller, but less powerfully built. All are intoxicated, but not
    sufficiently so to incapacitate them from rapid action. The Mexican
    has seized Ruth and attempts to drag her toward the inner room. She
    breaks loose and flies back again to the chimney place, where she
    stands at bay. Ghent remains motionless and silent by the table,
    gazing at her.)_

  _Dutch._ (_Uncorking a whiskey flask._) Plucky little catamount. I
  drink its health. (_Drinks_.)

  _Ruth._ What do you want here?[42]

Hofmannsthal, in his _Electra_, uses pantomime as only one detail, but
no words could so paint the mad triumph of the sister of Orestes as does
her "incredible dance."

    (_Electra has raised herself. She steps down from the threshold, her
    head thrown back like a Moenad. She lifts her knees, stretches out
    her arms; it is an incredible dance in which she steps forward._

    _Chrysothemis appearing again at the door, behind her torches, a
    Throng, faces of Men and Women._)

  _Chrysothemis._ Electra!

  _Electra._ (_Stands still, gazing at her fixedly._) Be silent and
    dance. Come hither all of you!
  Join with me all! I bear the burden of joy,
  And I dance before you here. One thing alone
  Remains for all who are as happy as we;
  To be silent and dance.

    (_She does a few more steps of tense triumph, and falls a-heap.
    Chrysothemis runs to her. Electra lies motionless. Chrysothemis runs
    to the door of the house and knocks._)

  _Chrysothemis._ Orestes! Orestes!   (_Silence._)


Without question, then, speech in the drama may often give way in part
or wholly to pantomime. The inexperienced dramatist should be
constantly alert to see to what extent he can substitute it for

In all that has been said of pantomime, of course technical pantomime is
not meant. The _Commedia dell' arte_, pantomime artists like the Ravel
Brothers or Mme. Pilar-Morin, have a code of gesture to symbolize fixed
meanings. What is meant here is the natural human pantomime of people
whose faces and bodies portray or betray their feelings.

Another word of warning in regard to pantomime. When a writer of plays
once becomes well aware of the great value of pantomime, he is likely to
overwork it. Assuming that the actor or actors may convey almost
anything by physical movement, he trusts it too much. Let him who is for
the moment under the spell of pantomime study the moving picture show.
Pantomime may ordinarily convey physical action perfectly. Emotion
naturally and easily expressed by action pantomime may convey, but when
action for its clearness depends on knowledge of what is going on in the
mind of the actor, pantomime begins to fail. Great artists like Mme.
Pilar-Morin may carry us far even under these conditions, but most
actors cannot. In a motion picture play like _Cabiria_, contrast the
scenes in which the Roman and his slave flee before the crowd from part
to part of the temple (mere action), or the scene of the terror of the
wine merchant (in which the face and body tell the whole story) with the
scene in which the nurse meets the Roman and his slave on the wall of
the city and begs their aid in saving the child, or the scenes in which
Sophonisba struggles with her anxieties and mad desires. The second
group of pictures without the explanations thrown on the screen would
have little meaning. Pantomime is safe, not when it pleases us to use
pantomime rather than to write dialogue, but when our characters
naturally act rather than speak, or when we can devise for them natural
action as clear as speech or clearer than speech. Use pantomime, but use
it cautiously. Speech is the greatest emotional weapon of the dramatist.
It best reveals emotion, and best of all creates responsive emotion.
However, as most inexperienced dramatists use far too many words rather
than too few, the value rather than the danger of pantomime should
probably be stressed here. What seems natural, what makes for illusion,
is the final test.

It is this test of naturalness which has gradually excluded, except in
special instances, the soliloquy and the aside. The general movement of
drama in the past ten years has been toward better and better
characterization in plays of all kinds. The newer melodrama and farce
show us, not the mere comic puppets of the past, but people as real as
the form represented--be it comedy, farce, tragedy, or melodrama--will
permit. This new tendency has largely driven out the soliloquy and the
aside. We should not, however, go to extremes, for occasionally we do
swear under our breath or comment in asides, and as long as people do
either, such people should be so represented. Moreover, we must admit
that the insane, the demented, the invalid left much to himself, the
hermit, whether of the woods or the hall bedroom in a city boarding
house, do talk to themselves and often at great length. Neither the
aside nor the soliloquy is, then, objectionable in itself. It is the use
of either by persons who would probably use nothing of the sort, or
their use in order to avoid exposition otherwise difficult which is to
be decried. It is particularly this latter fault to which Sir Arthur
Pinero calls attention when treating the faulty technique of R.L.
Stevenson as a playwright:

"I will read you one of the many soliloquies--the faulty method of
conducting action and revealing character by soliloquy was one from
which Stevenson could never emancipate himself. It is a speech delivered
by Deacon Brodie while he is making preparations for a midnight gambling

    (_Brodie closes, locks, and double-bolts the doors of his bedroom._)

  _Deacon Brodie._ Now for one of the Deacon's headaches! Rogues all,
  rogues all! (_He goes to the clothes press and proceeds to change his
  coat._) On with the new coat and into the new life! Down with the
  Deacon and up with the robber! Eh God! How still the house is! There's
  something in hypocrisy after all. If we were as good as we seem, what
  would the world be? The city has its vizard on and we--at night we are
  our naked selves. Trysts are keeping, bottles cracking, knives are
  stripping; and here is Deacon Brodie flaming forth the man of men he
  is! How still it is!--My father and Mary--Well! The day for them, the
  night for me; the grimy cynical night that makes all cats grey, and
  all honesties of one complexion. Shall a man not have _half_ a life of
  his own? not eight hours out of twenty-four? Eight shall he have
  should he dare the pit of Tophet. Where's the blunt? I must be cool
  tonight, or--steady Deacon, you must win; damn you, you must! You must
  win back the dowry that you've stolen, and marry your sister and pay
  your debts, and gull the world a little longer! The Deacon's going to
  bed--the poor sick Deacon! _Allons!_ Only the stars to see me! I'm a
  man once more till morning! [Act I, Tableau I, Scene 9.]"[45]

Sir Arthur knows whereof he speaks, for past-master as he has shown
himself since _The Second Mrs. Tanqueray_ in the art of giving necessary
exposition and characterization without soliloquy, he was a bad offender
in his early days, as the following extract from the opening of _The
Money Spinner_ shows:

    (_Directly Margot has disappeared, there is a knocking outside the
    door, right. It is repeated, then the doors slowly open and the head
    of Monsieur Jules Faubert appears._)

  _Faubert._ (_Who also speaks with the accent of a foreigner._)
  Boycott, my friend, are you at home? My friend Boycott, do you hear
  me? (_Receiving no answer, he enters rather cautiously and looks
  around. He is in black, wearing a long, tightly buttoned frock coat
  and a tall hat. His hair is red and closely cropped. His voice is soft
  and his manner stealthy and mechanical._) Where is Boycott, my friend?
  Ah, he has not yet taken his breakfast. (_He crosses over to the
  curtains, left, and looks through._) No one to be seen. Boycott asks
  me to call for him at ten o'clock in the morning, and it is now a
  quarter past ten by the Great Clock, and he is not visible. (_Walking
  round the room, inspecting the objects with curiosity._) Yet he could
  not have left the house for I have been watching at the front door
  since eight o'clock. (_Takes letters from top of Pianette._) Besides,
  here are his letters unopened. (_Examines them narrowly, scrutinizing
  the writing, and weighing them in his hand._) One, Mr. Boycott, with
  the post-mark of London. Two, Monsieur Boycott with the post-mark of
  Rouen. Three, Madame Boycott with the post-mark of Paris. (_Replacing
  letters._) Ah, I have not yet the pleasure of the acquaintance of
  Madame Boycott. Poor soul, perhaps she will know me some day. (_Going
  over to the door, right._) Well, I shall call again after breakfast.
  My friend Boycott is getting very unpunctual--a bad sign--a very bad

The unnaturalness of the two foregoing illustrations needs no comment.
The Elizabethan author, knowing that above all else the dramatist must
make clear why his people do what they do, used soliloquy with the
utmost frankness as the easiest method of exposition. Here are three
specimens, one from Webster and two from Shakespeare.

  _Cardinal._ The reason why I would not suffer these
  About my brother is because at midnight
  I may with better privacy convay
  Julias body, to her owne lodging. O, my conscience!
  I would pray now: but the divell takes away my heart
  For having any confidence in praier.
  About this houre I appointed Bosola
  To fetch the body: when he hath serv'd my turne,
  He dies.                          (_Exit._)[47]

  _Iago._ That Cassio loves her I do well believe't;
  That she loves him, 'tis apt and of great credit;
  The Moor, howbeit that I endure him not,
  Is of a constant, loving, noble nature,
  And I dare think he'll prove to Desdemona
  A most dear husband. Now, I do love her too;
  Not out of absolute lust, though peradventure
  I stand accountant for as great a sin,
  But partly led to diet my revenge,
  For that I do suspect the lusty Moor
  Hath leap'd into my seat; the thought whereof
  Doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw my inwards;
  And nothing can or shall content my soul
  Till I am even'd with him, wife for wife;
  Or failing so, yet that I put the Moor
  At least into a jealousy so strong
  That judgement cannot cure. Which thing to do,
  If this poor trash of Venice, whom I trash
  For his quick hunting, stand the putting on,
  I'll have our Michael Cassio on the hip,
  Abuse him to the Moor in the rank garb--
  For I fear Cassio with my night-cap too--
  Make the Moor thank me, love me, and reward me,
  For making him egregiously an ass
  And practising upon his peace and quiet
  Even to madness. 'Tis here, but yet confus'd;
  Knavery's plain face is never seen till us'd.  (_Exit._)[48]

  _Emilia._ I am glad I have found this napkin;
  This was her first remembrance from the Moor.
  My wayward husband hath a hundred times
  Woo'd me to steal it; but she so loves the token,
  For he conjur'd her she should ever keep it,
  That she reserves it evermore about her
  To kiss and talk to. I'll have the work ta'en out,
  And give 't Iago. What he will do with it
  Heaven knows, not I;
  I nothing but to please his fantasy.[49]

Echegaray's _The Great Galeoto_ (1881), though a part of the newer
movement in the drama, shows soliloquy.

SCENE. _Madrid of our day._


  _A study; to the left a balcony; on the right a door; in the middle a
  table strewn with papers and books, and a lighted lamp upon it.
  Towards the right a sofa. Night._


  _Ernest._ (_Seated at a table and preparing to write._)
  Nothing--impossible. It is striving with the impossible. The idea is
  there; my head is fevered with it; I feel it. At moments an inward
  light illuminates it, and I see it. I see it in its floating form,
  vaguely outlined, and suddenly a secret voice seems to animate it, and
  I hear sounds of sorrow, sonorous sighs, shouts of sardonic
  laughter--a whole world of passions alive and struggling--They burst
  forth from me, extend around me and the air is full of them. Then,
  then I say to myself: "'Tis now the moment." I take up my pen, stare
  into space, listen attentively, restraining my very heart-beats, and
  bend over the paper--Ah, but the irony of impotency! The outlines
  become blurred, the vision fades, the cries and sighs faint away--and
  nothingness, nothingness encircles me--The monotony of empty space, of
  inert thought, of dreamy lassitude! and more than all the monotony of
  an idle pen and lifeless paper that lacks the life of thought! Ah, how
  varied are the shapes of nothingness, and how, in its dark and silent
  way, it mocks creatures of my stamp! So many, many forms. Canvas
  without color, bits of marble without shape, confused noise of chaotic
  vibrations. But nothing more irritating, more insolent, meaner than
  this insolent pen of mine (_throws it away_), nothing worse than this
  white sheet of paper. Oh, if I cannot fill it, at least I may destroy
  it--vile accomplice of my ambition and my eternal humiliation. Thus,
  thus--smaller and still smaller. (_Tears up paper. Pauses_.) And then!
  How lucky that nobody saw me! For in truth, such fury is absurd and
  unjust. No, I will not yield. I will think and think until I have
  conquered or am crushed. No, I will not give up. Let me see, let me
  see--if in that way--[50]

Such soliloquy, even if conventionally justifiable in its own time, is
rarely, if ever, necessary. Scene 2 of Echegaray's play shows Ernest and
Don Julian discussing the former's difficulty in working. What could be
easier, then, than to cut the scene just cited to Ernest seated at a
writing table and showing by his pantomime how impossible he finds
composition? Why should he not act out the lines, "I take up my pen,
stare into space, listen attentively,--bend over the paper ... and
nothingness, nothingness"? If as a climax he throws away his pen and
tears up his paper, it certainly should be clear that he is thoroughly
exasperated with his failure to write what he wishes. In Scene 2 a very
slight change or amplification in the phrasing will permit him to bring
out whatever of importance in Scene 1 the suggested revision has

Doubtless it would not be so easy to get rid of the soliloquies of the
Cardinal, Iago, and Emilia, but ingenuity in handling the scene
preceding and the scene following soliloquies will usually dispose of
all or most of them. When _Lady Windermere's Fan_ of Wilde first
appeared, hardly any one seriously objected to its soliloquies. They
were an accepted convention of the stage. When Miss Margaret Anglin
revived the play very successfully a year or two ago, she rightly felt
these soliloquies to be outworn. By use of pantomime, in some cases
hardly more than the pantomime called for in the stage directions, she
disposed of all except an occasional line or two of the original
soliloquies. The instances cited from her prompt book of the play show
one soliloquy cut to stage directions and two lines of the original, and
the second cut to mere stage direction.


  _Lady Windermere._ How horrible!     (_Lady Windermere sits left
  I understand now what                   of centre, looks toward
  Lord Darlington meant by the            desk, rises, starts toward
  imaginary instance of the couple        desk, hesitates centre, goes
  not two years married. Oh! it           to desk, tries drawer, hunts
  can't be true--she spoke of             for and finds key, unlocks
  enormous sums of money paid             drawer, takes out check
  to this woman. I know where             book, looks over stubs, finds
  Arthur keeps his bank book--in          nothing and is relieved,
  one of the drawers of that              then sees first entry._)
  desk. I might find out by that.
  I _will_ find out. (_Opens drawer._) _Lady Windermere._ Mrs. Erlynne--
  No, it is some hideous mistake.      £600--Mrs. Erlynne--£700--Mrs.
  (_Rises and goes C_.) Some silly     Erlynne--£400. Oh! it is true!
  scandal! He loves _me_! He loves     it is true!
  _me_! But why should I not look?
  I am his wife, I have a right to
  look! (_Returns to bureau, takes
  out book and examines it, page by
  page, smiles and gives a sigh of
  relief._) I knew it, there is not
  a word of truth in this stupid
  story. (_Puts book back in drawer.
  As she does so, starts and takes
  out another book._) A second
  book--private--locked! (_Tries to
  open it but fails. Sees paper
  knife on bureau, and with it cuts
  cover from book. Begins to start
  at the first page._) Mrs.
  Erlynne--£600--Mrs. Erlynne--
  £700--Mrs. Erlynne--£400. Oh! it
  is true! it is true! How horrible!
  (_Throws book on floor._)[51]


  _Lady Windermere._ (_Standing_       (_Lady Windermere discovered
  _by the fireplace._) Why doesn't       at fireplace, L., crosses
  he come? This waiting is horrible.     to chair, L. of C., takes
  He should be here. Why is he not       cloak from chair, puts
  here, to wake by passionate words      cloak on crossing to door
  some fire within me? I am cold--       U.L., stops, decides to
  cold  as a loveless thing. Arthur      stay, crosses to R. of D.C.
  must have read my letter by this       Enter Mrs. Erlynne._)
  time. If he cared for me, he
  would have come after me, and
  have taken me back by force. But
  he doesn't care. He's entrammeled
  by this woman--fascinated by
  her--dominated by her. If a woman
  wants to hold a man, she has
  merely to appeal to what is
  worst in him. We make gods of
  men and they leave us. Others
  make brutes of them and they
  fawn and are faithful. How
  hideous life is! ... Oh! it was
  mad of me to come here, horribly
  mad. And yet which is the
  worst, I wonder, to be at the
  mercy of a man who loves one,
  or the wife of a man who in one's
  own house dishonors one? What
  woman knows? What woman
  in the whole world? But will he
  love me always, this man to
  whom I am giving my life?
  What do I bring him? Lips that
  have lost the note of joy, eyes
  that are blighted by tears, chill
  hands and icy heart. I bring
  him nothing. I must go back--no;
  I can't go back, my letter
  has put me in their power--
  Arthur would not take me back!
  That fatal letter! No! Lord
  Darlington leaves England
  tomorrow. I will go with him--I
  have no choice. (_Sits down for a
  few moments. Then starts up and
  puts on her cloak._) No, no! I
  will go back, let Arthur do with
  me what he pleases. I can't wait
  here. It has been madness my
  coming. I must go at once. As
  for Lord Darlington--Oh! here
  he is! What shall I do? What
  can I say to him? Will he let me
  go away at all? I have heard
  that men are brutal, horrible.
  ... Oh! (_Hides her face in her

  _Enter Mrs. Erlynne, L._[52]

Soliloquy when a character is left alone on the stage is a perfect
illustration of the difference between permanent and ephemeral
technique. As a device for easy exposition, it has been popular from the
beginning of drama till recently. Now, though one may use it in a rough
draft, a technique which is likely to become permanent in this respect
forces us to go over this draft, cutting soliloquy to mere action and
the few exclamations which the character might utter under the
circumstances. Soliloquy has no such permanent place in technique as
have preliminary exposition, suspense, and climax. Soliloquy, when other
people are on the stage and known by the speaker to be listening is also
absurd. It is because of this fact that the dramatic or psychologic
monologue, the form taken by a very large portion of Browning's
voluminous poetry, breaks down if we attempt to stage it. "Some speaker
is made to reveal his character, and, sometimes, by reflection, or
directly, the character of some one else--to set forth some subtle and
complex soul-mood, some supreme, all-determining movement or experience
of a life, or, it may be, to ratiocinate subtly on some curious question
of theology, morals, philosophy, or art. Now it is in strictly
preserving the monologue character that obscurity often results. A
monologue often begins with a startling abruptness, and the reader must
read along some distance before he gathers what the beginning means.
Take the monologue of Fra Lippo Lippi for example. The situation is
necessarily left more or less unexplained. The poet says nothing _in
propria persona_, and no reply is made to the speaker by the person or
persons addressed. Sometimes a look, a gesture or a remark must be
supposed on the part of the one addressed, which occasions a responsive
remark. Sometimes a speaker _imputes_ a question, and the reader is
sometimes obliged to stop and consider whether a question is imputed by
the speaker to the one he is addressing, or is a direct question of his
own. This is often the case throughout _The Ring and the Book_."[53]

  _Giuseppe Caponsacchi_. Answer you, Sirs? Do I understand aright?
  Have patience! In this sudden smoke from hell,--
  So things disguise themselves,--I cannot see
  My own hand held thus broad before my face
  And know it again. Answer you? Then that means
  Tell over twice what I, the first time, told
  Six months ago: 'twas here, I do believe,
  Fronting you same three in this very room,
  I stood and told you: yet now no one laughs,
  Who then ... nay, dear my lords, but laugh you did,
  As good as laugh, what in a judge we style
  Laughter--no levity, nothing indecorous, lords!
  Only,--I think I apprehend the mood:
  There was the blameless shrug, permissible smirk,
  The pen's pretence at play with the pursed mouth,
  The titter stifled in the hollow palm
  Which rubbed the eyebrow and caressed the nose,
  When first I told my tale: they meant, you know,
  "The sly one, all this we are bound believe!
  Well, he can say no other than what he says.
  We have been young, too,--come, there's greater guilt!
  Let him but decently disembroil himself,
  Scramble from out the scrape nor move the mud,--
  We solid ones may risk a finger-stretch!"
  And now you sit as grave, stare as aghast
  As if I were a phantom: now 'tis--"Friend,
  Collect yourself!"--no laughing matter more--
  "Counsel the Court in this extremity,
  Tell us again!"--tell that, for telling which,
  I got the jocular piece of punishment,
  Was sent to lounge a little in the place
  Whence now of a sudden here you summon me
  To take the intelligence from just--your lips,
  You, Judge Tommati, who then tittered most,--
  That she I helped eight months since to escape
  Her husband, is retaken by the same
  Three days ago, if I have seized your sense.[54]

It may be true that when one reads a dramatic monologue, the changes in
thought caused by some movement or look of an imagined hearer may seem
sufficiently motivated. When, on the other hand, this monologue is
staged, it becomes exceedingly unreal because we feel that the second
person would not be silent but would interrupt with question or comment.
More than this, unless the listening actor changes from pose to pose
with rapid plasticity, he will become stiff in attitude, thus making us
conscious of him when we should be listening to the speaker. Increasing
the number of hearers does not relieve the situation, but merely
increases the number of possible interrupters or of people who stand
about the stage more and more stiffly. Soliloquy is, therefore, to be
avoided except when it seems or can be made to seem perfectly natural.
Monologue, acceptable perhaps to a reader, becomes well-nigh impossible
on the stage.

The aside must be subjected to very nearly the same tests. In _Two Loves
and a Life_ of Tom Taylor and Charles Reade, Musgrave and his daughter,
Anne, are opening letters surreptitiously. They come to the letter of
William Hyde, which the girl opens with reluctance, crying,--

  Ah, see, father, it is a blank!

  _Musgrave._ A blank! Then it is as I thought!

  _Anne._ How?

  _Musgrave._ Here, girl!

    (_He takes the letter and holds it to the fire in the brazier._)

  _Anne._ See! Letters become visible!

  _Musgrave._ A stale trick. 'Tis done with lemon juice or milk, when
  folks would keep what they write from those who are in their secret.
  Politicians correspond so, Anne, and rebels.

  _Anne._ But William Hyde is neither, father.

  _Musgrave._ Of course not. Now then!

  _Anne._ (_Aside._) Thank Heaven! 'tis all about his calling!

  _Musgrave._ Read! (_Aside._) I have learned the key to their cypher,
  which I have copied from the priest's letter.

  _Anne._ (_Reads._) "Dear Will, we have thine advices, and shall be at
  Lancaster Fair. All the smart fellows--"

  _Musgrave._ (_To himself._) Ah! Bardsea Hole--all the Jacobite

  _Anne._ (_Reads._) "By the time the grilse come ashore--"

  _Musgrave._ (_To himself._) Grilse? ammunition. Go on.

  _Anne._ (_Reads._) "Which shall be as you fix, on Tuesday the 16th, at
  ten of the clock, P.M. There is a bill against you and the old
  clothier, payable at Ulverstone today, drawn by the butcher. Look out
  and see that he does not nab either of you--"

  _Musgrave._ (_Aside._) The proclamation!

  _Anne._ (_Reads._) "For your friends assembled. John Trusty."

  _Musgrave._ From Townley. It _is_ as I suspected.   (_He starts up._)

  _Anne._ Father!

  _Musgrave._ I'm a made man, Anne. Give me joy--joy![55]

In this once popular drama we have five asides close together, for of
course "to himself" is the equivalent of an aside. All are bad, for in
each case the other person on the stage must be supposed not to hear,
and the aside is merely a device for telling us what the speaker is
thinking. They vary in badness, however, for while Musgrave might well
explain "grilse" to Anne as "ammunition," he says, "I have learned the
key to their cipher, which I have copied from the priest's letter," not
as something which he is necessarily thinking at the time, but as
something which the audience needs to know at this point. An aside is
objectionable when a man speaks what he would be careful only to think,
either because of the very nature of his thought or because somebody is
near at hand who should not overhear. Asides should be kept for
confidential remarks which may be made to some person standing near the
speaker, but could not be heard by persons standing at a greater
distance; and to what naturally breaks from us in a moment of
irritation, terror, or other strong emotion. Asides of the first group,
confidential remarks, gain much in naturalness if spoken in half tones.
Nothing could be more preposterous than the old stage custom of coming
down to the footlights to tell an audience in clear-cut tones
confidences which must not be overheard by people close at hand on the
stage. Asides which are only brief soliloquies are little better. Asides
in which the speaker merely says to the audience what he might perfectly
well say to the people on the stage are foolish unless the author wishes
to make the point that the character has the habit of talking to
himself. The following from Vanbrugh's _The Provoked Wife_ shows two
entirely natural uses of the aside by Lady Brute, and one debatable use
by Sir John.

  ACT III. _Scene opens. Sir John, Lady Brute, and Belinda rising from
  the Table_

  _Sir John._ Will it so, Mrs. Pert? Now I believe it will so increase
  it, (_sitting and smoaking_) I shall take my own House for a

  _Lady Brute._ (_To Belinda aside._) Don't let's mind him; let him say
  what he will.

  _Sir John._ (_Aside._) A Woman's Tongue a Cure for the
  Spleen--Oons--If a Man had got the Head-ach, they'd be for applying
  the same Remedy.

  _Lady Brute._ You have done a great deal, Belinda, since yesterday.

  _Belinda._ Yes, I have work'd very hard; how do you like it?

  _Lady Brute._ O, 'tis the prettiest Fringe in the World. Well, Cousin,
  you have the happiest fancy. Prithee advise me about altering my
  Crimson Petticoat.

  _Sir John._ A Pox o' your Petticoat; here's such a Prating, a Man
  can't digest his own Thoughts for you.

  _Lady Brute._ (_Aside._) Don't answer him.--Well, what do you advise

  _Belinda._ Why really I would not alter it at all. Methinks 'tis very
  pretty as it is.[56]

Sir John's aside, if addressed to the audience, is bad; if meant to
illustrate his habit of grumbling to himself, it is permissible.

Mr. Henry Arthur Jones protests against complete disuse of the aside.
"In discarding the 'aside' in modern drama we have thrown away a most
valuable and, at times, a most necessary convention. Let any one glance
at the 'asides' of Sir John Brute in _The Provoked Wife_, and he will
see what a splendid instrument of rich comedy the 'aside' may become.
How are we as spectators to know what one character on the stage thinks
of the situation and of the other characters, unless he tells us; or
unless he conveys it by facial play and gestures which are the
equivalent of an 'aside'? The 'aside' is therefore as legitimate a
convention of drama as the removal of the fourth wall. More and more the
English modern drama seems to be sacrificing everything to the mean
ambition of presenting an exact photograph of real life."[57]

Of course Mr. Jones is quite right in wishing to keep the aside for
cases in which it is perfectly natural. His illustration of Sir John
Brute is, however, not wholly fortunate, for his asides are not
conventional but are characterizing touches. Surely we must all admit
that a certain type of drunkard likes to mumble to himself insulting
speeches which he hasn't quite the courage to speak directly to other
people, but rather hopes they may overhear. Study the asides of Sir John
Brute--they are not very many after all--and note that practically every
one might be said directly to the people on the stage. All of them help
to present Sir John as the heavy drinker who talks to himself and
selects for his speeches to himself his particularly insulting remarks.

Why, too, are "facial play and gestures" more objectionable than the
conventional aside? The fundamental trouble with the aside which should
not be overheard by people on the stage is that, if spoken naturally, it
would be too low for the audience to hear, and if spoken loud enough to
be heard, would so affect the other characters as to change materially
the development of the scene. The aside should, therefore, be used with
great care.

Congreve, writing of ordinary human speech said, "I believe if a poet
should steal a dialogue of any length, from the extempore discourse of
the two wittiest men upon earth, he would find the scene but coldly
received by the town."[58] In everyday speech, that is, we do not say
our say in the most compact, characteristic, and entertaining fashion.
To gain all that, we must use more concentration and selection than we
give to ordinary human intercourse. Just that concentration of
attention, which produces needed selection, a dramatist must give his
dialogue. To this concentration and selection he is forced by the time
difficulty already explained. Into the period sometimes consumed by a
single bit of gossiping, perhaps shot through with occasional flashes of
wit, but more probably dull,--into the space of two hours and a
quarter,--the dramatist must crowd all the happenings, the growth of his
characters, and the close reasoning of his play. Dramatic dialogue is
human speech so wisely edited for use under the conditions of the stage
that far more quickly than under ordinary circumstances the events are
presented, in character, and perhaps in a phrasing delightful of itself.

Picking just the right words to convey with gesture, voice and the other
stage aids of dialogue the emotions of the characters is so exacting a
task that many a writer tries to dodge it. He thinks that by prefacing
nearly every speech with "Tenderly," "Sarcastically," "With much humor,"
in other words a statement as to how his lines should be read,
commonplace phrasings may be made to pass for the right emotional
currency. This is a lazy trick of putting off on the actor what would be
the delight of the writer if he really cared for his work and knew what
he wished to say. Of course, from time to time one needs such stage
directions, but the safest way is to insist, in early drafts, on making
the text convey the desired emotion without such statements. Otherwise a
writer easily falls into writing unemotionalized speeches, the stage
directions of which call upon the actor to provide the emotion.

A similar trick is to write incomplete sentences, usually ending with
dashes. Though it is true, as Carlyle long ago pointed out, that a
thought or a climax which a reader or hearer completes for himself is
likely to give him special satisfaction, the device is easily overdone,
and too often the uncompleted line means either that the author does not
know exactly what he wishes to say, or that, though he knows, the hearer
or reader may not complete the thought as he does. The worst of this
last trick is that it may confuse the reader and, as was explained
earlier in this chapter, clearness in gaining the desired effect is the
chief essential in dialogue.

An allied difficulty comes from writing dialogue in blocks, the author
forgetting, in the first place, that the other people on the stage are
likely to interrupt and break up such speech, and secondly, that when
several ideas are presented to an audience in the same speech, they are
likely to confuse hearers. In these parallel passages from the two
quartos of _Hamlet_, is not the right-hand column, with its mingling of
rapidly exchanged speech and description, much more vivid and moving?

  _Enter Ofelia;_                      _Enter Ophelia._

  _Corambis._ Farewel, how now         _Polonius._ Farewell. How now
    Ofelia, what's the news with you?    Ophelia, what's the matter?

                                       _Ophelia._ O my Lord, my Lord,
  _Ofelia._ O my deare father,           I have been so affrighted.
    such a change in nature,
    So great an alteration in a        _Polonius._ With what i'th
    Prince,                              name of God?
  So pitifull to him, fearefull to
    mee,                               _Ophelia._ My Lord, as I was
  A maiden's eye ne're looked on.        sowing in my closset,
                                       Lord Hamlet with his doublet
  _Corambis._ Why, what's the            all unbrac'd,
    matter my Ofelia?                  No hat upon his head, his
                                         stockins fouled,
  _Ofelia._ O yong Prince Hamlet,      Ungartred, and downe gyved to
    the only floure of Denmark,          his ancle,
  Hee is bereft of all the wealth      Pale as his shirt, his knees
    he had,                              knocking each other,
  The Jewell that adorn'd his          And with a look so pittious in
    feature most                         purport
  Is filcht and stolne away, his       As if he had been loosed out
    wit's bereft him.                    of hell
                                       To speake of horrors, he comes
                                         before me.

                                       _Polonius._ Mad for thy love?

                                       _Ophelia._ My lord I doe not
                                       But truly I doe feare it.

                                       _Polonius._ What said he?

                                       _Ophelia._ He took me by the
                                         wrist, and held me hard,
                                       Then goes he to the length of
                                         all his arme,
                                       And with his other hand thus
                                         ore his brow,
                                       He falls to such perusall of
                                         my face
                                       As a would draw it.[59]

Is it probable that in the following extract from _A Soul's Tragedy_ of
Browning the deeply interested and excited audience would permit the
first bystander to complete uninterrupted his third and very long
speech? Are the phrasing and thought really his, or Robert Browning's?

  ACT II. _Scene. The market place. Luitolfo in disguise mingling with
  the Populace assembled opposite the Provost's Palace._

  _1st Bystander._ (_To Luitolfo._) You, a friend of Luitolfo's? Then,
  your friend is vanished,--in all probability killed on the night that
  his patron the tyrannical Provost was loyally suppressed here, exactly
  a month ago, by our illustrious fellow-citizen, thrice-noble saviour,
  and new Provost that is like to be, this very morning,--Chiappino!

       *       *       *       *       *

  _Luitolfo._ (_Aside._) (If I had not lent that man the money he
  wanted last spring, I should fear this bitterness was attributable to
  me.) Luitolfo is dead then, one may conclude?

  _3rd Bystander._ Why, he had a house here, and a woman to whom he was
  affianced; and as they both pass naturally to the new Provost, his
  friend and heir...

  _Luitolfo._ Ah, I suspected you of imposing upon me with your
  pleasantry! I know Chiappino better.

  _1st Bystander._ (Our friend has the bile. After all, I do not dislike
  finding somebody vary a little this general gape of admiration at
  Chiappino's glorious qualities.) Pray, how much may you know of what
  has taken place in Faenza since that memorable night?

  _Luitolfo._ It is most to the purpose, that I know Chiappino to have
  been by profession a hater of that very office of Provost, you now
  charge him with proposing to accept.

  _1st Bystander._ Sir, I'll tell you. That night was indeed memorable.
  Up we rose, a mass of us, men, women, children; out fled the guards
  with the body of the tyrant; we were to defy the world; but, next gray
  morning, "What will Rome say?" began everybody. You know we are
  governed by Ravenna, which is governed by Rome. And quietly into the
  town, by the Ravenna road, comes on muleback a portly personage,
  Ogniben by name, with the quality of Pontifical Legate; trots briskly
  through the streets humming a "Cur fremuere gentes," and makes
  directly for the Provost's Palace--there it faces you. "One Messer
  Chiappino is your leader? I have known three-and-twenty leaders of
  revolts!" (laughing gently to himself)--"Give me the help of your arm
  from my mule to yonder steps under the pillar--So! And now, my
  revolters and good friend what do you want? The guards burst into
  Ravenna last night bearing your wounded Provost; and, having had a
  little talk with him, I take on myself to come and try appease the
  disorderliness, before Rome, hearing of it, resort to another method:
  'tis I come, and not another, from a certain love I confess to, of
  composing differences. So, do you understand, you are about to
  experience this unheard-of tyranny from me, that there shall be no
  heading nor hanging, no confiscation nor exile: I insist on your
  simply pleasing yourselves. And, now, pray, what does please you? To
  live without any government at all? Or having decided for one, to see
  its minister murdered by the first of your body that chooses to find
  himself wronged, or disposed for reverting to first principles and a
  justice anterior to all institutions,--and so will you carry matters,
  that the rest of the world must at length unite and put down such a
  den of wild beasts? As for vengeance on what had just taken
  place,--once for all, the wounded man assures me that he cannot
  conjecture who struck him; and this so earnestly, that one may be sure
  he knows perfectly well what intimate acquaintance could find
  admission to speak with him late last evening. I come not for
  vengeance therefore, but from pure curiosity to hear what you will do
  next." And thus he ran on, easily and volubly, till he seemed to
  arrive quite naturally at the praise of law, order, and paternal
  government by somebody from rather a distance. All our citizens were
  in the snare and about to be friends with so congenial an adviser; but
  that Chiappino suddenly stood forth, spoke out indignantly and set
  things right again.

  _Luitolfo._ Do you see? I recognize him there![60]

People who think ramblingly and not clearly must undoubtedly on the
stage speak in similar fashion, but it is wise when possible to avoid
stating two or three ideas in the same sentence, or developing two or
three ideas in one long speech. An idea to a sentence, with the
development of one thought in a speech, is a fairly safe principle,
though not unalterable. For instance, the daughter of a widowed mother
is facing the fact that if they are to stay in their meagre quarters she
may have to ask this as a favor from her employer, Mr. Hollings. The
mother, not knowing that he has pressed his attentions objectionably,
does not understand the unwillingness of the girl to ask his help. In
answer to her pleadings the girl cries, "Oh, I would do anything for
you! Poor dear father! Mother, go to Mr. Hollings." Here are three
different trains of thought in one speech. The first exclamation is a
direct answer to the mother's preceding speech. For the audience there
is no clearness of transition to the second exclamation, nor from it to
the third. Cut the girl's answer to the first sentence. Then the mother,
seizing on the idea that her daughter is willing to do anything, urges
her for this and that reason to see her employer, emphasizing the idea
that, had the father lived, all their present sorrow would not exist.
In this case the second exclamation falls into its proper place, as a
natural reply of the girl to her mother. If, too, as the mother urges
reason after reason for going to the employer for aid, the girl at last
pleads, "Mother, you go to Mr. Hollings," this sentence also falls into
its proper place. It becomes the first sign of her yielding, for she is
at last willing that some one should intercede with the man. When a
writer finds himself skipping from idea to idea within a speech or a
sentence, with transitions likely to be unclear for the audience, he
should break what he has written into its component parts and let the
other people on the stage, by their interruptions, queries, and
comments, provide the connectives of speech and thought which will bind
these ideas together properly. The following rearrangement by Miss
Anglin of the original text of _Lady Windermere's Fan_ shows her correct
feeling that ideas originally treated together should be separated. Lord
Windermere's reply is to the first sentence of Mrs. Erlynne's speech. It
is therefore much clearer to shift her two succeeding exclamations to
her next speech.

  ORIGINAL                             REVISION

  _Mrs. Erlynne._ (_C._) How do        _Mrs. Erlynne._ (_C._) How do
  you do, again, Lord Windermere?      you do, again, Lord Windermere?
  How charming your sweet wife
  looks! Quite a picture!              _Lord Windermere._ (_In a low
                                       voice._) It was terribly rash
  _Lord Windermere._ (_In a low        of you to come!
  voice._)  It was terribly rash
  of you to come!                      _Mrs. Erlynne._ (_Smiling._) The
                                       wisest thing I ever did in my
  _Mrs. Erlynne._ (_Smiling._) The     life. How charming your sweet
  wisest thing I ever did in my life.  wife looks! Quite a picture! And,
  And, by the way, you must pay        by the way, you must pay me a
  me a good deal of attention this     good deal of attention this
  evening.[61]                         evening.

Often dialogue which is clear sentence by sentence is, as a whole,
somewhat confusing to an audience. Frequently a careful re-ordering of
the parts of the speech, or of a group of speeches, will dispose of the
trouble. Occasionally a playwright allows his ordering of his ideas to
obscure the cue, or important idea. Undoubtedly the important word in
what follows is "christenings," but Chasuble runs on into various other
matters before Jack speaks. Consequently a hearer is a little startled
when Jack takes up the idea of christenings instead of anything
following it.

  _Chasuble._ In Paris! (_Shakes his head._) I fear that hardly points
  to any very serious state of mind at the last. You would no doubt wish
  me to make some slight allusion to this tragic domestic affliction
  next Sunday. (_Jack presses his hand convulsively_.) My sermon on the
  meaning of the manna in the wilderness can be adapted to almost any
  occasion, joyful, or, as in the present case, distressing. (_All
  sigh_.) I have preached it at harvest celebrations, christenings,
  confirmations, on days of humiliation and festal days. The last time I
  delivered it was in the Cathedral, as a charity sermon on behalf of
  the Society for the Prevention of Discontent among the Upper Orders.
  The Bishop, who was present, was much struck by some of the analogies
  I drew.

  _Jack._ Ah! That reminds me, you mentioned christenings I think, Dr.
  Chasuble? I suppose you know how to christen all right? (_Dr. Chasuble
  looks astounded._) I mean, of course, you are continually christening,
  aren't you?[62]

It is true that the last part of Chasuble's speech illustrates his
volubility, and that the way in which Jack picks up the idea,
"christening," shows that he is so absorbed in his purpose as to pay no
attention to anything Chasuble says after "christenings." Here,
therefore, the method is probably justified, but ordinarily the end of
one speech leads into the next, and when something which breaks the
sequence stands between, it must prove its right to be there, or be
postponed for later treatment, or be cut out altogether. What
re-ordering will do for a dialogue which is uninteresting and somewhat
confused was shown in the revising of the extract from the John Brown
play (pp. 309-313). There is a brilliant instance, in Miss Anglin's
version of _Lady Windermere's Fan_, of re-ordering such that a climax of
interest develops from groups of somewhat independent sentences.

  ORIGINAL                             REVISION

  _Lady Plymdale._ My dear             _Dumby._ Awful manners young
  Margaret, what a fascinating         Hopper has!
  woman your husband has been
  dancing with! I should be quite      _Cecil Graham._ Ah! Hopper is one
  jealous if I were you! Is she a      of Nature's gentlemen, the worst
  great friend of yours?               type of gentleman I know.

  _Lady Windermere._ No.               _Lady Jedburgh._ What a
                                       fascinating woman Mrs. Erlynne
  _Lady Plymdale._ Really?             is! She is coming to lunch
  Good night, dear.                    on Thursday, won't you come too?
     (_Looks at Mr. Dumby, and         I expect the Bishop and dear
       exit._)                         Lady Merton.

  _Dumby._ Awful manners young         _Lady Windermere._ I am afraid I
  Hopper has!                          am engaged, Lady Jedburgh.

  _Cecil Graham._ Ah! Hopper is        _Lady Jedburgh._ So sorry. Good
  one of Nature's gentlemen, the       night. Come, dear.
  worst type of gentleman I know.
                                         (_Exeunt Lady Jedburgh and
                                            Miss Graham._)
  _Dumby._ Sensible woman,
  Lady Windermere. Lots of wives       _Dumby._ Sensible woman,
  would have objected to Mrs.          Lady Windermere. Lots of
  Erlynne coming. But Lady             wives would have objected to
  Windermere has that uncommon         Mrs. Erlynne coming. But
  thing called common sense.           Lady Windermere has that
                                       uncommon thing called common
  _Cecil Graham._ And Windermere       sense.
  knows that nothing looks
  so like innocence as an              _Cecil Graham._ And Windermere
  indiscretion.                        knows that nothing looks so like
                                       innocence as an indiscretion.
  _Dumby._ Yes; dear Windermere
  is becoming almost modern.
  Never thought he would.              _Dumby._ Yes; dear Windermere
                                       is becoming almost modern. Never
    (_Bows to Lady Windermere          thought he would.
        and exit._)
                                       _Lady Plymdale._ Dumby!
  _Lady Jedburgh._ Good night,
  Lady Windermere. What a                (_Dumby bows to Lady
  fascinating woman Mrs. Erlynne            Windermere and exit._)
  is! She is coming to lunch on
  Thursday. Won't you come            _Lady Plymdale._ My Dear
  too? I expect the Bishop and        Margaret, what a fascinating
  dear Lady Merton.                   woman your husband has been
                                      dancing with! I should be quite
  _Lady Windermere._ I am afraid      jealous if I were you! Is she a
  I am engaged, Lady Jedburgh.        great friend of yours?

  _Lady Jedburgh._ So sorry.          _Lady Windermere._ No!
  Come, dear.
                                      _Lady Plymdale._ Really? Good
                                      night, dear.
    (_Exeunt Lady Jedburgh and
       Miss Graham._)                   (_Lady Plymdale exits._)
    _Enter Mrs. Erlynne and             _Enter Mrs. Erlynne and
      Lord Windermere._                   Lord Windermere._

  _Mrs. Erlynne._ Charming ball       _Mrs. Erlynne._ Charming ball
  it has been! Quite reminds me       it has been! Quite reminds me
  of old days.                        of old days.

    (_Sits on the sofa._)[63]           (_Sits on the sofa._)

Dialogue may be both clear and characterizing yet fail because it is
difficult to speak. Too many writers, as has been said, do not hear
their words but see them. Could any one who heard his words have penned
the lines, "She says she's sure she'll have a shock if she sees him."
That time "apt alliteration" was so artful that, setting her trap, she
caught a dramatist. Here is the amusing comment of a critic on an
author's protest that her lines have been misquoted and made to sound
difficult to deliver:

  In the review of the----Theatre's opening bill there occurred a line
  purporting to come from Miss Blank's psychic play, _The Turtle_. Miss
  Blank writes, "The line, which was either incorrectly spoken or heard,
  was not, 'How does one know one is one's self?' but 'How is one to
  know which is one's real self when one feels so different with
  different people?'" Naturally the reviewer of a play is as open to
  mistakes in noting down lines as the actor is in speaking them,
  particularly if the author is much given to the "one-one-one" style of
  construction. If, however, Miss Blank prefers her own version of the
  sentence, she is welcome to it.

Of course each writer is perfectly sure that his own ear will keep him
from errors of this kind, but even the greatest err. Did Shakespeare
write the opening lines of _Measure For Measure_, he the master of
exquisitely musical and perfectly chosen dramatic speech? Some scholars
believe he did. If so, in that second speech of the Duke which wearies
the jaws and tempts to every kind of slurring, Jove certainly nodded.

  _Enter Duke, Escalus, Lords and Attendants_

  _Duke._ Escalus!

  _Escalus._ My lord.

  _Duke._ Of government the properties to unfold,
  Would seem in me to affect speech and discourse,
  Since I am put to know that your own science
  Exceeds, in that, the lists of all advice
  My strength can give you: then no more remains,
  But that, to your sufficiency ...
   ... as your worth is able,
  And let them work.

Are the following straight translations from the old French farce,
_Pierre Patelin_,[64] as easy to speak as the revisions?

  TRANSLATION                          REVISION

  _Guillemette._ And don't forget      _Guillemette._ And if
  your dram, if you can come by        any one offers to stand treat,
  it for nothing.                      don't refuse.

  *       *       *       *            *       *       *       *

    (_Patelin is trying to cheat       (_Patelin is trying to cheat
      the Draper out of a piece          the Draper out of a piece
      of cloth._)                        of cloth._)

  _Patelin._ I don't care: give me     _Patelin._ I don't care: give me
  my money's worth. (_Whispering       my money's worth. (_Whispering
  in the Draper's ear._) I know of     in the Draper's ear._) I know of
  another coin or two nobody ever      some chink--
  got a smell of.

  _Draper._ Now you're talking!        _Draper._ Now you're talking!
  That would be capital.

  _Patelin._ In a word, I am hot       _Patelin._ (_Letting his hand
  for this piece, and have some        fall on the goods_.) This!
  I must.

The first revision certainly gives lines easier to speak. The writer of
the second revision hears it and knows the gesture, facial expression,
and intonation which must go with "This!" Dialogue which is perfectly
clear and characterizing should not be allowed to pass in the final
revision if at any point it is unnecessarily difficult to deliver.

From the preceding discussion it must be clear that the three essentials
of dialogue are clearness, helping the onward movement of the story, and
doing all this in character. Dialogue is, naturally, still better if it
possesses charm, grace, wit, irony, or beauty of its own. Dialogue which
merely states the facts is, as we have seen, likely to be dull or
commonplace. Well characterized dialogue still falls short of all
dialogue may be if it has none of the attributes just mentioned. Feeling
this strongly, the dramatists throughout the ages have striven to give
their dialogue attractiveness because of its style, forgetting that
above all for the dramatist it is true that "style is the man," and that
"style is a thinking out into language." Lyly, Shakespeare, in some of
the scenes of his early plays, Kyd in _The Spanish Tragedy_, John Dryden
in his Heroic Drama, Cibber and Lillo in their rhythmic prose which
often might be perfectly well printed as blank verse, strove to decorate
their dialogue from without--something sure to fail, either with the
immediate audience or with posterity. If the charm, the grace, the wit,
the irony of the dialogue does not come from the characters speaking,
that dialogue fails in what has been shown to be one of its chief
essentials, right characterization. Congreve emphasized this in that
classic of dramatic criticism, his letter _Concerning Humour in
Comedy_.[65] "A character of a splenetic and peevish humour should have
a satirical wit. A jolly and sanguine humour should have a facetious
wit. The former should speak positively; the latter, carelessly: for the
former observes and shows things as they are; the latter rather
overlooks nature, and speaks things as he would have them; and his wit
and humour have both of them a less alloy of judgment than the others."
Undoubtedly, however, the dramatist may do much in helping a character
to reveal these qualities, particularly beauty of thought or phrasing.
It is a conventional use supposed to make for beauty which _The
Rehearsal_ ridicules in the following scene, for at nearly all crises
the Heroic Drama rested on a simile for its strongest effect.

  _Prettyman._ How strange a captive am I grown of late!
  Shall I accuse my love or blame my fate?
  My love I cannot; that is too divine:
  And against fate what mortal dares repine?

    _Enter Chloris_

  But here she comes.
  Sure 'tis some blazing comet! is it not?  (_Lies down._)

  _Bayes._ Blazing comet! Mark that; egad, very fine.

  _Prettyman._ But I am so surpris'd with sleep, I cannot speak the
  rest. (_Sleeps._)

  _Bayes._ Does not that, now, surprise you, to fall asleep in the nick?
  His spirits exhale with the heat of his passion, and all that, and,
  swop, he falls asleep, as you see. Now, here she must make a simile.

  _Smith._ Where's the necessity of that, Mr. Bayes?

  _Bayes._ Because she's surprised. That's a general rule; you must ever
  make a simile when you're surprised; 'tis the new way of writing.

  _Chloris._ As some tall pine which we on Ætna find
  T' have stood the rage of many a boist'rous wind,
  Feeling without that flames within do play,
  Which would consume his root and sap away;
  He spreads his worsted arms unto the skies:
  Silently grieves, all pale, repines, and dies:
  So, shrouded up, your bright eye disappears.
  Break forth, bright scorching sun, and dry my tears.   (_Exit._)

  _John._ Mr. Bayes, methinks this simile wants a little application,

  _Bayes._ No faith; for it alludes to passion, to consuming, to dying,
  and all that, which, you know, are the natural effects of an amour.

    (Act II, sc. 3.)[66]

Why is it that the citation from Shakespeare in the left-hand column is
less satisfactory than that in the right-hand?

  _York._ To do that office            _Viola._ If I did love you
    of thine own good will               in my master's flame,
  Which tired majesty did make thee    With such a suffering, such a
    offer,                               deadly life,
  The resignation of thy state and     In your denial I would find no
    crown                                sense,
  To Henry Bolingbroke.                I would not understand it.

  _King Richard._ Give me the          _Olivia._ Why, what would you?
    crown.--Here cousin, seize
    the crown;                         _Viola._ Make me a willow
  Here, cousin,                          cabin at your gate,
  On this side my hand, and on         And call upon my soul within the
    that side thine.                     house;
  Now is this golden crown like a      Write loyal cantons of contemned
    deep well                            love
  That owes two buckets, filling       And sing them loud even in the
    one another,                         dead of night;
  The emptier ever dancing in the      Halloo your name to the
    air,                                 reverberate hills
  The other down, unseen, and          And make the babbling gossip of
    full of water.                       the air
  That bucket down and full of         Cry out "Olivia!" O, you should
    tears am I,                          not rest
  Drinking my griefs, whilst you       Between the elements of air and
    mount up on high,                    earth,
                                       But should pity me!
  _Bolingbroke._ I thought you
    had been willing to resign.        _Olivia._ You might do much[68]

  _King Richard._ My crown I am;
    but still my griefs are mine.
  You may my glories and my state
  But not my griefs; still I am
    king of those.[67]

The second extract is the more effective because the onward sweep of the
emotion of the scene reveals beauty as it moves, but the first shows
King Richard checking the course of his natural emotion in order suavely
and perfectly to develop his comparison. Of course there is beauty in
the first extract, but it is not genuine dramatic beauty. Why does one
find the following passage from _The Importance of Being Earnest_ (Act
I), delightful as it is, less fine than the passage from _The Way of the
World_ (Act II, Scene 5)?


  _Lady Bracknell._ (_Sitting down._) You can take a seat, Mr. Worthing.
    (_Looks in her pocket for notebook and pencil._)

  _Jack._ Thank you, Lady Bracknell, I prefer standing.

  _Lady Bracknell._ (_Pencil and notebook in hand._) I feel bound to
  tell you that you are not down on my list of eligible young men,
  although I have the same list as the dear Duchess of Bolton has. We
  work together, in fact. However, I am quite ready to enter your name,
  should your answers be what a really affectionate mother requires. Do
  you smoke?

  _Jack._ Well, yes, I must admit I smoke.

  _Lady Bracknell._ I am glad to hear it. A man should always have an
  occupation of some kind. There are far too many idle men in London as
  it is. How old are you?

  _Jack._ Twenty-nine.

  _Lady Bracknell._ A very good age to be married at. I have always been
  of opinion that a man who desires to get married should know either
  everything or nothing. Which do you know?

  _Jack._ (_After some hesitation._) I know nothing, Lady Bracknell.

  _Lady Bracknell._ I am pleased to hear it. I do not approve of
  anything that tempers with natural ignorance. Ignorance is like a
  delicate exotic fruit; touch it and the bloom is gone. The whole
  theory of modern education is radically unsound. Fortunately in
  England, at any rate, education produces no effect whatsoever. If it
  did, it would prove a serious danger to the upper classes, and
  probably lead to acts of violence in Grosvenor Square. What is your

  _Jack._ Between seven and eight thousand a year.

  _Lady Bracknell._ (_Makes a note in her book._) In land or

  _Jack._ In investments, chiefly.

  _Lady Bracknell._ That is satisfactory. What between the duties
  expected of one during one's lifetime, and the duties exacted from one
  after one's death, land has ceased to be either a profit or a
  pleasure. It gives one position and prevents one from keeping it up.
  That's all that can be said about land.

  _Jack._ I have a country house with some land, of course, attached to
  it, about fifteen hundred acres, I believe; but I don't depend on that
  for my income. In fact, as far as I can make out, the poachers are the
  only people who are making anything out of it.

  _Lady Bracknell._ A country house! How many bedrooms? Well, that point
  can be cleared up afterwards. You have a town house, I hope? A girl
  with a simple unspoiled nature, like Gwendolen, could hardly be
  expected to reside in the country.

  _Jack._ Well, I own a house in Belgrave Square, but it is let by the
  year to Lady Bloxham. Of course, I can get it back whenever I like, at
  six months' notice.

  _Lady Bracknell._ Lady Bloxham? I don't know her.

  _Jack._ Oh, she goes about very little. She is a lady considerably
  advanced in years.

  _Lady Bracknell._ Ah, nowadays that is no guarantee of respectability
  of character. What number in Belgrave Square?

  _Jack._ 149.

  _Lady Bracknell._ (_Shaking her head._) The unfashionable side. I
  thought there was something. However, that could easily be altered.

  _Jack_. Do you mean the fashion or the side?

  _Lady Bracknell._ (_Sternly_.) Both, if necessary, I presume. What are
  your politics?

  _Jack._ Well, I'm afraid I really have none. I am a Liberal Unionist.

  _Lady Bracknell._ Oh, they count as Tories. They dine with us. Or come
  in the evening, at any rate. Now to minor matters. Are your parents

  _Jack._ I have lost both my parents.

  _Lady Bracknell._ Both?--That seems like carelessness. Who was your
  father? He was evidently a man of some wealth. Was he born in what the
  Radical papers call the purple of commerce, or did he rise from the
  ranks of the aristocracy?

  _Jack._ I'm afraid I really don't know. The fact is, Lady Bracknell, I
  said I had lost my parents. It would be nearer the truth to say that
  my parents seem to have lost me--I don't actually know who I am by
  birth. I was--well, I was found.

  _Lady Bracknell._ Found!

  _Jack._ The late Mr. Thomas Cardew, an old gentleman of a very
  charitable and kindly disposition, found me and gave me the name of
  Worthing, because he happened to have a first-class ticket for
  Worthing at the time. Worthing is a place in Sussex. It is a seaside

  _Lady Bracknell._ Where did the gentleman who had a first-class ticket
  for this seaside resort find you?

  _Jack._ (_Gravely._) In a hand-bag.

  _Lady Bracknell._ A hand-bag!

  _Jack._ (_Very seriously._) Yes, Lady Bracknell. I was in a
  hand-bag--a somewhat large, black leather hand-bag, with handles to
  it--an ordinary hand-bag in fact.

  _Lady Bracknell._ In what locality did this Mr. James, or Thomas,
  Cardew come across this ordinary hand-bag?

  _Jack._ In the cloak-room at the Victoria Station. It was given to him
  in mistake for his own.

  _Lady Bracknell._ The cloak-room at Victoria Station?

  _Jack._ Yes, the Brighton line.

  _Lady Bracknell._ The line is immaterial. Mr. Worthing, I confess I
  feel somewhat bewildered by what you have just told me. To be born, or
  at any rate, bred in a hand-bag, whether it had handles or not, seems
  to me to display a contempt for the ordinary decencies of family life
  that remind one of the worst excesses of the French Revolution. And I
  presume you know what that unfortunate movement led to? As for the
  particular locality in which the hand-bag was found, a cloak-room at a
  railway station might serve to conceal a social indiscretion--has
  probably, indeed, been used for that purpose before now--but it could
  hardly be regarded as an assured basis for a recognized position in
  good society.

  _Jack._ May I ask you then what you would advise me to do? I need
  hardly say I would do anything in the world to ensure Gwendolen's

  _Lady Bracknell._ I would strongly advise you, Mr. Worthing, to try
  and acquire some relations as soon as possible, and to make a definite
  effort to produce at any rate one parent, of either sex, before the
  season is quite over.

  _Jack._ Well, I don't see how I could possibly manage to do that. I
  can produce the hand-bag at any moment. It is in my dressing-room at
  home. I really think that should satisfy you, Lady Bracknell.

  _Lady Bracknell._ Me, sir! What has it to do with me? You can hardly
  imagine that I and Lord Bracknell would dream of allowing our only
  daughter--a girl brought up with the utmost care--to marry into a
  cloak-room, and form an alliance with a parcel? Good morning, Mr.

    (_Lady Bracknell sweeps out in majestic indignation_.)[69]


    _Enter Mrs. Millamant, Witwoud, Mincing_

  _Mirabell._ Here she comes, i'faith, full sail, with her fan spread
  and streamers out, and a shoal of fools for tenders; ha, no, I cry her

  _Mrs. Fainall._ I see but one poor empty sculler; and he tows her
  woman after him.

  _Mirabell._ (_To Mrs. Millamant._) You seem to be unattended,
  Madam--you us'd to have the beau monde throng after you; and a flock
  of gay fine perukes hovering round you.

  _Witwoud._ Like moths about a candle,--I had like to have lost my
  comparison for want of breath.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ Oh, I have denied myself airs today, I have walk'd
  as fast through the crowd--

  _Witwoud._ As a favourite just disgraced; and with as few followers.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ Dear Mr. Witwoud, truce with your similitudes; for I
  am as sick of 'em--

  _Witwoud._ As a physician of good air--I cannot help it, Madam, though
  'tis against myself.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ Yet again! Mincing, stand between me and his wit.

  _Witwoud._ Do, Mrs. Mincing, like a screen before a great fire. I
  confess I do blaze today, I am too bright.

  _Mrs. Fainall._ But, dear Millamant, why were you so long?

  _Mrs. Millamant._ Long! Lord, have I not made violent haste? I have
  ask'd every living thing I met for you; I have enquir'd after you, as
  after a new fashion.

  _Witwoud._ Madam, truce with your similitudes--no, you met her
  husband, and did not ask him for her.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ By your leave, Witwoud, that were like enquiring
  after an old fashion, to ask a husband for his wife.

  _Witwoud._ Hum, a hit, a hit, a palpable hit, I confess it.

  _Mrs. Fainall._ You were dress'd before I came abroad.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ Ay, that's true--O but then I had--Mincing, what had
  I? why was I so long?

  _Mincing._ O mem, your La'ship staid to peruse a pacquet of letters.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ O, ay, letters--I had letters--I am persecuted with
  letters--I hate letters--nobody knows how to write letters, and yet
  one has 'em one does not know why--they serve one to pin up one's

  _Witwoud._ Is that the way? Pray, Madam, do you pin up your hair with
  all your letters? I find I must keep copies.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ Only with those in verse, Mr. Witwoud, I never pin
  up my hair with prose. I think I try'd once, Mincing.

  _Mincing._ O mem, I shall never forget it.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ Ay, poor Mincing tift and tift all the morning.

  _Mincing._ 'Till I had the cramp in my fingers, I'll vow, mem. And all
  to no purpose. But when your Laship pins it up with poetry, it fits so
  pleasant the next day as anything, and is so pure and so crips.

  _Witwoud._ Indeed, so crips.

  _Mincing._ You're such a critic, Mr. Witwoud.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ Mirabell, did you take exceptions last night? O ay,
  and went away--now I think on't, I'm angry--no, now I think on't I'm
  pleas'd--for I believe I gave you some pain.

  _Mirabell._ Does that please you?

  _Mrs. Millamant._ Infinitely; I love to give pain.

  _Mirabell._ You wou'd affect a cruelty which is not in your nature;
  your true vanity is in the power of pleasing.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ O I ask your pardon for that--one's cruelty is in
  one's power; and when one parts with one's cruelty, one parts with
  one's power; and when one has parted with that, I fancy one's old and

  _Mirabell._ Ay, ay, suffer your cruelty to ruin the object of your
  power, to destroy your lover--and then how vain, how lost a thing
  you'll be! nay, 'tis true: you are no longer handsome when you've lost
  your lover; your beauty dies upon the instant; for beauty is the
  lover's gift; 'tis he bestows your charms--your glass is all a cheat.
  The ugly and the old, whom the looking-glass mortifies, yet after
  commendation can be flatter'd by it, and discover beauties in it; for
  that reflects our praises rather than our face.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ O the vanity of these men! Fainall, d'ye hear him?
  If they did not commend us, we were not handsome! now you must know
  they cou'd not commend one, if one was not handsome. Beauty the
  lover's gift--Lord, what is a lover, that it can give? Why, one makes
  lovers as fast as one pleases, and they live as long as one pleases,
  and they die as soon as one pleases; and then if one pleases, one
  makes more.

  _Witwoud._ Very pretty. Why, you make no more of making of lovers,
  Madam, than of making so many card-matches.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ One no more owes one's beauty to a lover than one's
  wit to an echo; they can but reflect what we look and say; vain empty
  things if we are silent or unseen, and want a being.

  _Mirabell._ Yet to those two vain empty things you owe the two
  greatest pleasures of your life.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ How so?

  _Mirabell._ To your lover you owe the pleasure of hearing yourselves
  prais'd; and to an echo the pleasure of hearing yourselves talk.

  _Witwoud._ But I know a lady that loves talking so incessantly, she
  won't give an echo fair play; she has that everlasting rotation of the
  tongue, that an echo must wait 'till she dies before it can catch her
  last words.

  _Mrs. Millamant._ O fiction! Fainall, let us leave these men.[70]

Is not the dialogue of Congreve the finer because one feels in Wilde the
ringmaster showing off his figures, and with Congreve is not conscious
of the author at all? That is, the wit of the first passage is an
assisted wit, edged, underscored, selectively phrased by a skilful
author. In the second, everything springs seemingly unassisted from the
characters. The range of accomplishment from obvious search for beauty
in consciously made similes, through such relatively fine accomplishment
as Wilde shows, to such perfect work as that of Congreve, should be
carefully studied by the would-be dramatist. John Ford's wonderful lines

  Parthenophil is like to something I remember,
  A great while since, a long, long time ago

hold the memory not merely because of the loveliness of their haunting
melody, but because they are in character and help to portray the
wistful bewilderment of the moment. Why go far afield searching for the
phrase that shall give charm, grace, beauty? Look into the souls of your
characters and find them there. Either you haven't seen them or, not
being there, they cannot properly appear in your text. Mr. W. B. Yeats
tells of rehearsing a young actress who stumbled constantly over the

  And then I looked up and saw you coming toward me, I know not whether
  from the north, the south, the east or the west.

She gave it with no sense of its contained rhythm, and always came to a
full stop after "toward me," adding the last words almost unwillingly.
When asked why she did this, she said that all which followed seemed to
her unnecessary: the important fact was contained in what preceded. It
took much rehearsing to make the young woman see that the music of the
line is characteristic of the dales people, and so has characterizing
value, and that she had totally forgotten the situation of the woman
speaking. A peddler has come to the only hut in a lonely valley. The
woman welcomes him heartily, not that she may buy, but because after
days in which she has seen no one except her "man," she is greedy for
talk. Having bargained as long as she can, very regretfully she sees the
man departing, and, other topics being exhausted, she tells him of her
pleasure in his coming, spinning out her phrase as long as she possibly
can in order to hold him. Out of that set of conditions springs a highly
characterizing phrase that also has beauty. If Synge had done no more by
his plays than to make us recognize in the speech of the peasant the
characterizing power and the beauty for him who has "the eye to see and
the ear to hear," his work would deserve permanent fame. He states his
ideas in the preface to _The Playboy of the Western World._

  In writing _The Playboy of the Western World_, as in my other plays, I
  have used one or two words only that I have not heard among the
  country people of Ireland, or spoken in my own nursery before I could
  read the newspapers. A certain number of the phrases I employ I have
  heard also from herds and fishermen along the coast from Kerry to
  Mayo, or from beggar-women and ballad-singers near Dublin; and I am
  glad to acknowledge how much I owe to the folk-imagination of these
  fine people. Any one who has lived in real intimacy with the Irish
  peasantry will know that the wildest sayings and ideas in this play
  are tame indeed, compared with the fancies one may hear in any little
  hillside cabin in Geesala, or Carraroe, or Dingle Bay. All art is a
  collaboration; and there is little doubt that in the happy ages of
  literature, striking and beautiful phrases were as ready to the
  story-teller's or the playwright's hand as the rich cloaks and dresses
  of his time. It is probable that when the Elizabethan dramatist took
  his ink-horn and sat down to his work he used many phrases that he had
  just heard as he sat at dinner, from his mother or his children. In
  Ireland, those of us who know the people have the same privilege. When
  I was writing _The Shadow of the Glen_, some years ago, I got more aid
  than any learning could have given me from a chink in the floor of the
  old Wicklow house where I was staying, that let me hear what was
  being said by the servant girls in the kitchen. This matter, I think,
  is of importance for in countries where the imagination of the people,
  and the language they use, is rich and living, it is possible for a
  writer to be rich and copious in his words, and at the same time to
  give the reality, which is the root of all poetry, in a comprehensive
  and natural form. In the modern literature of towns, however, richness
  is found only in sonnets, or prose poems, or in one or two elaborate
  books that are far away from the profound and common interests of
  life. One has, on one side, Mallarmé and Huysmans producing this
  literature; and on the other Ibsen and Zola dealing with the reality
  of life in joyless and pallid words. On the stage one must have
  reality, and one must have joy; and that is why the intellectual
  modern drama has failed, and people have grown sick of the false joy
  of the musical comedy, that has been given them in place of the rich
  joy found only in what is superb and wild in reality. In a good play
  every speech should be as fully flavoured as a nut or apple, and such
  speeches cannot be written by any one who works among people who have
  shut their lips on poetry. In Ireland, for a few years more, we have a
  popular imagination that is fiery and magnificent, and tender; so that
  those of us who wish to write start with a chance that is not given to
  writers in places where the springtime of the local life has been
  forgotten, and the harvest is a memory only, and the straw has been
  turned into bricks.[71]

As Ibsen says, "Style must conform to the degree of ideality which
pervades the representation."

  You are of opinion that the drama ought to have been written in verse,
  and that it would have gained by this. Here I must differ from you.
  The play is, as you must have observed, conceived in the most
  realistic style; the illusion I wished to produce was that of reality.
  I wished to produce the impression on the reader that what he was
  reading was something that had really happened. If I had employed
  verse I should have counteracted my own intention and prevented the
  accomplishment of the task I had set myself. The many ordinary,
  insignificant characters whom I have intentionally introduced into the
  play would have become indistinct, and indistinguishable from one
  another, if I had allowed all of them to speak in one and the same
  rhythmical measure. We are no longer living in the days of
  Shakespeare. Speaking generally, the style must conform to the degree
  of ideality which pervades the representation. My new drama is no
  tragedy in the ancient acceptation; what I desired to depict were
  human beings, and therefore I would not let them talk "the language of
  the Gods."[72]

The dramatist who would write dialogue of the highest order should have
not only an inborn and highly trained feeling for the emotional
significance of the material in hand; a fine feeling for
characterization; ability to write dialogue which states facts in
character; and the power to bring out whatever charm, grace, irony, wit,
or other specially attractive qualities his characters permit; also he
should have, or develop, a strong feeling for the nicest use of
language. Dumas fils said, "There should be something of the poet, the
artist in words, in every dramatist."


  [1] _The Far East_, June 6, 1914, p. 295.

  [2] _The Devonshire Hamlets_, pp. 1-2.

  [3] _The Devonshire Hamlets_, pp. 26-27.

  [4] Act I. Scene 1. Belles-Lettres Series. Austin Dobson, ed. D. C.
    Heath & Co.

  [5] _Hindle Wakes_, Stanley Houghton. J.W. Luce & Co., Boston;
    Sidgwick & Jackson, Ltd., London.

  [6] _York Plays_, p. 363. L. T. Smith, ed. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

  [7] _Ludus Coventriæ_, p. 322. J. O. Halliwell, ed. Shakespeare

  [8] _Plays_, pp. 71-72 Copyright, 1915, by Chas. Scribner's Sons, New

  [9] B. W. Huebsch. New York.

  [10] _Julius Cæsar_, Act III, Scene 3.

  [11] _The London Merchant, or The History of George Barnwell_, Act I,
    Scene 1. George Lillo. Sir A.W. Ward, ed. Belles-Lettres Series. D.
    C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York.

  [12] _Works_, R.W. Bond, ed. Clarendon Press, Oxford.

  [13] _Selected Dramas of John Dryden. Conquest of Granada_. G. R.
    Noyes, ed.

  [14] Belles-Lettres Series. Sir A. W. Ward, ed. D. C. Heath & Co.,
    Boston and New York.

  [15] _L'Année Psychologique_, 1894, p. 120.

  [16] _The Nigger_, Act I. Edward Sheldon. The Macmillan Co., New

  [17] _The Devonshire Hamlets_, p. 99.

  [18] _Letters of Bulwer-Lytton to Macready_, p. 130. B. Matthews, ed.

  [19] _Fortune by Land and Sea._ T. Heywood and W. Rowley. W. B.
    Clarke Co, Boston.

  [20] _From Ibsen's Workshop_, p. 162. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New

  [21] _Prose Dramas_, vol. 1, p. 377. _Idem_.

  [22] _From Ibsen's Workshop_, p. 171. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New

  [23] _Prose Dramas_, vol. i, p. 386. _Idem_.

  [24] _The Ambassador._ T. Fisher Unwin, London.

  [25] Samuel French, New York.

  [26] _Mistress Beatrice Cope._ M. E. Le Clerc. D. Appleton & Co., New

  [27] _The Devonshire Hamlets_, pp. 4, 6.

  [28] _Becket._ Tennyson. The Macmillan Co.

  [29] _Becket._ Arranged by Sir Henry Irving. _Idem._

  [30] _George Riddle's Readings._ Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston.

  [31] _The Origin of the English Drama_, vol. II, p. 48. T. Hawkins,
    ed. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1773.

  [32] _Antony and Cleopatra_, Act I, Scene 1.

  [33] Belles-Lettres Series. K. L. Bates, ed. D. C. Heath & Co.,
    Boston and New York.

  [34] _Pre-Shakesperean Drama_, vol. 1, p. 300. J. M. Manly. Ginn &
    Co., Boston.

  [35] _Early Plays_, p. 72. C. G. Child. Riverside Literature Series,
    No. 191. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston.

  [36] Samuel French, New York.

  [37] Note that this is a literary detail effective for readers only.
    At best the first row of spectators alone could identify the title of
    the book.

  [38] _Justice._ Copyright, 1910, by John Galsworthy. Chas. Scribner's
    Sons, New York.

  [39] _Die Frau im Fenster._ Theater in Versen. H. von Hofmannsthal.
    S. Fischer, Berlin.

  [40] The final scene of Act IV of _Nathan Hale_ shows effective use
    of pantomime.

  [41] Walter H. Baker & Co., Boston; W. Heinemann, London.

  [42] _The Great Divide_, Act I. The Macmillan Co., New York.

  [43] Translated by Arthur Symons. Brentano, New York.

  [44] For such skilful substitution of pantomime for words, see pp.
    388-89, _Lady Windermere's Fan_.

  [45] _Robert Louis Stevenson, the Dramatist_, p. 15. Sir A.W. Pinero.
    Chiswick Press, London. For the play see _Three Plays_, Henley and
    Stevenson. Chas. Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [46] Samuel French, New York.

  [47] _The Duchesse of Malfi_, Act V, Scene 4. Belles-Lettres Series.
    M. W. Sampson, ed. D. C. Heath & Co., Boston and New York.

  [48] _Othello_, Act II, Scene 1.

  [49] _Othello_, Act III, Scene 3.

  [50] _Drama League Series_. Hannah Lynch, tr. Doubleday, Page & Co.

  [51] _Plays_, vol. 1. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston.

  [52] _Plays_, vol. 1. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston.

  [53] _Introduction to Browning_, pp. 85-86. H. Corson. D. C. Heath &

  [54] _The Ring and the Book_. Robert Browning. Tauchnitz ed., vol.
    IV. Leipzig.

  [55] Act II, Scene 2. Samuel French, New York.

  [56] _Plays_, vol. II, pp. 150-51. J. Tonson. London, 1730.

  [57] _The Foundations of a National Drama_, p. 23. H. A. Jones.
   George H. Doran Company, New York.

  [58] _Concerning Humour in Comedy. A Letter. European Theories of the
    Drama_, pp. 213-214. Ed. B. H. Clark. Stewart and Kidd Co.,

  [59] _The Devonshire Hamlets_, p. 28.

  [60] Belles-Lettres Series, pp. 271-273. A. Bates, ed. D.C. Heath &
    Co., Boston.

  [61] _Plays of Oscar Wilde_, vol. 1, _Lady Windermere's Fan_. J. W.
    Luce & Co., Boston.

  [62] _Idem_, vol. II. _The Importance of Being Earnest._

  [63] _Plays of Oscar Wilde_, vol. 1. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston.

  [64] Walter H. Baker Co., Boston.

  [65] _Dramatic Works_, vol. II, pp. 222-223. London, 1773.

  [66] Geo. Villiers, Duke of Buckingham. _Selected Dramas of John
    Dryden, with The Rehearsal_, p. 399. G.R. Noyes, ed. Scott, Freeman &

  [67] _Richard the Second_, Act IV. Scene 1.

  [68] _Twelfth Night_, Act I, Scene 5.

  [69] _Plays of Oscar Wilde_, vol. II. J. W. Luce & Co., Boston.

  [70] _Dramatic Works of William Congreve_, vol. II. pp. 111-117. S.
    Crowder, London, 1773.

  [71] J. W. Luce & Co., Boston.

  [72] _The Letters of Henrik Ibsen_, p. 269. Letter to Edmund Gosse,
    January 15, 1874. Fox, Duffield & Co., New York.



There is frequent and decided divergence of opinion among dramatists as
to the value of a scenario,--the outline of a play which the dramatist
purposes to write or has already written. Some dramatists very carefully
prepare a detailed outline before they settle down to writing a play.
Others, equally well-known on the stage assert: "I never think of
mapping out in detail what I intend to write. When I begin, I may know
only my central situation or little more than my main characters in
broadest outline. I simply write and rewrite until the perfected
manuscript lies before me." Another declares that although he has no
scenario, he does use some notes. Showing these notes,--an accumulation
of ideas as they have come to him from time to time, written anywhere on
a single sheet without apparent order or form,--he asks triumphantly
whether this can be called a scenario. Whatever the opinion of a
dramatist as to the usual value to him of a scenario, he can hardly deny
that there are times when it is very convenient to have a scenario of a
play not yet completed. Plays sometimes have a curious, unexpected way
of forcing themselves on the attention of a writer when his mind should
be engrossed with another play. Ideas wholly irrelevant to the play in
question keep surging into the dramatist's mind and drawing his
attention from the subject in which he wishes to be interested. Often he
can relieve his mind of this Banquo-like play, not by stopping to write
it out in full, but by putting a careful outline of it on paper and
storing this away until such time as he has opportunity to work out the
play from this scenario. Or it may be that a dramatist sees that plays
he has submitted to some manager or actor are not attractive, but that
some subject which as yet lies only half-formed in his mind finds, when
mentioned, a ready response. Here is the best opportunity for use of a
good scenario. Submit such to the actor or manager in question and even
if a contract does not follow, the promise, "I will produce your play if
it is as good as your scenario" is very likely to be made. Admitting
then, for the moment, that some dramatists believe they can get on
equally well without a scenario as a prerequisite for one of their
plays, what are the main characteristics of a good scenario--this form
of outline which some dramatists have found very useful in their work?

In the first place, the word "scenario" has been very carelessly used.
It is often applied to as brief a set of notes as the following,
intended by Ibsen merely to suggest to his correspondent in the broadest
possible way the play which he thinks might be made from the poem which
he has been discussing:

  Have you not noticed that you have in the division of your poem
  entitled, _A Norwegian Sculptor_, the subject for a five-act popular
  play (Folkeskuespil)? Act 1. In the Mountains. The wood-carver. The
  art-enthusiast from the capital discovers him and takes him away with
  him. Act 2. In Christiania. The boy the hero of the day; great hopes;
  sent to Rome. Act. 3. In Rome. Life there among the artists and the
  Italian lower class. Act 4. Many years later. Return to Christiania;
  forgotten; everything changed. Act 5. At home again in the mountain
  parish; ruin. Write this with songs and dances and popular costumes
  and irony and devilry.[1] ...

In the following from _Little Stories of New Plays_ we have a far better
summary than in the instance just cited, but surely even this is an
outline and not a dramatic scenario, for intentionally it does not
convey to a reader just that for which he would go to the theatre, the
emotional treatment of the scenes--here given only in the merest




    _Dr. Lucius O'Grady._              _Constable Moriarity, R.I.C._
    _Timothy Doyle._                   _Tom Kerrigan, bandmaster._
    _Major Ken._                       _Rev. Father McCormack._
    _Thaddeus Golligher._              _Lord Alfred Blakeney._
    _Horace P. Billing._               _Mrs. de Courvy._
    _C. Gregg, district inspector._    _Mrs. Gregg._
    _Sergeant Colgan, R.I.C._          _Mary Ellen._

  _Into Ballymoy, a sleepy little town in the west of Ireland, comes
  Horace P. Billing, one gentle summer day, and spins in the market
  place a tale of a certain General John Regan, who, he said, these many
  years agone had been born and had sailed from Ballymoy to free the
  oppressed people of Bolivia, and who was the great national hero of
  that Republic from that time to the present day._

  _Comes there to listen to his tale one Doctor Lucius O'Grady, whose
  nose can no more keep out of other people's business than can his busy
  brain refrain from all manner of schemings or his tongue from uttering
  the grandest, gloriousest, whooping lies that the mouth of man e'er

  _To the American tourist he unreels anecdote and episode dealing with
  the romantic life of the great General while he had been yet a boy in
  Ballymoy. He sends Golligher, the editor of the Connaught Eagle, to
  show the American gentleman the birthplace of the General, a broken
  down cow-shed, in a nearby field._

  _The American leaves Ballymoy wildly excited and fermenting under the
  constant nagging of the doctor's busy self and never resting tongue,
  and promises that he will be back in a few days, and that in the
  meantime, should the citizens of Ballymoy have enough patriotism in
  them to erect a statue of their great townie in the market place, he
  would contribute a hundred pounds towards it._

  _This sets the Doctor at work with even more (if possible) vim. He
  gets Doyle to promise to contribute ten pounds, the parish priest_
  _(though it nearly breaks the good father's heart) ten also, Major
  Kent, the local landlord, another ten, and keeps the list
  himself--explaining that it is not necessary for him to put himself
  down for anything for that reason._

  _It develops that Doyle has a nephew in Dublin who is a mortuary
  sculptor, and has a statue of some deceased citizen on hand which was
  never paid for. This statue Doyle's nephew agrees to sell to Ballymoy
  for some eighty-odd pounds. The Doctor arranges to buy it, thus
  figuring that there will be a balance of twenty pounds out of the
  American's contribution to divide among themselves. This pleases
  Doyle, Father McCormack, and Golligher_ (_who form the statue
  committee_) _very much; but unfortunately, it develops also that Doyle
  has neglected to get the money from the American for the statue before
  he left._

  _This does not stump the Doctor in the least, however. Among his plans
  for the unveiling of the statue is the appearance of Mary Ellen, the
  servant in Doyle's hotel, as a green fairy, and the appearance of the
  Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to make a speech. He suggests that when the
  Lord Lieutenant appears, they ask him for five hundred pounds for a
  pier--as the town already has but five or six piers--and that the
  money for the statue be taken out of that. The Major objects to this,
  but the Doctor's ability to explain does not desert him, and the Major
  is satisfied._

  _The great day of the unveiling finally arrives. The statue from the
  mortuary sculptor in Dublin is standing in the market place, with a
  veil over it. A letter comes from the Lord Lieutenant to the effect
  that he has never heard of General John Regan, can find no record of
  him in any history of any country on the globe, and, in the person of
  his aide de camp, Lord Al Blakeney, protests and accuses Ballymoy of
  having put a hoax over on him and all that sort of bally rot, by

  _The Doctor rises to the occasion beautifully. The aide de camp is
  made to make a speech as a representative of the Lord Lieutenant, and
  Mary Ellen unveils the statue, disclosing a hideous caricature of a
  grinning dead man in an ill-fitting business suit._

  _At that moment the American appears, explains grandly that there is
  no such man as General John Regan, and says that if the Doctor can
  prove to him that the General is not a fiction he himself will give
  the five hundred pounds for the pier--as, he says, "the show is worth

  _The Doctor merely asks the American to prove to the satisfaction of
  the assembled townsfolk that the General does not exist_.

  _Billing gives it up and writes out a check to the Doctor's order for
  five hundred pounds, while the Doctor poses grandly before the cheers
  of the assembled and admiring populace of Ballymoy._[2]

Here, too, is an outline which led to a very dramatic sermon. Obviously
it is a satisfactory summary of the story underlying the sermon, but
just what it would give a reader, if it were a perfect scenario, is
lacking--namely, suggestion of the emotional treatment of the scenes
which is to make them worth the manager's or actor's producing:


  _The arrangement of the platform will suggest the bare condition of
  the home in the first part of the sermon, and in the second part will
  show the improved condition a year later._


  _Dan Howard comes home discouraged. He cannot get work. Christmas is
  approaching. His wife keeps his courage up and that of the family. The
  Minister calls and is not received kindly by Dan Howard, who does not
  believe in the church. He promises to get Dan work and thus proves
  himself a true friend in need. Misfortune has come to the home. The
  oldest boy is drinking and the next son has been arrested for theft.
  Things looks very black. It is Christmas eve and the father compels
  the children to go to bed. He tells them Santa Claus will not come
  to-night. But they hang up their stockings by the fireplace._


  _A year later. Things have changed. The home is better. All are happy
  tonight. The father has had steady work and so they are to have a good
  Christmas this year. The boys are doing well. The family all go to
  church now and it has made a difference in them all. The children have
  gone to bed with joy tonight. Dan Howard tells his wife what a help
  she has been to him through thick and thin. While they stand talking
  they hear the carol singers from the church, singing outside their
  home. The Minister comes in and is made very welcome. While they
  exchange greetings the Christmas Carol is sung and the beautiful
  illuminated star shines out in the night._

The following may be full of dramatic suggestion for its writer, but if
we mean by scenario a document which, when handed to a manager or actor,
is to arouse his enthusiasm because it tells him interestingly just what
a proposed play will do, this is not a scenario at all.


[Diagram of stage]

_Dramatis Personæ_

    _Sylvia Macshane, the actress._
    _Norman Pritchard, the manager._
    _Laddie Benton, the poet._
    _The Imp_, sentinel at Ventilator X-10, Hell.

  SCENE: _Room in a well-furnished apartment, New York City. Large
  round-topped window back right, matched by large semicircular mirror
  over fireplace back left. Mirror space later serves as Ventilator


  _I. Curtain rises on crimson sunset in room of apartment.
  Actress and Manager in jealous love scene.
  Enter the bone of contention--the Poet.
  Quarrel scene--Poet crushed.
  By accident Actress drinks Poet's suicide potion.
  Poet strangles Manager, Actress smashes chair on Poet.
  The lamp is knocked over.
  Black darkness accompanied by shrieks._

  _II. In red glow of semi-circular opening appear Imp and two mutes.
  Humorous talk of their job, guarding this ventilator of Hell.
  The Poet's face appears, followed by Manager's and Actress'.
  Both Heaven and Hell have refused them admission.
  Explanations by Imp--they are not truly dead.
  Renewed quarrels--Actress shows she loves neither one.
  She returns to earth.
  They pursue her.
  Imp is ordered to close ventilator.
  Black darkness again._

  _III. Moonlight in the apartment.
  Actress, Poet, and Manager where they fell on the floor.
  They arouse--each believes the others ghosts.
  Explanations--light;--the men's quarrel renewed and dropped forever.
  Poet and Manager plan to make a play of the nightmare.
  Actress is wildly jealous of their new-found friendship.
  She cajoles each--then quarrels ferociously with each.
  They are proof against her and prepare to go.
  She demands a part in the play, gets it, and stamps off to her room.
  Poet and Manager depart cheerily planning._

Obviously _General John Regan_ is offered not as a scenario, but a
summary. All the other so-called "scenarios" are planned only to suggest
to the writer or somebody fully acquainted with the content of his mind
on the subject what, in broadest terms, may be done with the material.
They are all too broadly referential, too vague, to be of real use to a
manager or actor looking for a play to produce.

What, then, is the work a real scenario should do? It must show clearly
just what is the story, slight or complicated, which the play is to
present. It must make the reader understand who the people of the play
are, their relations to one another, and anything in their past or
present history which he must know if the play at the outset or in its
course is to produce upon him the effect desired by the writer. It must
tell him where the play takes place--that is, what the settings are, and
in such a way as to create atmosphere if anything more than a mere
suggestion of background is desirable. It must let the reader see into
how many acts the play will break up, and into what scenes if there be
more than one setting to an act. Above all, it must make perfectly clear
what is the nature of the play--comedy, tragedy, tragi-comedy, farce, or
melodrama, and whether it merely tells a story, is a character study, a
play of ideas, a problem play, or a fantasy. Proportioning and emphasis
as already explained in chapters V and VI will, if rightly understood,
bring out correctly in a scenario all these matters of form and purpose.

A good scenario begins with a list of the _dramatis personæ_, that is, a
statement of the names and, broadly, the relations of the characters to
one another. If the ages are important, they may be given. Without a
list of _dramatis personæ_ a reader must go far into the scenario before
he can decide who the people are and what are their relations to one
another. As the following scenario shows, he may easily guess wrong and
is sure to be uncertain:

  SCENARIO. _As the curtain rises Nat is seated at the right of centre
  table, planning an attack upon a fort of blocks with an army of wooden
  soldiers. A drum lies on the floor beside him. Enter Benny, a bag over
  his shoulder. They salute each other and throughout use frequent
  military terms in their talk. Benny has just returned from the village
  and he gives an account of his trip and his purchases. Mention is made
  of the probable war with Spain. Benny then surprises Nat with a letter
  from Harold, which proves to contain an announcement that war has been
  declared and that Harold has enlisted. The two are proud and delighted
  at the thought of their hero. They recall his former discontent on the
  farm, the day of his departure to seek his fortune in the city, his
  statement that he was "no soldier"--now so gloriously disproved.
  Harold enters in the midst of their preparations for dinner. He is
  gaunt and shabby and has a nervous hunted air. He receives their
  plaudits sullenly. He explains that he is away on a week's furlough
  and answers their questions concerning the regiment and his plans with
  nervous impatience...._

In this next so-called scenario who is Professor Ward? What is his
relation to Phronie? What is her age? What is the age of Keith Sanford
and what are the relations of each of these to Professor Ward himself? A
good list of _dramatis personæ_ would clear all this at once.



  _Professor Ward, roused at daybreak after a night at his desk, shows
  intense disappointment and nervous fatigue._

  _In brief scene with Phronie, he shows the essential part she plays in
  his life as one on whom he can absolutely depend; but when he
  expresses his disapproval of her admirer, Keith Sanford, she shows
  clear signs of rebellious spirit._

  _In rapid scene with Phronie and Keith, their spirit of youthful
  romance is made clear; and Keith indicates his college ambition, his
  predicament regarding his "cribbed" thesis, and his new attitude
  therein, ending with his evident resolve to make a clean breast of the

There follows a scenario which is somewhat clearer than the others
because it identifies the figures, but it certainly leaves their
relations rather confused.

  _An old white-haired man, the Sire de Maletroit, is seated in the
  chair to right of fireplace, in a listening attitude. The sound of a
  heavy door banging is heard and a minute later a young man, sword in
  hand, parts the curtains on left and stands blinking in the opening.
  He enters and explains that he has accidentally gained entrance to the
  house and is unable to re-open the door. His name is Denis de
  Beaulieu. He seems amazed to have the old man say that he has been
  waiting for him. Denis suggests that he must be going, at which the
  old man bursts into a fit of laughter. Denis is insulted and offers to
  hew the Maletroit's door to pieces. He is convinced that this is
  folly; the place is full of armed men. The old man rises, goes to door
  on right and calls upon his niece to leave her prayers and receive her
  lover. She comes in attended by a priest and protests that this is not
  the man. The uncle is incredulous and withdraws with a leer_.

Again a good list of _dramatis personæ_ would be helpful.

Prefix to this the following:


  _Place: Château Landon._
  _Time: Fourteenth century._

  _Dramatis Personæ_

    _Blanche, orphan niece of Sire de Maletroit._
    _A Priest, chaplain to Sire de Maletroit._
    _The Sire de Maletroit._
    _Denis de Beaulieu, a stranger._

With this prefixed we can read the scenario just quoted far more

Note how clearly the following two lists of _dramatis personæ_ take us
to the scenario proper:


_The Persons_

  _David Brice, a young attorney._
  _Reene Brice, his uncle._
  _Benjamin Doyle, his fiancée's father._
  _Dr. Wangren, family physician._
  _Mrs. Brice, the mother._
  _"Ditto" Brice, the sister._
  _Katherine Doyle, fiancée._


_Dramatis Personæ_

  _Captain La Rue, a little sea captain._

  _Bromley Barnes, former special investigator for the U.S. customs
  Patrick Clancy, his friend.
  A burly Butler.
  John Felspar, junior partner of the firm of Felspar & Felspar, wine
  Two Dinner Guests, members of the firm.
  Carl Cozzens, the firm's Canadian representative._

It is easy, however, to let this list of characters go too far
descriptively. For instance, this next list tells much which might
better appear first in the body of the scenario. The danger here is one
already mentioned in this book, namely, that such careful characterizing
in the _dramatis personæ_ or program is likely to make the
characterization of the scenario or play inadequate.[3]


  _Adapted from the story by Margaret Deland_


  _Time: About 1830 in June.
  Place: Little town of Old Chester.
  Between the first and second acts three weeks elapse._

_Dramatis Personæ_

  _Captain Price: Retired sea-captain, big, bluff, and hearty, with
  white hair and big white mustachios, rather untidy as to dress. Age,
  about 68._

  _Cyrus Price: His son, weak and neat-looking, very thin and of sandy
  complexion. Age, about 35._

  _Mrs. North: Sprightly, pretty, white-haired little lady of about 65.
  Always in black silk._

  _Miss North: Her daughter, nervous and shy, but truthful with a mania
  for taking care of her mother and no knowledge of how to wear her
  clothes; about 40._

  _Mrs. Gussie Price: A stout, colorless blond, a weeping, vividly
  gowned lady, who rules her husband, Cyrus, through her tears. Age,
  about 30._

  _Flora: A colored maid_.

The danger is shown to the utmost in the following. The characterization
in the scenario to which this was prefixed was practically _nil_.

  _Forsythe Savile: A young lawyer of about thirty, clever, and rather
  versatile. While of great promise in his profession, he is not at all
  pedantic, but has many interests. He is well-read, widely travelled,
  fond of outdoor sports, and is very popular. Perhaps his most
  prominent characteristic is his ready wit. He is rarely non-plussed,
  and while quick and pointed in his remarks, is yet not ill-natured
  with them. He has been Dennings' most intimate friend ever since they
  were in college together, although their lives lie along very
  divergent lines._

  _Richard Dennings: A globe trotter, as a hunter, explorer, and
  war-correspondent. He is clever and able, with a tendency to act on
  impulse rather than after deliberation. He is the closest kind of
  friend to Forsythe. He has been engaged to Frances Langdon, but the
  engagement has been broken off. This last fact is not known to any
  save the two themselves._

  _Judge Savile: A widower, and Forsythe's father. He has been a very
  successful man, and holds a high place in his profession. He is
  devoted to books, and cannot understand his son's taste for
  out-of-door life, and athletics in general. He philosophically accepts
  the inevitable, however, and is very proud of Forsythe. The Judge does
  not approve of the engagement of Frances Langdon to Dennings; he
  cannot understand Dennings' uncertain methods of life. The Judge while
  saying very little of his opinion foresees that matters are very far
  from being finally settled, and is quietly awaiting developments._

  _Margaret Savile: Forsythe's younger sister, and a feminine edition of
  him. She is very pretty, bright, and attractive. She and Forsythe are
  most intimate, more so than brother and sister usually are._

  _Frances Langdon: An intimate friend of Margaret, and familiarly known
  as "Frank." She is essentially feminine, attractive, witty and
  talented. She is very nervous and high-strung--a strong character, but
  susceptible to her feelings. She has known the Saviles since she was a
  child and is considered exactly as a relative. She has broken her
  engagement to Richard Dennings._

  _A butler: The usual English type_.

That list tells so much about the characters that the scenario proper
could do little but repeat. The writer, troubled by his sense of
repetition, rested for his characterization on the slight chance that a
reader would remember every detail of the _dramatis personæ_. All that a
reader needs to know at the outset of a scenario is who the characters
are, and, in the broadest way, their relations to one another.

A list of _dramatis personæ_ should be followed with a statement of the
time and place if they are important, and of the settings for all the
acts. A detailed description of each new setting should precede its
scene or act.[4] In the scenarios already quoted notice how difficult it
is to place the characters as far as setting is concerned and how much
would be gained if a good description of the setting were added. Keep
the description of a setting to essentials, that is, furniture and
decorations necessary to give requisite atmosphere or required in the
action of the piece. As always in scenarios and acting editions use
"left" and "right" as "left" and "right" of the actor, not of the


  SCENE: _A large room in the house of the Sire de Maletroit; large
  fireplace at centre back; curtained door on left leads to stairway;
  curtained door right leads to chapel. The room is well illuminated by
  candles, reflecting the polish of stone walls. It is scantily

THE LEGACY (_See p. 464_)

  THE SCENE: _The Brice living-room comfortably furnished in walnut. A
  piano centre L., a round table, rear R. Four entrances: upper L., rear
  centre, upper right, right centre. Curtained windows rear R. & L._

As has already been pointed out earlier in this book, it is wholly
unwise to call, in a description of a setting, for details not really
necessary. Here is the setting for the _dramatis personæ_ quoted on p.
431. It is over-elaborate because the action of the proposed play
involves use of hardly any of the properties called for.

  SCENE: _Forsythe Savile's "den." It is an odd room, a curious mixture
  of library, smoking-room, and museum. On the right is a large
  fireplace, over which are hung an elk's head, a couple of rifles,
  queer-looking Eastern weapons, and other sporting trophies and
  evidences of travel. The room is panelled in dark oak; low bookcases
  line the walls, and on top of the cases are small bronzes,
  photographs, strange bits of bric-à-brac, and a medley of
  things,--such truck as a man with cultivated tastes would insist on
  accumulating. There are numerous pictures, a rather heterogeneous lot;
  valuable engravings,--portraits of famous lights of the bench and the
  bar, to judge by their wigs,--a few oils of the Meissonier type; and
  others which are obviously relics of college, with medals slung across
  them by brightly coloured ribbons. The furniture of the room is of
  heavy oak, upholstered in dull crimson leather. Capacious club
  armchairs are in convenient places, near lamps and books. Around the
  hearth is a high English fender, and before it is a great Davenport
  sofa. On the left, is a broad-topped table-desk, covered with papers
  and books, and bearing a squat bronze lamp with a crimson shade. At
  one end of the Davenport is a low cabinet, on which are glasses and
  decanters. There is a wide doorway at the back of the stage which
  gives the only entrance and is hung with heavy crimson portières. The
  centre of the floor is filled by a huge polar bear-skin rug, with
  massive head and the odd spaces are covered by smaller fur rugs. The
  stage is dark, save for the uncertain, wavering light cast by the wood

  _Time: The present, and about half-past eight on a winter evening._

A sketch of the desired arrangement of the stage should be prefixed to
the description of the setting. This may be as simple as comports with
clear picturing of the exact conditions required. Such drawings not only
help to clearness, they sometimes bring out difficulties in a proposed
setting not at once evident in a description. Perhaps the staging called
for in what immediately follows may not seem over-elaborate in the
reading. A diagram at once shows its awkwardness, expensiveness, and


  _The scene represents a mediæval outer hall of a powerful nobleman of
  Paris with the approach thereto, the streets adjacent and several
  other buildings thereon, at 11.30 P.M., the streets in semi-darkness.
  This hall runs clear down the stage to within the width of a narrow
  street of the footlights. This street is supposed to run clear
  across the stage. The approach to the hall from without is through two
  doors left which open into a gloomy passageway large enough to contain
  a dozen soldiers. The door to the left of these two entrances opens
  inward from the street running up left at right angles to the street
  by the footlights, leaving room enough at the extreme left for several
  doorways which should be set into the houses so as to form a place
  sufficient to hide a man who was being searched for on the sidewalk.
  At the extreme rear of the street going up the stage is stone
  pavement. The walls of the palace are of thick stones and the
  furnishings of the hall are plain and gloomy consisting of chairs and
  a table, a tall clock with a loud tick, curtains at the doors; and
  over the fireplace, which is huge, hang a shield and helmet, the
  former emblazoned with the device of the family, the latter beplumed,
  while under them are two long swords, crossed, with their points
  hidden behind the shield, these blades both in their scabbards. The
  floors are all of stone._

  _At the right of the fireplace are two wide doors which when opened
  give a full view of the chapel beyond, with the attar to the rear in
  the centre. The chapel need show no more than a private altar, the
  accompanying candles, drapery, and steps, lighted with a single
  hanging lamp of the period that swings before the first step of the

  _The chairs and table in the hall are of mission style. The doors
  opening on the street from all of the establishments are very wide,
  embossed in iron bands and supplied with knockers, heavy bolts and
  bars on the inside wherever the inside is exposed. There is a large
  fire in the fireplace. A lamp of the period is swung with heavy chains
  over the table._

The diagram on the next page shows how this would look.


It is in many ways a bad setting. Waiving all question whether any
attempt to suggest the fourth wall of a room, as in _The Passing of the
Third Floor Back_ by the fireplace at centre front of stage is wise,
surely there can be no doubt that to ask an audience to imagine a street
between them and the room into which they are looking, particularly when
no necessary action takes place in that street, is undesirable.
Therefore the suggested "street" across the front of the stage may go.
Where is the value of the street at the side? Little, if any, action
in it will be seen except by the very small part of the audience
directly in line with it. For these the settings below the doors at
stage left must be decidedly pushed back or they will lose important
action by the fireplace. It is questionable, too, whether the fireplace
should not be moved down stage to one side or the other, so important is
the facial expression of the Sire de Maletroit as he sits by it. For
effective action, it is better, also, to separate fireplace and chapel
entrance. It is both easy and for acting purposes better, to stage this
proposed play with a setting as simple as this:

[Illustration: _Gothic stone interior: Doors, centre leading to Chapel
or Oratory; lower right and up left. All doors with old tapestry
curtains. Deep mullioned window up right with landscape backing. Large
Gothic fireplace, with hooded chimney, left. Corridor backings for all
doors. Large armchair left centre in front of fireplace; large oak table
right centre, with chairs on either side; other furniture of period to
dress stage. Altar and furnishings for Chapel._]

Nowadays descriptions of settings are noticeably free from the mystic
R.U.E., L. 2 E., D.L.C., etc., which characterized stage directions of
the early Victorian period. When wings and flats, as in some wood-scenes
today, were used for indoor as well as outdoor scenes--that is, before
the coming of the box-set--the stage was divided in this way:


Now that the box-set has replaced the older fashion and new devices are
steadily improving on the old wood-wings, it is enough to indicate
clearly in the diagram and in the description what doors, windows,
fireplaces, and properties are necessary, and exactly where, if their
positions are essential in the action. If not, they may be placed to
suit the sense of proportion of the designer of the scenery and the
sense of fitness of the producer. In any case, rarely today does an
author need to use all or many of these stage divisions of an older day.
The first of the following diagrams shows how simply an interior set
which makes no special demands may be indicated.


  _Diana Valrose's boudoir at Richmond. A very elegantly furnished room,
  with light, pretty furniture. Discover Drusilla in handsome morning
  dress arranging flowers in large china bowl. Enter footman, announcing
  Mr. Christison. Enter John. Exit Footman._


It is often desirable to vary the usual shape given a room on the
stage--exactly rectangular or nearly square. The next diagram shows a
more complicated setting, of unusual shape.


  _An ante-room in Marquis of Steventon's house during a ball. Miss
  Wyatt, a vivacious young American, has cake-walked with Twelvetrees
  all the way from the ball-room._

  _Music under stage._


Act II of _Young America_ calls for a setting in which the placing of
heavy properties is important.


  SCENE. _The Juvenile Court, 10_ A.M._--Two days later._

  _Two entrances, R. U. door leading to Judge's chamber. L.2 door
  leading to corridor._

  _Right--Judge's bench. It extends up and down stage. Below it Clerk's
  bench upon which are two card catalogue filing cases for court records
  for children. At L. of Judge's bench small docket for prisoner. At L.
  of docket, witness stand. It is an 18-inch platform with chair on it.
  The docket and witness stand face front._

  _Left--three benches for spectators and witnesses. They face front and
  are enclosed within a picket railing. Gate with spring lock, near left
  end of front railing_.


How the setting for an outdoor scene may be indicated the diagram for
Act I of _The Dancing Girl_ shows.


    _I. Call.
    John Christison.
    Faith Ives.
    David Ives.
    Drusilla Ives._

  SCENE. _The Island of Saint Endellion, off the Cornish Coast. At the
  back is a line of low rocks, and beyond, the sea. A pathway leads
  through the rocks down to the sea. On the right side of the stage is
  the Quakers' meeting-house, a plain square granite building, showing a
  door and two windows. The meeting-house is built on a low insular rock
  that rises some three or four feet above the stage; it is approached
  by pathways, leading up from the stage. On the left side of the stage,
  down towards the audience, is David Ives's house; another plain
  granite building, with a door down stage, and above the door, a
  window. The house is built into a cliff that rises above it. Beyond
  the house is a pathway that leads up the cliff and disappears amongst
  the rocks on the left side towards the centre of the stage; a little
  to the right is a piece of rock rising about two feet from the stage._

    _Time, An Autumn evening._


As the chief purpose of the writer of a scenario is immediately to grip
the interest of the reader, this dramatic outline must obviously provide
any historical background necessary to sympathetic understanding of the
story. In other words, a scenario must very briefly summarize the
preliminary exposition about which so much has already been said in the
body of this book.[9] The opening of the scenario, already quoted in
part on p. 428, may be interesting, but it is also puzzling, for a
reader is not told enough in regard to the past of the figures involved
to know how to receive what information is given. Much depends on
whether Denis de Beaulieu is lying or not. Make the reader somehow
understand that Denis and Blanche have never met before and that
although the uncle believes Denis is her lover, he is completely in the
wrong. Then comedy immediately emerges, interest increases.

Here is a scenario which remained vague and confusing, till just before
the final curtain, because the writer thought surprise more valuable
than suspense. Consequently he held back the one bit of information
which gives significance and comic value to the conduct of Mr. and Mrs.

  [Diagram of setting]

  SCENE. _The piazza of a mountain boarding-house. R, practicable door.
  L, practicable window. C, practicable step. On the piazza are a number
  of chairs. The bit of lawn in front is not too well kept._


    _Mr. Jones   \  ordinary, well-educated people.
    Mrs. Jones   /
    Major Halkit, retired business man, interested in stock companies.
    Mrs. Halkit, his wife, an old gossip, prim and censorious.
    Mr. Brede   \  young, handsome, "nice."
    Mrs. Brede  /
    Jacobus, Yankee boarding-house keeper_.

  _Brede and Jones come from the house and discuss the view from the
  piazza. Brede is enthusiastic and compares it with that from the
  Matterhorn. Mrs. Brede and Mrs. Jones come from the house in time to
  hear "Matterhorn" and Mrs. Brede expresses surprise that her husband
  has climbed it. Mr. Brede, confused, says it was five years ago, and
  Mrs. Brede gently chides him for doing such a thing during the first
  year of their marriage. Mr. Jones and Mrs. Brede talk aside while Mr.
  Brede explains to Mrs. Jones that he had left his wife in New York
  some months after their marriage for a hasty trip to Europe and had
  climbed the Matterhorn then._

  _Mr. and Mrs. Brede go down the side steps and off at R.C. for a
  stroll. Mr. and Mrs. Jones discuss them, and decide that they are very
  "nice" people. During their talk it develops that while Mr. Brede had
  been telling Mr. Jones that Mrs. Brede had been in this country when
  he climbed the Matterhorn, Mrs. Brede had informed Mrs. Jones that her
  husband had left her at Geneva and afterwards taken her to Basle,
  where their first child was born._

  _At this point Mrs. Halkit comes from the house. She censures Mrs.
  Brede for not knowing how to care for her husband and children and it
  comes out that Mrs. Brede has told Mrs. Halkit that they have two
  children who have been left with her aunt, whereas Mr. Brede has told
  Mr. Jones that they have three children at present under the care of
  his mother-in-law._

  _Enter Major Halkit from the house. He criticises Mr. Brede, who
  purports to be looking for a business opening, for his failure to take
  a fine chance the Major has pointed out to him._

  _The party come to the conclusion that there is something queer about
  the couple and are about to call Jacobus when he appears, coming from
  the left. Before any of the boarders have a chance to speak, Jacobus
  asks some question about the numbering of streets in New York and the
  fact is brought out that Mr. Brede told Mrs. Jacobus, when he was
  engaging the room, that he lived at number thirty-four of his street,
  and that the day before Mrs. Brede had informed Mrs. Jacobus that
  their number was thirty-five...._

A reader struggling through the paragraphs of this scenario finds very
little that is dramatic because the dramatic values the writer feels in
his sentences cannot be the reader's till he learns that Mr. and Mrs.
Brede are a newly married couple who wish to conceal the fact. Re-read
the quotation with that in mind and all confusion disappears.

On the other hand, it is not always easy to convey needed preliminary
exposition interestingly. When much is needed, there is always danger
that the opening of the scenario will be talky and referential rather
than definite and full of dramatic action. The following is by no means
as bad an example as might be found of a slow opening caused by need for
much historical exposition, but it certainly lacks gripping action:


  _When the curtain is raised, Millicent Skinner is working about; a
  second later Chester Perkins comes slinking in, looking back as though
  pursued by the Evil One, and close on his heels, another local
  politician, Mr. Dodd, of the Brampton prudential school committee,
  enters with the same stealthy and harassed air. Millicent twits them
  with having run away from Bijah Bixby who is at Jonah Winch's store.
  They deny that they are afraid of Bije or any one. It is brought out
  in a sentence or two that Jethro Bass, Cynthia and Ephraim Prescott
  are away on their Washington trip, and that Bijah, knowing of Jethro's
  absence, is not likely to come here, which is why the two men have
  chosen the yard for a refuge; as they have been planning petty treason
  against the political control of the town by Jethro Bass. Millicent
  laughs at them and goes in the house. Mr. Dodd and Chester recover
  their swagger and begin to discuss Bijah and his sneaking ways. Bob
  Worthington enters, goes to the porch and calls Millicent. She
  responds from a nearby window. He enquires when she expects Cynthia to
  return. She tells him they will be here today. Bob announces that he
  will return, a little later, and goes out. Chester and Dodd discuss
  Bob's attention to Cynthia and how furious the elder Worthington will
  be if his son marries the ward of Jethro Bass. Then they drift back to
  their first topic and are soon absorbed in their wordy revolt against
  Jethro Bass and Bijah._

  _Chester._ This town's tired of puttin' up with a king!

    (_Behind them Bijah enters silently and stands at their elbows

  _Bijah._ Leetle early for campaignin', Chester, leetle early.

    (_The other two stand aghast._)

  _The scene which follows between the three men gives their characters,
  the Coniston political atmosphere, Jethro's position as boss of the
  State and his character, the cumulating antagonism between Jethro
  Bass and Isaac Worthington, the relation between Jethro and Cynthia,
  his ward. Bijah confides to the two that a new era is dawning; that
  "the railroads, represented by Worthington, Sr., are tired of paying
  tribute" to Jethro and are about to turn and exterminate him. Bixby
  says that Jethro's power is gone, that a greater than he has risen,
  that Isaac Worthington's campaign, brought forth under cover of a
  great reform movement, will sweep the State in the next few months and
  leave Jethro politically dead. Bijah brings out a copy of the last
  issue of the Newcastle Guardian (leading newspaper of the State), and
  reads them "The scathing arraignment of Jethro Bass ... showing how he
  had debauched his own town of Coniston; how, enlarging on the same
  methods, he had gradually extended his grip over the county and
  finally over the State; how he had bought and sold men for his own
  power and profit, deceived those who had trusted him, corrupted
  governors and legislators ... how he had trafficked ruthlessly in the
  enterprises of the people." Bijah tells them that the whole State is
  in a stir over this article, that it is the open declaration of war
  against Jethro._

  _Here Alva Hopkins and his daughter Cassandra enter. Hopkins has read
  the article and come post-haste to see Jethro. He and Bijah discuss
  the situation and Bijah tells them that the postmastership which
  Jethro has promised to Ephraim Prescott (and which it is surmised they
  have gone to Washington to secure) is to go to Dave Wheelock; that
  that will be the first tangible sign to the public of the fall of
  Jethro Bass...._

The cardinal principle in scenario writing, as in the play itself, is
that not talk but action is basal. In a scenario, however, action is
described rather than represented. As we have just seen, the lengthy
historical account of what lies behind the opening scene is hard to
convey without talkiness. Many would-be dramatists dodge this
difficulty, indeed the whole task of making clear the emotional
significance of the action which the play involves, by writing scenarios
which are little more than schedules of the entrances and exits of their
characters. There was something of this in the "Coniston" scenario. The
difficulty is still more marked in the following:


SCENE: _The Maletroit Entrance-Hall_

[Diagram of Setting]


    _A Priest.
    The Sire de Maletroit.
    Blanche de Maletroit, his niece.
    Denis de Beaulieu.

  _Discovered, Retainer finishing work on the door, C. Enter Priest,
  L.U.E. Slight exposition suggesting that a trap is being set for a
  girl's gallant. Exit Priest. Enter R.U.E. the Sire. Commends the
  workman's results, increasing the suspense regarding purpose. Rope
  outside window R, examined without explanation. Retainer, questioned
  as to news in the town, remarks the presence of a dare-devil young
  French soldier under safe-conduct who is likely to get into trouble
  with the troops quartered in town, unless he keeps a civil tongue in
  his head. Retainer dismissed R, with suggestion that he understands
  what is expected of him._

  _The Sire calls Priest, questions him regarding Blanche, furthering
  the exposition._

  _Blanche enters, dressed as bride, and bursts forth in troubled
  questions as to the meaning of her uncle's orders regarding her
  appearance at this hour in such costume. The cause is hinted at as an
  intrigue, and Blanche is ordered to retire and wait in the chapel._

  _The Sire indicates that the hour is approaching for the "arrival" and
  the lights are extinguished._

As has been pointed out already,[10] entrances and exits are of the
slightest possible consequence except when they count in
characterization or dramatic action. It is what takes place for the
characters between an entrance and exit which a scenario must bring out
as briefly yet clearly as possible.

This fault of over-emphasizing entrances and exits is closely related to
the "referential" treatment of possible dramatic material. The method
for this is: "Mr. and Mrs. Brown enter and talk passionately about their
future." "Anne and Sarah now have a tempestuous scene in which Anne
discloses to the full her agony." Such scenario writing is all too easy,
for the value of the scenario, like the value of the play, will depend
upon the ability of the author to make the first scene passionate and
the second tempestuous and agonizing. A scenario which constantly states
that at a given point something of interest will be done or a very
powerful scene dealing with the emotions of one or more of the
characters will be written is both useless and exasperating. Nobody
wants to buy such a dramatic "pig in a poke." Compare a referential
scenario, the first of the three which follow, with the other two. They
may, as parts of scenarios, have faults, but at least they move, not by
references to "sarcasm, a horror that transfixes, violent threats,"
etc., but by definitely roused emotional interest.


[Diagram of Setting]

  SCENE. _A baronial apartment in heavy polished stone. At the back a
  large doorway hung with rich tapestry leads to a small chapel. At the
  right are two doors also with tapestry. In the left back corner is a
  huge fireplace carved with the arms of the Maletroits. At the left is
  a large open window looking over the parapets of the castle. A heavy
  table and a chair or two are all the furnishings_.

  _Place: Château Landon.
  Time: Fourteenth Century._

_Dramatis Personæ_

    _Blanche, orphan niece of Sire de Maletroit.
    A Priest, chaplain to Sire de Maletroit.
    Sire de Maletroit.
    Denis de Beaulieu, a stranger._

  _As the curtain rises Blanche is seen in the chapel kneeling as the
  priest is finishing the chanting of the vesper service. At the close
  she rises and walks toward the window, glancing hastily about to see
  that no one is in the room. As soon as the priest has left she draws
  from her breast a letter which she starts to read. She is soon
  interrupted by the entrance of her uncle the Sire de Maletroit, whose
  keen glance detects her hasty crumpling of the note which she has not
  had time to conceal. He greets her jovially and starts to walk hand in
  hand with her. Forcing open her hand, he finds the note, which he
  reads in a bitterly sarcastic tone, while Blanche stands transfixed
  with horror. It is a note asking her to leave the house door open at
  midnight so that the writer may enter and exchange words with her on
  the stairs. With cold sarcasm, ill concealing his rage, the Sire
  forces from her the story that a young captain has met her in church
  and given her the note. She denies that she knows his name, and the
  most violent threats will not induce her to tell it. She is then sent
  to her room to dress in sackcloth of repentance and told to prepare to
  spend the night in the chapel._


_Persons represented_

    _The Sire de Maletroit.
    Blanche de Maletroit, his niece.
    Denis de Beaulieu, a young soldier.
    A Priest._

  SCENE. _Large apartment of stone. On each of the three sides of the
  room, three doors curtained with tapestry. On left, beside the door a
  window. Stone chimney-piece, carved with arms of the Maletroits.
  Furniture, mainly consisting of table, and heavy chair beside

    _Place: Château Landon, France.
    Time: September, 1429._

  _Curtain rises showing an old gentleman in a fur tipped coat seated in
  the heavy chair. The old man is mumbling to himself a sort of strange
  murmur, smiling and nodding, as he sips a cup of wine. The room is
  silent save for the muttering of the old man._

  _Suddenly, from the direction of the arras covering the door to left,
  a muffled sound begins to obtrude itself. This sound, at first vague,
  then waxing more and more distinct, resolves itself into steps
  cautiously mounting a flight of stairs. The steps, gradually less
  vague, finally firm and assertive, reach the tapestried doorway. The
  click of metal, probably that of a sword, accompanying the steps,
  echoes in the hush of the room._

  _The arras parts, and a young man blinking from dark into sudden
  light, stumbles into the room. (As the tapestry closes behind the
  youth, a dark passageway and shadowy flight of stairs beyond are

  _Another pause ensues, during which the young man and the old man
  continue to gaze at one another._

  _"Pray step in," begins the old man; "I have been expecting you all
  the evening."_

  _The youth shivers slightly, hesitating for speech. Finally he manages
  to answer...._



  _Next day, White Oaks. Late twilight. Night falls during early part of
  scene. Later, moonlight. The great dining hall. It opens at the back
  on a terrace with a large door at centre. Dame Pettigrew, Joyce and
  Eliza discovered in a flutter over the news of the war. Scotch raids
  are threatened from over the border. There are terrible tales of the
  lootings by the King's soldiers of places suspected of Jacobitry. Dame
  Pettigrew, as she hears now this story, now that, is first Whig and
  then Jacobite, until she bewilders herself and the maids. They play on
  one another's nerves until they are in sore fright. Pettigrew begins
  to collect her goods against leaving on the morrow, regretting that
  she has sent for Beatrice to stay with her, who is momentarily
  expected. At height of nervous strain, when all windows have been
  closed, all lights but the fire are out, and the women sit cowering
  and silent, the mournful shrilling of bagpipes and the heavy tread of
  feet coming nearer and nearer are heard. Joyce gasps about ghosts.
  Chilled with terror, no one dares go to the window. The procession
  reaches the end of the lane and passes. Sudden sharp rapping at door.
  Frightened parley with spirits, as maids think. Beatrice forces them
  to open, and appears. The pipes are the funeral train of a Jacobite
  killed on the neighboring border and now on the way to Goodrest for a
  final mass. Beatrice is excited and anxious but brings order out of
  chaos in the room. Turns up lights, gets rid of Dame Pettigrew, and
  one maid, and sends other maid for supper. Bids Joyce, should Bill
  Lampeter appear, send him to her at once. She has a message for Crowe
  Hall. When Joyce has departed wonderingly, it appears that all day
  Beatrice has been trying to warn Cope at Goodrest that they were
  watched the day before, but has been unable till as she rode over with
  Jessie she met Bill Lampeter on the road. Dropping behind, she wrote
  hastily on her tablets a warning, and dropping them into Bill's hands
  made him fly to Goodrest, he to report his success at once. A knock at
  the big door softly. Raymond's voice. When she opens to him, a
  passionate scene follows. She is at first full of affection, mingled
  with dread of what he may know. He is fighting suspicion, passion for
  her, and inability to believe her guilty. Seeking her at Crowe Hall,
  he has followed her thither. At first she is too sincere to play with
  him. He is too anxious to be able to diplomatize. He shows his
  fears--that she is intriguing with another, with the Pretender. She is
  maddeningly incomprehensible--swears she knows no Pretender, but will
  not say yes or no as to meeting any one in the wood. In his anger and
  his desire to force the truth from her, by making her feel the
  uselessness of protecting the Pretender, he lets drop more than he
  realizes of plans to catch him and for the campaign. Seeing that, had
  her message not gone, her brother would have been trapped, Beatrice
  works to delay Raymond. She is first coldly repellent, then alluring,
  then silent, then apparently almost on the point of revelation. At
  last in despair he breaks away into the night, vowing vengeance on the
  destroyer of his happiness and cursing her for a fickle, ambitious
  thing, unworthy a good man's love. She stands motionless by the table,
  then hurries to the wide open door through which the moonlight streams
  in from the garden, calls again and again softly, staggers back, and
  falls sobbing on the great settle. Van Brugh appears at the open
  doors, closes them softly and speaks. He is leaving the Hunters for
  good, for the final Jacobite blows are to be struck. Seeing Raymond
  ahead of him, he hid in the garden till Raymond went. He calls on "The
  Daughter of Charles Cope" to tell him for the good of the cause what
  she knows of Raymond's plans. She denies that she knows them fully,
  but cannot deny that she knows something of them. He shows that
  everything depends for the Jacobites on knowing the movements of the
  local forces for the next few days. He uses every appeal he can, her
  brother among others. To this she only answers that she has warned and
  saved him. All his appeals are in vain. "Raymond is my husband in the
  sight of God. His secrets should be my secrets, but my brother I
  cannot help to kill. To save him I must deceive the man I love best in
  all the world; so be it. So much I must do, more I will not."
  Sandiland, the fanatic breaking out in him, curses her as a renegade
  and unworthy her name and race. He goes. As she stands murmuring:
  "Unworthy love, unworthy my father's name!" suddenly her face softens.
  She drops to the settle and prays for a moment. Quietly she rises,
  saying, "Why count the cost if Charles' life be saved." The door
  opens and Joyce enters in great excitement to say, "Bill has come, but
  in bad plight." She fetches the boy, his clothes torn, his hands
  bleeding where ropes have cut the wrists. He has been taken shortly
  after leaving Beatrice and searched. He snatched the tablets from a
  captor's hand and licked off the message before it was read. He was
  then trussed up behind a soldier on horseback, and started for the
  "Maid in the Valley" Tavern, the rendezvous from which the journey to
  Goodrest was to begin. By daring and ingenuity he slipped away at the
  inn. "Then my brother knows nothing." "No, and they'll be starting by
  now from the Maid in the Valley. They were waiting for the moon to be
  covered." "Where's Philly, my mare?" "In the paddock, miss." "What do
  you mean?" cries Joyce. "I am going to Goodrest." "Alone? To-night,
  with these rake-hell soldiers abroad?" Beatrice's only answer is to
  find her whip and pass quickly out into the night. Joyce sinks down
  sobbing in window seat. Bill is in the doorway, wild with excitement.
  "Now, ride, ride, Miss Beatrice. Ride, like Hell!"_

    _Quick Curtain_

If it is clear that illustrative action is as essential in a scenario as
in a play, it is as true for one form as the other that right
proportioning and emphasis must make clear the purpose of the author in
writing the scenario and must take a reader clearly to its conclusion.
Read any one of the following three scenarios and decide whether you are
clear as to the purpose of the author. What did he think was
attractively dramatic in his material? What is the central interest of
his proposed play? Just what is the suspense created near the beginning
of the play and developed throughout from sub-climaxes to a final
climax? As has been carefully explained, plays must do all this.
Therefore their scenarios must also.


  SCENARIO. _Curtain rises discovering Madame knitting in chair, upper
  right, Hélène embroidering in window-seat, Suzanne on sofa, trying to
  sew. Suzanne gets into trouble and Hélène helps her. Then grandmother
  offers to tell her a story. Suzanne says that her stories are so sad,
  always about her dead parents. Hélène represses her. Enter
  grandfather, the Colonel, rear. Suzanne starts to show him her sewing
  and is repulsed. Colonel denounces the Dreyfus situation; Madame
  trying to interfere when he begins on the American attitude, finally
  gets Hélène and Suzanne from room. Then Colonel learns that George
  Williams, an American, loves Hélène. He is overcome. Enter George
  rear. Embarrassing situation; finally George gets up courage and asks
  for Hélène's hand, is refused, but goes away undaunted. Enter Hélène,
  side. Colonel says, "I will have no friend of traitors place his foot
  in my house." Scene. Exit Hélène sobbing angrily. Colonel disturbed,
  but when wife starts after her, forbids her going. Exit the Colonel.
  Madame again starts toward door. Suzanne and Marie enter. Madame has
  Suzanne play with fishing rod; dismisses Marie from room. Suzanne
  hears Hélène's sobs. Asks if she is sick. Says she will comfort her.
  Madame feels guilty and leaves. Suzanne persuades Hélène to come out
  and watch her fish. Catches some imaginary ones. Discovers George. He
  sends up notes like fish. Later Hélène furnishes bait. Then she fishes
  him up. Suzanne is dismissed with candy, and he persuades Hélène to
  elope. Suzanne comes and says the cab is there. Steps heard. George
  goes down rope. Marie tells of the cab. Hélène rushes into packing.
  Leaves note for mother with Suzanne, who wins a promise for a speedy
  return from her. Exit Hélène rear. Marie and Suzanne wave from window.
  Talk. Soon Colonel and Madame enter. See disorderly room. Suzanne
  gives them the note. Madame reads it and breaks news to her husband.
  Defends Hélène; reminds Colonel of their parents' political
  differences. Suzanne tells how Hélène thought they did not care for
  her in her sorrow. Both in tears. Colonel in desperation starts to
  send for them by Marie. Enter George and Hélène; Hélène unable to
  leave without seeing them. Colonel says he may have been too hasty.
  Then Suzanne discovers George's Legion of Honor badge. He and Colonel
  shake on the old friendship of the Republics._



  _Adapted from a Story by Margaret Deland_

  _Time: About 1830, in June.
  Place: Little town of Old Chester.
  Between the first and second act three weeks elapse._

_Dramatis Personæ_

  _Captain Price: Retired sea-captain, big, bluff, and hearty, with
  white hair and big white mustachios, rather untidy as to dress. Age,
  about 68._

  _Cyrus Price: His son, weak and neat-looking, very thin and of sandy
  complexion. Age, about 35._

  _Mrs. North: Sprightly, pretty, white-haired little lady of about 65.
  Always in black silk._

  _Miss North: Her daughter, nervous and shy, but truthful with a mania
  for taking care of her mother and no knowledge of how to wear her
  clothes; about 40._

  _Mrs. Gussie Price: A stout, colorless blond, a weeping, vividly
  gowned lady, who rules her husband, Cyrus, through her tears. Age,
  about 30._

  _Flora: A colored maid._

  _Stage setting: A drawing-room with a door on either side of the back,
  leading into the long front hall. A window at the right, looking into
  the street. Between the window and the door, a stuffed armchair, a
  hair-cloth sofa. Between the doors, under a mantel-shelf, a Franklin
  stove, on either side of which, but a little down stage, are two
  rockers just alike. To the left and back, grand piano. To the left,
  front, another big chair. Hassocks; and a knit shawl on almost every
  chair. The only ornament on the shelf is a stuffed bird in a glass


  _Miss North is discovered in a very much starched gown, big apron,
  dusting-cap, and gloves; arranging the chairs more evenly and dusting.
  Expression of heavy responsibility in her face and manner._

  _Flora announces Mrs. Price, who enters--right door--at once. Though
  Mary explains she is busy, Mrs. Price stays. Sits on the sofa. Mary in
  rocking-chair to left of stove. Dialogue in which Mary explains she is
  determined to let her mother end life happily in her native town and
  she expects her to arrive any moment. Mrs. Price offers assistance
  in fixing up the house and begins to gossip about the fact that her
  father-in-law, the Captain, who lives in the Price house just across
  the street, tried to elope with Mrs. North when she was eighteen. Mary
  becomes very indignant, but sees her mother through the window and
  dismisses Mrs. Price politely but not sweetly. Exit Mrs. Price by the
  right door, Mary by the left. Enter Mrs. North by the right and Mary
  is seen hurrying by the right door with a small wooden chair in her

  _Mrs. North begins to look about the room while she takes off her
  calash and leaves it on the piano, her shawl and puts it on the shelf,
  her gloves and leaves them on a chair. Mary enters, right, with the
  chair, during this business and remonstrates with her mother for
  getting out of the chaise without the aid of the chair. As Mrs. North
  drops her things Mary picks them up. Mrs. North sees the Price house
  through the window and mentions, cheerily, that the Captain used to be
  her beau. Mary is shocked. Tries to have her mother put on one of the
  little shawls and goes to make her some beef-tea. Hangs her things on
  the hat-tree in hall beyond left door as she goes out._

  _Mrs. North discovers the Captain going down street and calls him in.
  Enters right door with his pipe. Both sit in the rockers before the
  stove and are deep in reminiscences when Mary enters left door. The
  Captain is requested to put up his pipe, not to talk quite so loud,
  and not to stay long because of Mrs. North's delicacy. When Mary
  offers to make him some beef-tea, too, so her mother can take hers, he
  leaves precipitately, very much cowed._

  _While Mary is trying to soothe Mrs. North after the undue excitement,
  Flora announces Cyrus Price who has come in search of his father--at
  Gussie's tearful instigation. Mary and Cyrus hold an anxious aside,
  while Mrs. North expresses her pleasure at seeing the Captain again.
  Curtain falls on Mrs. North trying to pick out some of the old tunes
  on the piano, and Cyrus and Mary bidding each other a stiff


  _The Captain and Mrs. North discovered, the Captain with his harmonica
  trying to teach Mrs. North the old airs. Enter Mary at right door,
  from outdoors. Consternation ensues and in a few moments the Captain
  leaves guiltily. Then Mary explains that she has been over to the
  Prices and requested Cyrus to tell the Captain he must keep away, for
  they are both too old to be married. Mrs. North exits left, in
  despair. Flora announces Mr. and Mrs. Price: a conference of war is
  held during which it is decided that Cyrus must consult the minister,
  Dr. Lavender, and Gussie must speak to the Captain himself. Exeunt Mr.
  and Mrs. Price._

  _Enter Mrs. North for her knitting. Mary wraps her up in a shawl, puts
  a hassock at her feet, suggests lighting a fire in the stove, and
  tries to comfort her mother by telling her she will take her away from
  Old Chester if the Captain keeps on bothering her. Mrs. North
  remonstrates feebly, and Mary decides she needs some beef-tea after
  the excitement. Exit Mary to make the tea._

  _Enter the Captain without ringing or knocking, in great wrath. Gussie
  has spoken to him. At first they laugh at the children's stupidity and
  by degrees decide to carry out and confirm the children's suspicions
  by eloping. Enter Mary. Confusion, but the Captain pretends he has
  come to say good-bye to her because he is going away for a few weeks
  and under that cover, makes the appointment for the eloping._

  _Curtain with his exit_



_Dramatis Personæ_

  _Captain La Rue, a little sea captain.
  Bromley Barnes, former special investigator for the U.S. Customs
  Patrick Clancy, his friend.
  A burly Butler.
  John Felspar, junior partner of the firm of Felspar & Felspar, wine
  Two Dinner Guests, members of the firm.
  Carl Cozzens, the firm's Canadian representative._

  SCENE. _The dining-room of Felspar's Summer Cottage_

  _Time: Early evening_

  _The Captain is discovered sitting on the end of the table next the
  window with his legs dangling dejectedly. Suddenly he sees something
  and, rushing to the window, goes through a violent pantomime imploring
  help and caution from some one without and indicating the way to
  enter the house. He then wrings his hands and paces the floor
  excitedly ending at D. R. C. where he listens. The key turns in the
  lock and Barnes and Clancy enter cautiously. The Captain throws
  himself at their feet and tells them of being kidnapped and confined
  and his Ship's papers taken from him and asks frantically for the
  time. Barnes tells him, and the Captain becomes at once dejected and
  silent. The other two, however, draw from him the story of how he has
  been racing over the Atlantic to get a cargo of champagne to an
  American port in time to get the benefit of the old tariff rate, just
  increased by the governments concerned. He got in in time but was
  drugged and confined in this house till too late and his papers taken
  from him. They advise him to stay where he is and, promising to help
  him at once, slip out as they came. The Butler comes in D. R. C. and
  begins setting table, joking the Captain about the supper to be held
  in his honor, but growling about the suddenness of his master's
  decision to have it. The Captain is excited and helps him in mock
  politeness. As they are working, Felspar comes in. Butler tells him
  that he has hired a waiter for the evening, subject to his approval--a
  man who happened to be walking by, with a friend. Felspar
  congratulates him and the new waiter is called. It is Clancy. La Rue
  controls himself as he recognizes him. Felspar orders the Butler to
  lock La Rue in the up-stairs bedroom, which has been prepared, till he
  shall be wanted, telling him at the same time that all the guests have
  arrived but Mr. Cozzens, who is to be brought directly to the
  dining-room when he arrives. The others will not wait for him. The
  Butler hurries La Rue off. Felspar gives a few parting instructions to
  the new waiter and goes to bring the guests. Clancy finishes the
  preparations and signals out the window to Barnes to come. Felspar
  comes back with the guests D. L. C. The Butler reappears, is called to
  the door-bell and ushers in Barnes as "Mr. Cozzens." Felspar
  introduces him as the Canadian representative of the firm whom he has
  never seen before. Barnes takes the cue and excuses his costume,
  saying that he arrived late and has not had time to change. All sit
  again and Felspar, telling the Butler to bring La Rue, tells the
  company that the ship's papers of the rival business house have come
  into his hands. These he produces and passes along the table. Barnes,
  at the opposite end, pockets them as they come to him and refuses to
  give them up. All are astonished and half-angry. The Butler, having
  brought in the Captain at Felspar's order (who stands unnoticed at the
  back) again answers the bell and ushers in Mr. Cozzens, announcing him
  in a doubtful voice. Felspar stutters, "You--you Mr. Cozzens?" "So me
  mother and father says," the new-comer replies. "And you?" says the
  wine-merchant wheeling on Barnes. Barnes presents his card which is
  read aloud by Felspar, who goes into a white heat and demands the
  papers back. Barnes blandly refuses. Felspar threatens, saying he has
  four to one. At this point Clancy and La Rue step forward and signify
  their readiness to side with Barnes. Felspar laughs and tells them to
  take the papers then as the new law went into effect at four-thirty
  that afternoon. But Barnes informs him that the provisions of the
  French-American commercial treaty demand that the customs houses
  remain open till midnight when such a law goes through, and that they
  still have several hours. Felspar is again furious and orders them out
  and the three go together leaving the company in an angry stupor._


Let it be clearly understood that there is no definitely established
length for a scenario. It may run from one to two pages for a play of
one act to twenty or more pages for a longer play. Obviously, a scenario
should be as brief as clear presentation of what it must give permits,
for it primarily exists as a short cut for the person who reads it to
necessary information about a proposed play. Clearness is the first
essential; brevity the second. The exact length must in each case be
decided by the particular needs of the subject treated and the best
judgment of the writer.

Above all, it should be remembered that a scenario unless it is simply
an abbreviated presentation of a play already in manuscript should be
considered something flexible. What is meant by this is that many a
writer working with a scenario which has been approved by a manager or
actor feels hampered because as he writes he has almost irresistible
impulses to break away from the scenario as planned into situations or
details of characterization and even of general treatment which, though
they occur to him at the moment, seem to him undoubted improvements. Yet
he hesitates to change his plan because it has been approved. This is
folly. A scenario is at its best when it concerns not a completed but a
proposed play and is held to be not fixed but thoroughly flexible. If
changes suggesting themselves are felt by the writer to be improvements,
he should by all means incorporate them. A good scenario bears much the
same relation to a completed play that an architect's plans bear to a
completed house. Where would the carpenter be without such plans, yet
where is the set of plans which has not been modified or even greatly
changed while the building is in construction? "Ibsen had no respect for
any dramatist who proceeded otherwise [than from a carefully prepared
scenario]. Once besought by a young dramatist to read the manuscript of
his new play, Ibsen curtly asked for the scenario. When the young man
proudly replied that he needed no scenario, having followed his
inspiration whithersoever it led him from scene to scene, Ibsen grew
furious and showed the pseudo-dramatist the door, declaring that any one
who dispensed with a scenario didn't know what a drama was and couldn't
possibly write one. And yet, after all, the scenario as first outlined
by Ibsen may best be regarded as an experimental foreshadowing subject
to radical modification as the writing of the play itself proceeds. It
serves as the skeleton framework for Ibsen's later ideation. ... While
it is true, then, that the material took shape in his mind long before
he wrote a word of actual dialogue, yet Ibsen expressly acknowledged
that it never took such unalterable shape in his mind as to permit him
to write the last act first or the first act last. During the course of
the work the details emerged by degrees."[11]

The fact is, a scenario is almost always a photograph of the mind of the
person who writes it. If he is not ready to write his play, the scenario
will show it, making clear whether this unreadiness comes from
insufficiently understood characterization; thin or incomplete story; a
lack of right proportioning of the material so that what is unimportant
seems important; or a general vagueness as to what the author wants to
do with his material. Just here lies the strong reason why every
would-be dramatist will do well to become expert in scenario writing. He
may for a long time fool himself into thinking that he can work better
without a scenario; he may be able to write without putting on paper all
that in this chapter has been required from the writer of a scenario,
but sooner or later he goes through all the processes in his mind and
either on paper or in his brain fulfils these requirements. The very
people who shrink from forcing themselves to work out all the details
required by a good scenario are merely dodging the inevitable. They
avoid something irksome as a preliminary merely to do all this work
before the completed play is ready. He who wants to write his play
rapidly will find that he makes time in his final composition by taking
all the time he needs in the preliminary task of drawing a good
scenario. Undeniably, a scenario is the most effective way of forcing
oneself to know the characters and the story of a play before one begins
to write the play in detail. Work out a scenario carefully and all the
difficult problems the play involves will have been solved except those
of dialogue and perhaps some subtleties of characterization. Regard the
resulting scenario as something entirely flexible and the composition of
the play should be safe and even sure. He who steers by the compass
knows how with safety to change his course. He who steers by dead
reckoning is liable to error and delay.

Often questions as to scenarios are asked which imply that there must be
some set form fulfilling all the requirements stated which can be
adhered to strictly. Not at all. These various requirements may be met
in almost as many ways as there are writers. One man may use more
description. Another writer may use more narration. Some will use
dialogue very freely. Some will characterize more than others. Yet all
these different workers may produce scenarios equally good in that they
are clear, brief, move by suggested dramatic action, are definite in
_genre_, and make thoroughly evident their elements of suspense and

Here are some scenarios which use dialogue rather freely. They are given
not because such use is especially commendable but merely to illustrate


_The persons_

    _David Brice, a young attorney.
    Reene Brice, his uncle.
    Benjamin Doyle, his fiancée's father.
    Dr. Wangren, family physician.
    Mrs. Brice, the mother.
    "Ditto" Brice, the sister.
    Katherine Doyle, fiancée._

    _The Time: The present.
    The Place: Any city._

  SCENE. _The Brice living-room comfortably furnished in walnut. A piano
  centre L., a round table rear R. Four entrances: upper L., rear
  centre, upper right, right centre. Curtained windows rear R. & L._

  Joy seems to radiate through the household. Ditto and Katherine are
  discovered; Katherine, a pretty enthusiast of 22 playing diminuendo a
  joy-melody at piano; Ditto, pretty, 20 and nervous, crossing R. with
  an armload of tagged packages of various sizes and prettily
  tied--birthday presents for her brother David. Arrived at table, rear
  R., she deposits them.

  _Ditto._ (_Stacking packages._) Don't you wish you were getting these
  birthday presents, Katherine?

  _Katherine._ (_Playing._) I am, Ditto, dear. David is mine; therefore,
  what is David's belongs to me.

  _Ditto._ (_Petulantly._) And what is yours....

  _Katherine._ (_In fun._) ... Belongs to father.
    (_Begins to sing merrily._)
    (_Exit Ditto, R._)

    _Enter Mrs. Brice, L., a thoughtful woman of 50, quite grey and
    though careworn, attractive. She carries a linen spread and goes to
    the table. Katherine sings softly, playing diminuendo._

  _Mrs. Brice._ (_Covering presents_.) You are very happy tonight,
  aren't you?

  _Katherine._ (_Cheerily._) Why shouldn't I be, Mrs. Brice? It is
  David's birthday. (_Going to her._) But you aren't.

  _Mrs. Brice._ (_Bravely._) Yes, I am. But you see this is probably
  David's last birthday at home and....

  _Katherine._ (_Lovingly._) By no means! I shall bring him home every
  birthday. (_Kissing her._) ... And once in a while between.

  _Mrs. Brice._ (_As they go down, arm in arm._) I know you will,
  Katherine, but we mothers ...

  _David._ (_Entering centre rear, overcoat, hat and traveling grip._)
  Hello everybody!... (_Tosses grip on table and makes for them._) ...
  Merry Christmas, Happy New Year (_kisses mother_) and a quiet Fourth
  of July. (_Kisses Katherine._)

    (_David is a well-built handsome man of 28 neatly dressed in
    business suit, light-weight overcoat and hat._)

  _David._ (_Removing coat, Katherine assisting._) Well, how are all the
  little details?

    (_Coat off, he begins kissing Katherine again. Enter Ditto, R._)

  _Ditto._ (_Petulantly._) Do you realize this is your birthday?

  _David._ (_Kissing mother._) I am doing my best to show it! (_Tossing
  Ditto his coat._) Hang that up and I will show you. (_Exit Ditto, R.,
  with his coat and hat._)

  _David._ (_Coming down from table with blue-print in hand._) Now,
  mother and child, look ye!

    (_He shows them the architectural plans of the new cottage he is
    going to build as a wedding present to Katherine. They like them
    very much. More joy. Ditto, reëntering, is also enthusiastic over

    _David next announces that he has been invited to become a member of
    his employer's law firm, one of the most successful in the State.
    More joy, manifested by another round of kisses._

    _But he has not only been asked to join the firm; the firm has
    promised him a straight loan, without interest, with which to build
    his house. Otherwise he would have had to borrow from a building and
    loan association. Therefore, bids are now being advertised for and
    work will begin very soon. Great joy. Ditto seizes mother's hand and
    Katherine's and dances a ring around David._

    _As the jollification subsides, David inquires for his uncle, Reene.
    He must approve the plans, for he was a great architect in his day.
    His mother informs him that the uncle went for a ride with Doctor

  _David._ How is he feeling today?

  _Mrs. Brice._ Not quite so well. In fact, I never saw him so

  _David._ He must not look at it that way. We all have our little
  troubles. (_To Katherine._) Don't we?

    (_They go toward piano. Exit Mrs. Brice, L., taking Ditto with her._

    _In a short scene at the piano, during which Katherine plays
    diminuendo, the fact is revealed that her father opposes the match
    between her and David; not because he does not like David but for
    reasons which he has not divulged to his daughter. This cloud passes
    by quickly, however._)


_The persons of the play_

    Dr. Thomas Wells.
    Dr. Benjamin Crawford._

  _The scene represents a sitting room in Marian's home. It is very
  cheaply furnished. There is a door at back centre, and also one at R.
  At upper left is a curtained window, not practicable. In the centre is
  a table, on which is a lighted lamp. Near the window is a couch. There
  are chairs about the room, and a few cheap pictures on the walls. It
  is evening, and the room is dimly lighted._


  _When the curtain rises, there is no one in the room, but in a moment
  the door at rear opens, and Katherine enters noiselessly. She is a_
  _pleasant looking woman of 30. She is followed by Dr. Wells, who
  closes the door behind him very softly. He is a young man, with a Van
  Dyke beard. The two go to right of table, and Katherine looks at the
  doctor inquiringly. He speaks with some hesitation._

  _Dr. Wells._ You want the truth?

  _Katherine._ Of course.

  _Dr. Wells._ I think he's dying. This is the crisis, and the chances
  are a thousand to one against him.

  _Katherine._ I'm afraid my sister can't bear the shock. She loves her
  husband more than I can tell you, Doctor.

    (_They are discussing the case when Marian enters from the rear. She
    lingers a moment and looks back into the other room. Then she slowly
    closes the door, and advances towards the others. She is a pretty
    woman, about 25, but she looks pale and anxious._

    _Dr. Wells and Katherine stop talking when she comes near and watch
    her. She turns to the Doctor and asks for his verdict. He doesn't
    reply, but looks inquiringly at Katherine. After a moment, she says
    he'd better tell her. Very gently he breaks the news, and informs
    her that her husband will probably die. The disease is vicious and
    can't be checked._)

  _Marian._ (_Anxiously._) You mean my husband will die?

  _Dr. Wells._ I fear so.

  _Marian._ Don't say that, Doctor. It will kill me. You don't know what
  John means to me.

    (_The Doctor assures her that he has done his best, and the patient
    is now in the hands of God. He's sorry but in all honesty he
    believes the man will die._

    _Marian refuses to believe, and maintains that her husband will not
    die. No doubt he's a very sick man, but he will live. She declares
    she has sent for a man who can save him._)

  _Marian._ You've been good, Doctor, and God will bless you. But you
  won't blame me for saying that perhaps some one else might look at the
  case differently. You don't feel hurt? Don't blame me, but I've sent
  for Dr. Crawford, so you can have--what do you call it?--a
  consultation. I know he can save my husband's life.

  _Dr. Wells._ (_Surprised_.) You mean Dr. William Crawford, the famous

  _Marian._ Yes. Oh, Doctor, he's so wonderful!

  _Dr. Wells._ (_Enthusiastically._) Wonderful? I should say so. He's
  one of the most remarkable men in the profession. If there's any one
  in the world who can save your husband's life, he is the man.
  (_Doubtfully._) But can you pay his fee?



  (_A farce of three persons, a dog, and a gun "that wasn't loaded"_)


    _Jane, about twenty.
    Aunt Sophy, her maiden aunt, about 45.
    Bobby Holloway, a lodger, about 23._

  _Place, Jane's bedroom. Time about 11 at night_

  SETTING. _Lower left a closet, door opening inward. Upper left a door
  leading to Aunt Sophy's room, opening inward. Rear centre,
  double-windows set in a shallow alcove. The curtains are draped to
  right and left. Right, up stage, a fireplace without a fire. Left,
  down stage, a dressing-table with mirror. A low stool stands before
  it. Against rear wall to left a washstand half-hidden by a Japanese
  screen, shoulder height. Against right wall and about halfway down
  stage a bed. It is low and preferably wooden._

  [Diagram of Setting]

  _At rise Jane is discovered at dressing-table occupied in braiding her
  hair. Enter Aunt Sophy. She asks Jane if Mr. Holloway, their single
  lodger, is in for the night. Jane replies with some petulance that she
  does not know. A dissection of that gentleman's character ensues in
  which Jane anathematizes him, while Aunt Sophy, despite her avowed
  dislike for all things masculine, champions his cause. At last Jane
  intimates that in all probability Mr. Holloway will propose to Aunt
  Sophy at a very early date. The latter cannot conceal her delight. She
  is not content with Jane's assurance on this point but must know how
  she discovered the state of Bobby's affections. Jane finally admits
  that she bases her deduction upon the fact that he "proposes to
  everybody, in season and out!"--that he has proposed to her, Jane, no
  less than 237 times._

  _Aunt Sophy is hurt and shocked at this revelation of perfidy and
  immediately sides with Jane, declaring that she will oust Mr.
  Holloway on the following morning. Jane however does not want to be
  sided with. With true feminine variability she shifts her attitude as
  completely as Aunt Sophy has hers, and pleads with the outraged old
  maid to reverse her decision. She shows that she really cares for
  Bobby more than at first appeared. Aunt Sophy however is obdurate, and
  departs, leaving Jane almost dissolved in tears._

  _At this juncture a racket arises outside Jane's window. It is a
  mixture of blasphemous English, growls and hurried footsteps. Jane
  starts to investigate, but seeing an arm and a leg thrust hastily over
  the sill, retreats to the door in alarm. Immediately Bobby climbs in,
  and a smothered exclamation from Jane identifies him. He glances about
  hurriedly, and not perceiving her, turns his attention to the dog who
  still growls below. He epitomizes him with surprising fluency, until
  Jane, unable to stand more, interrupts. This precipitates a profuse
  apology for the intrusion and other things, an explanation, and later
  a proposal._

  _Jane is angered beyond measure not only at this invasion of her
  privacy but also at Bobby's attitude towards the whole affair. She
  orders him to leave. He attempts to do so by way of the door._

  _Jane._ (_Frightened._) W-w-where are you going?

  _Bobby._ (_Shrugging._) Hump!--to heaven--eventually!

  _Jane._ (_Barring way._) N-n-not through Aunt Sophy's room!

    (_She informs him that he must depart the way he came. He consents
    but only in a very half-hearted manner. Between Aunt Sophy and
    Towser he is in a quandary. After several unsuccessful starts he
    flatly refuses to descend, and upbraids Jane for her cruelty. He
    dwells at length on the horrors of dog-bites, hydrophobia, madness,
    and death._)

  _Bobby._ (_Injured._) As if I had not already been chewed up so that I
  can scarcely sit--(_hastily_)--I mean walk.

  _Jane._ (_Relenting._) Gracious! Bobby, did he bite you?

  _Bobby. Did_ he?

  _Jane._ (_Seizing bottle from table._) Heavens! You must put something
  on it! Some antiseptic! Bobby come here!

  _Bobby._ Oh, no, no! No, it's not serious!

  _Jane._ Come here this instant!

  _Bobby._ (_Flatly._) I won't do it!

    (_He succeeds so well in working upon her sympathies that even a
    knock at Aunt Sophy's door is not enough to make her change her
    attitude. She now as obstinately refuses to let him descend to
    certain death as previously he had refused to do it. The knocks are
    continued. Jane is rapidly losing her head when it suddenly occurs
    to her that if she stores Bobby away under the bed until Towser has
    departed or Aunt Sophy has gone to sleep, all may yet be well. While
    Bobby is ensconcing himself in this new position a three cornered
    conversation takes place, in which Jane becomes more and more

  _Aunt Sophy._ (_Outside._) Jane, Jane, are you ill?

  _Jane._ Ill? Oh, oh! I don't know!

  _Aunt Sophy._ Open the door this minute or I'll break it down!

  _Jane._ Break it down?

  _Aunt Sophy._ Yes, this instant!

  _Jane._ Oh, oh! Don't do that! It's not locked! ...

It may be interesting to compare the scenario of _A Doll's House_ from
which Ibsen wrote his first draft with his original notes. Here is
perfect illustration of the difference between sketchy notes which mean
much to the writer and a scenario which at least broadly will convey to
a reader the artistic and ethical purposes in the play the dramatist
means to write.


    _Rome_, 19. 10, 78.

  There are two kinds of spiritual law, two kinds of conscience, one in
  man and another, altogether different, in woman. They do not
  understand each other; but in practical life the woman is judged by
  man's law, as though she were not a woman but a man.

  The wife in the play ends by having no idea of what is right or wrong;
  natural feeling on the one hand and belief in authority on the other
  have altogether bewildered her.

  A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is
  an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and with a
  judicial system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of

  She has committed forgery, and she is proud of it; for she did it out
  of love for her husband, to save his life. But this husband, with his
  commonplace principles of honour is on the side of the law and regards
  the question with masculine eyes.

  Spiritual conflicts. Oppressed and bewildered by the belief in
  authority, she loses faith in her moral right and ability to bring up
  her children. Bitterness. A mother in modern society, like certain
  insects who go away and die when she has done her duty in the
  propagation of the race.[12] Love of life, of home, of husband and
  children and family. Here and there a womanly shaking-off of her
  thoughts. Sudden return of anxiety and terror. She must bear it all
  alone. The catastrophe approaches, inexorably, inevitably. Despair,
  conflict, and destruction.

  (Krogstad has acted dishonourably and thereby become well-to-do; now
  his prosperity does not help him, he cannot recover his honour.)[13]


    _Stenborg, a Government clerk.
    Nora, his wife.
    Miss (Mrs.) Linde (a widow).
    Attorney Krogstad.
    Karen, nurse at the Stenborgs'.
    A Parlour-Maid at the Stenborgs'.
    A Porter.
    The Stenborgs' three little children.
    Doctor Hank._


  _A room comfortably, but not showily, furnished. In the back, on the
  right, a door leads to the hall; on the left another door leads to the
  room or office of the master of the house, which can be seen when the
  door is opened. A fire in the stove. Winter day._

  _She enters from the back, humming gaily; she is in outdoor dress and
  carries several parcels, has been shopping. As she opens the door, a
  Porter is seen in the hall, carrying a Christmas-tree. She: Put it
  down there for the present. (Taking out her purse.) How much? Porter:
  Fifty öre. She: Here is a crown. No, keep the change. The Porter
  thanks her and goes. She continues humming and smiling with quiet glee
  as she opens several of the parcels she has brought. Calls off, is he
  at home? Yes! At first, conversation through the closed door; then he
  opens it and goes on talking to her while continuing to work most of
  the time, standing at his desk. There is a ring at the hall-door;
  he does not want to be disturbed; shuts himself in. The maid opens
  the door to her mistress's friend, just arrived in town. Happy
  surprise. Mutual explanation of the position of affairs. He has
  received the post of manager in the new joint-stock bank and is to
  enter on his duties at the New Year; all financial worries are at an
  end. The friend has come to town to look for some small employment in
  an office or whatever may present itself. Mrs. Stenborg gives her good
  hopes, is certain that all will turn out well. The maid opens the
  front door to the debt-collector. Mrs. Stenborg, terrified; they
  exchange a few words; he is shown into the office. Mrs. Stenborg and
  her friend; the circumstances of the debt-collector are touched upon.
  Stenborg enters in his overcoat; has sent the collector out the other
  way. Conversation about the friend's affairs; hesitation on his part.
  He and the friend go out; his wife follows them into the hall; the
  Nurse enters with the children. Mother and children play. The
  collector enters. Mrs. Stenborg sends the children out to the left.
  Great scene between her and him. He goes. Stenborg enters; has met him
  on the stairs; displeased; wants to know what he came back for? Her
  support? No intrigues. His wife cautiously tries to pump him. Strict
  legal answers. Exit to his room. She (repeating her words when the
  collector went out): But that's impossible. Why, I did it from love!_


  _The last day of the year. Midday. Nora and the old Nurse. Nora,
  impelled by uneasiness, is putting on her things to go out. Anxious
  random questions of one kind and another give a hint that thoughts of
  death are in her mind. Tries to banish these thoughts, to turn it off,
  hopes that something or other may intervene. But what? The Nurse goes
  off to the left.--Stenborg enters from his room. Short dialogue
  between him and Nora.--The Nurse re-enters, looking for Nora; the
  youngest child is crying. Annoyance and questioning on Stenborg's
  part; exit the Nurse; Stenborg is going in to the children.--Doctor
  Hank enters. Scene between him and Stenborg.--Nora soon re-enters; she
  has turned back; anxiety has driven her home again. Scene between her,
  the Doctor and Stenborg. Stenborg goes into his room.--Scene between
  Nora and the Doctor. The Doctor goes out.--Nora alone.--Mrs. Linde
  enters. Short scene between her and Nora.--Krogstad enters. Short
  scene between him and Mrs. Linde and Nora. Mrs. Linde goes in to the
  children.--Scene between Krogstad and Nora.--She entreats and implores
  him for the sake of her little children; in vain. Krogstad goes out.
  The letter is seen to fall from outside into the letter-box.--Mrs.
  Linde re-enters after a short pause. Scene between her and Nora. Half
  confession. Mrs. Linde goes out.--Nora alone.--Stenborg enters. Scene
  between him and Nora. He wants to empty the letter-box. Entreaties,
  jests, half playful persuasion. He promises to let business wait till
  after New Year's Day; but at 12 o'clock midnight--! Exit. Nora alone.
  Nora (looking at the clock): It is five o'clock. Five;--seven hours
  till midnight. Twenty-four hours till the next midnight. Twenty-four
  and seven--thirty-one. Thirty-one hours to live.--_


  _A muffled sound of dance music is heard from the floor above. A
  lighted lamp on the table. Mrs. Linde sits in an armchair and absently
  turns the pages of a book, tries to read, but seems unable to fix her
  attention; once or twice she looks at her watch. Nora comes down from
  the dance; uneasiness has driven her; surprise at finding Mrs. Linde,
  who pretends that she wanted to see Nora in her costume. Helmer,
  displeased at her going away, comes to fetch her back. The Doctor also
  enters, but to say good-bye. Meanwhile Mrs. Linde has gone into the
  side room on the right. Scene between the Doctor, Helmer, and Nora. He
  is going to bed, he says, never to get up again; they are not to come
  and see him; there is ugliness about a death-bed. He goes out. Helmer
  goes upstairs again with Nora, after the latter has exchanged a few
  words of farewell with Mrs. Linde. Mrs. Linde alone. Then Krogstad.
  Scene and explanation between them. Both go out. Nora and the
  children. Then she alone. Then Helmer. He takes the letters out of the
  letter-box. Short scene; goodnight; he goes into his room. Nora in
  despair prepares for the final step; is already at the door when
  Helmer enters with the open letter in his hand. Great scene. A ring.
  Letter to Nora from Krogstad. Final scene. Divorce. Nora leaves the

Finally, here is the full scenario of a play which made a great success
both in England and the United States and was seen by practically all
the Continental countries, namely, _Kismet_. Notice how well it fulfils
the requirements for a good scenario stated in this chapter, not because
Mr. Knobloch had these rules in mind as he composed it, but because, as
a trained dramatist, he instinctively gave these qualities to his
scenario. Carefully studied in relation to the essentials of scenario
writing just stated, it should remove all doubt in the mind of a student
as to what a good scenario is and why it is an essential preliminary to
a good play.




_Scenario for a play in three acts, by_



  (_in order of their appearance_)

    _Original Names_              _Later Names_

    _Hajji.                       Hajj (as Hajji is Persian, Hajj Arabian).
    A Priest.                     Imam Mahmud.
    Guide.                        Nasir.
    Sheikh of the Desert.         Jawan.
    Young Beggar.                 Kasim.
    Sultan.                       The Caliph Abdallah.
    His Vizier.                   Abu Bakr.
    Shopkeeper I.                 Amru.
    Shopkeeper II.                Fayd.
    Zira.                         Marsinah.
    Old Woman I.                  Narjis.
    Officer of Guard.             Captain of the Watch.
    Executioner.                  Mansur, Chief of Police.

                               /  Turned into two characters:
    His Scribe.               <   Kafur, the Sworder.
                               \  Afife, the Hunchback.

    Old Woman II.
    Executioner's Wife.           Kut-Al-Kulub.
    Gaoler.                       Kutayt.

    Peasant.   \ Trial scene at / Cut out in
    Two Wives. / Sultan's.      \ final draft._

    _Dancers, Soldiers, Courtiers, Women, the People._


  _[Scene later introduced before the curtain.]
  Scene 1. A Street before a Mosque.
  Scene 2. The Bazaar.
  Scene 3. Courtyard of a Poor House.
  Scene 4. Courtyard of Executioner's House._


  _Scene 1. Interior Room of Executioner's House.
  Scene 2. Courtyard of a Poor House. (Act I, Scene 3.)
  Scene 3. The Sultan's Audience Hall.
  Scene 4. A Dungeon._


  _Scene 1. Courtyard of a Poor House (Act I, Scene 3) [cut in final
  Scene 2. The Bath of the Executioner's House.
  Scene 3. A street before a Mosque. (Act I, Scene 1.)_

    _The Scene is laid in Bagdad.
    The action takes place from morning to night._



  _A narrow street with stone steps leading up to a Mosque left. (Small

  _The sun is just beginning to rise._

  _Asleep on a large stone which juts out from the angle of the wall C.
  sits Hajji wrapped in his beggar's cloak. On the minaret of the Mosque
  appears the priest, a venerable white bearded man. He calls to
  prayer._ [See alterations in actual play.]

  _The crowd begins to pass into the Mosque as the sun rises. Hajji
  wakes up, rubs his eyes, and has a drink of water from a gourd which
  he draws out from behind his seat. He begins to beg from the

  _An Old Man (Jawan) preceded by a guide (Nasir) is carried across the
  scene in a litter. He fixes his gaze on Hajji and is carried off into
  the Mosque. The guide remains in the portico. Hajji follows the Old
  Man on his knees to the steps of the Mosque, begging._

  _As he does so a lean Beggar of a younger cast of countenance takes
  Hajji's place._

  _Hajji returns to his seat._

  _Hajji._                 Hajji curses young Beggar.
                           Explains young Beggar must be stranger.
                           Who is he that he does not know of Hajji?
                           He has sat on this seat for thirty years.
                           His father has sat there before him.
                           His grandfather before _him_.
                           Great pride in his ancestry of beggardom.

  _Young Beggar. (Kasim.)_ The young Beggar tries to retaliate.
                           Hajji tells him to go and sit on a seat round
                           the corner--"where other swine have sat before
                           He kicks the young Beggar.

  _The Guide (Nasir) of the Old Man_ comes down to interfere.

  _The Young Beggar (Kasim)_ sulks into a corner nursing his kick.

  _Hajji._                 Hajji and Guide get into conversation.

  _The Guide._ (_Kasim._)  Guide explains Rich Man here on a pilgrimage.
                           Is really a famous old Robber Chief, a Cûrd,
                           One of the Sheikhs of the desert: all of
                           whom were notorious and banished by late
                           Sultan (_Caliph_).
                           Sheikh old and dying.
                           Come to pray to Allah to restore his son to
                           him before he dies (if son still alive).

  [_Sultan_ is used        Sheikh was attacked by Sultan's troops
  throughout this          twenty-five years ago, and his son, then four
  scenario--for which,     years old, carried off.
  in play, _Caliph_ is     Hajji says he knows what that means.
  substituted. _Caliph_    Had his wife carried off many years ago.
  is correct, as being     The only woman he ever loved--really loved.
  Arabian. The title       The Guide: "I know, Hajji, and I pity you.
  _Sultan_ is of later     I have a proposition to make:
  origin and of Turkish    I know the Sheikh will give money to charity
  influence.]              to save his soul just before dying.
                           Now if you could predict something to him,--
                           Say that he will find his son again,--
                           The Sheikh will give you money."
                           And for this advice Guide and Hajji are to
                           divide money.
                           Hajji agrees to this.

                           _Prayers are over._

                 _The crowd disperses coming from the Mosque.
              Sheikh is carried out of the Mosque in his litter._

  _Hajji._                 Hajji throws himself in front of litter.
                           Crying out: "Listen to me.
                           I can see why you have come.
                           You are looking for some one,--your son.
                           You shall find him. Give me money."
                           Sheikh amazed at Hajji's knowledge.
                           Hajji says his wits have been sharpened
                           through grief and suffering.
                           "I had a wife and a son.
                           They were stolen by my enemy.
                           My son was murdered,
                           My wife carried off.
                           The swine of a beggar who sat round the
                           corner did it.
                           He is my enemy. The curse of my life."
                           Sheikh holds out purse, chinking it.
                           Hajji blesses Sheikh.
                           Sheikh bursts out laughing.
                           Reveals himself to Hajji.
                           He (Sheikh) is his enemy.
                           He ran away with Hajji's wife.

  [Some of this is         And became a robber under her inspiring
  incorporated in the      influence. One of a band of robbers that
  scene with _Nasir_.]     attacked the caravans.
                           It is their son (by Hajji's wife) that the
                           Sultan captured when he attacked the robbers.
                           Laughs at Hajji for blessing him.
                           Thanks him ironically.
                           Throws the purse and is carried off by his men.
                           Hajji shouts curses after him.
                           And kicks away the money.

  _Hajji. (Alone.)_        He is torn in two by the hatred for his enemy.

  _Young Beggar, in        And the love of the money.
  corner._                 What he could do with the money.

                        /  He could do so much for Zira (the daughter),
                       |   The pride of his heart, the consolation of his
                       |   old age,
                       |   The one balm to his fatherly heart.
                       |   But his enemy's money?
                       |   Never.
                       |   But Zira? Trinkets for her. Her laughter.
  [This was cut        |   Her smile.
  rehearsals, as      <    But the Sheikh's money--The beast who robbed
  halting the action,] |   him of his wife.
                       |   Who was Zira's mother? No one. A dancing girl,
                       |   a passing whim. The fancy of a late spring.
                       |   But his wife--the one that the Sheikh took--
                       |   she was everything. His joy, his pride, the
                       |   first finding of his manhood.
                       |   To the purse: "I'll not touch thee." (_He
                        \  spits at it._)

                                         _He sees some one coming.
                                       He quickly pockets the purse._

              _The Guide reënters_

  _Hajji.                  Guide comes to claim half of his money.
  Guide.                   Hajji does not know anything of the bargain;
  Young Beggar._           "I saw no purse."
                           Guide furious.
                           Hajji laughs at him.
                           He appeals to young Beggar.
                           Was there a purse there?
                           The young Beggar sides with Hajji.
                           Guide off, furious, vowing vengeance.
                           Hajji says, "Go thy way in peace."

  Young Beggar._           Young Beggar: "What do I get for siding with
                           "I saw you pick up the purse.
                           I heard the agreement: you promised him half."
                           Hajji says the money was given him, not by the
                           Sheikh, but by fate.
                           We all have a day in life.
                           This is Hajji's day.
                           There is a future before him.
                           The Sheikh rose from the mud to power and
                           Why not Hajji?
                           Fortune is smiling on him at last.
                           He will forsake the seat he has sat on these
                           thirty years.
                           Go forth into the world.
                           What shall he give the Young Beggar?
                           His throne and his beggar's cloak.
                           (_He instates him in his seat and goes off._)

  [Here the Priest is
  introduced in the play
  to heighten the effect
  at the end. Also to
  make him a friend of
  Hajji's, as Hajji sends              _Curtain_
  his daughter to him at
  the end of the Hareem
  scene. Act III, Scene


  _The Bazaar._ (_Large set_)

  _Shopkeeper I and Shopkeeper II lying outside of adjoining shops. They
  are very friendly._


  _Young Sultan (Caliph) rides through the bazaar on a white donkey. His
  Vizier (Abu Bakr) follows him. Also guards._

  _Hajji appears._         Political discussion.

  _Shopkeeper I._          Young Sultan just come through bazaar.

  _Shopkeeper II._         Hajji regrets he missed seeing him.
                           Sultan only been Sultan ten days.
  [Read _Caliph_           Nephew of old Sultan now dead.
  for _Sultan._]           Young Sultan brought up in a monastery,

  [In the play, the        Said to be a dreamer and a poet.
  shopkeepers have a       The real ruler said to be the Executioner,
  scene of explanation     A favourite of late Sultan,
  before Hajj              Young man, too, but very strong,
  enters,--altered when    Very cruel and selfish.
  writing play.]           Young Sultan does not see much of
                           Executioner (_Mansur_).
                           Supposed to disappear on nightly expeditions,
                           To get to know his people,
                           To have some love adventures.
                           Has been brought up strictly in monastery,
                           Has never yet, they say, tested the "charm of
                           his beard."

  [This altered. See note  Hajji listens to all this humbly,
  above. In the play Hajj  Sitting almost under the counter,
  enters here.]            Then begins to finger stuffs.
                           The shopkeeper is going to drive him off.
                           But Hajji is in earnest.
                           Shows his purse. He means to buy.
                           Clothes are forthcoming.
                           He selects some.
                           Once he has gone to the bath and the barber
                           he will be resplendent--as noble as the
                           Hajji asks the price.
                           It is very high.
                           He begins to bargain.
                           Shopkeeper No. II chimes in.
                           Hajji pits Shopkeeper No. I against
                           No. II.
                           They quarrel.
                           Hajji fans the quarrel into flame.
                           They almost come to blows.
                           Hajji escapes with his clothes.

  _Shopkeeper No. I.       The shopkeepers notice his escape.
  and                      They combine at once against the common enemy.
  Shopkeeper No. II_       Shopkeeper I will go for the guard,
                           And have Hajji followed and caught.
                           Shopkeeper II to meet him at the Executioner's
                           to witness against Hajji.

  [Here Nasir the Guide
  is introduced to give
  away Hajj. This was
  done when the play was
  revised for
  production.]                     _Curtain_


  (_For "Zira" read "Marsinah."_)

  _Zira's home. Small courtyard of a poor house. On right side a large
  gate backing to street. Fountain in courtyard._

  _Old Woman.              Old woman is spinning.
  Zira, the daughter       Zira is lazily hanging her hand into fountain.
  of Hajji._               (She works instead.)

  [_Marsinah works._ This  Old Woman reprimands her for not working.
  was altered when         She has changed in last three days.
  writing play, because    Zira, who hides her wools, says her thread has
  of Arabian embroidery    given out.
  frame seen in the        Old Woman will go to bazaar for thread.
  Museum of Tunis.]        Locks door carefully, going out.

          _Zira springs up and goes to the casement in Courtyard and
             then, plucking a rose, throws it out. She then unlocks
             casement and goes back to the fountain._

             _Young Sultan appears in simple clothes, climbing in._

  _Zira.                   Love scene.
  Young Sultan._           His madness to come at daytime.
                           Since he saw her first three nights ago from
                           neighboring roof-tops cannot rest.
                           She asks who he is.
                           He is so different from her father.
                           His hands so beautiful.
                           He has love scene,
                           In which they exchange rhymed couplets
                           In Arabian Nights fashion.
                           He puts a question (line one and two rhyming)
                           She caps it (line three not rhyming, but line
                           four rhyming with one and two).
                           The girl is witty but natural.
                           This charms the Sultan beyond measure.
                           All the women he has had presented to him are
                           so stupid.
                           She says: '"All the women'!" Who is he?
                           He says a simple scribe--brought up in a
                           monastery. His uncle wishes him to marry.
                           He has never loved before,
                           Till meeting Zira.
                           They embrace.
  _Noise of key in gate._  They hear noise.
                           They separate--He will come back after sundown
                           to see her. She gives him a rose. Then he will
                           tell her something which will surprise her.
                           He escapes through the window.
                            _Zira back to fountain, (to her work)._

                  _Old Woman reënters breathless._

  _Old Woman.              Old Woman says Zira's father is coming.
  Zira._                   Thing he has never done during daytime.
                           Luckily she saw him as she returned from
                           He was coming out of Public Bath,
                           Beautifully dressed.
                           They pretend to be busy working.
                                                  _Noise of key._

      _Hajji arrives, dressed in good clothes, curls trimmed and beard

  _Hajji.                  Greetings.
  Zira.                    Zira admires her father.
  Old Woman._              Old Woman sent off to get meal ready.

  _Hajji.                  Hajji has great plans for his daughter.
  Zira._                   His affection for her profound.
                           He plans for her future.
                           She is very charming to him,
                           As she naturally wishes to hide her love
                           affair, and get into his good graces.
                           She takes out her guitar.
                           Begins to sing to him.
                           He sways before her admiringly on his knees.
                           Says she is beautiful.

  [This altered in the     Her mother was not beautiful,
  writing of play.]        Not like his wife that he loved
                           Not like his son now dead.
                           But she is more beautiful than all,
                           The light of his eyes.
                           She laughs and sings.
                           He claps his hands in ecstasy
                           He has great ambitions for her.
                                            _A knock on the door._
                           Zira is sent by her father into the inner
                           The Old Woman comes out of house and
                           says it will be some pedlar at door.
                           She opens.

  _The Officer of the Guard and Guard enter with the Shopkeeper I_

  _Hajji.                  Shopkeeper accuses Hajji of stealing
  Shopkeeper.              garments he has on.
  Officer._                Hajji denies it.
                           Shopkeeper will have him taken before the
                           Executioner (_Mansur_).
                           Hajji protests.
                           He is taken off in spite of his assurances
                           that the Shopkeeper is a madman.

  [Re-introduction of
  Nasir, saying, "I saw
  no purse!" Change made
  during rehearsals]               _Curtain_


    _Hall in Executioner's House (large set). A colonnade at back,
    showing courtyard._

  Executioner (Mansur).    Executioner very discontented.
  His Scribe (Afife),      Young Sultan means to curtail Executioner's
    an old man             prerogatives.
  [Kafur his Sworder,--    Executioner was old Sultan's favorite.
  added when play was      Scribe and Executioner plan to assassinate
  written. This first      Sultan.
  sceneis enlarged in      They need a clever man.
  play by a letter from    Whom shall they get?
  the Caliph. See play.]

    _Hajji is brought by the Guard, followed by Shopkeeper and a Crowd,
    in which is the Guide of Scene 1._

  _Hajji.                  Hajji accused by Shopkeeper I.
  Executioner.             Shopkeeper II bearing No. I witness.
  Scribe.                  Hajji protests.
  Guide.                   Meant to pay--Excitement of new clothes made
  Shopkeeper I.            him forget.
  Shopkeeper II.           Produces money.
  Crowd._                  Where did he get his money?
                           Sheikh of desert.
                           They all laugh.
                           Sheikh of desert does not give money.
                           Sheikhs are outlaws, robbers.
                           Not allowed in town.
                           Hajji says he is in town.
                           Notices Guide (_Nasir_) in crowd.
                           Appeals to Guide--
                           Guide says it is true that Sheikh is in town.
                           Then, says Executioner, Sheikh must be taken
                           before Sultan.
                           All Cûrds banished by old Sultan.
                           Sultan has an audience this afternoon.
                           Sheikh an exile (by old Sultan).
                           Executioner cannot allow the word of the
                           deceased monarch to be disregarded.
                           Sends Guide off to show the Guard the
                           caravansary at which Sheikh is stopping.
                           Hajji interrupts.
                           One word.
                           He asks Guide did he, the Sheikh, not throw
                           Hajji a purse.
                           Guide repeating Hajji's words (Scene 1)
                           "I saw no purse."
                           All laugh.
                           Guide off with the Guard.

  [Afterwards, "his hand   Executioner orders Hajji to have his ears cut
  cut off," as this is     off.
  the law of the Koran.    Hajji discourses on Fate, Kismet.
  Change made when         Is very witty.
  writing play.]           Executioner becomes interested in Hajji's
                           Hajji is pardoned suddenly by Executioner.
                           Executioner does more.
                           He takes Hajji into his household
                           Into his personal guard.
                           A sword is sent for.
                           Hajji kneels in gratitude at the Executioner's
                           "His servant always."
                           The sword is brought in.
                           Executioner takes it and hands it to Hajji.
                           "Rise, Hajji, and learn to use this sword in
                           my service."
                           Hajji rises.
                           He begs he may begin his career by an act of
                           Executioner grants permission.
                           Hajji makes the Shopkeepers kneel, forgives
                           them for daring to accuse a servant of the
                           Executioner's of stealing--tickles their
                           beards with his sword and orders them to
                           pay a fine to the Executioner.
                           They leave more dead than alive.
                           Hajji turns to Executioner.
                           _H._ "Have I begun well?"
                           _E._ "The beginning is nothing. Go now and
                           the Captain will instruct you in your duties."
                           _H._ (_with enormous swagger_) "Captain?"
                           He goes out, the rest following him.

  _The Scribe.             Is amazed at Executioner's clemency.
  Executioner._            _E._ "Don't you see why I have pardoned him?"
                           _S._ "No, Master."
                           _E._ "This man shall do the deed."
                           _S._ "The deed?"
                           _E._ "Murder the Sultan for me."
                           _S._ "I see."

         (_They both turn and look after Hajji who is seen traversing
           the courtyard at the back and twirling his moustaches, the
           servants all bowing low to him._)



  _An inner chamber in Executioner's House. Door leading to Hareem._

  [This is the same hall as at the end of Act I, only that curtains
  are drawn to hide the courtyard.]

  _Hajji.                  Executioner and Scribe seated on a platform
  Executioner.             drinking coffee and smoking.
  Scribe._                 Hajji seated below them entertaining them
  [Coffee and smoking      with amorous stories.
  suppressed, as both      They are all laughing.
  were found to be         Hajji finishes a story.
  anachronisms.]           Executioner says it reminds him of his
                           principal wife.

  [This altered. Eastern   A slight pause.
  men do not speak of      The Executioner gives Scribe a look as if to
  their wives to           say "To business."
  strangers.]              He says to Hajji--
                           How would Hajji like to become a great power
                           in the state?
                           He broaches plan of assassinating the Sultan.
                           Hajji hesitates.
                           Executioner unfolds scheme.
                           There is an audience in half an hour.
                           Hajji can come as a Fakir.
  [See play. All of this   Has told Executioner he could juggle--power in
  scene was split in half, play tricks at his corner when begging.
  and Mansur does not now
  suggest the              Hajji could get close to Sultan and kill him.
  assassination till at    No danger to Hajji.
  the end of the second    As the Guards are under command of
  half. The reason is      Executioner.
  clear: Hajj could not    Executioner will be there.
  have a love scene (as    But, of course, Hajji must under no condition
  he does now) if he       recognize the Executioner.
  were  brooding about     Hajji feels doubts.
  the assassination.       Executioner fills him full of promises.
  This was altered in      Executioner will be made Sultan.
  rehearsal at             Hajji shall become Executioner.
  thesuggestion of Mr.     Executioner off to put on his armour for
  Grimwood, who played     audience.
  Mansur in England.]      Scribe goes with him.
                           Executioner: "Think it over. If you don't like
                           it--there is always room for a strangled body
                           in the river."

  [_Hajji (Alone)._]       "So this is why I was pardoned this morning?
                           Oh, Hajji! What a fool you are!
                           And you thought your personal charm did it

  _Hajji.                  Door of Hareem opens. Old Woman
  Old Woman No II._        No. II appears with a note, gives it to Hajji.
  [Changed to young        Hajji reads it, smiles and nods.
  slave Miskah. The        Old Woman disappears.
  note becomes a
  message, with
  dialogue between Hajj
  and Miskah]

  _Hajji (Alone)._         "After all I cannot be so utterly without
                           charm, if _this_ can happen to me."
                           He twirls his moustaches up and looks at
                           himself in the blade of his sword.

    _Old Woman No. II reenters with veiled woman (Executioner's Wife).
    Old Woman stands guard._

  _Hajji.                  The Wife has seen him from her window.
  Wife._                   As he crossed the courtyard at noon, she lost
                           her heart to him.
                           Her husband neglects her.
                           She comes to Hajji for sympathy.
                           Hajji makes love to her.
                           She refuses to unveil,--at least, at once.
                           She makes appointment with him.
                           To meet him in the Executioner's Bath at
                           All the women bathe then.
                           She will leave a little screen unlatched that
                           leads to the furnaces under the baths.
                           These furnaces reached also from men's
                           quarters through the door in the Court.
                           (She points it out to him.)
                           He can come and see her there in Bath, when
                           the other women are back in the Hareem.
                           The Executioner never returns from the
                           Sultan till after supper.
                           They hear a noise.
                           She withdraws.
                             _Hajji struts about in great glee._
                           He hears Executioner coming
                           He throws himself on his knees and prays.

  _Executioner.            Executioner returns armed.
  Hajji.                   What has Hajji decided?
  Scribe._                 Hajji says he has been wrestling in prayer.
                           He cannot make up his mind to kill Sultan, a
                           descendant of the Prophet.
                           Executioner says he also is a descendant of
                           Hajji is accused of cowardice.
                           He denies it.
                           He says he has ties that bind him.
                           The risk is too great because of his daughter,
                           his daughter, Zira.
                           He tells about her.
                           Finally he consents to kill Sultan on one
                           No matter what happens to him the
                           Executioner must marry the daughter.
                           The Executioner consents.
                           Hajji is overjoyed.
                           He quite forgets his own danger when he thinks
                           his daughter will be the Sultana.
                           He will hurry off to his daughter's house,
                           And have her conveyed to Executioner's house
                           after sun-down.
                           Too beautiful to pass through the streets at
                           day time.
                           Begs for a guard to convey her.
                           Once he has arranged with her he will come on
                           to young Sultan's palace,--
                           "The Sultan who will be dead. Who _is_ dead!"
                           He hurries off in great exultation.

  [When the play was
  written, the
  mid-afternoon call to
  prayer was introduced
  here as a Curtain.]               _Curtain_


    _Zira's home. Same scene as Scene 3, Act I. Small courtyard.
    Zira sits with her guitar singing a love song._

  _Zira.                /  Zira tries to get the Old Woman to go out
  Old Woman._           |  that night.
  [Cut when play was   <   Old woman suspicious
  written.]             |  Zira calms her fears
                        \  Coaxes her, pets her

                           _Hajji arrives_.

  _Hajji.                  Hajji has come to break news to Zira.
  Zira.                    Great news!
  Old Woman._              He is going to give her to Executioner as
                           Zira dumb with horror.
                           Violent scene of cursing and cajoling.
                           Finally she rebels.
                           The Old Woman agrees with Hajji whenever he
                           appeals to her.
                           He finally calls in the Guard, and makes
                           them guard door.

  [Altered during          At sundown they are to take the girl to
  rehearsal.               Executioner's house.
  The guard,--eunuchs      Ungrateful child!
  of Mansur--take the      Zira in tears. Hajji off.
  daughter away at once.
  Hajji remains on the
  scene, smiling in a
  fashion.]                    _Curtain_


  _The Sultan's Audience Hall (The Caliph's Diwan). (Large set.)
  Sultan seated on a Divan.
  His Vizier by his side.
  Dances of Women.
  Sultan melancholy. He says to Vizier that all these dances are nothing
    to the faded rose in his hand.
  Hour for audience strikes.
  The women dismissed.
  The gates are opened to the crowd.
  The various dignitaries enter.
  The Executioner and the Guard come and kneel to the Sultan.
  Different cases for trial called.
  First of all the old Sheikh is called.
  His whereabouts have been ascertained through the Guide.
  The Sheikh is carried in on his litter and with greatest difficulty
    descends to do obeisance to the Sultan._

  _Sultan.                 Sultan asks him how he, an exile, dare enter
  Sheikh.                  the city, defying the decree of his late
  Executioner.             uncle.
  Crowd, etc._             Sheikh says he came on peaceful mission, not
                           to rob.
                           He is old; one of many robbers. No longer of
                           Came to pray at shrine and give alms, the
                           shrine where he had prayed in his youth.
                           Invokes protection of High Priest.
                           Sultan says Sheikh must be imprisoned.
                           If High Priest proves that Sheikh came to
                           give alms and to repent, he shall be released
                           Meanwhile, for his many sins, a short
                           repentance in prison will not be harmful to
                           his soul.

    _The Goaler comes forward and with two guards drags the lame man off.
      The Sheikh goes, blessing the Sultan for his wisdom and justice.
      The Sultan says: "Send to the High Priest at once to see if this
      old man spoke true."_

  _Sultan.                 This should be some comic trial with a
  A Peasant with Two       difficult question to solve, Such as: "Should
    Wives._                a man honour his first wife more--who is old
  [This scene was cut at   and ugly, but devoted--or his second wife
  rehearsal, as having     whom he mistrusts but adores for her beauty?"
  nothing to do with the   Or something of the kind drawn from Arabian
  story. Instead of        Nights.
  which, Hajj was
  introduced by a speech
  of Mansur's. See play.]

                           The Sultan is puzzled
                           He has no answer.
                           Who can solve the riddle?

    _Hajji, pushing through the crowd,--"Let me, oh Sire!"--throws
    himself before Sultan._

  _Hajji.                  Hajji decides in a witty, whimsical way.
  Sultan.                  The Sultan amused by him. Who is he?
  Others_                  Hajji says he is a Fakir.
                           He plays some tricks.
                       /   While doing one, addresses the Executioner
                       |   as a slave, asking him to bring a table.
  [Cut:]              <    Pretends not to know who Executioner is,
                       |   and begs his pardon when he is told of his
                       \   rank.
                           He then gets near the Sultan.
                           Does a trick with a sword.
                           Tries suddenly to stab the Sultan.
                           The Sultan wears a coat of mail.
                           The assassination has failed.
                           Hajji is surrounded at once.
                           He is to be cut to pieces.
                           The Sultan says "Stay!
                           This man shall be made an example of.
                           I have heard there are rumours of sedition,
                           and conspiracies against my person.
                           Therefore I wear this coat of mail.
                           I shall have this man burnt in my pleasure
                           gardens tomorrow and the public shall be
                           admitted to the spectacle.
                           This shall show conspirators I am in earnest;
                           mean to uphold my uncle's policy.
                           Take this man away."
                           Hajji appeals, he turns to the Executioner.
                           The Executioner says he does not know him.
                           Hajji says he does.
                           He can prove it. He was in the house of the
                           Executioner. In his pay.
                           Executioner: "The man is mad."
                           The Sultan fixes Executioner with his eye.
                           Sultan says he will sift matter to bottom.
                           Hajji shall be tortured.
                           The truth shall be wrung from him.
  [Hajj is gagged here:]   "At once?" asks the Gaoler.
                           Sultan: "No--let him starve the night first."
                           Tonight (_smelling the rose_) Sultan has other
                           affairs of import to tend to.
                           Tomorrow (_with a meaning look_) he expects
                           the Executioner to carry out the tortures
                           The Executioner bows.
                           (_To Goaler_) "Take the man away!"
                           Hajji is dragged off, screaming.
                           The Sultan to his Vizier: "Oh Mesrur!
                           Mesrur! (Abu Bakr) When does the sun set?"
                           "Another half an hour, sire."
                           "Half an hour! Oh, would it were that now?
                           Why can I not make the sun set--I--the Sultan?
                           Bring forward the next case."



  _A Dungeon. A massive door at the back leads to an endless flight
  of shallow steps. It is dark: Hardly any light except from one barred
  window high up: through this come the rays of the setting sun._

  _The Sheikh is alone in one corner saying his prayers. He then lies
  down and goes to sleep._

  _The Gaoler opens the door._

  _Hajji is thrown in and chained._

  _Hajji alone._           Repentance.
                           Curses every one.
                           If only he hadn't received money that morning,
                           he would not have been tempted to steal.
                           If he had not stolen, he would not have been
                           taken to the Executioner.
                           If he hadn't been taken to the Executioner, he
                           would not have been driven to kill the Sultan.
                           The Sheikh is the cause of all his misfortunes.
                           He stole his wife.
                           He killed his son.
                           Now he is killing him.
                           Cursed be the Sheikh!

  _The Sheikh from the     "Who uses my name in vain?"

  _Hajji.                  Hajji recognizes him
  Sheikh._                 What is he doing there?
                           Sheikh says he is condemned to prison by
                           Hajji delighted.
                           Says this is his only consolation in his
                           Never a sorrow without a grain of joy.
                           Joy to see his enemy suffer.
                           He could almost feel friendly towards
                           Sheikh, when he thinks how they will be
                           executed together.

  [Sheikh's story of the   How strangely their lives have been
  broken coin and his      interwoven.
  lost son introduced      They talk of the dead woman they have shared.
  here. See play.

  Allusions to wife were   She is dead now.
  cut as unnecessary to    Better so. She would have been old and ugly
  the story.]              now.
                           Sheikh says: "She developed a bad temper."
                           Hajji furiously: "That was your fault.
                           She was the sweetest tempered creature when
                           she was mine. You ruined her, body and soul.
                           You fiend you--but no matter. You will be
                           tortured tomorrow."
                           He shrieks with delight.

    _Gaoler reënters with a decree and a soldier carrying some
      instruments of torture_.

  _Gaoler.                 Gaoler says that it has been found that
  Sheikh.                  Sheikh did come on a pilgrimage.
  Hajji.                   The High Priest has testified in his favor.
  Soldier._                Therefore the Sultan forgives him.
                           He is free, but must leave the city at once
                           and never return.
                           Sheikh asks Gaoler to thank Sultan. Would go--
                           but his limbs are too weak.
                           Could Gaoler send for his litter?
                           Gaoler says he fears Sheikh's litter gone,
                           but could procure him a chair out of Sultan's
                           palace used to convey the lesser women of the
  [Changed to a stretcher  Hareem when Sultan travels.
  to "carry away the
  dead." Alteration made   Sheikh gives Gaoler money,
  when play was written.]  Gaoler now turns to Hajji.
                           Says he is to come to him.
                           Makes him kneel down.
                           Hajji: "I am free too, am I?"
                           Gaoler: "Free? Here! (_turns to Soldier and
  [The torture was cut     takes a casket from him and is about to put
  as too long and too      it on Hajji's head_). Sometimes these head
  ugly. Altered during     screws and thumb screws don't fit. There
  rehearsal.]              must be no hitch in the performance tomorrow."
                           "Head screw?" says Hajji, trembling.
                           Gaoler tears off Hajji's turban and tries on
                           the torture helmet.
                           Gaoler: "Does it feel comfortable?"
  [All this cut. Instead   Hajji: "Comfortable!"
  of which, the Gaoler     Gaoler: "It ought to. It's just as if it had
  strikes Hajji with his   been made for your Highness."
  key which makes Hajji    (Takes it off, laughing loudly; the soldier
  faint.]                  joins politely.)
                           Gaoler (to Sheikh): "I'll see to your
                           Excellency's chair."
                           Gaoler and Soldier off with instruments.
                           _Hajji is on the floor, more dead than alive._

  _Hajji.                  Hajji bemoans his fate.
  Sheikh._                 Why should he have to suffer, and
                           Sheikh be pardoned, when Sheikh is the cause
                           of all of Hajji's woe?
                           Here is Sheikh, an old robber chief, forgiven.
                           Here is Hajji, a simple, honest beggar, to be
                           tortured and burnt.
                           Who is dependent on the Sheikh?
                           He has lost his son--has never found him
                           again--he may be dead.
                           No one dependent on Sheikh.
                           But Hajji has a daughter dependent on him.
                           A daughter! And the sun is setting.
                           And at this hour she is being taken to the
                           The Executioner who has so cruelly forsaken
                           His daughter going to him, with Hajji
                           powerless--and the Sheikh to live.
                           It is unjust, cruel, not to be borne.
                           "It shan't be borne--it--"

  [When the play was]      He gives the Sheikh an awful look.
  written, the breaking    The Sheikh realizes his thoughts and draws his
  of the chains was        knife.
  introduced here.]        Hajji springs at him, overpowers him, and cuts
                           his throat.
                           The Sheikh's last words: "My son! My son!"
                           A moment's thought--then Hajji wipes the knife
                           on his own turban (torn off by Gaoler).
                           Quickly he exchanges clothes with the dead man.
                           Puts on his turban
                           Then rifles pockets.
                           Finds round the dead man's throat a chain with
                           the broken half of a coin.
                           Slips it over his own neck.
                           He puts the dead body into the corner where he
                           (Hajji) lay when the Gaoler left the dungeon.
                           He hears the tread on the steps.
                           He assumes the old man's attitude.
                           The sunlight has died out: the scene grows
                           quite dark.

    _The Gaoler reenters with the Soldier and a chair borne by two
      porters. They lift Hajji into the chair. Then take up the chair
      and carry it up the broad stone stairs._

  _Gaoler. (Turning to the dead body.) "Why not laugh tonight, Hajji?
  Tomorrow morning will be time enough to weep, when you are tortured in
  the Pleasure Gardens of the Prophet's descendant." (He kicks the body,
  then goes out laughing, and locks the door.)_




  [This scene (suggested by a friend) was entirely cut before rehearsals

  _Zira's house. Same scene as Act I, Scene 3. Small courtyard.
  The sun has just set. It is dusk.
  The gate is opened from the street.
  Old Woman I (Narjis) enters, locks the gate, and lights a lamp.
  Knocking at the gate.
  Old Woman I opens the gate.
  The two porters bring in the chair.
  Hajji gets out, bent double, and trembling.
  He pays the porters: they withdraw.
  The Old Woman says: "Who are you?"_

  _Hajji._                 Hajji throws back the shawl.
                           He reveals himself, asks for food and his

  _Old Woman I._           "Hajji!"
                           Hajji explains that he must escape:
                           Leave the city at once.
                           Too long to explain.
                           He can never come to Bagdad again.
                           Old Woman to bring his daughter at once,
                           Old Woman says she has just taken daughter to
                           Executioner's house.
                           Hajji: "I said not before sundown"
                           "It is sundown."
                           Hajji curses Old Woman.
                           Says that it is her fault that he took his
                           daughter to Executioner.
                           "My fault?" says she.
                           "Yes! You urged me on.
                           You agreed with me.
                           If I have lost her, you are to blame.
                           But I can't lose her.
                           I must risk everything.
                           I must get her out of his clutches."
                           Where did Old Woman leave her?
                           With principal wife.
                           An idea!
                           He had appointment with wife in bath at moon
                           He will go.
                           If it costs him his life, he must try to get
                           his daughter.
                           He goes to door; as he does so, there is
                           knocking at door from without.
                           They have found him.
                           What shall he do?
                           Old Woman opens lattice in Courtyard.
                           "Escape that way!
                           When I was young many a time my lover came
                           through that window."
                           Hajji off through window.
                              _More knocking at door.
                                Old Woman opens._

  _Sultan.                 Sultan enters, splendidly attired.
  Vizier                   Has come to claim his bride.
  and a Guard.             Old Woman amazed.
  Old Woman._              Is he not the Sultan?
                           She has seen him the day of his entry into
                           the town.
                           Sultan: "You have guessed.  Bring forth Zira!"
                           Alas! Zira not here.
                           At Executioner's house.
                           Her father has destined her for Executioner.
                           Sultan furious.
                           When was she taken there?
                           Not an hour ago.
                           Sultan will go to Executioner's house.
                           The Old Woman I is to lead the way and show
                           the entrance she took the girl to.



  [In the play Act III begins here.]

  _The Bath in the Executioner's house. (Large set.)_

  _Up five marble steps (almost fifteen feet up stage) a colonnade.
  Beyond it a courtyard, with a large swimming bath. The front part of
  the stage, couches and pierced screens. Door right to women's
  apartments, door left to men's apartments._

  _Early moonlight in the courtyard beyond the columns. Hanging lamps in
  the front part of the bath._

  _Women are robing and disrobing. Some are swimming in the tank.
  Laughter and chatter._

  _Principal Wife.         Wife at her toilet.
  Old Woman II (Miskah.)_  Old Woman helping.
                           Has Hajji not come back yet?
                           "No sign," says Old Woman.
                           Has been to outer gate twice.
                           Only person there a young woman
                           Guarded by two soldiers (eunuchs).
                           Weeping this last half hour.
                           They say she has been brought by Executioner's
                           "Another woman?
                           Have her brought here!"
                           Old Woman takes order to doorkeeper at door L.

    _Principal Wife goes to top of steps and orders the other women to
      dress and retire._

    _The women swim to the right end of the bath. The talk is silenced._

    _Zira is brought in by the slave doorkeeper, followed by the Old
      Woman II._

  _Wife.                   Wife: "What have we here?"
  Zira.                    She abuses girl.
  Old Woman II._           Ill treats her.
  [This scene enlarged     Leads off into inner chamber of slaves.
  during rehearsal.        Zira in tears goes off by colonnade right
  Marsinah (Zira) does     with the Old Woman.
  not leave the stage,
  but veils. See play.]

  _Wife._                  "I'll soon break your spirit!"
                              _The door left opens._

    _The Executioner enters in a bad humour._

  _Executioner.            _Wife_: "This is an unexpected delight!
  Wife._                   So early? Did the Sultan not keep you to
                           _Executioner_: "What are you doing in the bath
                           at this time of night?"
                           _W._ "I was but waiting for you to ask what
                           you wish done with the new slave."
                           _E._ "What new slave?"
                           _W._ "The woman who has just arrived, guarded
                           by two of your men."
                           _The Doorkeeper_. "The men you dispatched with
                           Hajji, sir, this afternoon."
                           _E_. "Oh, that woman!
                           I shall have her strangled."
                           Wife agrees.
                           Says girl a slut.
                           Executioner finds his wife agrees with him to
                           such an extent that he thinks the girl must be
                           Rings a bell.
                           Old Woman II comes from Colonnade.

  [This altered. Marsinah  He orders her to bring Zira.
  has not left the         The wife tries to interfere.
  stage. See note above.]  Executioner angry.
                           Wife wonders why he is in such an angry mood.
                           Because he may lose his head any moment.
                           "Lose his head?" she asks.
                           "Yes. This new Sultan--"

    _Zira is brought in from R. on steps by Old Woman. Zira is veiled._

  _Executioner.            Executioner orders her to unveil.
  Zira.                    She hesitates.
  Wife.                    He tears the veil from her face.
  Old Woman._              He sees she is beautiful.
                           Says to his wife that she has lied.
                           "Go, get the girl ready.
                           I will come to her as soon as I have had my
                           Until tomorrow, at least, I shall enjoy life.
                           After that--who knows?"

    _He goes off up the Colonnade to left.
    Wife orders Old Woman to take the girl away with her again.
    Zira goes off by small door right with Old Woman.
    There is a tapping sound on a screen on the right side._

  _Wife._                  "Hajji!"

    _Wife goes and opens screen in the wall right. Hajji enters._

  _Wife.                   Wife tells him to be quiet.
  Hajji._                  Executioner near at hand.
                           Expects an amorous embrace.
                           Hajji says there is no time for love making.
                           He has come about his daughter.
                           _W._ "Your daughter?"
                           _H._ "Yes. Zira--She came here for the
                           Executioner. Has he seen her? Has he gone in
                           to her?"
                           _W._ "So she's your daughter?
                           I have you to thank for this creature,
                           Another rival."
                           Hajji wants to know where the girl is.
                           Can't Wife bring her out here and let the
                           girl escape with him.
                           _W._ "Escape?"
                           _H._ "In that way you can get rid of a rival."
                           _W._ "And be strangled myself?"
                           He urges her.
                           If she won't let the girl escape, at least
                           won't she take the girl to a sanctuary?
                           Sanctuary? What for?
                           To get her out of the way--away from
                           Why not take her to the Mosque?
                           The Mosque of the Carpenters, where the
                           venerable priest is?
                           He entreats Wife by the love she has for him.
                           Points out the dangerous charm of his
                           She will prove a great rival.
                           Wife is torn between jealousy and fear for her
                           own life.
                           _H._ "You can say you took her to the
                           Sanctuary for purification--Take her there!"

                                               _They are interrupted._

    _The Executioner appears in a thin robe in the colonnade with two
      slaves. Wife escapes rapidly into inner room to right. Hajji's
      escape is cut off. He grovels on the floor._

  _Hajji.                  Executioner sees Hajji and dismisses the
  Executioner._            slaves.
                           Amazed at Hajji's presence.

                         / Hajji says he has done everything to get back
                         | to Executioner. Bribed the Sultan's Gaoler,
                         | faced untold dangers.
  [All this much more    | Grovels and at the same time tries to find out
  direct and brutal in  <  the Executioner's position in regard to the
  play. Change made      | Sultan.
  when play was          |
  written.]              | Has he lost his power?
                         | What has Sultan done to Executioner?
                         | Executioner in a boundless rage.
                         \ How dare Hajji come and ask him questions?
                           How dare he break into the women's quarters
                           and then ask for mercy?
                           How dare he appeal to the Executioner, after
                           betraying him to the Sultan?
                           Who was Hajji before the Executioner looked
                           with favor on him?
                           A swine, an abomination picked out of the
                           A cur, a dog,--a--
                           He approaches Hajji.
                           Hajji hurries up the steps.
                           The Executioner is too quick, gets up after
                           him and takes Hajji by the throat.
                           Doing so, he catches hold of the chain with
                           the coin that Hajji stole from
                           Sheikh (Act II, Scene 4.)
                           Where did Hajji get this?
                           Hajji lies, saying it is his.
                           It has always been his.
                           Executioner produces the other half on a
                           massive gold chain.
                           Hajji must be Executioner's father.
                           _H_. "You--my son?"
                           _E_. "Don't you remember?"

  [This was altered so     Executioner tells how he can just remember
  that Hajji tells the     his father breaking a coin when they were
  Executioner all this.    being attacked in the desert, before he, the
  See Act II, Scene 4,     boy, was carried away by the Sultan's troops.
  where the Sheikh gives   _H._ "You mean when I was--Sheikh?"
  Hajji the facts.]        _E._ "Were you Sheikh or just a robber, then?"
                           _H._ "Just a robber at the time--just a
                           robber--And your mother--do you remember her?"
                           _E._ "I have tried to often--Her name escapes
                           _H._ Mentions name of first wife:
                           "Zeenab--whom I loved above all things."
                           "Zeenab! That was her name!"
                           _H._ "She had eyes like stars; and tall, she
                           was tall like a poplar.
                           How wonderful is fate!
                           So you are her son!"
                           _E._ "Your son."

    _Hajji, slowly eyeing him and taking the Executioner's chain._

                           _H._ "And the halves fit! What a splendid
                           chain! What a heavy chain! Heavier than mine.
                           You have prospered in life, my son--"
                           _E._ "My father--"
                           _H._ "Your father, yes. I am your father--Come
                           to my arms."
                           With that he takes the gold chain round the
                           Executioner's neck and twists it till the
                           Executioner chokes. Forces him down on his
                           Then he pushes him backward into the bath.
                           Holds him under the water and drowns him. "I
                           killed the old rat! I'll kill his spawn!
                           Blessed be Allah for this day of days." He
                           laughs wildly and exultantly.

    _There is one more splash, then silence in the bath.
    Knocking on the door left.
    More knocking.
    Then the door is broken open.
    The Sultan enters with his Guard and Torchbearers, the old Woman No.
      I. following._

  _The Sultan._            "Where is the woman? Where is Zira?
                           Search the Hareem!"
                           Some of the Soldiers cross into door right.

  _Sultan.                 Sultan turns and sees Hajji on the steps by
  Hajji._                  the bath.
                           _H._ "Yes." Allah allowed him to escape in
                           order to serve the Sultan.
                           _S._ "Cut him down!"
                           _H._ "Stop! Look first whether I am not a
                           good servant.
                           Look in the bath!"
                           The Sultan looks.
                           _S._ "The Executioner!"
                           _H._ "It was all his fault.
                           He drove me to attempt your life."

    _Soldiers reënter, bringing in Wife. Other women of the Hareem

  _Wife.                   Soldier says Zira not there.
  Sultan.                  Wife confesses she has sent her to Sanctuary.
  Hajji.                   Hajji begged her to do so.
  Old Woman No. I._        _S._ "Hajji! Ever Hajji! Why should he have
                           any say in regard to Zira?"
                           _H._ "She is my daughter."
                           _S._ "Yours!"
                           _H._ "Now say I am not a good servant when I
                           serve you with such a daughter.
                           Will you still kill me?"
                           Old Woman No. I testifies he is speaking the
                           truth, is Zira's father.
                           _S._ "You have attempted my life.
                           What would my piety be if I pardoned the
                           dagger that tried to kill the descendant of
                           the Prophet?
                           Taking the law into your own hands (_points
                           to bath_) does not wipe out your crime.
                           But you are the father of Zira,
                           The woman whom I mean to make my Sultana.
                           Her father's blood must not be shed by me.
                           Go, then, be banished, forgotten!
                           Your life is spared--but only under one
                           Henceforth you shall be as dead to me--to your
                           _H_. "To my daughter? Never to speak to her
                           again, to feel her cheek against mine? Never?"
                           _S._ "I have spoken."
                           Hajji tears his clothes, strews ashes on his
                           head from the brazier by his side and goes
                           out, staggering, by door left.
                           The Sultan will go the Mosque to beg the High
                           Priest to release Zira from the Sanctuary.



    _The same as the first scene, Act I. Before the Mosque, moonlight._

                           _Young Beggar of Act I is seated on the seat
                           on which Hajji installed him.
                           Hajji enters staggering down the street.
                           He stands at the Mosque a moment._

  [Here was introduced a   / _Wants to enter, then turns away in despair.
  scene with the Priest.  <  Comes to his accustomed seat.
  Meccah is to be Hajji's  \ Young Beggar is there.
  goal. Altered when play  As Hajji approaches, the Young Beggar begins
  was written.] [The       to beg of him.
  scene with the Young     Hajji kicks him off the seat and resumes his
  Beggar is postponed      old place.
  until after the Caliph   Young Beggar slinks away.
  and Marsinah leave.      Scarcely is Hajji seated when the Sultan
  Altered when the play    enters on his white donkey with a torch-light
  was written.]            procession.
                           The Sultan dismounts and knocks at the Mosque.
                           The Mosque is opened by the Priest.
                           The Priest, when he learns it is the Sultan,
                           brings out Zira to him.
                           The Sultan reveals himself in a verse to Zira.
                           Zira replies in a rhyme.
                           The Sultan conducts Zira to a litter.
                           He re-mounts his donkey.
                           The procession moves past Hajji.
                           Hajji stretches out his hand for alms,
                           veiling his face.
                           The procession disappears. The street grows
                           dark again.
                           The Mosque is shut.
                           Hajji is left alone in the moonlight.
                           He draws out the old gourd from behind the
                           stone seat.
                           A line of philosophy summing up his day.
                           Something, perhaps, on "life and water."
                           He drinks his fill, puts the gourd away,
                           leans back, and goes to sleep, breathing


Does not this careful scenario make very clear what are the steps in
good scenario writing? First comes structure,--ordering for clearness
and correct emphasis in the story-telling. Then, with the scenario kept
flexible and subject to change till the last possible moment, come many
changes big and little, for better characterization and more
atmosphere--see pp. 461-463.

Finally, more than anything else, as the author puts last touches to his
scenario, or revises the play he has written from it, he scans its
details in relation to the probable attitude toward them of his public.
In the relation of that public to his subject and his treatment of it
lie the most difficult problems of the dramatist. Solving them means the
difference between the will to conquer and victory.


  [1] _Letters of Henrik Ibsen_, p. 325. For a similar outline see that
    on _Faste_, p. 151.

  [2] _The Green Book Magazine_, February, 1914.

  [3] See pp. 276-278.

  [4] See Kismet Scenario, pp. 474-507.

  [5] Samuel French, publisher. New York.

  [6] Samuel French, publisher, New York.

  [7] Samuel French, publisher, New York.

  [8] Samuel French, publisher, New York.

  [9] See pp. 154-182.

  [10] See p. 287.

  [11] _European Dramatists. Henrik Ibsen_. A. Henderson. Pp. 175-176.
    Stewart & Kidd Co., Cincinnati.

  [12] The sentence is elliptical in the original.

  [13] _Ibsen's Workshop_, pp. 91-92. Copyright, 1911, by Chas.
    Scribner's Sons, New York.

  [14] _Ibsen's Workshop_, pp. 92-95.

  [15] Printed by permission of Mr. Knobloch from his own manuscript.

  [16] For the play see _Kismet_, Methuen & Co., Ltd., London.



Probably most dramatists have found that any play, either as a scenario
or a completed manuscript, is not a matter of writing but of frequent
re-writing. Study _From Ibsen's Workshop_ or most of the cases cited by
Binet and Passy,[1] and it becomes evident that the first draft of a
scenario or play is usually made mainly for clearness. That will be
gained by good construction and correct emphasis. There follows a
re-writing in which characterization improves greatly and dialogue
becomes characterizing and attractive in itself. Either in this or
possible later re-writings, the dramatist shapes his material more and
more in relation to the public he wishes to address, for a dramatist is,
after all, a sort of public speaker. Unlike the platform orator,
however, he speaks indirectly to his audience--through people and under
conditions he cannot wholly control. None the less, much if not all that
concerns the persuasion of public argumentation concerns the dramatist.
This does not in any sense mean that an author must truckle to his
audience. Far from it. Yet no dramatist can work care free in regard to
his audience. He must consider their natural likes and dislikes,
interests and indifferences, their probable knowledge of his subject as
well as their probable approach to it. As Mr. Archer has pointed out:
"The moment a playwright confines his work within the two or three
hours' limit prescribed by Western custom for a theatrical performance,
he is currying favour with an audience. That limit is imposed simply by
the physical endurance and power of sustained attention that can be
demanded of Western human beings assembled in a theatre. Doubtless an
author could express himself more fully and more subtly if he ignored
these limitations; the moment he submits to them, he renounces the
pretence that mere self-expression is his aim."[2]

Once for all, what is "truckling to an audience"? When an author,
believing that the end of his play should be tragic, so plans his work
that until the last act or even the middle of that act, a tragic ending
is the logical conclusion, and then because he is told or believes that
an audience will quit the theatre much more contented if the ending be
happy, he forces a pleasant ending on his play, he is untrue to himself,
dishonest with his art, and truckles to his public. A very large part of
American audiences and many producers believe tha