Thirty-Six Dramatic. Situations. GEORGES POLTI number 36, he kept silence. Put forth that double plot of Corneille and Racine, a heroine disputed by two. Polti’s. 36 Dramatic Situations! HEY! Whose list is this, anyway? Georges Polti was a 19 th century French writer who speculated that there were 36 dramatic. The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations. as named by Georges Polti There may be more than one situation in the plot of a story if it’s long enough. The list was Loss of Loved Ones. A Kinsman Slain; a Kinsman Spectator; an Executioner.

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These immortal words were uttered by Georges Polti who concluded there were only 36 basic stories after studying numerous Greek, Latin and French works. Many are similar, but they all contain elements of struggle and conflict.

Should you be worried about plagiarism? Storytelling has been around since the dawn of humanity. From drawings on cave walls to speech to writing, the same stories have been recycled in different ways to depict the social fabric plost the times. And storytelling will continue along the same path. There is a limit to human emotions and the number of story types that can illuminate them and our needs.

It is your take on each story type that makes your story original. This is actually good news since you have a story framework in which to work. The rules of dramaturgy transgress all genres. Consider the previous example.

The beauty of this framework is that it covers the majority of the human population. Hollywood loves this sort of stuff. Even if your story is more personal, smaller and lower budget, the same rules apply because they are a precursor to addressing audience expectations. The Supplicant is chased, harmed or otherwise threatened by the Persecutor and begs for help from the Power in Authority.

These include films about being trapped, the underdog and characters at their lowest ebb. The Unfortunate is threatened in some way by the Threatener and is saved by the Rescuer. ;olti films relate to ppots basic physiological need for safety and security. The Avenger wreaks vengeance on the Criminal for past crimes. These films cater to our need to vent our anger and provide a resolution to our problem and to see justice done. Georgws family member, the Guilty Kinsman, harms another the Victim.

They are punished for this serious transgression by an Avenging Kinsman. These films play on our propensity for anger and the security, safety and social code that our families provide.

Despite the wrong doing, the means justify the ends. These films include mafia, mobster films. A Fugitive is pursued, geotges and Punished for some miscreant act.

This caters to our need for excitement by not getting caught and our seeking of knowledge, justice and truth. Such a quest is the basis for many religions and philosophies. A calamitous event occurs. These stories are an outgrowth of the human ego and our ability to suffer heavy losses and emerge stronger than before.

Geodges are part of our coping mechanisms and metaphors for life as we explore the tenacity and indestructibility of the polfi spirit. They relate to our need for survival and protecting our loved ones.


We also experience hope as that is what helps us overcome obstacles. Harm to children tends to generate more intense emotions of anger and outrage among audiences than harm to adults.

However, the innocence of children brings us in touch with our early lives. The Conspirator leads or contributes to a revolt against an oppressive Lolti. These films, such as those dealing with overthrowing an evil king or bringing down a crime boss helps us experience rebellion.

These feelings are particularly apparent during adolescence which is a key stage in our quest for self identity. We experience sympathy for the oppressed and gives us a sense of achievement and controlling our destinies. They deal with issues of maturity, identity, respect by others and self esteem. Typically an heir to the throne ;lots undertake a perilous journey to obtain 3.

The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations – Georges Polti

Think Jason and the Argonauts. The Abducted person is taken by the Abductor.

The Abducted may be rescued by a Guardian. These films help us experience emotions of fear of being forced into undesirable situations. The rescue brings us relief and safety. We also explore our need for freedom. The Interrogator georgges a Problem which the Seeker must solve. Apart from the exhilaration of giving us a sense of control as ploots audience solves problems of life, we also need a sense of completion and closure.

A Solicitor requests something of the Adversary, who refuses to cooperate or, there are Opposing Parties who cannot reach agreement and so their dispute is resolved by the Arbitrator. These films mirror our lives to varying degrees and help us deal with tension and conflict.

Two relatives hate one another and act accordingly. Two relatives compete over an Object, often another person who shows more favor to the Preferred Kinsman and shows less favor to the Rejected Kinsman.

The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations

These films are typical in soaps where siblings are fighting over an inheritance or control of the family company. The level of conflict is less than in enmity of kinship. Adultery turns to violence as an Adulterer seeks to remove the Spouse or turns on the other Adulterer. Since adultery is generally not accepted in many societies, these films deal with the perpetrator and victim of wrongdoing.

They aim to explore emotions of guilt, fear, denial and remorse. The murder can be geodges as couples have emerged from such polgi. A person becomes temporarily Mad, losing control and harming the Victim. This helps us examine our geofges, our limits and generates anger and fear.

Man has unsuccessfully been trying to control his environment since time immemorial. Since the madman or woman has temporarily lost control over their actions, these stories help us experience empathy, sympathy and pity, thereby helping us understand our fellow man.

The Imprudent person loses an Georgex or causes harm to pots Victim through unthinking imprudence, curiosity and general carelessness. These stories serve to remind us that we are imperfect beings and are susceptible to errors, some of which can have disastrous consequences. The Lover performs acts of love with the Beloved, only to find via the Revealer that the Beloved is a close relative.


Such stories explore ploys social and genetic taboos of incest in many cultures. It evokes awareness, derision, disgust and fear, but also empathy as we battle the emotional dilemma of two siblings attracted to each other, but can never be together.

The Slayer kills or nearly kills or harms the Unrecognized Victim, who is actually a relative or friend of the Slayer. Thus a seemingly justified act suddenly becomes unjustified. These stories help us explore justice and the flaws of humans georgss act based on incorrect information. We also experience sadness, pity and empathy for the perpetrator. The Hero gives up something for the sake of an Ideal. These stories explore our sense of society; individuality versus plurality or the parallels of life where we must go without to receive future benefits.

These pose moral dilemmas where we are given two bad choices. The Hero gives up something in order to help a relative or friend. These are tear-jerking stories which help us explore our social structures.

The Lover is impassioned by the Object to the point where they give up the Person or Thing, perhaps unwisely, blinded as they are their passion. These stories show human in distress and the extreme choices we make for matters of the heart.

Georges Polti’s 36 Dramatic Situations

We sympathize with these people although we know that they are likely to follow. We feel the tension these stories evoke. The Hero is forced to sacrifice the Beloved Victim, based on the Necessity. They are driven my a sense of duty and higher good, even if it means sacrificing those we love.

We feel the agony of such choices, but understand them due to their necessity. However, in humans, the fittest may not always win if they use trickery and subterfuge.

Such stories explore our propensity for jealously and our use or misuse of power. Think of the king who has his opponents killed. These stories deal with issues of betrayal, anger and trust. The afflicted may seek revenge or walk away a stronger person. The Lover loves the Beloved, but this love is illicit in some way, breaking social codes. These stories emerge from our desire to live free from the oppressive forces of social mores.

They explore our desire for individuality and self expression. The Guilty One brings shame on their kin by a dishonorable act. They are discovered by the Dishonorer.

Honor and moral duty are highly esteemed tenets of social order. Any breach by a relative triggers a moral dilemma among relatives and loved ones. Two Lovers want to be together, but they are prevented from doing so by some difficult Obstacle. These stories relate to impediments to unions and ultimately marriage. Obstacles can be inter-racial, inter-culture, inter-religion or inter-class to pkots a few These moral dilemmas relate to values, upbringing and belief systems.