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By Translated by Elias J. MacEwan, Gustav Freytag

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Example text

If the exciting force is ever too small and weak for him, as in Romeo and Juliet, he understands how to strengthen it. Therefore, Romeo, after his conclusion to intrude upon the Capulets, must pronounce his gloomy forebodings before the house. In three pieces, Shakespeare has yielded to his inclination to repeat a motive, each time with increased effect. As in the scene in Othello, “Put money in thy purse,” is a variation of the introductory note, so are the weird sisters, who excite the bloody thought in Macbeth, so is the ghost which announces the murder to Hamlet.

Hero reacts upon himself, is one of the most important in the play. This beginning of the reaction, sometimes united in one scene with the climax, has been noted ever since there has been a dramatic art. The embarrassment of the hero and the momentous position into which he has placed himself, must be impressively represented; at the same time, it is the business of this force to produce new suspense for the second part of the piece, and so much the more as the apparent success of the hero has so far been more brilliant, and the more magnificently the scene of the climax has presented his success.

But both must be endowed with what is universally, intelligibly human. The chief hero must always stand in strong contrast with his opponents; the advantage which he wins for himself, must be the greater, so much the greater the more perfectly the final outcome of the struggle shows him to be vanquished. These two chief parts of the drama are firmly united by a point of the action which lies directly in the middle. This middle, the climax of the play, is the most important place of the structure; the action rises to this; the action falls away from this.

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