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the First renders him more culpable in the eyes of Triboulet; he hates him the more for it.
It shall not be said of the base seducer,
That he hath destroyed my happiness with impunity.
Act iv. scene 1.
These verses are singular, and correspond with the character which the author has given to Triboulet. Thus it is not the dishonor of his daughter that he wishes to avenge; it is especially the insult offered to himself. The king has taken from him a portion of the heart of his daughter; she is no longer entirely his own. This is the reason why the king shall perish, less for having dishonored the virtue of Blanche than for having taken away from Triboulet this egotistic and jealous happiness which he enjoyed alone.
In creating Triboulet, Victor Hugo has not, in my opinion, represented the father, he has represented only one side of it, and that the least beautiful. Triboulet is not the model of paternal love, and it has only one of the elements of this love, the element the most passionate, perhaps, but the least favorable, that of egotism. This manner of drawing a character, by painting only one side of it, by exhibiting it in profile and not full-face, is adapted to produce effect, but it is dangerous and false; it gives a great relief to art, but takes away from its extension; and restricts it, since, instead of representing humanity entire, it represents only one feature of it; it substitutes the caricature for the portrait-for caricature is only the putting in relief of a particular feature of a countenance at the expense of the whole face. This kind of painting and invention, which prefers effect to truth, is very common in our days.
Formerly, a dramatic character was an embodiment of qualities and faults, which on the one part struggled against each other, and on the other side were submitted to some superior law of religion, honor, or patriotism. In this struggle consisted the interest of the character represented on the stage; and this superior law which it endeavored to fulfil, constituted the morality of his character. According to the incidents of the play, each passion in its turn seemed to prevail, none of them being represented as irresistible; and the moral law which controlled the drama did not extinguish it, being visibly suspended, during the whole piece, over the heads of the personages, but fulfilled itself only at the
denouement. Nowadays, characters are composed otherwise. Instead of representing the ensemble of a character, and the struggle between its good and bad passions, they select one of those passions, which they make violent, irresistible, and fatal, and which becomes the absolute mistress of all the others; that is to say, they take a feature of the human he for the human heart entire. At the same time the moral law, which, in the ancient drama, also sustained a struggle with the passions; this law which they themselves, who transgressed it, acknowledged so well, that it always had a place in the piece, either from hope or remorse, disappeared also before the ascendant of the master passion. There was no longer any counterpoise of any kind, either on the side of the rival passions or on the side of duty. What then remains to struggle against the passions? The hazard of events. And it is for this reason that, in the modern drama, the interest resides rather in the strange complication of events than in the shock of opposing passions. The poet has no longer the force of chance that is to say, a force sovereignly capricious and changeable, which can rival the passion which he is pleased to represent. Hence, also, in the modern drama, we perceive something arbitrary and fantastic. The incidents and stage tricks are increased; but these incidents do not arise, as in the ancient drama, from the natural working of the passions represented on the stage; they have no longer their source in the character of the personages; they are born from the fancy of the poet, who, feeling the want of arousing the spectators from time to time, knits his action in an odd manner, and aims particularly at creating surprise. Paternal egotism, substituted for love, a detail and a particular feature taking the place of the ensemble of the paternal character, and the preponderance of this particular passion over all the others, and especially over the moral law, are the first metamorphoses, or rather, such is the alteration which the character has undergone from the times of Corneille to our own days.
PATERNAL SELFISHNESS IN THE PARIA OF DELAVIGNE, AND IN THE PIECE OF COLLE ENTITLED DUPUIS AND DESRONAIS.
VICTOR HUGO is not the first who has endeavored to represent paternal selfishness. In Paria, Delavigne has made of this selfishness one of the subjects of his drama. Before Delavigne, Collé has also made of this sentiment the subject of a piece entitled Dupuis and Desronais. He did not himself invent this character of a selfish father: he found it in a romancer of the seventeenth century, now unknown, named Challes, the author of the Illustrious Frenchmen, a collection of novels which are particularly remarkable for the acuteness and truthfulness of their moral observations.
Let us briefly notice in these authors, very different in time and talent, the different shades of paternal selfishness, and let us see, first, in what manner Delavigne has represented it in his tragedy of Paria.
A young paria, named Idamore, has quitted his father and his native land, and has gone to Benares. He has become a soldier, and, by his exploits against the Portuguese, who attacked India, he has become the chief of a tribe of warriors. They are ignorant of his birth and his origin. He loves Neala, the daughter of the chief of the Brahmins, and is about to marry her. It is at this moment that the old paria, Zares, the father of Idamore, arrives. He has left his solitary abode in order to find his son, who was his only joy and his only happiness upon earth. He finds him, he embraces him, he relates to him, in beautiful verses, how much he has suffered when he was abandoned by him:
I walked, I ran, I cried, O my son!
My son! Echo alone responded to my cries.
I returned home towards evening, saying to myself on the way: Near the paternal roof my son doubtless awaits me.
No person on the threshold, no footstep, no noise;
Act iii. scene 4.
In those races which have been unjustly condemned by society, the domestic affections must be so much the more strong and enduring, as they take the place of all the other sources of enjoyment. This is the reason why Zares cannot bear the idea of again losing this son, who has, with so much difficulty, been restored to him. And, notwithstanding the marriage of Idamore with Neala, will carry him away with him, Idamore enters into the caste of the Brahmins; he will no It is in vain longer be a paria, he will no longer be his son. that Idamore offers to his father to share his honors. replies the old paria,
My honors are my cares for you; my only treasure
you; it is the happiness of continually conversing with you; To repose upon your bosom at night,
And to wake up to see you again.
What do you offer me? Days passed in constraint,
Abandon you, for an hour, to my sad friendship.
Act iii. scene 4.
And, as Idamore, full of love for Neala, hesitates to leave her to follow her father, Zares, in despair, exclaims, in taking up his travelling cane:
Solitary and faithful prop which remains to your old master,
And humble roof, which he swore never more to quit,
I return to die alone among the fields where I was born.
This paternal selfishness has something natural and touching, especially in an unfortunate man; and yet we think that this selfishness is revolting to the spectator. Why did Zares not accept the brilliant lot which his son offered him? Why did he obstinately wish to carry him to his retreat, and force him to sacrifice his love? Paternal affection has been created by God, not to receive, but to give; not to require sacrifices, but to make them. Moreover, we believe that the poet has forgotten to give to Zares the only sentiment which can enable us to conceive his repugnance to share the honors of his son-religious fanaticism. The Jew of the middle ages, proscribed by the Christians, proscribed them in his turn; he hated them, not only as a people of oppressors, but as an infidel race; he preferred rather to see his son perish, than to see him a Christian. Such ought the parias to be, with regard to the Brahmins; they must have hatred for hatred, fanaticism for fanaticism; they ought to curse them from the depth of their misery, as the latter curse them from the haughtiness of their pride. Thus, when the old paria sees his son about to enter, by his marriage, into the ranks of this proud caste, why did he not reclaim his son only in the name of his paternal love? Ah! If it was in the name of religion, in the name of this legitimate hatred against the tyranny of the Brahmins, or in the name of God, that Zares reclaimed his son, then we would be no longer astonished at his obstinacy, for we know that it is the property of enthusiasm, or fanaticism, to extinguish the sentiments of nature; we could shed tears over the unhappy love of Idamore and Neala; but we would conceive that Zares wished to make Neala abandon this love, which seemed to him to be an impiety. This would be an eternal struggle between duty and passion, between heaven and earth; this would be the old Lusignan entreating his daughter to return to Christianity and to separate herself from Orasmenes. But the selfishness of Zares cannot, of itself, serve as a counterpoise to the love of Idamore for Neala; religion, as in Zaire, or honor, as in