Somewhere behind us in the circuits of time, one of my college Lit teachers casually mentioned the Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations during a seemingly improvisational moment in a lecture she was giving. It's been awhile but, as I remember it, she said only three works were known to implement all of the 36 situations: The Bible, The Lord of the Rings, and Star Wars†.

I was fascinated by that tidbit and never once doubted it or thought to question it, and I've been regurgitating it for years. However I mentioned this in a random conversation with a friend the other day, and after giving it solid consideration, she reported back that she could not recall any adultery in either LOTR or Star Wars. Of course, there's adultery in the Bible, where David's affair with Bathsheba stands out as the preeminent example. I'll have to take her word that there is no adultery in LOTR. But respecting Star Wars, I can't recall any adultery in the movies, not even by an arguable stretch. (Star Wars canon is a debated topic, but for the professor to have been correct about implementing the 36 situations, it would have needed to be true for Star Wars by 1998.)

So, setting aside the disturbance in my world that required taking this achievement from both LOTR and Star Wars, now I'm left with the question:

Does the Bible, or do any other works, satisfy the requirements necessary to have implemented each of Polti's Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations?

Googling this question has proved fruitless. But I really want to believe some author has accomplished this, so I'm hoping someone in this community may have additional insight.

†For the purposes of this question, please be willing to consider that while Star Wars may not qualify as literature, the plot mechanics necessary to create drama are nearly identical, regardless of an audience's original experiential format.

  • 1
    Almost certainly, the Mahabharata.
    – user5387
    Commented Jun 19, 2020 at 16:51


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