Short summary - The Gadfly - Ethel Lilian Voynich

British literature summaries - 2020

Short summary - The Gadfly
Ethel Lilian Voynich


Italy, XIX century. The young man, having lost his beloved, comrades and learning about the deceit of the closest person, disappears. After 13 years, he returns to realize revolutionary ideas and return the love of loved ones.

Part one

Nineteen-year-old Arthur Burton spends a lot of time with his confessor Lorenzo Montanelli, the rector of the seminary. Arthur worships the padre (as he calls the Catholic priest). A year ago, the young man’s mother, Gladys, died. Now Arthur lives in Pisa with his stepbrothers.

The young man is very handsome: “Everything was too graceful in him, as if carved: long arrow of eyebrows, thin lips, small hands, legs. When he sat calmly, he could be mistaken for a pretty girl dressed in a man's dress; but with flexible movements he resembled a tamed panther - true, without claws. ”

Arthur entrusts his secret to his mentor: he has become part of Young Italy and will fight for the freedom of this country with his comrades. Montanelli feels trouble, but can not dissuade the young man from this idea.

Arthur’s childhood friend, Gemma Warren, Jim, as Burton calls her, is also part of the organization.

Montanelli is offered a bishopric, and he leaves for Rome for several months. In his absence, the young man at a confession with the new rector talks about his love for the girl and jealousy for the party member Boll.

Arthur is soon arrested. He spends time in the cell with fervent prayers. During interrogations, he does not betray his comrades. Arthur is released, but he learns from Jim that the organization considers him guilty of arresting Bolla. Realizing that the priest has violated the secret of confession, Arthur unconsciously confirms the betrayal. Jim gives him a slap in the face, and the young man does not have time to explain to her.

At home, his brother’s wife makes a scandal and tells Arthur that his own father is Montanelli. A young man breaks a crucifix and writes a suicide note. He throws his hat into the river and illegally swims to Buenos Aires.

Part two. Thirteen years later

1846 year. In Florence, members of the Mazzini party are discussing ways to deal with power. Dr. Riccardo suggests asking for help from Ovoda - Felice Rivares, a political satirist. The pungent word of Rivares in pamphlets is what is needed.

At an evening with party party Grassini Gemma Ball, the widow of Giovanni Bolla, first sees Gadfly. “He was swarthy like a mulatto, and despite his limp, agile, like a cat. With all his appearance, he resembled a black jaguar. His forehead and left cheek were disfigured by a long, curved scar - apparently from a saber strike ... when he began to stutter, a nervous cramp twitched the left side of his face. ” The gadfly is impudent and does not consider decency: he appeared at Grassini with his mistress - the dancer Zita Reni.

Cardinal Montanelli arrives in Florence. Gemma last saw him immediately after Arthur's death. Then, as if petrified, the dignitary said to the girl: “Calm down, my child, not you killed Arthur, but I. I lied to him and he found out about it. " That day, the padre fell on the street in a fit. Signora Bolla again wants to see Montanelli and goes with Martini to the bridge where the cardinal will go.

On this walk they meet Gadfly. Gemma recoils in horror from Rivares: she saw Arthur in him.

Rivares is very ill. He is tormented by severe pains, party members take turns on duty at his bedside. He does not allow Zita during illness. Leaving him after duty, Martini runs into a dancer. Suddenly she bursts with reproaches: “I hate you all! .. He lets you sit around him all night and give him medicine, but I don’t even dare to look at him through the door latch!” Martini is stunned: “This woman is in earnest in love with him! "

The gadfly is recovering. While on duty, Gemma tells her how in South America he was beaten by a poker with a drunken sailor, about working as a freak in a circus, and how he fled from home in his youth. Senor Boll reveals his grief to him: through her fault a man died, "whom she loved more than anyone else."

Gemma is tormented by doubts: what if Gadfly is Arthur? So many coincidences ... "And these blue eyes and these nervous fingers?" She tries to find out the truth by showing the portrait of ten-year-old Arthur Ovodu, but he does not betray himself.

Rivares asks Signor Ball to use her connections to transport weapons to the Papal States. She agrees.

Zita showers accusations on Rivares: he never loved her. The man whom Felice loves more than anything else is Cardinal Montanelli: “You think I didn’t notice how you looked at his stroller?” And Gadfly confirms this.

In Brisighella, disguised as a beggar, he receives the necessary note from his accomplices. There, Rivares manages to speak with Montanelli. Seeing that the wound padre has not healed, he is ready to open himself to him, but, remembering his pain, he stops. “Oh, if he could forgive! If only he could erase the past from his memory - a drunken sailor, a sugar plantation, a traveling circus! What suffering you compare with this. "

Having returned, Gadfly learns that Zita has left with a camp and is going to marry a gypsy.

Part three

Arms transporter arrested. Gadfly decides to go to rectify the situation. Before his departure, Gemma once again tries to get recognition from him, but at this moment Martini enters.

In Brizigella Rivares arrested: in a shootout, Gadfly lost his temper when he saw Montanelli. The colonel asks the cardinal for consent to a military court, but he wants to see the prisoner. When meeting, Gadfly in every possible way insults the cardinal.

Friends arrange an escape for Gadfly. But a new episode of illness occurs with him, and already being in the courtyard of the fortress, he loses consciousness. He is shackled and fastened with belts. Despite the doctor’s persuasion, the colonel refuses Rivares opium.

Gadfly requests a meeting with Montanelli. He visits the prison. Knowing about the serious illness of the prisoner, the cardinal is horrified by the cruel treatment of him. The gadfly does not stand up and the padre opens. The dignitary realizes that his carino did not drown. Arthur confronts Montanelli with a choice: either he or god. The cardinal leaves the camera. Gadfly shouts after him: “I cannot bear this! Padre, come back! Come back! "

The cardinal agrees to a military court. Soldiers who managed to fall in love with the Gadfly shoot past. Finally Rivares falls. At that moment Montanelli appears in the courtyard. Arthur’s last words are addressed to the cardinal: "Padre ... is your god ... satisfied?"

Friends of the Gadfly find out about his execution.

During the festive service Montanelli sees blood in everything: the rays of the sun, roses, red carpets. In his speech, he accuses parishioners of the death of his son, a cardinal sacrificed for them, as the Lord sacrificed Christ.

Gemma receives a letter from Gadfly, written before the execution. It confirms that Felice Rivares is Arthur. “She lost him. Lost again! ”Martini brings the news of Montanelli’s death from a heart attack.