Short summary - The Duenna - Richard Brinsley Sheridan

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Duenna
Richard Brinsley Sheridan

The action takes place in Spain, where wealthy fathers specifically hire malicious duels to look after their young daughters and strictly observe their morality. That’s what don Jeronimo, father of the beautiful Luisa, did. However, he was seriously mistaken in his calculations ...

Night. The wealthy nobleman Don Antonio came to don Jeronimo’s house to sing the serenade of Luisa. The owner of the house drives the fan away with rude scolding, and when the daughter tries to intercede for the young man she loves, she also gets it. Antonio is left alone in the street. Soon he sees Fernando returning from the city - his friend and brother Luisa. Fernando in despair - he tried to get into the bedroom of his beloved Clara to agree with her on an escape plan, but was shamefully expelled by a capricious girl. But time does not wait - the father and stepmother decided today to imprison Clara in the monastery so that she did not claim family wealth. Anthony is also not his own: don Jeronimo has already found Luisa a rich bridegroom - some kind of Jewish businessman from Portugal. He asks a friend to help him marry Louis. Fernando promises help, with one caveat: «There should be no abduction,» as this would damage the honor of the family. «But you yourself were going to kidnap Clara,» recalls the surprised Antonio. «This is another matter,» he hears in response. «We do not allow others to treat our sisters and wives in the same way as we do to strangers.» Comrades give their word to help each other and honor their friendship. (All the heroes of this comic opera not only speak, but also sing arias. So, Fernando at the end of the picture sings to the windy Clara: «I suffer more terrible and harsher torment: the more insidious it is, the stronger I love it.») Comrades give their word to help each other and honor their friendship. (All the heroes of this comic opera not only speak, but also sing arias. So, Fernando at the end of the picture sings to the windy Clara: «I suffer more terrible and harsher torment: the more insidious it is, the stronger I love it.») Comrades give their word to help each other and honor their friendship. (All the heroes of this comic opera not only speak, but also sing arias. So, Fernando at the end of the picture sings to the windy Clara: «I endure the worse and harsher torment: the more crafty it is, the stronger I love it.»)


At this time, Luis is preparing to escape. She is helped by the duo Margarita. Instead of fixing obstacles and vigilantly watching every step of Luisa, this atypical duo became an attorney for lovers and decided to rebel against the old tyrant Don Jeronimo. True, the escape failed not immediately. Having caught Luisa and Margarita at the crime scene at the training camp, don Jeronimo comes in from anger and immediately drives the duo out of the house with indignant words: «Get out, the shameless Sibyl!» The duenne goes into the bedroom to say goodbye to Luis, and soon proudly leaves, throwing her face on veil. Don Jeronimo continues to resent her. When he finally leaves, a satisfied Margarita appears from the bedroom. It turns out that she quickly changed clothes with Louis, and the girl managed to slip out of the house under a veil.

On the square of Seville there are two runaways - Clara and Luis. The girlfriends, recognizing each other under masquerade clothes, hug and discuss their situation. Clara is going to hide in the monastery of St. Catalina under the protection of her relative, abbess. Telling Luis the address of the monastery for Fernando, she retires. Luis wants to find Antonio first. Seeing Isaac Mendoza walking in the square - his Portuguese fiancé - the girl decides to use him as a messenger. The fact is that Luis spotted the Portuguese in the crack, when Mendoza came to her father to marry, he himself never saw his bride. Luis calls out to him, called Dona Clara, and begs to help her meet her lover. Flattered by her trust, the swaggering merchant promises all kinds of assistance and offers his own home as a refuge. Isaac Mendoza comes to officially meet his bride Luisa. At first he was pleased to tell don Jeronimo that he had met Don Clara, who had run away from home, who was looking for Antonio. Proud that his own daughter does not at all allow herself such impertinence, don Jeronimo leaves the groom alone in front of Luisa’s bedroom.

The bride goes out. Isaac, not looking at her with timidity, utters incoherent love confessions. Finally he raises his eyes - and freezes stricken. He was convinced that Luis was beautiful, but it turns out she is old and ugly! «Oh my God, how blind parents are!» Mutters the unlucky bridegroom. (We remember that the role of Luis is now played by the inventive duo Margarita.) A comic dialogue is taking place. Mendoza decides, in spite of everything, to marry Luis, since he is primarily attracted to her dowry. «What a blessing,» he muses, «that my feelings are directed at her property, and not at her person!» Duenya takes his word from him to arrange her abduction, since she allegedly vowed not to accept her husband from the hands of her oppressive father. Mendoza promises to fulfill her request.

In the father’s office, meanwhile, Fernando is trying to intercede for a friend, painting his generosity, honesty and old family. However, don Jeronimo is adamant. «Nobleness without fortune, my dear, is as ridiculous as gold embroidery on a frieze caftan,» he cuts off. Isaac Mendoza enters. When Don Jeronimo is interested in how the meeting with the bride went, the groom honestly replies that «I have never met a woman more ugly than a woman». Father and brother do not find words of indignation and are ready to grab swords. Frightened by their reaction, Mendoza hurries to pass off his words as a joke. He says that he completely got along with Luis and now she is submissive to her father’s will. Fernando is disappointed with this turn of business, don Jeronimo is satisfied. He invites the groom to celebrate a conspiracy with a glass of wine.

And the surprised Antonio, meanwhile, is brought to Mendoza’s house, convincing that he is looking for ... Don Clara. What joy he has when he discovers Luis here! Left alone with her beloved, the girl tells him that while she is hiding in the monastery of St. Catalina, from where she will write a letter to her father asking for permission for their marriage.

Don Jeronimo is in utter surprise at her daughter’s strange whim: she fled with Mendoza, that is, with that very man, for whom her father was going to marry her. «This is simply incomprehensible!» At this time, the servants gave him one letter after another two letters - one from Mendoza, the other from Luisa. Both contain a request to forgive their flight and bless for a marriage of love. Don Jeronimo grumbles good-naturedly, continuing to wonder how quickly his daughter's mood is changing. «No sooner in the morning she was ready to die sooner than to marry him ...»

To calm the heart of poor Luisa, he writes an answer expressing consent to her marriage - he does not specify with whom exactly, because he is sure that she is talking about the Portuguese. After sending the letter with the servant, don Jeronimo orders to arrange a rich dinner in honor of the joyful event.

And his son, Don Fernando, knocked down in search of the disappeared Clara, at this time collides with Mendoza in the square. He hears the Portuguese mutter: «Now Antonio can marry Clara or not marry ...» Fernando, dumbfounded, steps on the businessman with questioning, and he admits that he connected Antonio and «don Clara». «Death and madness,» exclaims the jealous lover, continuing to elicit details. He threatens to pierce Mendoza with a sword if he does not discover where «these traitors» went. A frightened businessman calls the monastery of St. Catalina and hurries to get away from the furious Fernando. The same one, seething with anger, longs to avenge his beloved and best friend for treason. The action is transferred to the monastery garden, where Luis and Clara walk in monastic clothes. Clara admits that she is no longer angry with Fernando and is ready to forgive him. When Antonio appears, Clara leaves the lovers alone. Antonio tells Luis that he expects nothing from her trick with a letter to her father. Luis understands his doubts, but prudently remarks that the most sincere feeling often dies in poverty. «If we want to make love our home god, we must try to provide him with comfortable housing.»

At this time, don Jeronimo’s answer is brought. Luis reads it out loud, not believing his own eyes: «Dear daughter, make happy your beloved. I express my full agreement ... »and so on. Antonio re-reads the letter, confident that this is some kind of mistake. And so he urges Louis to marry him, so that her father could not backtrack from his word. After their departure, an angry Fernando appears. Having met Clara in a cassock and veil, he does not recognize her and only wonders where Clara and Antonio are. The girl replies that they went to get married. Cursing the sky, Fernando pledges to upset this wedding.

At the same time, two grooms, Antonio and Mendoza, are requesting the father of Pablo. For urgency, both knowingly put money in his pocket. When Fernando appears in the courtyard of the cathedral, Mendoza, already familiar with his hot temper, hurries away. But in turn doña Luis and doña Clara appear. They throw off the veils, and the misunderstanding finally emerges to the common joy. Fernando is happy. He apologizes to everyone for being blinded by jealousy and suspecting a friend of betrayal, and his beloved of treason. Two couples follow the holy father to marry right there. «Often the Hymenei hears magnificent oaths a fake ringing, but he rewards the faithful with the bliss of bright days,» the choir sings.

Don Jeronimo is busy before a gala dinner. And here is his new son-in-law Isaac Mendoza. The owner rushes to him with embraces, wondering where is Luis. Mendoza proudly replies that she is behind the door and longs for a blessing. «Poor child, how happy I will be to see her pretty face,» don Jeronimo hurries to meet his daughter. However, after a few seconds, it was not the beauty of Louis that appeared before him. «Why, it is, kill me, God, old Margarita!» Exclaims the startled don Jeronimo. There is a quarrel in which the duo stubbornly calls the former owner an expensive daddy. Appearing Luis with Antonio reinforce the general confusion. Finally, the duo admits that she rigged this whole comedy in revenge for the violence against her mistress. Now she herself became the legal wife of Mendoza, and the mercenary Portuguese had no choice but to submit to fate.


The truth is revealed to Don Heronim - Mendoza was attracted only to the dowry of Luis, otherwise he would never be flattered by the person with the appearance of the old duo. Now the father of the family is already looking with different eyes at the humble Antonio. Moreover, the young man claims that he does not claim wealth. Thus, he finally conquers the heart of the old man.

The latter phenomenon is another happy newlyweds, Clara and Fernando. Don Horonimo admits that his son married a lovely young lady, and also a wealthy heiress. In a word, the reason for the gala dinner remains. And since everything is ready for this, the fun flares up. The house is filled with friends and neighbors, the night begins with dancing, singing and wine. «I dear guests / Ladies fun lesson. / I came for everyone / It's time to comfort - / Wine, and dance, and laughter, »sings the joyful don Horonimo, and with it all the characters.