Short summary - Monna Vanna - Maurice Maeterlinck

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Monna Vanna
Maurice Maeterlinck

Events take place in Pisa at the end of the 15th century. The head of the Pisa garrison, Guido Colonna, discusses the current situation with his lieutenants Borso and Torello: Pisa is surrounded by enemies - the troops of the Florentines, and the troops sent by Venice to help the Pisans could not get through to them. Famine is about to begin in the city. The soldiers had neither gunpowder nor bullets left. Guido sent his father Marco to negotiate with Princivalle, the mercenary commander of the Florentine army. There are various rumors about Princivalle: sometimes he is portrayed as cruel and insidious, sometimes dangerous, but honest and noble. Marco returns. He says that Princivalle received him as a guest of honor. Marco enthusiastically tells how reasoned with Princhivalle on the dialogues of Plato, I met in a camp tent Florentine commander of the famous scientist Ficino, as they managed to find together in an olive grove in the sand buried the torso of the goddess

Guido interrupts the story of his father, trying to find out how his negotiations with Princivalle ended. Marco tries to warn Guido against rash decisions and then informs that Princivalle, having learned about the fate prepared for him (they are going to accuse him of treason in Florence and execute him), offers the city of Pisa military assistance or promises to send three hundred carts with ammunition and food. But Princivalle sets a condition (Marco hardly forces himself to pronounce it) that, as a sign of submission, as a sign of victory, one should come to him, “come completely naked, so that only a cloak would serve as a cover” - Guido's wife, Giovanna. Guido is outraged. He is ready to die himself and destroy the city, but it turns out that Giovanna already knows from Marco about the condition of saving Pisa and is ready to sacrifice himself. Guido is trying to prevent his wife. Realizing that this is useless, he breaks up coldly with her.

In his camp not far from Pisa, in a tent where weapons, furs are lying in disarray, there are chests with jewels and shiny fabrics, Princivalle awaits the decision of his fate: if his offer is rejected, Marco must return, if it is accepted, the bell tower in the city will light up a fire heralding the arrival of Giovanna, Monna Vanna, the woman Princivalle has loved since childhood. The signal light comes on. Princivalle is jubilant. But before the arrival of Monna Vanna Princivalle, there will be a meeting with Trivulzio, the Commissioner of the Florentine Republic. Trivulzio assures Princivalle of his sincere affection and warns of the intrigues of ill-wishers. He calls on the commander to immediately take Pisa by storm, so that, having returned triumphant to Florence, win over to his side those who are hostile to him. Princivalle exposes Trivulzio's duplicity by showing him his own denunciations, as a result of which Princivalle had to die, because the people of Florence idolized him and could follow him if Princivalle suddenly had the idea to rebel against his superiors. Feeling exposed, Trivulzio throws himself with a dagger at Princivalle, who manages to deflect the blow, and the dagger only grazes his face. Princivalle does not understand how a person can be ruined on mere suspicion, out of fear of an imaginary danger. At the same time, he respects Trivulzio's loyalty to his native Florence, Princivalle orders to take Trivulzio away, but warns that no one touches him with a finger. Vedio, Princivalle's adjutant, bandages his wound. A shot is heard in the distance. Princivalle is worried: what if Monna Vanna was shot? Vedio leaves to find out and, returning, calls out to Princivalle. He then disappears and Monna Vanna appears in the tent. She is indeed slightly injured in the shoulder, but refuses to bandage the wound. Princivalle shows Vanna how carts with provisions and ammunition are sent to Pisa in payment for her coming to him.

After placing Bath on his bed, Princivalle tells her about his love. Bath is struck by the power of feeling. She does not immediately recognize in the commander of the enemy army the blond boy Janello, with whom she played as a child. Janello's father took him to Africa. After long wanderings in the desert, after Turkish and Spanish captivity, he returns to his hometown and learns that Giovanna has married the most powerful and richest man in Pisa. He had nothing to offer her. Gianello becomes a hired commander, participates in various wars, his name becomes glorious, and now the case brings him under the walls of Pisa ... Giovanna reproaches him for indecision. “Don't flatter yourself, I don't love you ...” she says to Princivalle. “And at the same time the very soul of love in me is restless, grumbles, indignant when I think that a person who loved me so ardently as I could love him myself suddenly lacked courage in love!” When asked if she loves Guido, Giovanna replies that she is happy with him - how happy can a person who has given up reckless dreams be ...

Vanna is embarrassed that for her sake Princivalle has recklessly put his future, his fame, his life at stake, and he explains to her that he did not sacrifice anything for her: he is a mercenary and is faithful only as long as they are faithful to him (“If I had a homeland, I would not have cheated on it for the sake of ardent love,” he notes). Vedio warns Princivalle about the arrival of the Florentines in the camp, ready to arrest him. Giovanna, in order to save Princivalle, invites him to go with her to Pisa. Above the city towards which Bath and Princivalle are heading, there is a glow of festive lights. The bath is happy and grateful to Princiwala. She kisses his forehead.

In Pisa, in his palace, Guido suffers from shame, from humiliation. He no longer wants to see his father pushing Giovanna to sacrifice. And he is going to forgive her, but only when her rapist is killed. “It’s probably impossible to completely forget her misdeed, but he can go so far into the past that jealousy itself will not find him ...” Marco is ready to leave the city, he only wants to see Giovanna meet with Guido. Cheers from the crowd are heard: "Our Monna Bath!", "Glory to Monna Bath!" Marco, accompanied by Borso and Torello, goes out onto the terrace, Guido is left alone. Marco's eyes are unable to discern where Giovanna is, and Borso tells him of her triumphant approach. Next to her is an unknown person whose face is hidden by a bandage. Marco hugs Giovanna. Guido appears. Vanna wants to talk to him, throw herself into his arms, but he abruptly stops and pushes Giovanna away. He chases the crowd away from the walls of his palace, then tries to rip the bandage off Princivalle's face to find out who it is. The bathtub comes between them. She reveals to Guido that this is her savior and calls his name - Princivalle. Guido decides that Giovanna brought Princivalle to Pisa to take revenge on him. Running out onto the terrace, Guido loudly shouts that the enemy has been caught. Now he wants the crowd to gather. Guido longs to hear Vanna tell her how she managed to lure the Princivalle. Bath encourages her husband to believe her and reveals that Princivalle did not touch her. But Guido's common sense does not allow him to believe his wife. He addresses the crowd with the question, does anyone believe Giovanna? Only Marco believes her. And Guido presents Giovanna with a choice: either she admits that Princivalle possessed her, or, if she insists that he did not touch her, he will be executed. Then Vanna, in order to save Princivalle, lies that he possessed her, that she lured him into the city with kisses (while she passionately kisses Princivalle, whispers words of love to him and conjures him to be silent). She demands that she be given the key to the dungeon of Princivalle, and Guido promises that the guards will now bring her the key.

Marco understands and accepts Monna Vanna's high deception. Guido is happy, for him the past is a heavy sleep. "Oh, yes, you're right," Vanna answers him, "that was a heavy dream ... But now - now the light will begin ..."