Short summary - The Mysteries of Paris - Eugène Sue

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Mysteries of Paris
Eugène Sue

Mid 30s XVIII century, Parisian slums, where bandits and murderers carry out their black deeds, and honest poor people wage a severe struggle for existence.
Prince Rodolphe of Gerolstein, a thirty-seven-year-old handsome man with “big yellowish-brown eyes”, perfectly masters the techniques of fist fighting, arrives incognito in Paris with the aim of “rewarding good, persecuting evil, comforting the suffering, comprehending the ulcers of mankind in order to try to save at least a few souls from death” and thieves' argo.
In his youth, the heir to the Grand Dukes of Gerolstein committed a rash act - upon learning that his beloved Sarah was expecting a child, he secretly married her. The old duke did not recognize this union, and Rodolphe dared to draw his sword against his father. Rodolphe's educator, the insidious Polidori, with whose help the marriage was concluded, told the angry father that the priest who performed the ceremony was not a priest, and therefore the marriage was invalid. He also showed the young prince Sarah's correspondence with her brother, from which he understood that Sarah did not love him, but only sought to achieve a high position. Since then, the prince is filled with remorse and tries to atone for his guilt. In addition, his life is overshadowed by ineradicable grief - Sarah did not want to give him the daughter she was born with and soon announced that the girl had died ...
Wanting to help the unfortunate Madame Georges find her son, kidnapped from her by her criminal husband, the prince disguised the bottom of Paris, Here he meets an honest fellow, nicknamed the Stabber, who served time for the murder of a sergeant. As difficult as it was for Stabbear, he never stole. But while working in the slaughterhouse, he became accustomed to the sight of blood, and when in the army a sergeant treated him roughly, in a fit of rage, he grabbed a knife and stabbed him. The ghost of the murdered man still torments the honest fellow. Delighted with Rodolphe's fighting talents, moved by his praise ("You have retained courage and honor ..."), Stabbear voluntarily becomes Rodolphe's loyal dog, ready to follow his master wherever he goes.
On the same evening, Rodolphe meets a charming girl, Lilia-Maria, nicknamed Songbird. Not knowing her parents, she grew up in the care of a shrew called Sychiha, who tortured her, forced her to beg and steal. Lilia Maria goes to jail and leaves when she turns sixteen. Unable to find work, she accepts the invitation of the Cannibal pimp and steps on the path of vice.
Seeing how the girl suffers from her situation, Rodolphe ransoms her from the Cannibal and takes her to the village, to a farm in Bukeval, where he entrusts her to Madame Georges's care.
Sarah wants to find her daughter, or, if she is dead, to marry her to any other suitable age girl, in order to soften Rodolphe's heart and force him to marry her. The search leads her to Sychiha and her friend - a murderer and robber, nicknamed the Literacy. With the help of the Stabber, Rodolphe disrupts Sarah's plan and implements his own - he offers the bandits to rob a rich and unprotected house. Of course, we are talking about one of the Parisian houses of Rodolphe, where the prince's men will wait in ambush for the villains. Not trusting Rodolphe, Sychiha and Gramotey lure him into the "Bleeding Heart" den and throw him into the basement with water, while they themselves go ahead of the agreed date to rob the said house. Devotion and ingenuity of the Knife saves not only Rodolphe, but also his assistant and friend, Sir Walter Murph, who was attacked by the Gramot.
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Rodolphe himself administers justice. He knows that Gramotey is the ex-husband of Madame Georges. This vicious man decided to take revenge on his virtuous wife: he kidnapped their son in order to raise a thief out of him. However, François Germain - that is the name of the young man - managed to escape, and now, as we managed to find out the Gramotey, he lives on the rue Temple. On the orders of Rodolphe, his black physician David blinds the Literacy. Then the prince hands the unfortunate wallet and lets him go on all four sides.
The prince wishes to reward the Stabber and gives him a butcher's shop. There, on the confused fellow, they find terrible memories of the murdered sergeant, and he refuses the gift. Then Rodolphe offers him a farm in Algeria, he agrees to take it and leaves.
Under the guise of a traveling salesman, Rodolphe comes to the house on Temple Street, charms the fussy and good-natured gatekeeper, Mrs. Piple, her shoemaker husband, and also a pretty and hardworking seamstress named Laughing,
Mrs. Piple tells the imaginary salesman about the tenants of the house. Under the very roof, in terrible poverty, lives the cutter of precious stones Morel and his happy family, consisting of his wife, her crazy mother, five young children and an adult daughter Louise. Louise lives in the maid service of the notary Jacques Ferrand, who is reputed to be a holy man, but in fact is a vile libertine. Morel is all around in debt, they want to put him in a debt prison. Louise becomes a victim of the notary's harassment and gives birth to a dead baby. Wanting to get rid of the girl, Ferrand accuses her of killing the child, and Louise is taken to prison. Having paid Morel's creditors, Rodolphe promises to take care of Louise's fate.
François Germain, also an employee of Ferrand, tries to help the unfortunate girl. In the evening he takes a few coins from the notary's cash desk for Louise, in order to return them the next day from his own savings. His money was not needed, but when he returns it in the morning, the notary accuses him of embezzling a huge amount, and Germain is sent to jail.
Rodolphe learns about the fate of Germain from Laughter, to whom he writes a letter, where he explains what happened to him, and asks the girl not to think badly of him. The honest grisette, who has always had friendly feelings for the young man, is shocked by what happened. Seeing her sincere grief, Rodolphe promises her to take over Germain's business.
By order of Sarah, who was jealous of Lilia-Maria for Rodolphe, the blind Gramota and Sychiha kidnap the Songbird, and she goes to prison again. Sarah goes to the notary Ferrand: once he was entrusted with the rent intended for Lilia-Maria. Sarah accuses the notary of deliberately killing the girl and embezzling money. Frightened Ferran admits that the girl did not die, but was given to Sychiha to be raised. Sarah meets Sychiha, takes her to her place and shows a portrait of little Lilia-Maria, in which she recognizes the Songbird. Writing down the story of the old vixen, Sarah turns her back on her, she stabs her with a stiletto, takes the jewelry and leaves.
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But Sychiha's days are numbered. She goes to the Bleeding Heart brothel, where in the basement there is a blind Literate on a chain. Sychiha wants to hide jewelry there and, as always, make fun of the blind man with impunity. The enraged Literate, having contrived, grabs the vile old woman and literally tears her to shreds.
Meanwhile, the notary, having achieved the release of Songwriter, sends for the girl his devoted servant, Mrs. Serafen. This little respectable lady, who once gave Lilia-Maria to Sychiha, must assure the girl that she is taking her back to Bukeval, but in fact lure her to the river and drown her with the help of the Martial family of river pirates. The old woman does not know that the owner ordered her to be drowned together with the girl.
The notary's plan succeeded, but only halfway: the fallen woman Wolf, whom the Songbird, sitting with her in prison, managed to persuade to an honest life, pulls her out of the water. Lilia Maria ends up in a hospital for the poor.
Rodolphe decides to put an end to Ferrand's vileness, making him a victim of his own passions. To this end, with the help of Mrs. Peplet, he introduces into his house, disguised as a servant, the Creole Cecily, the dissolute wife of Dr. David, for which they arrange an escape from the Gerolstein prison, where Rodolphe imprisoned her. Having inflamed the notary's lust, the girl lures the wallet with documents from him and runs away. From unsatisfied passion, Ferran begins to fever, and he dies in terrible agony.
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By the will of fate, Clemence, the young wife of one of the prince's friends, the Marquis d'Arville, devotes Rodolphe to the sad secrets of his family life. It turns out that d'Arville suffers from hereditary epilepsy. Clemence found out about her husband's illness only after the wedding, and her life turned into a pitch hell. Rodolphe bitterly reflects on the imperfection of human laws, which cannot save the victim of deception from "unnatural marriage." Wanting to help a young woman for whom he has sincere sympathy, he invites her to do charity work and become his accomplice "in some mysterious intrigues of this kind."
Jealous of his wife, d'Arville overhears their conversation. He is convinced that Clemence's thoughts are pure, but she will never love him, because she cannot forgive that he honestly did not admit his illness to her before the wedding. Wanting to earn the forgiveness of his wife, he decides to recognize the terrible songwriter. Writing down the story of the old vixen, Sarah turns her back on her, she stabs her with a stiletto, takes the jewelry and leaves.
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But Sychiha's days are numbered. She goes to the Bleeding Heart brothel, where in the basement there is a blind Literate on a chain. Sychiha wants to hide jewelry there and, as always, make fun of the blind man with impunity. The enraged Literate, having contrived, grabs the vile old woman and literally tears her to shreds.
Meanwhile, the notary, having achieved the release of Songwriter, sends for the girl his devoted servant, Mrs. Serafen, this little respectable lady, who once gave Lilia-Maria to Sychiha, must assure the girl that she is taking her back to Bukeval, and in fact lure her to the river and with with the help of the family of river pirates to drown the Marcials. The old woman does not know that the owner ordered her to be drowned together with the girl.
The notary's plan succeeded, but only halfway: the fallen woman Wolf, whom the Songbird, sitting with her in prison, managed to persuade to an honest life, pulls her out of the water. Lilia Maria ends up in a hospital for the poor.
Rodolphe decides to put an end to Ferrand's vileness, making him a victim of his own passions. To this end, with the help of Mrs. Peplet, he introduces into his house, disguised as a servant, the Creole Cecily, the dissolute wife of Dr. David, for which they arrange an escape from the Gerolstein prison, where Rodolphe imprisoned her. Having inflamed the notary's lust, the girl lures the wallet with documents from him and runs away. From unsatisfied passion, Ferran begins to fever, and he dies in terrible agony.
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By the will of fate, Clemence, the young wife of one of the prince's friends, the Marquis d'Arville, devotes Rodolphe to the sad secrets of his family life. It turns out that d'Arville suffers from hereditary epilepsy. Clemence found out about her husband's illness only after the wedding, and her life turned into a pitch hell. Rodolphe bitterly reflects on the imperfection of human laws, which cannot save the victim of deception from "unnatural marriage." Wanting to help a young woman, for whom he has sincere sympathy, he invites her to do charity work and become his accomplice "in some mysterious intrigues of this kind."
Jealous of his wife, d'Arville overhears their conversation. He is convinced that Clemence's thoughts are pure, but she will never love him, because she cannot forgive that he honestly did not admit his illness to her before the wedding. Wanting to earn the forgiveness of his wife, he decides to take a terrible step - suicide and, calling his friends as witnesses, furnishes him as an accident.
Shocked by her husband's deed, Clemence devotes herself even more fervently to charity. She goes to the women's prison, where she takes care of Louise Morel, visits the infirmary, where she meets Pevunya, and from her story she realizes that this is the same girl who disappeared from the bukeval farm and whom Rodolphe is unsuccessfully looking for.
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François Germain sits in a common cell among bandits and murderers. The villains, feeling an instinctive disgust for the young man, decide to kill him, especially since many have nothing to lose - they are sentenced to death. Germaine is constantly visited by Laughing Woman; young people feel they love each other. Now Germain is ready to kiss the whole world. But a conspiracy against him has already been drawn up, and only the intervention of the Stabber saves the young man from reprisal.
But the stabber, having reached Marseilles, realizes that he cannot leave Rodolphe. He returns to Paris, where the prince gives him a task - to go to prison and protect Germain there.
The dying Sarah summons Rodolphe and tells him that their daughter is alive: this is Lilia Maria. Rodolphe, who considers the girl dead, curses Sarah for throwing the girl into the abyss of poverty and vice. He guesses that the notary Ferran was responsible for the fall of his daughter.
The inconsolable Rodolphe is about to leave Paris; his stay in this city becomes unbearable for him. He even refuses to go to the wedding of Laughing Woman and Madame Georges's son, which is to take place in Bukeval, although it was thanks to him that François Germain was acquitted and released from prison. The prince also generously benefited the newlyweds.
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Rodolphe doesn't even want to see Clemence d'Arville. She must understand that the death of her daughter is a fatal retribution and he must atone for his guilt alone!
Suddenly Madame d'Arville enters Rodolphe's office. She brought the recovered Songbird to the prince. Learning that the girl is the daughter of a prince, Clemence falls to her knees and thanks God that it is she who has the happiness to bring him good news: his daughter is alive!
Clemence brings Lilia-Maria, and Rodolphe informs her that her father has been found. However, the girl is not happy - she does not know this person, does not know how he will react to her past. And Mr. Rodolphe did everything for her, did not disdain her when he found out how low she had fallen, and therefore she only loves Mr. Rodolphe. Unable to bear it, Rodolphe tearfully tells her that he is her father. Lilia-Maria faints from unexpected happiness.
Rodolphe informs Sarah that their daughter is alive. For her sake, he is ready to marry Sarah through legal marriage. A priest summoned to the house performs a ceremony, witnesses sign a contract declaring the birth of Lilia-Maria legal. Repentant, Sarah dies without seeing her daughter.
On the day of the carnival, Rodolphe and his daughter leave Paris. The carriage is stopped by a crowd of raging mob, a dump begins at the door. One of the bandits swings a knife at the prince. But the blow hits the Stabber in the chest. Gripped by anxious forebodings, the brave fellow again could not leave his beloved master and again rescued him - now for the last time. Rodolphe and his daughter leave Paris for good.
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In honor of his mother, Rodolphe names his daughter Amelia. He and his wife, the former Marquise d'Arville, are doing everything so that the girl can forget about her past. Princess Amelia is constantly involved in charity work, founds a shelter for poor girls, everyone loves and reveres her. Prince Henry, in love with her, awakened a reciprocal feeling in her heart, asks for her hand. However, the girl cannot forget the past, she cannot forgive herself for her fall. She refuses the prince and goes to the monastery. There she was unanimously elected abbess. Considering herself unworthy of such an honor, Amelia falls ill and quietly fades away. Rodolphe and Clemence are crying at her grave.