Short summary - Hernani - Victor Hugo

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Hernani
Victor Hugo

Spain, 1519. Palace of Duke Rui Gomez de Silva in Zaragoza. Late evening. The elder is not at home. Dona Sol, his niece and bride, is waiting for her beloved Ernani - today their fate must be decided. Duenna, hearing a knock on the door, opens and sees instead of Ernani a stranger in a cloak and a hat with wide brims. This is King Don Carlos: inflamed with passion for Donna Sol, he wants to know who his rival is. Duenna, having received a purse of gold, hides the king in the closet. Ernani appears. He is gloomy - does he have the right to love dona Sol? His father was executed by order of the late king, he himself became an exile and a bandit, and the Duke de Silva possesses innumerable titles and riches. Dona Sol vows to follow Hernani everywhere - even to the scaffold. At this moment, Don Carlos, who is tired of sitting in a narrow closet, interrupts the conversation of the lovers and playfully invites dona Sol to split the heart into two. In response, Ernani draws his sword. All of a sudden, the old duke returns to the palace. Don Rui angrily rebukes his niece and young people: in the old days, no nobleman would dare to defile the old man's gray hair by encroaching on the honor of his future wife. Don Carlos, not at all embarrassed, reveals his incognito: extremely important events have taken place - Emperor Maximilian has died, elections and a difficult behind-the-scenes struggle for the throne are coming. The king needs the support of powerful vassals like the Duke de Silva. The ashamed nobleman asks the king for forgiveness, and Ernani hardly restrains his rage at the sight of his sworn enemy. Left alone, the young man utters a passionate monologue - now he must get even with the king not only for his father, but also for trying to seduce Dona Sol.
The next night, Don Carlos sets up an ambush to prevent Doña Sol from escaping with Hernani. Having overheard the conversation of the lovers, he found out the agreed sign - three claps of his hands. Dona Sol falls into the king's trick. Don Carlos promises to make her a duchess, a princess, and finally a queen and empress. Indignantly rejecting the monarch's harassment, the girl appeals for help to Ernani, and he appears on time with six dozen loyal mountaineers - now the king is in full power. The noble robber offers to solve the matter by a duel, but Don Carlos arrogantly refuses: yesterday he allowed himself to cross the sword with a stranger, but for a bandit this is too great an honor. Ernani, not wanting to be a murderer, releases the king, and he declares a merciless war at parting. Dona Sol begs her lover to take her with him, but Ernani cannot accept such a sacrifice: from now on he is doomed - let Dona Sol marry her uncle. The girl swears that she will die on the same day as Ernani. The lovers part, having exchanged the first and, perhaps, the last kiss.
Castle of the Duke de Silva in the mountains of Aragon. Dona Sol in white - today is her wedding day. Don Rui admires the chaste beauty of his bride, but the girl is not preparing for the wedding, but for death. A page enters and announces that a certain pilgrim is asking for refuge. The duke, faithful to the precepts of ancient hospitality, orders the traveler to be received and asks what he has heard about the bandits. The page replies that the "mountain lion" Hernani is finished - the king himself is chasing after him, and a reward of one thousand crowns has been appointed for his head. Ernani appears in a pilgrim's costume: when he sees Dona Sol in a wedding dress, he calls his name in a thunderous voice - let him be betrayed into the hands of the king. Don Rui replies that no one in the castle dares to betray the guest. The old man leaves to give the necessary orders for the defense of the castle, and a stormy explanation occurs between the lovers: the young man accuses Dona Sol of treason - when he sees the dagger prepared by her for the wedding night, he falls into remorse. The returned duke finds the bride in Hernani's arms. Shocked by this treachery, he compares Hernani to Judas. The young man begs to kill him alone, sparing the innocent dona Sol. At this moment, Don Carlos appears in front of the castle with his army. The Duke hides his rival in a hiding place behind the painting and goes out to meet the king. He demands to hand over the rebel. Instead of answering, don Rui shows portraits of ancestors, listing the exploits of each - no one dares to say about the last of the dukes that he is a traitor. The enraged king threatens him with all sorts of punishments, but at the sight of dona Sol changes his anger for mercy - he is ready to spare the duke, taking his bride hostage. When the king retires with his prey, the old man releases Ernani. The young man begs not to kill him now - he must take revenge on Don Carlos. Having handed the duke his hunting horn, Ernani vows to give his life when don Rui demands it.
Aachen. The king enters the tomb of Charlemagne, accompanied by Don Ricardo de Rojas. At night, conspirators will gather in the crypt - German princes and Spanish grandees, vowing to kill Don Carlos. Recently, an old man and a young man have appeared among them, who stand out for their determination. The king coldly replies that the scaffold is waiting for all the traitors - if only to become the emperor! At this hour the electors are conferring. Their decision will be announced by a bell: one blow means that the Duke of Saxony is elected, two - Francis I wins, three - Don Carlos becomes emperor. The king, having sent Don Ricardo, approaches the tomb of Charles: appealing to the shadow of the powerful emperor, he begs to instruct him - how to cope with the monstrous burden of power? Hearing the steps of his killers, Don Carlos hides in the tomb. The conspirators are drawing lots - one of them must sacrifice himself and deliver the fatal blow. To Hernani's great joy, this honor falls to him. Don Rui begs his opponent to yield, but Ernani is adamant. At this moment, the bell rings. At the third blow, Don Carlos emerges from the tomb - henceforth Emperor Charles V. Approaches rush to him from all sides, and Karl asks to bring Dona Sol - perhaps the title of Caesar will captivate her heart? The emperor orders to take into custody only dukes and counts - other conspirators are unworthy of his revenge. Ernani proudly steps forward: now he does not need to hide his name - Prince Juan of Aragon, Duke of Segorba and Cardona has the right to ascend the scaffold. Dona Sol kneels down in front of Don Carlos. Rising above insignificant passions, the emperor forgives everyone and gives consent to the marriage of dona Sol with Ernani, to whom he returns the lost titles. The former robber renounces the previous enmity - only love remains in his heart. He does not notice the hating gaze of the old duke.
Palace of the Prince of Aragon in Zaragoza. Late evening. Ernani and dona Sol have just got married. The guests lively discuss the miraculous transformation of a robber into a Spanish grandee. The emperor and the young beautiful couple are praised everywhere. Against the background of the general fun, a gloomy figure in a mask stands out - no one knows who this person is, but he breathes death. Happy newlyweds appear: everyone congratulates them and rushes to leave them alone. Ernani and Dona Sol are immensely happy. In the midst of the most fervent confessions, the sound of a hunting horn is heard. Ernani shudders and turns pale: having told his wife that he had an old wound, he sends her away for a healing balm. A masked man enters - it is Don Rui Gomez who came for Ernani. Ernani takes the goblet of poison, at which point dona Sol returns. Seeing the old man, she instantly understands what danger is hanging over her husband. Don Rui reminds the young man of the oath, dona Sol appeals to love. Convinced of the futility of pleading and threats, she grabs the goblet and drinks half as much - the rest goes to Ernani. The lovers embrace and bless the sky with a weakening tongue for this last kiss. Seeing the terrible work of his own hands, don Rui kills himself. Curtain.