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Love and Intrigue Paperback – 6 Jul 2010
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What we have unfold is a love story that goes awry because the parent's, particularly the fathers, of neither side are happy with their child's choice of lover. The Millers are plebian caste members, the father a music teacher with one, beautiful, daughter and a nag of a wife. The Von Walters are royalty in command of a duchy. Ferdinand von Walter is madly in love with Louisa Miller, unfortunately because of their class differences the parents of neither deem them fit for each other. Thus begins their interference and the subsequent downfall of both houses.
We are introduced to the characters starting with the Millers. Right out of the gate it is clear that Miller has a distaste for his daughter, Louisa's, choice of companionship - the son of the President, Baron Ferdinand von Walter. Miller disapproves for he fears that his daughter is nothing more than the Baron's plaything, which will be cast aside once he's had his good time.
We also meet `Worm', the President's secretary, who also has an unreciprocated interest in Louisa. He relays what he hears at the Millers home to the President, stirring his ire, for the President himself considers it a blow to have his high-ranking son fall in love with a mere commoner.
The President then strikes to arrange a marriage, spreading the news about town via Worm and Marshal von Kalb (check out my name... too bad this dude's a villain). The spreading the news is intended to serve his sons hand into that of Lady Milford, whom Ferdinand later states as being a known prostitute.
Each party makes their protestations to their respective parents, and both fail to dissuade them of their current position. However, Ferdinand does draw from his father an allusion to the murderous act with which he came by the throne, and to which Ferdinand doesn't want any association.
To Louisa: `Fairer, than it dismissed thee, shall heaven receive thee back, and confess with delight that love alone can give perfection to the soul.' (177)
Lady Milford offers a recant of her rags to riches story to Ferdinand. He feels the utmost pity and intrigue for her as she tells her story, and professes her love, but he in turn states his love for Louisa and departs to her. `We shall see whether love or interest is victorious.' (505).
At Miller's the President soon arrives after the son. A series of threats come out of Miller toward the President, and back again to the whole of Miller's family, and even towards the President's own son.
As the Miller women are being led to the pillory and Miller himself to jail, Ferdinand threatens to unveil how his father came to his position. The President seems to have a vast change of heart.
The President with major assistance from Worm conjures a plan to make it present as if Louisa is cheating on Ferdinand. Firstly her parents are arrested, then Marshal von Kalb is recruited to play the man she's having an affair with, and lastly Worm confronts Louisa and dictates to her a note which will be found, `accidently', by Ferdinand. The hope being that he will abandon Louisa for Lady Milford, and the President's vile ascendancy will remain clandestine, all the while separating the lovers. Louisa knows how the letter will present, but goes along fairly willingly with the promise to keep the secret as it's dictated to her by Worm.
Ferdinand finds the letter from Louisa to von Kalb. He confronts the latter and challenges him to a duel, upon which von Kalb states he's never even met Louisa. Encountering his father the latter plays up her virtue while Ferdinand appears to think himself doomed. A most pivotal point in the play.
Lady Milford swears to Louisa, after having had her offer for a position as her servant declined - `I cannot be blest with him - neither shalt thou.' (1115).
Foreshadowing the final events of the play, Louisa states that Lady Milford can have Ferdinand, he has ruined him for her and that `forget not that the spectre of a suicide will rush between you and the bridal kiss.' (1129)
Lady Milford assumes her real name and gives up her wealth before departing the land at the end of the scene.
The final encounter between Louisa and Ferdinand, as he enters the Miller home to settle the affair. He offers Miller a wealth of gold and soon sends him with a letter to his father, this leaves behind himself and Louisa.
Ferdinand taints her drink, while she remains unawares, with arsenic, which he himself also partakes in drinking. Ferdinand attempts to convince Louisa to tell him the true author of the letter to von Kalb, but initially she won't speak and he is embittered by how lightly she treats his love for her. Not until she learns she's been poisoned (`I fear it so! Thy lemonade was seasoned in hell!' - 1476) and is about to die does she acquiesce and confess that the letter was dictated by the President.
Confronting his father just before his own death, Ferdinand blames him, but the President then blames Worm and Worm states he will act the madman and reveal all the Presidents dirty secrets. The tale ends with the young lovers deceased, the President and Worm likely headed to prison and Miller distraught but in possession of some hearty wealth.