The Romancers by Edmond Rostand: Summary

There are mainly five characters in this play: Sylvette and her father Pasquinot, Percinet and his father Bergamin, and Straforel, a hired killer. A wall has divided the park. Percinet is sitting on the wall reading Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet to Sylvette, who is standing on the other side leaning against the wall. Sylvette does not want him to read about Romeo's death. Their fathers hate each other and this hatred has divided them.

Edmond Rostand (1868-1918)

Last month when Silvette came home from her school, her father told her not to go near Percinet and his father. He added that if she does not think them her enemy, he will abandon her. But Percinet loves her, and says that the more you are kept from loving someone, the more you want to love.

Percinet knows that she loves him because she compared them to Romeo and Juliet. She does not know how quickly they began to love each other. He says that everything has worked together to unite the two hearts. After this they get engaged. He thinks that they are the tender-hearted children of two callous fathers. Silvette hopes that God will use them to wipe out their family quarrel. She sees in advance some possible solutions. They make a plan that an old duke loves her and sends his man with a marriage proposal. When she refuses it, he asks his men to kidnap her. But luckily, Percinet comes and fights bravely and saves her. Her father comes and gives her daughter to him and his father also accepts her.

 When Bergamin comes, Silvette hides behind the wall and Percinet jumps down from the wall. He is caught daydreaming again by his father. He tells his father that he loves the wall and other lovely things there. He plans to re-plaster the wall and put the sharp broken glass on the top. Bergamin now wants to talk seriously to his son. He wants his son to see if someone is listening to them. Percinet climbs on the bench and leans over the wall. Then he and Silvette secretly promise to see each other the following evening. When Percinet says that nobody is there, Bergamin states that he wants him to get married and that he has chosen a young and rich wife for him. He forces his son to marry her. Then Silvette understands that her father hates him for his money-minded nature. He runs after his son for indecent behavior with a cane in his hand.

Sylvette's father finds her walking there alone and asks her never to go near the wall of his enemy. He plans to put a row of spikes on the wall for protection. He sends her back into the house. Then he sends a letter to Straforel. Both Pasquinot and Bergamin climb up the wall and inquire of each other's health. Bergamin says that the marriage is settled because their children are madly in love. Their plan has been to tear down the wall and live together. By getting their children married, they want to achieve their aim. They have kept their plan secret. They think that a prearranged marriage is not exciting for their children. They have just pretended that they hate each other. Now their children have come home after completing their studies and they can't keep them away from each other for a long time. Their extraordinary plan is at the point of succeeding, but they can't say 'yes' without rousing their children's suspicions. When Pasquinot wants an excuse, Bergamin tells him the solution presented by her own daughter. For a make-believe kidnapping and sword fight, Straforel has been called. He explains to them different kinds of kidnapping and he goes out. Now both fathers are waiting for the day when they have only one home. They wish to pass the rest of their lives together. But Sylvette and Percinet suddenly enter on their respective sides. They notice their children and they turn their embrace into a fight. They start abusing each other. The children manage to separate them. All go out.

It is evening. Straforel and his swordsmen, musicians enter the park. He places his men in their positions. He orders everyone to do the assigned task. Percinet comes in reciting a few lines. The musicians play softly. Percinet is excited to see Sylvette for the first time in the evening. A bell rings in the distance. Sylvette appears. Then the hired killers seize her and put her into the sedan chair. She cries for help because she is being kidnapped. Percinet jumps over the wall, draws his sword and fights with a few killers. The music becomes loud. The boy fights bravely with Straforel, who falls holding his chest. Percinet runs over to Sylvette. She is in the sedan chair and he is kneeling beside her. Pasquinot appears saying that Bergamin's son is a hero and shakes hand. Both Sylvette and Percinet are very happy. Bergamin comes with his torchbearers. Pasquinot suggests that they should put an end to their friend and make their children happy. Bergamin's hatred has lessened and says that hatred always ends in a wedding. The children do not believe that their fathers have changed like this. Silvette innocently expresses her hope that it will end happily. When the lovers go back with Pasquinot, Straforel rises and hands Bergamin a slip of paper. It is a bill with his signature on it. Then Straforel drops back to the ground.