Day 14The Betrothed by Alessandro Manzoni
Chapter 10 (through p.174: “her closest relatives.”)
March 6, 2023 by Michael F. Moore
“The Prince (at a moment like this I don’t have the heart to call him her father)... ”
Manzoni himself was father to 13 children, almost all of whom he outlived.
“At these words, Gertrude was dumbstruck. She wondered how that ‘yes’ which had slipped out could portend so much. She tried to think of a way to retract it or restrict its significance. But the Prince’s conviction seemed so complete, his joy so jealous, his benevolence so conditional, that Gertrude did not dare utter a word that might disturb him in the least.”
A swift transition from the perspective of the father to that of the daughter. Is her life really her own? Is any child’s?
Page 166. The trottata, a ritual of the society to which Gertrude yearns to belong, but is forced to renounce. This promenade sounds so stilted, so artificial, as does every aspect of Milanese society that he describes. What is Manzoni driving at here? Is he suggesting that the life she leaves behind is not so enviable after all?
A comic interlude:
“The old woman kept on talking while she was undressing Gertrude, and while Gertrude lay in bed. She was still talking when Gertrude fell asleep, her thoughts overcome by youth and exhaustion. Although her sleep was troubled, agitated, and full of bad dreams, it was unbroken until the old woman’s shrill voice woke her up to get ready for the trip to Monza.”
This startling passage:
“At the image of the impatient young prince, all the other thoughts that had crowded into Gertrude’s awakening mind took off like a flock of sparrows at the sight of a hawk.”