The romantic drama “Hernani” was written by Victor Hugo in the early autumn of 1829, after the prohibition of the production of “Marion Delorme”. She appeared on the scene in February 1830, a few months before the famous July Revolution. In the preface to the drama, Hugo compared romanticism with political liberalism, thereby gaining the attention and love of the public at the beginning.
In the center of the play stands the character of a noble nobleman, born in exile, Prince Juan of Aragon, who, by the will of circumstances, became the leader of the highlanders of Ernani. The beloved of the Spanish grandee, Dona Sol de Silva, the uncle passionately in love with her, the sixty-year-old Ruy de Silva, and the Spanish king Don Carlos, who later Charles Carl V, no less passionately desires her Charles V, ideological, and external, plot level.
In the center of the play stands the character of a noble nobleman, born in exile, Prince John of Aragon, who, by the will of circumstances, became the leader of the highlanders of Hernani. The beloved of the Spanish grandee, dona Sol de Silva, the uncle passionately in love with her, the sixty-year-old Ruy de Silva, and the Spanish king Don Carlos, who later Charles Carl V, no less passionately desires her Charles V, ideological, and external, plot level.
The historical basis of the play is associated exclusively with the names of some actors (the Spanish king Charles I, who later became the German emperor Charles V) and events (the death of grandfather of Charles I – Emperor Maximilian, the claim of Charles I on the imperial throne, the idea of bribing princes-voters), all private the plot (the story of mutual love of Ernani and dona Sol and the unrequited – Rui de Silva and don Carlos) – completely invented by the author. The play takes place in Spain (in the northeastern city of the country Zaragoza, in the mountains of Aragon, in the tomb of Aachen – the resting place of Charlemagne) and falls at the beginning of the XVI century.
The composition “Hernani” is a classic. The five-part play opens with an exposure. In the first act, the author acquaints the reader with the main characters, talks about their love for donja Sol, outlines the outset of the future conflict (the secret of Hernani, the disclosure of the real name of Don Carlos). Actually, the plot of the play falls on the second act, during which Don Carlos discovers his true intentions regarding dona Sol and acquires an implacable enemy in the person of Hernani. The growth of the action is observed in the third part of the play, which tells about Ru de Silva, who sheltered a mortally dangerous guest in his castle, who learned about the love of the bride-niece to another and who became the enemy of the Spanish king Charles I. The culmination of the play falls on the fourth act, in which the characters balance on the face of life and death: Charles I, who became Emperor Charles V, was almost killed by conspirators; Charles V nearly executes Hernani, Don Ruy de Silva and other nobles; Dona Sol is preparing to die with his beloved. The clash of heroes ends with an amazing denouement – having received unlimited power, cruel and despotic in the past, Don Carlos, “following the advice” of Charlemagne, decides to begin his rule with forgiveness: he gives life to conspirators and donates Salt to his wife Hernani.
It would seem that everyone should be satisfied and happy, but the drama would not be a drama if it had not inexorably moved to its true, deadly outcome, falling on the fifth act, in which the happiness of those in love is destroyed by a noble word of honor given by Hernani Ruy de Silva in an hour when he refused to duel with the old duke, asking him about one favor – to help free Dona Sol from the hands of the Spanish king.
The ideological and artistic originality of the play is formed within the character of the main characters, each of which expresses one or several (with the prevalence of one) feelings-ideas characteristic of the era of romanticism. Hernani, who is also Prince Juan of Aragon, embodies the ideas of revenge (for the death of his father, who fell from the hand of Charles I’s father), love (to donja Sol), honor (the ability to keep his word) and forgiveness (in regard to the honor of Charles V). The character of Ruy de Silva, Uncle Dona Sol, is associated with ideas of revenge (for Charles I – for not wanting to respect his adherence to the ancient law of hospitality), jealousy (for Hernani), love (for Donja Sol), honor (for the guest). The Spanish king Charles I, he is the German emperor Charles V, he also don Carlos combines the ideas of power (he wants to become the main ruler of the whole world), love (to dona Sol), revenge (in relation to Hernani – as a rival and son of a former enemy his father) and forgiveness (comprehensive, unconditional, truly Christian).
In the main female character of the play, the character of Dona Sol, a single idea was embodied – a feeling of love, boundless, infinite, not afraid of anything, nothing retreating before anything. Dona Sol is ready for anything for Hernani: living with him in the forest among the wild highlanders, hiding from the authorities, raising children among the fields and meadows, marrying an unloved old uncle, killing the Spanish king, and dying with her lover. The artistic character of the main character is static. It does not change throughout the play: the girl is ready to ascend the scaffold with Hernani in the second act. Love for Dona Sol is life, the absence of love (in the person of a loved one) is death. The dishonor of a loved one for a noble girl by birth is also death. And that is why she is the first to drink the poison intended for Hernani, saving him from responsibility before her, from love, from the carnal desire that holds him.
The main male characters of drama in accordance with the traditions of romanticism are also devoid of any kind of psychological development: despite the fact that Hernani constantly fluctuates between the idea of revenge on Don Carlos and his love for Dona Sol, the latter is decisive for him and, as a result, wins ; Don Ruy de Silva only at first glance cannot choose between honor and jealousy (the last action after action absorbs him and leads to his own death and Hernani and Dona Sol; the old duke is the only one in the play to whom the idea of forgiveness is alien initially: first he is guided by the laws of honor, in the second – by personal feelings); Carles I seems to completely change his character under the influence of a mental conversation with Charlemagne, but, first, the author does not show the inner transformation of the character, but simply confronts the reader with a fact (there was a despot, he became a just ruler), but second, Charles I actually ceases to exist, becoming Charles V.
The king, who received unlimited power, loses interest in worldly pleasures: if earlier he only did what he thought about Dona Sol, tried to kidnap her, dreamed how favorable she would be to him, if he became a German emperor, now all his thoughts revolve around the political, military and religious problems of their time.