Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
King Philip II of Spain does not wish to trust his son, Don Carlos, with any of the crown’s affairs, ostensibly because, even though Don Carlos is twenty-three years old, he is too hot-blooded. Probably the real reason is that Philip, who forced his father, Charles V, from the throne, now fears his own son. The differences and coldness between the king and his son are aggravated by the fact that Philip is married to Elizabeth de Valois, with whom Don Carlos was in love. Indeed, the courtship between the two was sanctioned by France and Spain, until Philip decided to take Elizabeth for himself.
Don Carlos hides his continuing love for Elizabeth, now his stepmother, until his friend, the Marquis de Posa, returns from Flanders, at which time Don Carlos confides in him. The marquis is horrified but swears upon their boyhood friendship to help the prince, if the prince in turn will try to help the people of Flanders escape from the heavy and tyrannic policies forced upon them by Philip through his emissary, the duke of Alva.
Don Carlos goes to his father and pleads that he be made the king’s agent in Flanders, declaring that he will act humanely toward the people. Philip refuses to listen and sends the duke over Don Carlos’s protests. He does, however, request that the duke be better disposed toward his son. When the duke goes to speak to the prince, he finds Don Carlos in the queen’s antechamber. They have words and fight, until the queen...
(The entire section is 1172 words.)
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