Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Heinrich Lee loses his father in early childhood. Thereafter, Frau Lee devotes her life to the happiness of her son. She has a boundless faith in the boy’s future, and methodically she uses her small inherited fortune for his education. A large supply of green cloth, left by the father, is used for Heinrich’s clothing, which earns him the nickname Grüner Heinrich, or Green Henry.
When fifteen-year-old Heinrich is dismissed from school for his part in a student prank, he visits relatives in the country and falls in love with his cousin Anna, a beautiful but frail girl. In the same village, he meets Judith, a well-to-do widow, who loves Heinrich. She knows about his love for Anna but assures him that there is enough room in his heart for both. Judith does not intend to leave their relationship on a platonic basis only, and as a result Heinrich is torn between his deep love for the frail Anna and his attraction to the sensual Judith.
Because it is impossible for Heinrich to complete his course of studies, his mother agrees to help him fulfill his dream of becoming a painter. All of Frau Lee’s friends oppose this idea, for it is unthinkable that the child of a respected citizen should embark on so insecure and uncertain a career. In spite of these objections, Frau Lee arranges Heinrich’s apprenticeship in an etcher’s studio. Thereafter, when he visits the village in which Anna and Judith live, he enjoys being called a painter....
(The entire section is 1409 words.)
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