Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Seated across from his wife, Eurydice, in their villa in Thrace, the poet Orpheus concentrates on the tapping of a white horse that is housed in a niche in the center of the room. Orpheus believes that the horse’s tapping will indicate the next letter in an inspired message. Eventually, the horse taps out “hell” and, finally, “hello” (in the original French, mer becomes merci). Orpheus has submitted a previous message, “Orpheus hunts Eurydice’s lost life,” to the Thracian poetry competition. Eurydice’s complaints of neglect, compounded by her doubts regarding these messages, begin to provoke Orpheus. In response to her warnings regarding the jealousy of the Bacchantes, a cult of women to whom Eurydice used to belong, Orpheus accuses her of disloyalty. He goes on to insist that Eurydice break a windowpane each day so that the glazier, Heurtebise, will come to their villa. To deny his jealousy, he breaks a pane himself and summons Heurtebise.
Upon Heurtebise’s entrance, Orpheus departs for town to prepare for the poetry competition. In exchange for some poison-laced sugar from the Bacchante leader, Algaonice, Eurydice hands Heurtebise an incriminating letter she has had in her possession. Heurtebise also gives Eurydice an envelope from Algaonice in which to place the letter to eliminate any trace of Eurydice’s involvement. Shrinking from giving the poison to the horse herself, Eurydice convinces Heurtebise to do the...
(The entire section is 955 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Orpheus Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!