Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
To his sister-in-law, Lady Rose Burlesdon, Rudolf Rassendyll is a great disappointment. In the first place, he is twenty-nine years old and has no useful occupation. Second, he bears such a striking resemblance to the Elphbergs, the ruling house of Ruritania, that for Rose he is a constant reminder of an old scandal in which her husband’s family was involved. More than one hundred years before, a prince of the country of Ruritania had visited England and had become involved with the wife of one of the Rassendyll men. A child was born who had the red hair and the large, straight nose of the Elphbergs. Since that unfortunate event, five or six descendants of the English lady and the Ruritanian prince have had the characteristic nose and red hair of their royal ancestor. Rose finds Rudolf’s red hair and large nose a disgrace for that reason.
Rassendyll himself, however, has no concern over his resemblance to the Ruritanian royal family. A new king is to be crowned in that country within a few weeks, and Rassendyll decides to travel to Ruritania for the coronation to get a closer view of his unclaimed relatives. Realizing that his brother and sister-in-law will try to prevent him from taking the journey if they know his plans, he tells them that he is going to take a tour of the Tyrol. After he leaves England, his first stop is Paris, where he learns something more about affairs in the country he is to visit. The new king, also called Rudolf, has a half...
(The entire section is 1269 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of The Prisoner of Zenda Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!