The Ring Summary


Dinesen, writing in the 1950s, sets the action of ‘‘The Ring’’ in rural Denmark ‘‘on a summer morning one hundred and fifty years ago,’’ which would correspond approximately to the year 1800. Sigismund and Lovisa, two newlyweds (twenty-four and nineteen years of age) whose love, after much tribulation, has prevailed over the reluctance of the bride’s family, are out walking to observe the pasturage of Sigismund’s farm and to inspect the Cotswold rams by which the farmer hopes to ‘‘improve his Danish stock.’’ Dinesen’s narrator divulges Lovisa’s reminiscences of their struggle against her parents’ wishes (she is of higher station in life than he, and her family is wealthier than his) and her present sense of having been liberated into ‘‘freedom’’ by her marriage. Lovisa delights in the ‘‘rustic atmosphere’’ of the locale and experiences joy in the notion that she has no secret from her husband.

At the sheepfold, sheepmaster Mathias tells Sigismund that two of his English lambs are dead and two more sick. While two helpers go off to fetch the sick lambs for examination, Sigismund and Mathias converse about the sheep thief who has been plaguing the district. The thief drags off his prey ‘‘like a wolf’’ and three nights earlier killed a man and injured the man’s son in order to escape capture after having been caught by them redhanded. Lovisa wants to know more and gets Mathias to tell the story in full for her benefit. Details of a bloody fight in a sheep house, during which the thief broke his arm, excite her: ‘‘She felt a pleasant thrill running down her spine.’’ Mathias says that the man should be hanged; Sigismund says ‘‘poor devil.’’ Lovisa wonders that her husband could...

(The entire section is 720 words.)