The Prisoner of Zenda

by Anthony Hope Hawkins
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What was the reason behind Black Michael's jealousy in The Prisoner of Zenda?

Black Michael is jealous because his half-brother Rudolf is about to be made king. As far as Michael's concerned, he's the one who should ascend to the Ruritanian throne, so he hatches a wicked plot to have Rudolf drugged and kidnapped.

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Black Michael, the chief antagonist of The Prisoner of Zenda, is greatly displeased that his half-brother Rudolf is about to ascend to the Ruritanian throne. As far as he's concerned, the throne is his by right, and he's determined to do whatever he can to ensure that he becomes king.

The Duke of Strelsau, to give Black Michael his formal title, had been the favorite of his father, but because his mother was of good “but not exalted birth,” he was passed over by his half-brother Rudolf when it came to the line of succession. And so, because he is of royal blood on both sides, it is Rudolf who is scheduled to be crowned King of Ruritania, not Black Michael.

Bitter and humiliated at being deprived of what he regards as rightfully his, Michael carries out a wicked act of revenge against his half-brother before his coronation can take place. He has Rudolf drugged, abducted, and imprisoned in a remote castle in the little town of Zenda.

Some of Rudolf's courtiers respond to Black Michael's vile machinations with a plot of their own. To deprive Michael of the throne, they convince the king's English cousin and lookalike, Rudolf Rassendyll, to take his place. When the real king is eventually found, the crown will revert back to him.

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