Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 986
Count Almaviva is so much in love with Rosine, Dr. Bartholo’s ward, that even though he never speaks to her, he leaves Madrid and the pleasure of the court in order to be near her in Seville. Her guardian desires to marry her himself, however, and he keeps the young girl locked in her room. To help him in his suit, the count enlists the aid of Figaro, the barber and apothecary of Bartholo.
A note Rosine throws from her window convinces the count that she returns his love. At Figaro’s suggestion, the count disguises himself as a soldier seeking quarters for the night. He calls himself Lindor, the name Figaro used in telling Rosine of her unknown lover. When Bartholo, suspicious of everyone who might come near Rosine, refuses to give the disguised count lodging, the count manages to slip a note to Rosine before Bartholo orders him from the house. Bartholo forces Rosine to show him the note, but she cleverly tricks him into reading another note she has in her pocket. Nevertheless, his suspicions are not allayed.
Figaro learns that Bazile is a party to Bartholo’s plot to force Rosine to marry him the next day. The count thereupon disguises himself as a student and, calling himself Alonzo, tells Bartholo that he was sent by Don Bazile, Rosine’s music teacher, who, so the count says, is ill and has been asked to take his place. The count thinks that by pretending to help Bartholo he can be alone with Rosine and tell her his plans to rescue her from the old man. He gives Bartholo a letter that he claims will help Bartholo in his suit. The letter implies that there is another woman with whom Lindor is in love. Bartholo refuses to leave Rosine alone with the count until Figaro manages to trick him into leaving the room. Figaro takes the opportunity to steal the key to Rosine’s room from the old man’s key ring. When Bartholo returns to the room, the music lesson seems to be in progress. Suddenly Don Bazile is announced. It takes all of Figaro’s ingenuity to keep him from exposing the count as an impostor. Figaro and the count at last manage to get Don Bazile out of the house before Bartholo learns the truth, but Bartholo, suspicious of everyone, sneaks behind the count and Rosine and overhears enough to make him decide to investigate Don Bazile’s strange behavior and apparent bewilderment.
Don Bazile confesses that he knows nothing of his supposed illness and never before saw the so-called Alonzo. This confirmation of his suspicions makes Bartholo uneasy. Although he fears that Alonzo is Lindor’s friend, he does not suspect that Alonzo is Lindor himself. He tells Don Bazile to arrange to have the notary come at once to perform his marriage to Rosine.
Immediately afterward he goes to the young girl’s room and shows her the letter the count gave him. Instead of helping the count, however, it works against him, for Rosine believes Bartholo when he tells her that her young lover will pretend to rescue her but is in reality planning to pass her on to Alonzo. Because Rosine does not know the real identity of the man she calls Lindor, she believes Bartholo and promises to marry him at once. She also tells him of Alonzo’s plan to steal into her room that night and carry her off. Bartholo leaves her to arrange for the police to come and apprehend the kidnapper.
While Bartholo is gone, the count and Figaro climb up a ladder and enter Rosine’s room. Rosine accuses the count of a plot to pass her on to someone else. The count then throws aside his disguise. He tells her he is Count Almaviva and that in his love for her he followed her hopelessly for the past six months. Rosine is so overcome that she faints. When she revives, she admits that she doubted him and that she promised to marry Bartholo. She also says that Bartholo knows of the plan to carry her away. Already the ladder had been removed from her window and the police are on the way.
When all looks blackest, Don Bazile appears with a notary, as Bartholo instructed him to do. The notary knows only that he is to perform a marriage here and another marriage at the home of Figaro. Here he is to marry Bartholo and a young lady named Rosine. At Figaro’s home he is to marry Count Almaviva and a young lady named Rosine. By some clever and rapid talking, the count and Figaro are able to convince the notary that he is merely confused. Don Bazile is more difficult, but he finally decides the money the count slipped into his hand is more important than loyalty to Bartholo. He signs the marriage contract as a witness just before Bartholo bursts into the room with many policemen and a justice of the peace.
Bartholo orders the justice of the peace to arrest the count, but that civil servant is too much impressed with Count Almaviva’s high position to risk offending him. Bartholo, anxious to marry his ward, then orders the count out of the house. When he learns that the count and Rosine have just been married and that the contract is legally signed, he is infuriated and tries in vain to keep Rosine from leaving with her husband. By threatening Bartholo with a demand for an exact accounting of his ward’s property, which Bartholo dares not allow, the justice of the peace is able to persuade the old man to sign the marriage certificate that gives his consent to Rosine’s marriage. Bartholo cannot understand how his plans failed. Figaro tells him that youth and love can always defeat an old man’s schemes.