Fabrizio del Dongo
Fabrizio del Dongo (fah-BREE-zeeoh), an Italian nobleman destined to become an archbishop in the family tradition. A romantic youth, devotedly attached to Napoleonic ideals, the sixteen-year-old adventurer abandons the security of wealth and position to engage in the Battle of Waterloo under an assumed name, with the papers and uniform of a deceased hussar, and in complete ignorance of the ways of war and the world. This episode leads him gradually into deceptions of a higher order, an education he does not want, and an ecclesiastical post for which he is unfitted. Gentle and considerate in private friendships and devoted to humanitarian principles, he nevertheless resorts to intrigue and even murder to attain his ends in the Italian court at Parma. Never really in love until the romantic hopelessness of an affair makes him act in an unorthodox way, Fabrizio gains and loses patronage and affection. He spends his declining years in quiet meditation in the Charterhouse of Parma, a monastery.
Clelia Conti (KLEHL-lee-ah KOHN-tee), the beautiful daughter of a traitor count. As a girl, Clelia sets her heart on the handsome and chivalrous young soldier lately home from France. Although she takes a vow never to set eyes on the man who becomes her father’s prisoner after his arrest for murder, she finally takes him as her lover in spite of her marriage vows to a marchese whom she cannot love. Clelia is one of the two great beauties of the Parmese court, both enamoured of the young monsignor. She dies soon after the death of the child fathered by Fabrizio, now an archbishop....
(The entire section is 710 words.)