(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Prince Hettore Gonzaga, once happily in love with and loved in return by Countess Orsina, falls in love with Emilia Galotti. She is the daughter of a soldier who resisted the conquest of Sabionetta by the prince, and she is betrothed to Count Appiani from the neighboring principality of Piedmont. This union of a nobleman and a beautiful, middle-class woman is the result of her mother’s studied plan.

The treacherous Marquis Marinelli proposes that the prince retire to his palace at Dosalo after sending Count Appiani on a mission to the princess of Massa, to whom the prince affianced himself after leaving Countess Orsina. Once her betrothed is away, Emilia will be vulnerable to the prince’s designs. The ruler eagerly agrees to this plan.

Odoardo Galotti readies his villa at Sabionetta in preparation for the wedding of his daughter and returns to his wife in Guastalla to accompany the bridal party. A young assassin gathers these facts from a family servant so that he can plan the abduction of Emilia. Count Appiani, disturbed by presentiments of evil, rejects the prince’s proposal to send him off on his wedding day. He is killed for his temerity when the bridal party is attacked. Closely guarded, Emilia is taken to the palace by the prince’s people, under pretense that they are rescuing her from brigands. There the prince, playing the gallant, allays Emilia’s fears by apologizing for his former behavior and promising to escort her to her...

(The entire section is 522 words.)