The first act of Ivona, Princess of Burgundia is set on a promenade, with the king, queen, prince, and their court gathered together in conversation. While the king and queen engage their court in conventional praises of the sunset, their son Philip sets himself aside, obviously bored with the routine. Clearly he is looking for a change and is impatient with his male companions, who engage in all too typical commentary on the good looks of any woman who interests them.
Ivona catches the prince’s attention. Not only is she not attractive to men, but even her female relatives find her a trial, for she is virtually inert, rarely speaks, and has an offensive demeanor. Ivona’s aunt goes so far as to say that her phlegmatic attitude is a constitutional defect. In other words, it is unlikely that anything can be done to make her more appealing. However, this unique behavior is exactly what Prince Philip says he likes about her: She is not the kind of woman a young man should love. He is determined to act like an original and not like every other young man out to find a beautiful, charming woman. He takes pride in adopting an attitude that checks his inclinations and that defies the constricting dictates of nature and society.
Act 2 opens in the prince’s apartments, with him declaring that Ivona is the dragon he must slay, the challenge he must undertake to prove his heroic distinctiveness. His friends are appalled; his mother and father are dismayed. The court, however, tries to be agreeable by accommodating...
(The entire section is 629 words.)