Count Guido Franceschini
Count Guido Franceschini (GWEE-doh frahn-chehs-KEE-nee), the oldest male member of a destitute noble family of Arezzo. Knowing that he is the last hope for continuing the family name, because his two brothers are priests, Guido seeks a wife to bear him a son. Impoverished, he needs a woman with an attractive dowry. His brother finds a likely prospect, and Guido’s family name attracts the girl’s mother. Inept as a husband and angered by denial of the dowry after the wedding, Guido abuses his wife. To retain the last vestige of honor as a husband, after he has driven her to extramarital affections, Guido, with four men from his village, kills his parents-in-law and fatally wounds his wife. The court hearings and the gossip relating to the affair, presented from various viewpoints, point to Guido’s instability, he representing an old family without means of sustenance or continuation—no wealth, no prestige, no progeny. He is sentenced to be hanged, by rulings of both church and state.
Pompilia Comparini (pohm-PEE-lee-ah kohm-pah-REE-nee), his seventeen-year-old wife. Bought as a newborn infant from a prostitute, Pompilia was brought up by aged foster parents. Trapped in an incompatible marriage not of her choice, she flees to Rome with Caponsacchi, a priest. Overtaken, she and the priest disavow that they are lovers. After hearing that Pompilia, who has returned to...
(The entire section is 646 words.)