Brave Captain Jack Absolute is in love with the charming Lydia Langwish, and his friend Fockland has a passion for her cousin Lydia Julia. The girls respond to the fans with fervent reciprocity, and, it seems, nothing prevents the cloudless happiness of the heroes. But this happiness was in jeopardy, as the characters of the comedy contrived to thoroughly confuse themselves.
On the other hand, it was the confusion that created a lot of hilarious situations and helped to understand that often the main rival of his happiness is the person himself…
So, it is necessary to start with the fact that Lydia is too well-read and romantic person to reconcile herself with an ordinary lot, namely, to marry a rich and noble seeker of her hand. Therefore, Jack the Absolute had to take care of her under the fictitious name of poor ensign Beverley. The idea was crowned with success. Lydia gave her heart to Beverley and now dreams of living with him in a delightful poverty. A strict aunt Mrs. Madaprop follows every step of her niece, so lovers meet secretly, exchange letters through servants and prepare to escape. Let in such a case the underage Lydia lose two thirds of her fortune – for her it is nothing in comparison with the opportunity to survive her own abduction. All the action of the comedy takes place in the resort town of Bath, where the participants of the events come one by one. Among them, the cousin Lydia Julia. She is engaged
The next visit to the house of Lydia and her aunt is done by Baronet Sir Anthony Absolute. Mrs. Malaprop – she always uses learned words inappropriately and therefore considers herself to be very intelligent and educated – complains to the baronet that the obstinate niece rejects profitable bridegrooms. For example, she is cold to the venerable Devonshire Esquire Akra, but “rushes to the neck” to some kind of an innocent ensign. In the course of this conversation, Sir Anthony is overshadowed by the happy idea – why not get married to Lydia’s son Jack! Mrs. Malaprop picks up this thought and promises in that case to give Akra an official refusal.
Next in Bath comes Fokland. Captain Absolute dedicates it to the details of his novel with Lydia, and when Fockland asks if his friend played too tight a game in Beverley, Jack with a sigh replies that he is afraid to admit Lydia in his wealth. “To this trouble I must prepare it gradually, before I open it to the cruel truth, I will try to become absolutely necessary to it…”
Fockland, in turn, is in a nervous melancholy: he is constantly tormented by anxiety for Julia. “I’m constantly shaking for her mood, health, life… The midday heat, the evening dew – all this pose a danger to her life, and life is precious to me, only while she’s alive…” Jack assures his friend that Julia is in full health and now also is in Bath. Just at this time, the visit is Akr – Julia’s neighbor Devonshir, and after meeting with Fokland he happily confirms that the girl is quite cheerful and cheerful. Then the “unfortunate character” of the jealous man makes himself known: now Fokland torments that the bride was gay, despite the separation from him. “I’ve been chirping, singing, having fun – and not a single thought of me… O demons! ..”
And Akr complains to the captain about the coldness of Lydia, who is in love, according to rumors, in some Beverley. Esquire hurried to Bath to acquire secular gloss, dress up and win the heart of the wayward beauty. And here is Sir Anthony. He is extremely surprised to find his son in Bath, but without further ado he starts to work: he categorically informs his son that he made a decision about his marriage, and when the captain is just as strongly opposed to the parents’ will, he brings to Jack noisy curses and disappears in anger.
“But he married for love himself, and they say that when he was young he was a desperate scoundrel, and he was kidding,” the captain notes wistfully after him.
Meanwhile, from the servant of Lydia, the captain’s servant learns that Beverley has a dangerous rival – Captain Absolute, on whose behalf Lydia has already made an offer to Sir Anthony. Immediately this news reaches the Absolute – Beverley.
So, the marriage Jack persistently offered to his father turns out to be the very party to which the captain passionately seeks. The son decides to correct his mistake more quickly and at a new meeting with Sir Anthony takes a penitential look. At the same time, of course, he pretends that he first hears the name of Lydia, and submits only submissively to his parents’ will. The Baronet is triumphant.
Fockland in the meantime suits the scene of poor Julia. He so plagues her with reproaches and suspicions of lack of love for him, that even the girl’s angelic patience bursts. “Oh, you are tormenting my heart! I can no longer endure it,” she throws to the grief-groom. After her departure, Fokland, as usual, begins to scour himself and furiously curse his temper. However, he sees in his behavior and a certain mental “refinement” and sophistication of the senses.
And Jack appears in the living room of Mrs. Malalroop as the son of Sir Anthony and the groom of Lydia. In this role he is favorably received by the old shrew. She even shares with him her indignation over the intercepted letter of the unbearable Beverley to Lydia. The captain is compelled to comment on his own message, pretending that he is holding it for the first time, and hypocritically cursing the insolence of the ensign. But then the aunt at his request is removed, and the captain gets the opportunity to see Lydia alone. He convinces the girl that he has impersonated the Absolute. Lydia is delighted. The lovers again confirm their loyalty to each other and the determination to flee from the world. “Love, one love will be our idol and support… Being proud of our hardships, we will rejoice at the shame of wealth,” Lydia Absolute promises.
And what about the honest devonshire Akr? alas, no matter how he tried to excel in panache, Lydia responded with a refusal. Now the hotel Akr complains to the servant of the trickery of secular science. “Go there… na here… na, na, and my leg is not stupid and does not want to dance to a French pipe!” At this very moment, the acquaintance of Irishman Sir Lucius Otrigger comes to the Devonshire, who has a very snooty temper. Learning that Akr is rejected, Sir Lucius advises him to hastily defend his honor in a duel with a happy rival Beverley. The cowardly Esq. Is shy, but under the pressure of the Irishman surrenders and writes a dictation to a stranger ensign. Sir Lucius himself wants to fight Captain Absolute, who accidentally touched him with something.
“Why did you search for me, Bob?” – the captain asks, entering his friend Akra. He replies that he invited the Absolute to pass the challenge to the accursed Beverley through him. The captain, cursing to himself, assures Acre that he will send the letter to its destination. “That’s what it means to have a friend!” Akr rejoices, “And you will not agree to be my second, will you, Jack?” To this the captain firmly says that “he is not quite comfortable.” Then Akr asks Beverley to tell him that he has to fight with a famous brave man. “Tell him that I usually kill a person a week, maybe he will get scared and nothing will happen.” – “I’ll definitely say,” – promises the captain, worried about very different problems.
He is overtaken by the inevitable moment of confession in pretense. This occurs during his meeting with Lydia in the presence of Sir Anthony. Seeing Beverley next to the baronet, Lidia does not hide her astonishment. There is general confusion. “Tell me, you scoundrel, who are you?” Growls Sir Anthony. “I’m not quite clear about this, myself, sir, but I’ll try to remember,” muttered the captain, summoning all his impudence to help. He reveals his involuntary deception to the audience and asks for forgiveness. Mrs. Malaprop and Sir Anthony are ready to change their anger at mercy. But Lydia’s voice becomes icy. “So there will not be any kidnapping?” she says dryly. And proudly returns to the captain of his – that is, Beverley – a portrait that had always worn at the corsage. No, Lydia will not become the wife of this “low pretender”!
Cursing the whole world, the captain comes out from Lydia and immediately encounters Sir Lucius. After several frankly bellicose remarks of the Irishman, the angry Absolute naturally throws that he is ready to give him satisfaction at any time. They are persuaded to converge on the same evening in the Royal Glade – in the same place where a duel with Akr is scheduled. “There will be enough light for the swords, although it’s probably a little dark for the pistols,” the Irishman notes with great importance. After meeting Falkland, the captain grimly informs him of the prospect of going to the next world and inviting in seconds.
Lydia, thirsting for comfort, rushes to her cousin. She tells Julia in excitement how she became a victim of a vile deception. Julia herself hardly restrains her tears – another attempt to explain herself to Fokland led to a final rupture. “I know too well what the whims can lead to,” she warns Lydia.
In this glow of ambition, common sense retains, it seems, only servants. It is they who, disregarding all the conventions, are in a hurry to prevent senseless fights of their masters. On their side, they attract Mrs. Malalroop, who, along with them, bursts into Lydia and Julia and screams at the threatening “apostrophe.” In the face of real danger, everyone instantly unites and rushing headlong to the Royal Glade, taking on the road expansive Sir Anthony.
They keep pace just at the moment when Captain Absolute and Sir Lucius bared their swords. Akr had already given up the duel, having just learned that his friend Jack and Beverley were one and the same person. A friendly chorus of exclamations and reproaches is falling upon the duelists. Here all the misunderstandings are explained. Enamored couples finally put an end to the quarrels and insults. Akr enjoys the prospect of being a bachelor, especially since Sir Anthony suggests that this event be celebrated by a male company. Even Mrs. Malaprop is overjoyed.
Only the servants keep silence, but no doubt they are also happy with the peaceful outcome of the matter.