"The bride and groom", by Alessandro Manzoni.

Third installment commenting on great works of literature with a positive Christian vision. On this occasion we comment on "The Betrothed", by Alessandro Manzoni, considered, together with the "...", to be one of the most important works of literature in the world.Divine ComedyDante's "Dante's most important work of Italian literature.

Gustavo Milano-September 22, 2022-Reading time: 2 minutes
manzoni the bride and groom

Image: Alessandro Manzoni (1785-1873). ©Wikipedia Commons

In 1827 Alessandro Manzoni published the first edition of his novel "I promessi sposi" (in the original, "I promessi sposi"). The second edition, much revised, would come in 1840. The plot is set in Lombardy, northern Italy, between 1628-1630, and tells the story of Renzo and Lucia, who want to get married, but encounter a series of civil and ecclesiastical impediments to their marriage. In this brief article I intend to indicate four main notes on this work, which is, by the way, one of Pope Francis' favorites.

Love in "The bride and groom".

The first note is that it is a historical novel, that is to say, that, in the midst of its fictional narration, it recounts events that really happened, such as the Spanish rule in Milan, the nun of Monza, the great plague of 1629-1631, the bread revolt in Milan or the life of Cardinal Federico Borromeo. At certain moments the author allows himself to digress from the main thread of the plot to tell these parallel episodes, which greatly enrich the narrative and give it a certain didactic trait.

Then, the second note is that of the noble love between Renzo and Lucia. They have very different personalities, they react in quite different ways to the same situations, but they know that they complement each other and clearly see that their destiny is to be united. That mutual respect, love and fidelity are the foundations of a happy married life is much more than a beautiful phrase.

A rich anthropology

Thirdly, it highlights the theme of hope in two different ways. On the one hand, in the face of difficulties caused by oneself: Renzo gets into a lot of trouble because of his own weakness, and he is called upon not to lose heart if he wants to achieve his goal of marrying Lucia. On the other hand, facing the difficulties caused by other people's mistakes: if it were not for Don Rodrigo's nefarious character, everything would be at peace from the beginning. But with the strength of forgiveness and trust in divine Providence -both anchored in hope- these setbacks are always overcome.

Finally, the fourth note of "The Bride and Groom" comes to be the richness of nuances in the characterization of the characters, with their actions and reactions provided. Throughout the reading I personally - and I hope you too - was subjected to an avalanche of emotions as distant from each other as shock, disappointment, laughter, sorrow, admiration, anger, nostalgia, among others. From the narrator's hand you will circulate among military, starving, religious, politicians, nobles and a wide range of normal people, middle-class workers, as are the two protagonists themselves.

"The Bride and Groom" presents, in short, the true love between a simple man and a simple woman, who, from the moment of their engagement, seek not their own good, but that of the other. Thus and only thus are they able, with the help of the one who instituted the very sacrament of marriage, God, to overcome everything and every obstacle that opposes them.

The authorGustavo Milano

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