Chapter 2 Summary
After a night of tossing and turning, Don Abbondio awakes to the
real-life nightmare that he has been confronted with by Don Rodrigo and his
Bravi. This painful deliberation of what his next move should be was mostly
covered in cowardly denial. He did not even want to consider what would become
of him if he tried to continue with performing the marriage between Renzo and
Lucia. He also quickly disregarded the idea of informing Renzo as to what
happened in order to make a joint effort to solve this dilemma. The cowardly Don
Abbondio even considers running away in order to escape this threat. He
concluded that his solution would be to hold off the marriage for a couple more
days until the period would enter where marriages would not be allowed for two
months. He believes his authority will make it easy to put off Renzo day-to-day
because Renzo is so taken by love and Don Abbondio believes he has more at
As Renzo prepares to enter Don Abbondio’s home, we learn a
little background about this young man. Renzo had been left as an early teen but
chose to follow the family trade of silk-spinner. We find out that Renzo owns a
small plot of land and lives comfortably. Renzo is very neatly-dressed and
happily in love to his “soon-to-be bride.” He is described as cheerful and
rightfully so as he believes that today is his wedding day. Abbondio
faint-heartedly tells Renzo that the marriage cannot be performed on this day
because he doesn’t feel well and there are too many obstacles in the church at
this moment. Abbondio plays the poor victim and begins to give excuses to Renzo
in Latin in order to look like a sophisticated and educated individual.
Renzo begins to get impatient and angered by Abbondio’s lack of
substance and vague answers. He even begins to raise his voice and shake his
fist in defiance.
After calming down, Renzo agrees to be patient and wait one week
for the ceremony to be performed. On his walk to Lucia’s house he begins to
question the strange behavior that Don Abbondio exhibited. How could Abbondio
act as if he had no idea about the marriage between Renzo and Lucia? Perpetua
begins to defend Don Abbondio and patiently tells Renzo that he is not at fault
and Renzo must trust in God for it is his will.
Still feeling uneasy about the recent events, Renzo turns around
and returns to Don Abbondio in order to confront him. As Renzo asks Abbondio who
it is who objects to his marriage, Abbondio dashes for the door but Renzo is
able to get to the door first and conceal the key. Abbondio continues to
hesitate and refuse to give the name of this objector but Renzo threatens him
and takes a violent approach in order to recover this information. At last,
Abbondio tells Renzo that the man is Don Rodrigo.
Renzo leaves and Don Abbondio is left in despair and fear
because word must not get out about Don Rodrigo. Renzo, who is described as a
peaceful young man who avoided blood shed was now plotting murderous revenge on
his enemy. As Renzo entered into the cottage of Lucia where she was preparing
for her wedding, he sent for her at once to tell her of the terrible news. Renzo
tells Lucia of the morning’s events and she gasps in horror. Renzo becomes upset
when he learns that Lucia had known about Don Rodrigo’s intentions.
Connecting Chapter 2
The main dilemma of the novel is fully presented to all of the
significant characters in chapter two. This chapter introduces us to the timid
and cowardly features that Don Abbondio will continue to portray throughout the
novel. His excuses have no substance such as this example from the text found on p. 48, "And so my dear boy, I'm not to blame: I didn't make the law. And before we perform a marriage ceremony, we priests have to make inquiry after inquiry, to make sure there are no impediments." Renzo exhibits his passionate and easily-angered nature, but let it be noted that this burning desire and sometimes rage is met with good and loving
intentions for his sweet Lucia. We don’t fully know Don Rodrigo’s intentions at
this point, but we do learn that Lucia was aware of his fondness for her.
Chapter two connects with the historical context because Manzoni was first inspired to write this novel after
reading a proclamation that dated back to the 17th century and warned
against priests who might refuse to perform matrimonies. They would be punished
if they did not comply. Within chapter two we first discover the villainous
qualities of the Spanish native, Don Rodrigo. Renzo who is a hot-headed young
man stands to symbolize the qualities of a frail Italian nation that is
aggressively trying to unite and flee from the tyranny of foreign states.
In congruence with the Spencer Research Library and Museum of
Art we can distinguish that the original 19th century print of I Promessi Sposi must have been quite
different than the version we use today. One difference is the size of print and
elegant designs that accompanied the font within the 19th century
version. When trying to connect the second chapter with a work of art we might
look to examine Two Gentlemen of Verona painted by Angelica Kauffmann. In this painting we see common
outfits and characters we might relate to chapter two and the 17th
century. This scene looks somewhat hectic similar to the scene described by
Manzoni when Renzo storms out of Don Abbondio’s presence and confronts
Perpetua. In chapter two we are introduced to Renzo, Perpetua, Lucia, and
The following word cloud comparisons illustrate the differences in the Italian and English texts of chapter two. While fairly similar we can distinguish that the Italian text uses the each character's name more frequently than the English version. Perhaps this could be credited to Manzoni stressing the importance and repetitiveness of the characters name in the context. Renzo who is featured heavily in chapter two is mentioned 43 times in Italian and 38 in English. This is significant because Renzo is seeking answers from Don Abbondio as to why the marriage is not being performed on this day. Abbondio is the second most frequently listed word in this chapter since he is being questioned by Renzo. I mentioned Dio (God) as a prominent theme in this chapter because when being prodded for answers, Abbondio keeps telling Renzo that it is "God's will" that the wedding can not be performed until everything is perfect in the church. Abbondio persists that Renzo must trust in God and be patient. This all of course a weak excuse used by Abbondio in order to buy himself more time.
My word cloud from Chapter 2 is representative of the prominent characters discussed in this section. Renzo is featured the most as we are introduced to a young, well-spirited but often volatile character. Don Abbondio is the second most frequent name mentioned because he reveals to Renzo and Lucia that they are not able to be married at this time. The word cloud highlights certain themes that Don Abbondio is preaching when "pazienza" or patience is mentioned in reference to the delay of the young lovers marriage.