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Iolanthe

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Iolanthe

by W.S. Gilbert

Genre: Operetta
Setting:
Format of Original Source: Plot summary
Recommended Adaptation Length: Two Hours

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising

EXCERPT:

The first act of “Iolanthe” opens in Arcady. Iolanthe, a fairy, having offended her Queen by marrying a mortal, has been banished for life; but in the opening scene, after twenty years of exile, she is pardoned. She tells the Queen of her marriage, and her son Strephon, half a fairy and half a shepherd, who is engaged to Phyllis, a shepherdess, and ward in Chancery. At this point Strephon enters, and informs his mother that the Lord Chancellor will not permit him to marry Phyllis, but he will do so in spite of him. He curses his fairyhood, but the Queen says she has a borough at her disposal, and will return him to Parliament as a Liberal-Conservative. In the next scene Strephon meets Phyllis and pleads against delay in marriage, since the Lord Chancellor himself may marry her, and many of the lords are attentive to her. Meanwhile the lords meet to decide which one of them shall have Phyllis, the Lord Chancellor waiving his claim, as it might lay his decision open to misconstruction. Phyllis is summoned before them, but is deaf to all entreaties, and declares she is in love with Strephon, who has just entered. The peers march out in a dignified manner, while the Lord Chancellor separates Phyllis and Strephon and orders her away. He then refuses Strephon his suit, whereupon the latter invokes the aid of his fairy mother, who promises to lay the case before her Queen. In the finale the peers are seen leading Phyllis, who overhears something said by Strephon and Iolanthe which induces her to believe he is faithless, and she denounces him. He replies that Iolanthe is his mother, but cannot convince her. She charges him with deceit, and offers her hand to any one of the peers. He then appeals to the Queen, who threatens vengeance upon the peers and declares that Strephon shall go into Parliament. The peers beg her for mercy, and Phyllis implores Strephon to relent, but he casts her from him.



COMMENTS:

A word of caution: This plot summary was written by 19th-century literary critic George Upton, who often mixes personal opinion with summation. You would be advised to consult the original source material, if the general plot appeals to you.


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