The Cenci Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 19 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Cenci.
This section contains 855 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Cenci Study Guide

The Cenci Summary & Study Guide Description

The Cenci Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Reading on The Cenci by Antonin Artaud.

Act 1

The Cenci begins with Cardinal Camillo talking with the powerful Count Cenci about a murder in which Cenci is implicated. Camillo threatens to publicly proclaim the crime unless Cenci gives a third of his possessions to the Pope, but Cenci refuses, jeers at the Church, and stresses his desire to "practice evil." When Camillo leaves, Cenci expands on his desires, suggesting that he wants to kill his wife and two of his sons, as well as rape his daughter Beatrice.

In the next scene, Beatrice is with her lover Orsino in a moonlit garden in the Cenci palace. Beatrice laments that her father is keeping them apart, but when Orsino vows to overcome all obstacles for their love, Beatrice tells him that their love is doomed because of her duty to her family. She then expresses her loathing for her father and departs for dinner.

At the dinner, Cenci frightens his guests by telling them that two of his "rebellious" sons have been killed and that he wishes his entire family doom and destruction. Beatrice begs the guests not to leave, and Cenci threatens to kill anyone's offspring who says anything about what has happened at dinner. Cenci orders everyone away except Beatrice, whom he approaches and tells that he knows the "charm" to make her "meek and tame." Beatrice flees and Cenci says that now she cannot escape him.

Act 3

Act 3 begins with Beatrice rushing onstage to tell Lucretia that her father has raped her. Lucretia attempts to return her to her senses, and Beatrice describes a recurring dream from her childhood in which she is lying naked and hungry in a room until a wild animal appears and chases her through the cellars. Lucretia says that the dream signifies that "no one can escape his fate," and she appeals to Orsino for help when he enters with Giacomo. Orsino suggests that they appeal to secular justice, or justice outside of papal authority, but Beatrice says that she can believe only in the justice that she chooses. Orsino suggests that Giacomo publicly denounce his father and that they employ two mute assassins to kill Cenci.

In the next scene, Orsino, Giacomo, and the assassins wait outside the fortress for Cenci and his family to cross the bridge. When the family appears, the assassins descend upon Cenci and fire two pistol shots, but they fail to kill him.

Read more from the Study Guide

This section contains 855 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Cenci Study Guide
Drama for Students
The Cenci from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.