Aristocracy (1914) - Plot Summary Poster



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  • Virginia Stockton, daughter of railroad magnate Jefferson Stockton of San Francisco, gets engaged to Stuyvesant Lawrence, scion of an "old-money" New York family. The Lawrence family patriarch journeys west to put a halt to the wedding, as he believes his son is marrying beneath his station. Virginia's father persuades her to accompany him and his new wife to England, where they have rented an estate. Although Virginia and Stuyvesant write each other often, his mother intercepts her letters. Believing that Stuyvesant has become engaged to another woman, Virginia marries a shady fortune-hunting nobleman, Prince Emil von Haldenwald. Complications ensue.

  • Jefferson Stockton, of San Francisco, president of The Transcontinental Railway Company, loves his work, and is proud of his success, but is still fonder and prouder of his pretty daughter Virginia, and his beautiful young wife, Diana, Virginia's stepmother. The Stuart-Lawrences of New York, members of the old "Knickerbocker Aristocracy," are also fond and proud of each other, but perhaps prouder still of the blue blood that runs in their veins, and when they hear that their son Stuyvesant is engaged to Virginia Stockton of San Francisco, daughter of a family of "rich nobodies," father Lawrence immediately takes the train west to put a stop to the affair. Virginia has another suitor, the Marquis of Normandale, a poor but titled Englishman, but when he proposes for the hand of Virginia, Jefferson Stockton laughs at his pretensions but tells him that he will enter into another business agreement with the Marquis. He contracts to take the Marquis' house in London, with servants, furniture, and the Marquis, himself for a handsome sum on a year's lease. The needy nobleman consents, and the papers are signed, for Stockton, wishing to satisfy his wife's love and ambition for society, knows that the entrance to New York's fashionable circle is best gained through the gateway of Europe, and intends to stay there until his beautiful home in New York has been finished. Then, equipped with the prestige given by foreign residence and titled acquaintances they will be able to take their place among the aristocracy of the great American metropolis, for which the beautiful Diana so longs. The elder Lawrence arrives in San Francisco and interviews both his son and Stockton, denying his consent to the betrothal, upon which both Stockton and his daughter agree that the engagement had better be temporarily canceled. With aching heart. Stuyvesant takes his departure for New York and the unhappy little Virginia goes to Europe with her people both living only until the time when Stuyvesant may be able to win his parents over. But Stuyvesant's mother intercepts Virginia's letters to her son and at length his letters to Virginia cease, each thinking the other faithless. Diana is for a time radiantly happy in the baronial halls of the Marquis, while Stockton views her pleasure with fond amusement, though immensely bored by it all himself. A friend of the Marquis, Prince Emil Von Haldenwald, a penniless roué, falls in love with Diana, and she feels the strange magnetism of his keen and admiring gaze, even while she resents it. The Prince sues for the hand of Virginia, who, believing he loves her and that Stuyvesant is to be married to another consents, and they are married, against the wish of Stockton. The night of the marriage Virginia hears that Stuyvesant is in Europe and is still true to her, learning of the interception of her letters, too late. While the Prince's ruined estates are being repaired Virginia and he live with the Stocktons, and one night, during the absence of Stockton, the Prince enters the room of Diana, and attempts to embrace her. Half-hypnotized, she struggles weakly, when they hear the return of Stockton. The Prince hides on the balcony, but is discovered by Stockton, who sends him from their home. The happiness of the Stocktons seem shattered, but the hand of a kindly Fate at length lifts the pall of unhappiness that European aristocracy has spread for them and the drama has a happy ending.


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