Napoleon and the Empress Josephine (1909) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • Scene 1. The Prophecy: Josephine, while walking in the gardens on the island of Martinique, is told that "she will be more than Queen and yet outlive her dignity." Scene 2. Napoleon Meets Josephine at Madam Talien's Saloon and Falls in Love with Her: Josephine, with other ladies, is seated as Napoleon enters and is introduced. It is a case of love at first sight. As Napoleon makes ardent love to Josephine, the others thoughtfully withdraw. Scene 3. Napoleon's Departure to Take Command of the Army of Italy Three Days After His Marriage to Josephine: Napoleon bids good-bye to Josephine, mounts his horse and rides away, his staff and the troops following. Scene 4. Napoleon Having Been Crowned Emperor of France, Longs for a Son to Perpetuate His Name and Contemplates Divorce From Josephine: Napoleon enters the throne room, walks restlessly up and down and at last calls his valet, whom he directs to summon Josephine. She enters with her attendants. Napoleon dismisses the ladies, tells Josephine that he must have a son. She, having expected this, is resigned and turns away in a swoon. Scene 5. The Public Proclamation of Divorce Between Napoleon and Josephine in the Grand Salon of the Tuileries: The members of Napoleon's family and the Imperial Council of State are assembled as Josephine enters, signs the paper and leaves the room. Scene 6. The Parting of Napoleon and Josephine After the Divorce: In his bed chamber Napoleon is discovered in great grief, his valet endeavoring to calm him. The door opens and Josephine enters. After a pathetic farewell, she staggers from the room. Scene 7. Josephine at Malmaison After the Divorce: Memories of Napoleon. Josephine, seated on a chair, sees a vision of Napoleon. She crosses to the mantel, caresses a bust, sits down and plays the harp. As the vision vanishes, she stretches out her arm in despair and falls to the ground.


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