The scene is laid in Madrid at the Spanish Court at the close of the seventeenth century. Victor Hugo, as he himself states in his preface to the play, intended it to be in a measure symbolic of those troublesome times, when the throne was held by a weakling, a defective, the last of a long line of degenerate rulers, and the kingdom itself was a prey to the cupidity of the nobles. The three leading male characters Victor Hugo meant to personify were the three contending forces in the tottering kingdom: Don Sallusto, the unprincipled covetous element; Don Caesar, the adventurous but still chivalrous element; and Ruy Blas, the People, who still revered the Crown. As for the story of the play itself, it may he briefly stated. Ruy Blas is a poet reduced by poverty to the position of lackey to the unscrupulous Don Sallusto, who, at the opening of the play, is banished by the Queen for refusing to marry a serving-maid whom he had betrayed. Ruy Blas is secretly in love with the Queen, and Don Sallusto on learning this, wishing to be avenged for his disgrace at Court, palms off on the nobles, the Queen and Ruy Blas, his servant, who is disguised as the adventurer Don Caesar de Bazan, a cousin who returns unexpectedly to Madrid, and with whom be surreptitiously makes away.