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Ruy Blas has held the stage better than any other of his dramas and has been popular in America. Here Hugo's dramatic theory of contrast of grave and gay, rapid alternation of tragic and grotesque, is pushed to its utmost verge. The scene is Madrid; the time 1699. Don Salluste de Bazan, scorned by Maria de Neubourg, second wife of the do-nothing King, Charles II, plots revenge. Failing to enlist the aid of his scapegrace but chivalrous cousin, Don César, he introduces his valet, Ruy Blas, to the queen and through her sympathetic interest gains official preferment which he uses for political and fiscal reform. The queen and Ruy Blas are betrayed into a compromising situation by Don Salluste, who, when Don César threatens to balk his revenge, ruthlessly sacrifices his cousin to his injured vanity. Ruy Blas kills Don Salluste and then himself, consoled that his death has extorted from the queen an admission that love has overcome all prejudice of rank or station.