Gwynplaine has a scar on his face, giving him a kind of permanent smile. Abandoned by the Comprachicos, who had kidnapped and slashed his face a few years earlier, he is taken in by Ursus together with a blind girl, Déa. They move from village to village, performing a show whose star is the now grown-up Gwynplaine. Everywhere he goes his smile evokes laughter and emotion in the audience that adores him. Everyone wants to see the famous "smiling man". Life goes on until it is discovered that this scarred man is the heir to a large and noble family. Giddy with this sudden wealth and the carnal passions of a duchess, he distances himself from the only two people who have ever loved him for what he is.
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