On his travels, Paul, a journeyman from northern Germany, runs into a childhood friend, Lisei, a puppeteer's daughter. They fall in love and get married. Together with Lisei's father, the young couple moves to Paul's hometown. Although Paul himself is accepted - even respected - by the stuck-up and snooty citizens, the young woman is rejected by the town dwellers, who are imbued with class arrogance. Paul stands up for his wife but the scorn and abuse heaped on her weigh heavily upon him.