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At the conclusion of the Seven Years' War, Major von Tellheim is suspended from the Prussian army pending an investigation into financial misconduct. While living frugally with his servant, Just, in a rustic inn, the major is sought out by his fiancée, Minna von Barnhelm, a noblewoman. In deference to her betrothed's sense of honor, which precludes continuation of the engagement during his disgrace, Minna pretends to have been ostracized by her family. Through such subterfuge Minna elicits a confession of love, while the major's timely reinstatement dissolves the barriers to their marriage.