Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings



, , , , , , , ,


L’Avare by François Boucher (drawing) and Laurent Cars (engraving) (Photo credit: Pinterest)


  • Plautus (c. 254 – 184 BCE)
  • commedia dell’arte
  • French 17th-century misers: sources
  • Hellenic (ancient Greek) sources
  • French medieval farces and fabliaux
  • translations into English

As indicated in a previous post, Molière‘s L’Avare, The Miser, was first performed on 9 September 1668 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. It is a five-act play, in prose, inspired by Roman dramatist Plautus‘ (254 – 148 BCE) Aulularia, the Pot of Gold. As we have seen, it is also rooted in the commedia dell’arte as well as Italian comedies and tales, and in France’s own medieval farces and the largely scatological fabliaux.

However, Molière also drew his material from La Belle Plaideuse (1655), by François le Métel de Boisrobert, which features a father-as-usurer, and Jean Donneau de Visé‘s La Mère coquette (1665), where a father and son are in love with the same woman.[1]

L’Avare is one of Molière’s better-known comedies and it was translated into English by Thomas Shadwell (1772) and Henry Fielding, the author of Tom Jones. However, it was not a huge success in Molière’s own days. It has been speculated that Molière’s audience expected a play written in verse, the nobler alexandrine verse (12 feet or syllables), first used in the twelfth-century Roman d’Alexandre.


L’Avare (

The dramatis personæ is:

Harpagon, father to Cléante, in love with Mariane.
Cléante, Harpagon’s son, lover to Marianne.
Valère, son to Anselme, lover to Élise, and “intendant” to Harpagon
Anselme / Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, father to Valère and Mariane, and 
Master Simon, broker.
Master Jacques, cook and coachman to Harpagon.
La Flèche, valet to Cléante.
Brindavoine, and La Merluche, lackeys to Harpagon.
A Magistrate and his Clerk.
Élise, daughter to Harpagon.
Mariane, daughter to Anselme.
Frosine, an intriguing woman.
Mistress Claude, servant to Harpagon.

The scene is at Paris, in Harpagon’s house.

Act One

We will be focusing on the manner in which the young couples featured in the Miser, L’Avare, manage to overcome the obstacle to their marriage. Short of a miracle, they are condemned to do as their father’s greed dictates. All the elements of L’Avare’s plot are introduced in the first act of the play, which reflects the Græco-Roman origins of comedy and tragedy. As a five-act play, Molière’s L’Avare is a ‘grande comédie,’ not a farce (Molière wrote both), and its plot is the archetypal struggle, also called the agôn, between, on the one hand, the alazṓn of Greek comedy, or the blocking character, and, on the other hand, the eirôn, the young couple and their supporters: valets, maids, zanni. In other words, it is a traditional blondin-berne-barbon plot. The young couples will succeed in marrying.

A Comedy of Manners and A Comedy of Intrigue

  • doublings: two young couples and two fathers
  • Harpagon is the father of Élise and Cléante
  • Anselme is Valère and Mariane’s father, which we do not know until the fifth act (V. v) of the comedy

L’Avare is both a comedy of manners, a form we inherited mostly from Greek dramatist Menander, and a comédie d’intrigue, a comedy where the plot prevails. As the portrayal of a miser, L’Avare is a comedy of manners (see the full text in Wikisource and eBook #6923). Harpagon’s greed constitutes the obstacle to the marriage of Cléante (Harpagon) and Mariane as well as the marriage of Valère and Élise (Harpagon).

Cléante gambles and wins, which allows him to buy elegant clothes and court Mariane, but he does not have sufficient money to marry and must therefore go to a moneylender. Ironically, the moneylender happens to be Harpagon himself who demands no less than the now metaphorical “pound of flesh” (Shylock) as repayment. The moneylender episode—act two, scene two (II. i) [II. 2]—shows to what extent Harpagon’s greed is an obstacle to the marriage of our young couples. The plot advances in that Cléante cannot obtain a loan that might enable his marriage. Another “trick” must be devised. However, plot and manners (greed) are inextricably woven.

Obstacles to Two Marriages

  • “genre” art
  • a family tyrant

The action takes place in Harpagon’s house in Paris and can be described as genre arta depiction of ordinary people engaged in ordinary activities. Will G Moore has remarked that Molière’s characters

“[a]re concerned with everyday life; the stuff of which it was made was by tradition the doings of ordinary people in ordinary surroundings.”[2]

L’Avare is a five-act comedy, but it is written in prose, not verse, and Harpagon, our blocking character, is an enriched bourgeois. Although he does not feed his horse properly, he owns a carriage and he has servants. As depicted by François Boucher, the interior of his house is rather elegant. However, he is extremely greedy and he behaves as though he owned his children. He is a domestic tyrant. In act one, Harpagon states that he has arranged for his children to marry, but has not consulted them. Cléante will marry a “certain widow,” our tyrant has just heard of, and Élise will be “given” to Mr. Anselme, a gentleman who will not request the customary dowry, or “sans dot

Quant à ton frère, je lui destine une certaine veuve dont ce matin on m’est venu parler; et, pour toi, je te donne au seigneur Anselme. (Harpagon to Élise, [I. iv])
[As to your brother, I have thought for him of a certain widow, of whom I heard this morning; and you I shall give to Mr. Anselme. [1. 6] [eBook #6923]

Élise does not know Mr Anselme and refuses to marry him, threatening to commit suicide. As for Harpagon, he plans to marry Mariane, who loves his son (Cléante). For Harpagon, Mr Anselme is a perfect choice because Élise will marry at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. iv FR) (I. 6 EN) 

Harpagon’s Rigidity

Valère will attempt to save Élise from a marriage to a person other than himself. Valère, Harpagon’s “intendant,” begs Harpagon to free Élise. However, the objections he presents are followed by Harpagon’s “sans dot” (without a dowry). Molière’s blocking characters are inflexible or rigid. This rigidity is the feature Henri Bergson (18 October 1859 – 4 January 1941) attached to the comical or comedic in his Laughter. Valère’s objections having been rebuked by a litany of “sans dot,” he is literally speechless. He simply repeats what the Harpagon, the miser, has told him:

Lorsqu’on s’offre de prendre une fille sans dot, on ne doit point regarder plus avant. Tout est renfermé là-dedans, et sans dot tient lieu de beauté, de jeunesse, de naissance, d’honneur, de sagesse, et de probité. (Valère à Harpagon, I. v)
[When a man offers to marry a girl without a dowry, we ought to look no farther. Everything is comprised in that, and “without dowry” compensates for want of beauty, youth, birth, honour, wisdom, and probity.] (I. 10[eBook #6923]

But there is some hope. As the story goes, Valère’s father, Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, is believed to have drowned when he and his family (his wife, Valère and Mariane) were fleeing Naples. It appears, however, that Dom Thomas has survived and that he is a man of means. Valère was looking for him when he met Élise. At her request, he decided to stay near her and made himself Harpagon’s “intendant,” but someone else is looking for Valère’s father.

Mais enfin, si je puis, comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. J’en attends des nouvelles avec impatience, et j’en irai chercher moi-même, si elles tardent à venir. (I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us. I am expecting news of them with great impatience; but if none comes I will go in search of them myself.] [I.1]

The curtain will then fall on an anagnorisis  (V. v) [V. 5], a recognition scene. However, when Anselme enters Harpagon’s house and hears that there is opposition to the contract he has come to sign, he tells Harpagon that he will not coerce a woman into a mariage, which frees Élise. He also remarks that he will not “lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself,” thereby allowing Mariane, his daughter, to marry Cléante, Harpagon’s son, rather than Harpagon.

Ce n’est pas mon dessein de me faire épouser par force, et de rien prétendre à un cœur qui se serait donné ; mais pour vos intérêts, je suis prêt à les embrasser ainsi que les miens propres. (Anselme to Harpagon [V. v])
[It is not my intention to force anybody to marry me, and to lay claim to a heart which has already bestowed itself; but as far as your interests are concerned, I am ready to espouse them as if they were my own.] (V. 5) [eBook #6923]

Anselme seems a fine gentleman whom the anagnorisis (V. v) [V. 5], the dénouement (see Dramatic Structure, Wikipedia), will identify as Valère and Mariane’s father. A greedy Harpagon has chosen Anselme as the perfect groom because Anselme would marry Élise without requesting the customary dowry, or at no cost to the miser: “sans dot.” (I. v) [I. 5]


Qu’il faut manger pour vivre, et non pas vivre pour manger. (III. i)

A Comedy of Intrigue

  • a plot or intrigue
  • a chiasmus (a mirror image in a sentence)
  • a quiproquo (a misunderstanding)
  • the doubling of the father figure (mirror image)

Harpagon’s greed is enormous, so students are taught that Molière concentrates on manners rather than the plot. He does, but in L’Avare, although the plot is mainly episodic, manners and plot (intrigue) are inextricably linked. For instance, when Harpagon is having a meal prepared to celebrate the marriage(s) that are to take place that very day, Harpagon hears Valère say that il faut manger pour vivre and not vivre pour manger, that one should eat to live and not live to eat, Harpagon so loves Valère’s witty chiasmus, that he wants these words engraved in gold and placed above his fireplace. (III. i) [III. 1] It is unlikely that Harpagon would use gold to celebrate greed, but it is true to character and comical. The meal he is planning often ends comedies and may solemnize a wedding.

Moreover, it is a quiproquo, a comical misunderstanding which, in L’Avare, leads to the anagnorisis. When Harpagon realizes his cassette has disappeared and may have been stolen, he loses his composure and accuses Valère, at the instigation of Maître Jacques. Maître Jacques resents the trust Harpagon has placed in Valère. If he could, Harpagon would have Valère drawn and quartered. Valère has not stolen Harpagon’s cassette, but he and Élise have signed a promise to marry another. Valère has ‘robbed’ Harpagon, but it is Élise he has taken, not a cassette. (V. iii & iv) [V. 3 & 4] [eBook #6923]

Anselme first steps foot on the stage as the battle rages. Given Élise’s promise, he cannot and would not marry her. However, Valère stands accused of a theft and wants to tell his story. The anagnorisis has now begun. To give himself credibility, Valère says that he is the son of Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, which Anselme hesitates to believe because he is a friend of Dom Those and, to his knowledge, all members of Dom Thomas’ family drowned as they were trying to flee Naples, which is not the case.Valère says that he was rescued by Pedro, a servant, and later adopted by the captain of the ship he and Pedro were allowed to board. He can prove his identity. As he speaks, Mariane realizes that Valère is her brother.

For their part, Mariane and her mother were also saved, but their helpers were corsaires, pirates, who enslaved them. Following ten years of enslavement, they were released and they returned to Naples where they could not find Dom Thomas d’Alburcy. They therefore picked up a small inheritance in Genoa and moved to Paris. Mariane’s mother is Valère’s  mother and Dom Thomas d’Alburcy’s wife. As he watches this scene, Dom Thomas learns that no member of his family died leaving Naples. He has just found his children and his wife. He would not stand in the way of Valère and Mariane’s marriage who wish to marry Harpagon’s children. Le sieur Anselme knows le sieur Harpagon.

Le Ciel, mes enfants, ne me redonne point à vous, pour être contraire à vos vœux. Seigneur Harpagon, vous jugez bien que le choix d’une jeune personne tombera sur le fils plutôt que sur le père. Allons, ne vous faites point dire ce qu’il n’est point nécessaire d’entendre, et consentez ainsi que moi à ce double hyménée. (V. v)

[Heaven, my dear children, has not restored you to me that I might oppose your wishes. Mr. Harpagon, you must be aware that the choice of a young girl is more likely to fall upon the son than upon the father. Come, now, do not force people to say to you what is unnecessary, and consent, as I do, to this double marriage.] [V. 5] [eBook #6923]


Molière’s L’Avare has an intrigue which resembles the intrigue of most comedies. A young couple wishes to marry, but a blocking character, or alazṓnprevents their marriage. However, Molière has doubled the young couple who are a brother and sister wishing to marry a brother and a sister, so Molière has therefore doubled the father figure which happens during the anagnorisis. As Dom Thomas d’Alburcy, Anselme is the eirôn who allows the young couples to marry.

The anagnorisis, the recognition scene, does not take place unannounced. As mentioned earlier, as he despairs,Valère tells Élise that he hopes to find his father who may still be alive. Act one (I. i) [I. 1] has prepared the reader or spectator:

Mais enfin, si je puis comme je l’espère, retrouver mes parents, nous n’aurons pas beaucoup de peine à nous le rendre favorable. (Valère à Élise, I. i)
[However, if I can find my parents, as I fully hope I shall, they will soon be favourable to us.] [I. 1] [eBook #6923]


Der Geizigue, Harpagon & La Flèche by August Wilhelm Iffland, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


In L’Avare, Molière does not use a deus ex machina. He simply introduces a second father figure who will allow the young couples to marry and will pay all costs. L’Avare‘s young couple are in fact very resourceful, but one cannot marry without money. Mariane (Dom Thomas) recoils at wishing Harpagon’s death, feelings that are reciprocated by Cléante (Harpagon).

Mon Dieu, Frosine, c’est une étrange affaire, lorsque pour être heureuse, il faut souhaiter ou attendre le trépas de quelqu’un, et la mort ne suit pas tous les projets que nous faisons. (Mariane à Frosine, III. iv)
[Oh, Frosine! What a strange state of things that, in order to be happy, we must look forward to the death of another. Yet death will not fall in with all the projects we make.] [III. 8] [eBook #6923]

Que veux-tu que j’y fasse ? Voilà où les jeunes gens sont réduits par la maudite avarice des pères ; et on s’étonne après cela que les fils souhaitent qu’ils meurent. (II. i)
[What would you have me do? It is to this that young men are reduced by the accursed avarice of their fathers; and people are astonished after that, that sons long for their death.] [II. 1] [eBook #6923]

When his father falls, accidentally, Cléante is worried:

Qu’est-ce, mon père, vous êtes-vous fait mal ? (III. ix)
[What’s the matter, father? Have you hurt yourself?] [III. 14] [eBook #6923]

Critic Northrop Frye states that “[t]he tendency of comedy is to include as many people as possible in its final society: the blocking characters are more often reconciled or converted than simply repudiated.”[3]

As for Harpagon, although he may he has been tyrannical, when Dom Thomas and the young couples leave to bring good news to Dom Thomas’ wife, Harpagon is off to see his dear cassette. His cassette, a casket, his vital to Harpagon.

Et moi, voir ma chère cassette. (I. vi)
And I to see my dear casket. [1. 6] [eBook #6923]


I have already suggested that Molière uses doubling and fusion of functions.[4] Harpagon is a miser and will remain a miser ready to sacrifice his children. It is a sad reflection on humanity but perhaps less sad than the intervention of a deus ex machina. Dom Thomas d’Alburcy is a  major member of the play’s society, the intervention of a second father figure allows the happy ending the play demands. An anagnorisis may not be as dazzling a dénouement as the intervention of a deus ex machina, the prince in Tartuffe and a godlike figure in Dom Juan, but all’s well that ends well. 

Love to everyone



Commedia dell’arte


Sources and Resources

The Miser is a Wikisource eBook (Charles Heron Wall, translator)
The Miser is an Internet Archive publication EN
The Miser is a Project Gutenberg publication [eBook #6923] EN
The Miser, Henri Fielding is an eText EN
L’Avare is a publication FR
Molière21 is a research group
Le Salon littéraire FR
The Miser is a LibriVox text publication (YouTube)
Laughter, Henri Bergson is an Internet Archive publication EN

[1] L’Avare in Maurice Rat, Œuvres complètes de Molière (Paris : Éditions Gallimard, coll. La Pléiade, 1956), p. 968.
[2] Will  G. Moore, Molière, a New Criticism (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1968 [1949], pp. 69-70.
[3] Northrop Frye, Anatomy of Criticism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973 [1957]), p. 165.
[4] Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, « Le Misanthrope, ou la comédie éclatée, » in David Trott & Nicole Boursier, eds. L’Âge du théâtre en France (Edmonton, Alberta: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1988 ), 53 – 63. (papers from a conference held in Toronto, May 14 – 16, 1987) ISBN 0-920980-30-9 — PQ527.A33 1988

The Miser


L’Avare by Jean Degrassi, 1955 (

© Micheline Walker
1 December 2016

More Support for Meghan


, , ,

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex

As you know, my computer doesn’t work well. I’m still waiting for the new keyboard to arrive and must use an on-screen keyboard in the meantime.

However, I cannot resist offering further support to Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex. More people are attacking Meghan, including her own half sister, she of the “faked pregnancy” accusation.

We do not live in “the best of all possible worlds.” (Gottfried Leibniz) On the contrary, our planet is endangered. People are bullied. Retirees cannot afford a living. Citizens of rich cities are sleeping outdoors on sidewalks. And everything is too expensive for most wallets.

But we have Meghan, a beautiful and accomplished woman who could use her new position to help those who are suffering. But jealous minds, yes, jealous minds, will not allow her to be what she is. She combines a superior mind, beauty, talent, charm, warmth, compassion, spontaneity and very good taste. But she is hounded by tabloids and various public figures who are licking their chops because they have a new Diana, which means considerable money. Except that this new Diana is African-American, divorced, a former actress, and she has an unkind sister. 

Meghan and Prince Harry met, fell in love, and decided to marry. How could anyone be certain that introducing one to the other would lead to love and marriage, but it did and Meghan acted as is expected of royals. She dressed in a elegant manner and went through a pregnancy the first year she was a royal.

When Christopher Reeve broke his neck and was paralyzed, I heard people say that it didn’t matter; he was rich. I believe I am hearing the same thing. Meghan lived comfortably as the star of Suits and was loved by her colleagues and by those who watched the television programme. She gave up a secure position, a lovely little house, a safe and loving environment, because she loved Prince Harry. 

As for the so-called rift, if a rift there is, between William and Harry, William knows very well that the power he will wield as future king is due entirely to an accident of birth. He was born before Harry, but the two are brothers. Harry is William’s closest relative. Does anyone think that Meghan will curtsy before Kate. Nonsense. They’ll kiss or hug! Meghan is Kate’s sister-in-law and their children are first cousins.

To my knowledge, charity is still a virtue. Moreover, there is nothing wrong with being  well-educated, accomplished, active, beautiful, rich, and a royal.

This post published itself. It’s a “dialog.” The post I published is shorter and not as revealing.

Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 – 1764)
Les Boréades: Entrée de Polymnie.
Les Musiciens du Louvre
Marc Minkowski

© Micheline Walker
26 October 2019

Le Bourgeois gentilhomme: “Je languis…”


, , , , ,


My computer doesn’t work. It needs a new keyboard and my connection to Microsoft stopped when two-step verification was installed. My keyboard will be replaced and I will also purchase a new computer. I knew this computer was still alive, but the new computer will be better. I cannot post easily using the on-screen keyboard.

Sources and Resources

gutenberg [eBook #2992]

© Micheline Walker
23 October 2019

However, here is music from Le Bourgeois gentilhomme:

Je languis nuit et jour, et mon mal est extrême,
Depuis qu’à vos rigueurs vos beaux yeux m’ont soumis : 
Si vous traitez ainsi, belle Iris, qui vous aime,
Hélas ! que pourriez-vous faire à vos ennemis ?

[(Singing) I languish night and day, my suffering is extreme/ Since to your control your lovely eyes subjected me;/ If you thus treat, fair Iris, those you love,/ Alas, how would you treat an enemy?]

Act One, Scene One

Le Bourgeois gentilhomme par Ed. Héd.

Le Bourgeois gentilhomme par Edmond Hédouin

Meghan. She’s not OK


, , ,

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex and little Archie visiting Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Getty Images)


The Most Reverend Archbishop Desmond Tutu (Wikipedia)

Now I know why Meghan left everything to be Prince Harry’s wife. He is a very good husband who is defending her. I also know why he said: She’s the one. They match. Some marriages are made in heaven, as are some friendships.

I will never recover from the harm that was inflicted on me by university colleagues and administrators, and an insurance company’s case manager. They took my life away.

According to my doctor, my blogging community has kept me from leaving the planet. I told him that blogging had become difficult. His advice was that I blog a little less, but carry on because you provided pleasurable moments and helped keep me safe.

Meghan has already been harmed, and it could be a very long time before she recovers. But Harry and Meghan’s trip to Africa was revealing. Little Archie held out a hand to Archbishop Desmond Tutu thereby showing that he is a trusting and happy little boy. Meghan touched her baby bump throughout her pregnancy. I believe doing so sent a message to little Archie. He was loved from the moment he was conceived. As for the resemblance between father and son, it is astonishing. Archie is Harry’s son. Prince Harry is so proud of his wife. 

Harry’s mother did not die of natural causes, so Harry has to keep cheap tabloids at bay and give his family the privacy they require.

I do not know Meghan. She may be more ambitious than I am, but there are millions of persons who want a successful career. I did…


Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex

Erik Satie —Gnossiennes
Pianist: João Paulo Santos

© Micheline Walker
21 October 2019



The Princesse d’Élide’s Récit de l’Aurore


, , , , , , ,

Dom Garcie de Navarre ou le Prince jaloux par François Boucher, dessin, et Laurent Cars, gravure

Our next play is Dom Garcie de Navarre. It was not a success, but it is a fine discourse on jealousy.

I must also mention that Molière’s Princesse d’Élide is not entirely rooted in Agustín Moreto‘ El Desdén, con el desdén, (Scorn for Scorn). I forgot to mention that Molière was also influenced by Rabelais′ Gargantua and Pantagruel, the Third of Five Books [eBook #1200]. Panurge wonders whether he should marry. (See Chapter Three of the Third Book of Gargantua and Pantagruel.)

Moreover, before leaving la Princesse d’Élide, a comédie galante, the word galant should be investigated. Although Italy’s Baldassare Castiglione wrote Il Cortegiano, France is the birthplace of both l’honnête homme and le galant homme. As I have noted in an earlier post, sprezzatura is not associated with l’honnête homme because “honnêteté” is not a stance. L’honnête homme had to be virtuous.

I should also note that the term ‘galant,’ overrides disciplines. I know the word ‘galant’ mainly from musicology classes. Johann Sebastian Bach’s son, Carl Philipp Emmanuel Bach, was a founder of the galant style in music and, according to the Wikipedia entry on galant music, Johann Christian Bach took it further. Galant music is less complex than Baroque music.

However, the term galant originates in France where the galant homme was a close relative of l’honnête homme. The birth of l’honnête homme can be traced back to Baldassare Castiglione. But l‘honnête homme was not a “dandy.” 


 Quand l’amour à vos yeux offre un choix agréable,
Jeunes beautés laissez-vous enflammer:
Moquez-vous d’affecter cet orgueil indomptable,
Dont on vous dit qu’il est beau de s’armer:
Dans l’âge où l’on est aimable
Rien n’est si beau que d’aimer.

[When Love presents a charming choice
Respond to his flame, oh youthful fair!
Do not affect a pride which no one can subdue,
Though you’ve been told such pride becomes you well.

When one is of a lovely age.]

Soupirez librement pour un amant fidèle,
Et bravez ceux qui voudraient vous blâmer;
Un cœur tendre est aimable, et le nom de cruelle
N’est pas un nom à se faire estimer:

↵ Dans l’âge 

Dans le temps où l’on est belle,
Rien n’est si beau que d’aimer.

  [Breathe freely sighs for him who faithful loves
And challenge those who wish to blame your ways.
A tender heart is lovely; but a cruel maid
Will never be a title to esteem.
When one is fair and beautiful
Naught is so handsome as to love.]


Love to everyone 💕


Panurge by Albrecht Dürer (BnF)

© Micheline Walker
19 October 2019

Lully’s “Dormez, dormez …”


, , , , , , , , ,

Les Amants magnifiques, Interlude Lully / Molière

Dormez, dormez,” is part of an “interlude” in Molière-Lully’s Les Amants magnifiques, a comédie-ballet and divertissement royal.
Tirsis, Lycaste and Ménandre sing together while Caliste sleeps.

(Tirsis, Lycaste and Ménandre)
Dormez, dormez, beaux yeux, adorables vainqueurs,
Et goûtez le repos que vous ôtez aux cœurs,
Dormez, dormez, beaux yeux.
[Sleep on, sleep on, fair eyes, lovely conquerors; And taste that peace which you wrest from all hearts; Sleep on, sleep on, fair eyes.]

Silence, petits oiseaux,

Vents, n’agitez nulle chose,
Coulez doucement, ruisseaux,
C’est Caliste qui repose.
Intermède (III. iv, p. 19)
[Now silence keep, ye little birds;/ Ye winds, stir nought around;/ Ye stream, run sweetly on:/ For Caliste is slumbering.]


Sources and Resources

I thought I would separate this interlude from a post on Les Amants magnifiques. Musical interludes are best heard and seen. This segment is a Pastoral. So, the characters are shepherds and shepherdesses.

Jean-Baptiste Lully – “Les Amants magnifiques” (LWV 42), comédie en cinq actes de Molière, mêlée de musique et d’entrées de ballet, créée à Saint-Germain-en-Laye devant le roi le 4 février 1670 dans le cadre du “Divertissement Royal”. Troisième intermède, scène 4 (Tircis, Lycaste et Ménandre)  (YouTube)

Dormez, beaux yeux
Jean-François Lombard, ténor
Jérôme Billy, ténor
Virgile Ancely, basse

© Micheline Walker
17 October 2019



Comments on “La Princesse d’Élide”


, , ,

shepherd-and-shepherdess-reposing-1761 (2)

Shepherd and Shepherdess Reposing par François Boucher, 1761 (


My last post did not contain a conclusion, but an earlier post did. I noted two themes to which I will add a third.

  1. love as jealousy.
  2. marriage as enslavement and death.
  3. galanterie.

Molière knew the condition of women and expressed it in a very direct yet discrete manner in his Amants magnifiques and Princesse d’Élide.

The manner in which Molière describes the condition of women does not separate men from women. Iphitas, the princess’ father reassures his daughter. He will not force her to marry a man she does not love. He wants her to marry a man she loves and to be happy. Could one of the three princes he has invited to Élide be the man she loves?

Both the princess and Euryale fall in love the moment they meet, before Act One. However, Euryale tricks her into discovering that she loves him. If he were too direct, he would lose her. The stratagems he uses are feigned indifference and jealousy. That’s marivaudage, but it is not rude; it is refined. When he discovers that she loves him, he tells her how much he loves her and that he is ready to wait, which is not a stratagem, but galanterie, the art of love, and finesse. She must learn that he can be trusted and that he will protect her.

Making love will be consensual and it will not always lead to a pregnancy. Fear of yet another pregnancy can easily end a woman’s wish to engage in sexual intercourse. What is there for a man to gain? And if there is pregnancy, he should be with her. That’s galanterie.

Molière did not write books on galanterie. But the topic has been discussed since Greco-Roman antiquity. Latin poet Catullus (c. 84 – c. 54 BCE) wrote erotic poetry and inspired poet Ovid, the author of an Ars Amatoria, (The Art of Love, pdf) as well as Virgil. We must also mention Petrarch’s Laura. Moreover, who does not know Tristan et Yseult, Arthurian romances, Knights in shining armour, Héloïse and Abélard. Courtly love, troubadours and trouvères, Pierre de Ronsard‘s Sonnets pour Hélène, and its carpe diem, as well as various love poems, sonnets in particular. Sorel’s Loix de la galanterie (1664), Mademoiselle de Scudéry‘s Carte de Tendre, a map of love, and other works.

We now entering Watteau‘s fêtes galantes, galanterie, and marivaudage, refinement cultivated in the salons of the seventeenth century, une préciosité nouvelle.


Love to everyone 💕

Boucher - Bergere

Bergère rêvant par François Boucher

© Micheline Walker
16 October 2019








Molière’s “La Princesse d’Élide”


, , , , , , , , ,

la princesse d'Elide2

La Princesse d’Élide par François Boucher, dessin, et Laurent Cars, gravure (Pinterest)

La princesse d'Élide (3)

La Princesse d’Élide par Maurice Sand [1] (

La Princesse d’Élide (The Princess of Elis) was first performed on 8 May 1664 during Louis XIV’s 1664 divertissement royal, known as Les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée (The Pleasures of the Enchanted Island). The comedy was one of Louis XIV’s divertissements, gatherings of courtiers and comedians, entertainers, which usually took place at Saint-Germain-en Laye, or another royal castle located outside Paris. Louis XIV was entertaining Mlle de La Vallière, a reluctant mistress, and the Queens, Louis’ mother, Anne of Austria, and his wife, Maria Theresa of Spain. The festivities took place between 7 and 13 May 1664. However, in 1664, the King was also celebrating a relatively early stage in the building of Versailles. The play was later performed at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, in Paris.

Molière’s play is rooted in a Spanish comedy, El Desdén, con el desdén, (Scorn for Scorn) by Agustín Moreto. Desdén means disdain. La Princesse d’Élide is one of four plays Molière contributed to Louis’ lavish Versailles divertissement, two of which had been produced earlier: Les Fâcheux (The Bores; 1661) and Le Mariage forcé (The Forced Marriage; 29 January 1664). Tartuffe (12 May 1664) and La Princesse d’Élide (8 May 1664) premièred at Versailles’ fête. Tartuffe angered la cabale des dévôts.

Interludes consisting of ballets and music, sometimes performed by courtiers, are inserted between the five acts of the comedy. Moreover the comedy is a component of Les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée. It is therefore embedded, in a somewhat loose form of “théâtre dans le théâtre,” a device explored recently by Georges Forestier and, earlier, by Swiss critic Jean Rousset, among others. The “play within the play,” un enchassement, is a frequently-used device which has prompted many fruitful reflections. However, our translator, Mr. Henri van Laun, looks upon the Princess of Elis as a lesser play compared to other plays by Molière. ‟…the genius of the adapter was cramped, and The Princess of Elis is certainly not one of his happiest efforts.” (Henri van Laun, p. 3.)

Molière’s genius was “cramped.” The beginning of La Princesse d’Elide’s Act One was written in verse, but Molière switched to prose before Act Two. He also shortened acts because of pressing engagements. The King needed him. Moreover, at times, the comedy, the interludes, and Les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée, the entire festivity, tend to overlap, which makes for coherence as well as confusion. I will simplify matters by suggesting that spectators and readers of La Princesse d’Élide cannot always see the forest for the trees, but that the comedy is nevertheless a bijou, a jewel.

The statistics for the Princesse d’Élide are:

  • Versailles (location)
  • Les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée
  • (divertissement royal)
  • five acts and six interludes
  • verse, nearly one act, and prose
  • 8 May 1664
  • Comédie galante
  • Comédie-ballet
  • Jean-Baptiste Lully (composer)
  • fine scenic effects by Carlo Vigarini


La Princesse d'Elide par Ed. Héd. (3)

La Princesse d’Élide par Edmond Hédouin (

La Princesse d'Elide par Lalauze

La Princesse d’Élide par Adophe Lalauze (

Our dramatis personæ is:

AGLANTE, cousine de la Princesse Mlle Du Parc
CYNTHIE, cousine de la Princesse Mlle de Brie
PHILIS, suivante de la Princesse Mlle Béjart
IPHITAS, père de la Princesse Le sieur Hubert
EURYALE , ou le prince d’Ithaque Le sieur de La Grange
ARISTOMÈNE, ou le prince de Messène Le sieur du Croisy
THÉOCLE, ou le prince de Pyle Le sieur Béjart
ARBATE, gouverneur du prince d’Ithaque Le sieur de la Thorillière
MORON, plaisant de la Princesse Le sieur de Molière
UN SUIVANT Le sieur Prévost.

The Comedy

First Interlude (intermède)

Morning, personified as Aurora, dogs, and gentlemen are waking people up because of a hunt. Lyciscas, one Molière’s two roles, does not wish to rise. Molière also plays Moron, a “plaisant,” or court jester, or fool.

We have already discussed the plot of La Princesse d’Élide. As you know, it is outlined before each act in a text called the argument. Was this the way in which Molière wrote his comedies? At any rate, the argument for Act One is that a father, Iphitas, prince d’Élide, has invited three princes to his court, la cour d’Élide, in the hope that his daughter, la princesse d’Élide, will fall in love with one of the princes: Euryale, Théocle, and Aristomène.

Interestingly, the princes and princesses, la princesse dÉlide and her cousins, Aglante and Cynthie, meet before Scene One. The princesse d’Élide and Euryale, prince d’Ithaque, fall in love at first sight. However, Euryale is a “loner” and the Princesse views marriage as debasing and no less than a form of death. To a large extent, the play is a debate between nature and nurture, or nature and culture. Will la princesse d’Élide overcome a view of marriage that precludes marrying, which would, most unusually, defeat nature?

La princesse d’Élide does not have jealous sisters, but she has two fine cousins: Aglante and Cynthie. A mere glimpse at the dramatis personæ reveals that three distinguished princes may each marry one of three lovely young princesses. Not only is it unlikely that the princesse will not fall in love, but la princesse d’Élide and Euryale fall in love before Act One. Moron will be our go-between. He is a bouffon, a king’s fool, but very clever, and he wishes for la princesse to marry Euryale, prince d’Ithaque. It remains to be seen whether she will overcome her view of marriage as crude and the death of a woman. Moron, a role played by Molière, is described as clever.

Ce choix t’étonne un peu;/ Par son titre de fou tu crois le bien connaître:/ Mais sache qu’il [Moron] l’est moins qu’il ne le veut paraître,/  Et que malgré l’emploi qu’il exerce aujourd’hui/ Il a plus de bon sens que tel qui rit de lui:/ La Princesse se plaît à ses bouffonneries,/  Il s’en est fait aimer par cent plaisanteries,/155 Et peut dans cet accès dire et persuader/ Ce que d’autres que lui n’oseraient hasarder(.)
Euryale à Arbate (I. i, p. 10)
[My choice rather astonishes you; you misjudge him because he is a court fool; but you must know that he is less of a fool than he wishes to appear, and that, not-withstanding his present employment, he has more sense than those who laugh at him. The Princess amuses herself with his buffooneries: he has obtained her favour by a hundred jests, and can thus say, and persuade her to, what others dare not hazard.]
Euryale, prince d’Ithaque, to Arbate, his governor (I. 1)

(Euryale prince d’Ithaque & Arbate, his governor)

In Scene One, Euryale, prince d’Ithaque, tells Arbate, his governor, that he has fallen in love with la Princesse d’Élide. Love is a feeling he has always avoided.

Si de l’amour un temps j’ai bravé la puissance,
Hélas! mon cher Arbate, il en prend bien vengeance!
Euryale à Arbate (I. i, p. 7)
[If, for a time, I defied the power of love, alas! my dear Arbates, it takes ample vengeance for it now.]
Euryale to Arbate (I. 1)

Destiny, he says, has brought them together:

Où le Ciel en naissant a destiné nos âmes.
Euryale à Arbate (I. i, p. 7)
[Heaven at our birth destined our souls.]
Euryale to Arbate (I. 1)

Knowing that she scorns marriage, le prince d’Ithaque has not told the princesse that he has fallen in love with her, which surprises Arbate, but le prince d’Ithaque knew she would turn him down. However, Moron has told the princesse that Euryale, le prince d’Ithaque, has fallen in love with her.

Cette chasse où, pour fuir la foule qui l’adore,/ Tu sais qu’elle est allée au lever de l’aurore, Est le temps dont Moron pour déclarer mon feu, a pris …
Euryale (Prince d’Ithaque) à Arbate (I. i, p. 10)
[This chase, to which she went, you know, this morning early, in order to avoid the crowd of her adorers, is the opportunity which Moron has chosen to declare my passion.]
Euryale to Arbate (I. 1)

We will learn, later, that the princesse d’Élide also fell in love the moment she saw Euryale. But, given her opinion of marriage, can anyone expect that love would make her change her mind. The suspense Molière creates in La Princesse d’Élide stems largely from our wondering whether love will cause the princesse to change her views on marriage.

(Moron, Arbate, Euriyale)

In Scene Two, Moron, a court jester, un bouffon, a court jester and a close friend of the princesse rushes in fearing he is followed by a boar, un sanglier. Later, the animal pursuing Moron will be a bear. At any rate, Moron tells Euryale that the princess prides herself in refusing to marry.

Le discours de vos feux est un peu délicat, 240Et c’est chez la Princesse une affaire d’Etat;/ Vous savez de quel titre elle se glorifie, / qu’elle a dans la tête une philosophie/ Qui déclare la guerre au conjugal lien,/ Et vous traite l’Amour de déité de rien.
Moron au prince (I. ii, p. 15)
[To talk of your flame is a delicate matter; it is a state affair with the Princess. You know in what title she glories, and that her brain is full of a philosophy which wars against marriage, and treats Cupid as a minor god.]
Moron to the prince (I. 2)


In Scene Three, the princesse, Euryale, Arbate and Moron are joined by Aristomène and Théocle, two of the three princes who were invited to visit le prince d’Élide. She was attacked by a boar and the two princes believe they saved her. She is thankful, but she says that she could have saved herself. They cannot understand, so she thanks them and says she will tell her father about their kindness and their love.

Je rends de tout mon cœur grâce à ce grand secours,/305 Et je vais de ce pas au Prince pour lui dire/ Les bontés que pour moi votre amour vous inspire.
La Princesse à tous (I. iii, p.17)
[Yes, without you I had lost my life. I heartily thank you for your grand assistance, and will go at once to the Prince to inform him of the kindness with which your love has inspired you for me.]
The Princess to all (I. 3)

Moron would like to help prince Euryale, but an idea has come the prince‘s mind, which  reveals that galanterie will play a great role in this comedy.

Second interlude

A short intermèdeargument follows. It contains two scenes: a praise of Philis and the tale about the bear. Moron is attacked by a bear and rescued by various courtiers.


(La princesse, Aglante, Cynthie)

La Princesse, Aglante, and Cynthie discuss love. Cynthie believes that one cannot live if one does not love.

Est-il rien de plus beau que l’innocente flamme/ Qu’un mérite éclatant allume dans une âme?/ Et serait-ce un bonheur de respirer le jour/ Si d’entre les mortels on bannissait l’amour?/ 365 Non, non tous les plaisirs se goûtent à le suivre,/ Et vivre sans aimer n’est pas proprement vivre.
Cynthie à Aglante et à la Princesse (II. i, p. 22)
[Is anything more beautiful than the innocent flame which brilliant merit kindles in the soul? What happiness would there be in life, if love were banished from among mortals? No, no, the delights which it affords are infinite, and to live without loving is, properly speaking, not to live at all.]
Cynthie to Aglante and the princess (II. 1)

Molière switches to prose. He is obeying the King.

Aglante shares Cynthie’s view:

Pour moi je tiens que cette passion est la plus agréable affaire de la vie, qu’il est nécessaire d’aimer pour vivre heureusement, et que tous les plaisirs sont fades s’il ne s’y mêle un peu d’amour.
Aglante à la Princesse et à Cynthie (II. i, p. 23)
[For my part, I think that this passion is the most agreeable business of life ; that, in order to live happily, it is necessary to love, and that all pleasures are insipid unless mangled with a little love.]
Aglante to the Princess and Cynthie (II. 1)


Moron is asked by the princesses to defend love. Moron loves Philis.

The Prince is coming with the princes. The Princesse is afraid.

Ô Ciel! que prétend-il faire en me les amenant? Aurait-il résolu ma perte, et
voudrait-il bien me forcer au choix de quelqu’un d’eux?
La Princesse (II. iii, pp. 24-25)
[Heavens! what does he mean by bringing them to me? Has he resolved on my ruin, and would he force me to choose one of them?]
The Princess (II. 3)

(Iphitas, Euryale, Aristomène, Théocle, Cynthia, Philis, Moron)

The princesse is extremely afraid as she hears her father approaching.

Seigneur, je vous demande la licence de prévenir par deux paroles la déclaration des pensées que vous pouvez avoir. Il y a deux vérités, Seigneur, aussi constantes l’une que l’autre, et dont je puis vous assurer également: l’une que vous avez un absolu pouvoir sur moi, et que vous ne sauriez m’ordonner rien où je ne réponde aussitôt par une obéissance aveugle. L’autre que je regarde l’hyménée ainsi que le trépas, et qu’il m’est impossible de forcer cette aversion naturelle: me donner un mari, et me donner la mort c’est une même chose; mais votre volonté va la première, et mon obéissance m’est bien plus chère que ma vie: après cela parlez, Seigneur, prononcez librement ce que vous voulez.
La Princesse à son père (II. iv, p. 25)
[My lord, I beg you to give me leave to prevent,[1] by two words, the declaration of the thoughts which you may perhaps foster. There are two truths, my lord, the one as certain as the other, of which I can assure you ; the one is, that you have an absolute power over me, and that you can lay no command upon me which I would not blindly obey; the other is, that I look upon marriage as death, and that it is impossible for me to conquer this natural aversion. To give me a husband and to kill me are the same thing; but your will takes precedence, and my obedience is dearer to me than life. After this, my lord, speak; say freely what you desire.]
The Princess to her father (II. 5)

Third Interlude

An interlude separates ACT TWO from ACT THREE

It features Moron, Philis and a Satyr. It is a praise of love.


In the “argument,” we are told avout races, songs and dances. The Princesse excelled, but the prince of Ithaque did not praise her, which she resents. The Prince of Ithaque tells Moron the following :

… elle en fit de grandes plaintes à la princesse sa parente; elle en parla à Moron, qui fit passer cet insensible pour un brutal: et enfin le voyant arriver lui-même, elle ne put s’empêcher de lui en toucher fort sérieusement quelque chose: il lui répondit ingénument qu’il n’aimait rien, et qu’hors l’amour de sa liberté, et les plaisirs qu’elle trouvait si agréables de la solitude et de la chasse rien ne le touchait.
[… she complains of it to the Princess, her relative; she also speaks of it to Moron, who calls that unfeeling Prince a brute. At last, seeing him herself, she cannot refrain from making some serious allusions to it; he candidly answers that he loves nothing except his liberty, and the pleasures of solitude and the chase, in which he delights.]

(The Princess, Aglante, Cynthie, Philis)

Cynthie notes that the Euryale, who is speaking with the Prince, is very skilled.

(Euryale, Moron, Arbate)

Euryale is smitten:

Ah! Moron, je te l’avoue, j’ai été enchanté, et jamais tant de charmes n’ont frappé tout ensemble mes yeux et mes oreilles. Elle est adorable en tout temps, il est vrai: mais ce moment l’a emporté sur tous les autres, et des grâces nouvelles ont redoublé l’éclat de ses beautés.
Euryale à Moron (III. ii, p. 30)
[Ah, Moron! I confess I was enchanted; never have so many charms together met my eyes and ears. She is, in truth, adorable at all times, but she was at that moment more so than ever. Ah, Moron! I confess I was enchanted; never have so many charms together met my eyes and ears. She is, in truth, adorable at all times, but she was at that moment more so than ever.]
Euryale to Moron (III. 2)

(La Princesse, Moron)

Moron tells the princess that she will not get anywhere with Euryale. Nothing will touch him. No, he has not praised her. The Princess has seen Moron speaking with the prince d’Ithaque. Believing that they know one another, she asks Moron to tell the prince that she wants to see him.

(La Princesse, Euryale, Moron, Arbate)

He’s a loner, she says to Euryale, prince of Ithaque, prompting him to say that others are loners and that these “others” may be found nearby. She goes on to explain that men and women are different. Women do not want to marry, but they want to be loved. This statement is puzzling because she ignores men. She is at odds with herself.

Il y a grande différence, et ce qui sied bien à un sexe, ne sied pas bien à l’autre. Il est beau qu’une femme soit insensible, et conserve son cœur exempt des flammes de l’amour; mais ce qui est vertu en elle, devient un crime dans un homme. Et comme la beauté est le partage de notre sexe, vous ne sauriez ne nous point aimer, sans nous dérober les hommages qui nous sont dus, et commettre une offense dont nous devons toutes nous ressentir.
La Princesse à Euryale (III. iv, p. 33)
[There is a great difference. That which becomes well our sex does not well become yours. It is noble for a woman to be insensible, and to keep her heart free from the flames of love: but what is a virtue in her is a crime in a man; and as beauty is the portion of our sex, you cannot refrain from loving us without depriving us of the homage which is our due, and committing an offence which we ought all to resent.]
The Princess to Euryale (III. 4)

Je ne vois pas, Madame, que celles qui ne veulent point aimer, doivent prendre aucun intérêt à ces sortes d’offenses.
Euryale à la Princesse (III. iv, p. 33)
[I do not see, madam, that those who will not love should take any interest in offences of this kind.]
Euryale to the Princess (III. 4)

Ce n’est pas une raison, Seigneur, et sans vouloir aimer, on est toujours bien aise d’être aimée.
La Princesse à Euryale (III. iv, p. 33)
[That is no reason, my lord; for although we will not love, yet we are always glad to be loved.]
The Princess to Euryale (III. 4)

Non! Madame, rien n’est capable de toucher mon cœur, ma liberté est la seule maîtresse à qui je consacre mes vœux, et quand le Ciel emploierait ses soins à composer une beauté parfaite, quand il assemblerait en elle tous les dons les plus merveilleux, et du corps et de l’âme. Enfin quand il exposerait à mes yeux un miracle d’esprit, d’adresse et de beauté, et que cette personne m’aimerait avec toutes les tendresses imaginables, je vous l’avoue franchement, je ne l’aimerais pas.
Euryale à la Princesse (III. iv, p. 33)
[No, madam; nothing is capable of touching my heart. Liberty is the sole mistress whom I adore; and though Heaven should employ its utmost care to form a perfect beauty, in whom should be combined the most marvellous gifts both of body and mind ; in short, though it should expose to my view a miracle of wit, cleverness, and beauty, and that person should love me with all the tenderness imaginable, I confess frankly to you I should.]
Euryale to the Princess (III. 4)

The Princesse then seeks Moron’s help. She wants Euryale to love her, and she thinks Moron can help. Moron tells the princesse that Euryale will never yield.

Si faut-il pourtant tenter toute chose, et éprouver si son âme est entièrement insensible. Allons, je veux lui parler, et suivre une pensée qui vient de me venir.
La princesse à Moron (III. v. 35)
[We must, however, try everything, and prove if his soul be entirely insensible. Come, I will speak to him, and follow an idea which has just come into my head.]
La princesse to Moron (III. 5)

Fourth Interlude
A fourth interlude featuring Moron, Tircis and Philis follows Act Three.



In Act Four, Scene One, the princesse wants Euryale to tell her which of the three princes he thinks she would choose. He cannot tell, so she says that the Prince of Messène would be her choice. So, jealousy will now move the action forward. Moron encourages both the Princesse and the Prince to continue using their strategy, i.e. feigned indifference, that will lead to jealousy on her part. The Prince strikes back and says he has chosen Aglante, her cousin as a future bride. The play has reached its apex.

In Scene Two, Moron hears the princesse unveiling her despair. In Scene Three, she goes to Aglante and tells her not to accept the prince d’Ithaque. In Scene Four, Aristomène is delighted to the tell all that the princesse will marry him. Everyone is disoriented.

This is marivaudage, or games lovers play. It can be considered a form of galanterie. Servants would normally play an important role in bringing lovers together. In other words, in La Princesse d’Élide, Molière lets the lovers fare for themselves. Moron watches amused. He wants the Princesse to marry le Prince d’Ithaque, but thinks this confusion will make the lovers yield. We are now on the battlefield of love. The lovers are hunting and there are boars and bears.

The princesse says the prince is an étourdi. But in Scene Five, la princesse reminds Aglante that she must refuse the prince d’Ithaque. But Moron, the clever buffoon, tells the princesse that if the prince d’Ithaque loved her, she would refuse him, like the dog in a manger, yet she does not want him to love another person, Aglante.

Mais, Madame, s’il vous aimait vous n’en voudriez point, et cependant vous ne voulez pas qu’il soit à une autre. C’est faire justement comme le chien du jardinier.
Moron à la princesse (IV. iv, p. 42)
[But, madam, if he loved you, you would not have him, and yet you will not let him be another’s. It is just like the dog in a manger.]
Moron to the princess (IV. 5)

In Scene Six, the princesse reflects on her behaviour.

J’ai méprisé tous ceux qui m’ont aimée, et j’aimerais le seul qui me méprise? Non, non, je sais bien que je ne l’aime pas. Il n’y a pas de raison à cela: mais si ce n’est pas de l’amour que ce que je sens maintenant, qu’est-ce donc que ce peut être? et d’où vient ce poison qui me court par toutes les veines, et ne me laisse point en repos avec moi-même? Sors de mon cœur, qui que tu sois, ennemi qui te caches, attaque-moi visiblement, et deviens à mes yeux la plus affreuse bête de tous nos bois, afin que mon dard et mes flèches me puissent défaire de toi.
La Princesse, seule (IV. vi, p. 43)
[I have despised all those who have loved me, and shall I love the only one who despises me 1 No, no, I know well I do not love him; there is no reason for it. But if this is not love which I now feel, what can it be? And whence comes this poison which runs through all my veins, and will not let me rest? Out of my heart, whatever you may be, you enemy who lurk there! Attack me openly, and appear before me as the most frightful monster of all our forests, so that with my darts and javelins I may rid myself of you.]
The princesse alone, soliloquy (IV. 7)

Fifth Interlude

In the Fifth interlude Philis says:

Si de tant de tourments il accable les cœurs,/ D’où vient qu’on aime à lui rendre les armes?
[If it fills every heart with so much pain/ Whence comes it that we like to yield to it ?]
Philis to Clymène
Si sa flamme, Philis, est si pleine de charmes,/ Pourquoi nous défend-on d’en goûter les douceurs?
[If, Phillis, its flame is so full of charms/ Why forbid us its pleasures to enjoy?]

Molière has blended a reflection of love and acceptance of its pleasures that overrides the comédie, the interludes and Les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée. Despite the division into acts and interludes, the Princesse d’Élide offers continuity and coherence.


Prince Iphitas, the Prince of Élide is with the Prince d’Ithaque. The Princesse is hurt (jealous) because she feels he has sought someone else’s love. She says she has been scorned.

Il m’a méprisée.
La Princesse à Iphitas, son père (V. ii, p. 47)
[He has despised me.]
La Princesse to Iphitas, her father (V. 2)

Yet, the princesse wants her father to prevent the prince d’Ithaque from marrying Aglante. Under such circumstances, the princesse’s father cannot deny Aglante a husband. The princesse, his daughter, cannot refuse the prince.

Mais afin d’empêcher qu’il ne puisse être jamais à elle, il faut que tu le prennes pour toi.
Iphitas to his daughter, the princesse (V. ii, p. 48)
But to prevent his ever being hers, you must take him for yourself.
Iphitas to his daughter (V. 2)

The prince d’Ithaque seems to have heard enough. He will speak for himself. Euryale, prince d’Ithaque has asked the prince d’Élide, Iphitas, to marry his daughter. The princesse has not quite recovered from the confusion that was created to elicit the truth. She loves Euryale, the prince d’Ithaque. However, she is not ready to marry.

As for Euryale, the prince d’Ithaque, he is ready to wait. Truth be told, if they married immediately, they would not have befriended one another and could not trust each other. For instance, the princesse is a friend of Moron and trusts him. The Prince d’Ithaque is not expressing an unrealistic endeavour. They may have fallen in love, but  they barely know one another. In this play, galanterie is an imperative. Galanterie may involve feigned scorn, a stratagem than triggers jealousy. When Euryale says he has chosen Aglante, the Princess experiences the pain of unrequited love and calls on Moron to fetch Euryale. He will wait because he must wait.

Je l’attendrai tant qu’il vous plaira, Madame, cet arrêt de ma destinée, et s’il me condamne à la mort, je le suivrai sans murmure.
Euryale à Iphitas et à la princesse (V. ii. p. 48)
[I shall wait as long as you please, madam, for this decree of my destiny; and, if it condemns me to death, I shall obey without murmuring.]
Euryale to the princess (V. 2)

In Scene Three, Iphitas, le prince d’Élide, tells the two other suitors that he will not marry one of them to his daughter, but they may be happy to marry the princesse’s cousins who look forward to marriage.

In Scene Four

Philis tells everyone that Venus has announced a change of heart in the princesse d’Élide.

Sixth Interlude
a Pastoral


This post is much too long but it is a school for love. The story has been told. Next, we comment.


Sources and Resources

[1] Illustrations by Maurice Sand and Edmond Geffroy may be quite similar.

[2] In seventeenth-century French, prévenir meant to come before. I believe Mr. van Laun may be using an archaic English meaning of “to prevent” which would be “to come before,” rather than “empêcher de” (to prevent)  or “avertir (to tell about or to warn).

Love to everyone

Jean-Baptiste Lully

Boucher - Bergere

Bergère rêvant par François Boucher

© Micheline Walker
14 October 2019

The Post that Posted itself


, , ,


La Lecture de Molière par François de Troy

I cannot post anything that requires more than one screen. In fact, I must use a keyboard that is placed on my screen. I cannot even scroll down properly.  In short, I must wait for the new computer to be formatted. I may be away for a few days.

My post on the Molière’s Princess of Ellis has been written. As a wrote, the princesse’s father has invited three princes in the hope his daughter would fall in love with one of them. She falls in love with the prince d’Ithaque who must ignore her in order to be loved by her. But her view of marriage prevents marrying. She compares marriage to death, which it is if a husband forces his wife into intercourse and pregnancies.

There is nothing wrong with making love and having children, but Molière recognized that marriage enslaved a woman unless a husband was very respectful of his wife’s privacy and intimacy.

Yet, most of us are almost nothing without “the other and our beloved little ones.

So, we have at least two main themes:

  1. love as jealousy.
  2. marriage as enslavement and death.

The interludes feature an attack by a boar and an attack by a bear, but at the very beginning of the play, Molière has placed a carpe diem, or seize the day, as illnesses could be overwhelming and death was Pascal’s “last and bloody act.” “Le dernier acte est toujours sanglant.” The play is embedded in interludes: dancing, singing, and the start and the end are Les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée (The Pleasures of the Enchanted Island).

La Princesse d’Élide is rooted in a play by Spanish author Moreto entitled Scorn for Scorn (El Desdén, con el desdén), (le dédain, le mépris).

Let this little post be.

Love to everyone

Jean-Baptiste Lully, Aria de “La Princesse d’Elide”
Carlos Jaime (violín barroco)

Boucher - Bergere

Bergère rêvant par François Boucher (

© Micheline Walker
11 October 2019

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex


, , , , ,

Image result for images of meghan markle and prince harry

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex (MSN)

I will write on The Princess of El(l)is, but I can’t resist mentioning Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex.

When I was a child in a very Catholic Quebec, we were taught that one could not speak ill of others. It was called médisance, and it was considered a sin. In fact, my parents would not allow us to engage in any form of gossiping and to judge others. We had to report mistreatment and were protected, but there were rules of conduct.

So, given the education I received, I have looked upon the negative comments about the Duchess of Sussex as uncharitable, and since it has been said, among other falsehoods, that she faked her pregnancy, the word uncharitable fails to describe the villainy of her detractors.

It started with the price of her clothes. As you know, Meghan is African-American, divorced, and a former actress. She may therefore have feared rejection from the Royal family of Britain and fought this fear by dressing impeccably. As a matter of fact, dressing well is expected of Britain’s Royals. Meghan’s beauty and elegance are assets to the Crown, and so is her engaging personality. She may not continue to purchase very expensive clothes at the rate she did, but she is unlikely to stop wearing lovely clothes.

Moreover, given that the Duchess of Sussex was in her mid-thirties and had a successful career when she and Prince Harry met, it was to be expected that she would combine certain personal endeavours and her duties as a Royal.

Meghan may not be perfect. Who is? But those who are defaming her are harming a human being and may destroy their prey, which is very wrong.

I admire Prince Harry and love Meghan’s spontaneity and warmth.


Love to all of you.

Image result for picture of meghan markle

The Duchess of Sussex (Time)

© Micheline Walker
8 October 2019







Comments and a Glimpse at “La Princesse d’Élide”


, , , , ,

La princesse d'Élide (3)

La Princesse d’Élide (théâ

Henri van Laun’s translation of The Princess of El(l)is (La Princesse d’Élide), and other plays by Molière, are available from bookstores. The volumes are facsimile reprints. I will continue to read Mr. van Laun’s exceptional translations online, because I can copy quotations.


I should also explain that the Internet “boxes” that contain a photograph of me do not ask that I be rated, but that the play be rated. This may have been a Google initiative. The positive side is that attention is brought to Molière’s plays. 

As you know, my posts are a reading of Molière’s plays. They provide insights on Molière, but I write as though I were teaching a course on Molière. A class is more informative and more general. It is the first step. Scholarly articles are more analytical and authors embed their article in the literature on the subject. 

Using Internet Archives

I have used Internet Archives‘ publication of Mr. van Laun’s translations of Molière. Volumes appear in book form, which means that one can turn the pages. In order to copy a quotation, one scrolls down the page. There is a PDF version and other versions of the play. Using a PDF version does not cause the page to disappear. 

So, we will carry on. 

Here are a few words on our subject. In The Princess of E(l)lis, a princess does not want to marry. Her father invites three princes hoping she will change her mind. She falls in love with le prince d’Ithaque, but when the play ends, she has yet to accept marriage.

The princess loves le prince d‘Ithaque as much as he loathes marriage.

The play, a comédie galante, has interludes. In one interlude, Moron is attacked by a bear, but he is saved. This reminds us of the Amants magnifiques‘ boar. To a large extent, La Princesse d’Élide‘s interludes are an apology of love, but the Princess cannot face the reality of marriage. At the end of the sixth interlude, the third day of the divertissement royalLes Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée, begins. The comedy galante is preceded by the first day of Les Plaisirs de l’Île enchantée, during which Tartuffe was also performed and condemned.

The Princess of Elis was not completed. It is une comédie inachevée. In fact, at the beginning of the play Molière uses verses, but, at one point, he says that he will henceforth use prose as demands are being made on him.

Love to everyone 💕

(I’m feeling very sick, but will do La Princesse d’Élide. I can’t believe that a translation of Molière’s plays made in the 19th century is probably the best translation of Molière into English to date, not to mention Mr. van Laun’s scholarship.)


La Princesse d'Elide par Lalauze

Moron and the Bear par Adolphe Lalauze (

© Micheline Walker
6 October 2019