Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings

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

Background

  • 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.

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L’Avare (www.gettyimages.fr)

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]

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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. A meal 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]

Doublings

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]

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

Comments

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]

Conclusion

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

RELATED ARTICLES

Molière

Commedia dell’arte

Farce

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 toutmoliere.net 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

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L’Avare by Jean Degrassi, 1955 (liveauctioneers.com)

© Micheline Walker
1 December 2016
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Molière’s “L’Étourdi,” “The Blunderer:” Lélie defends Clélie … (3)

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ACT THREE

Virtuous & Virtuoso

In a previous post on Molière’s L’Étourdi ou les Contretemps, I noted that Mascarille, the rogue of L’Étourdi, looks upon his stratagems as virtuous. However, to be perfectly accurate, Mascarille is a virtuoso. Virtuosity suggests considerable dexterity, which describes Mascarille’s nimbleness.

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Molière © SUPERSTOCK – SIPA

L’ÉTOURDI OU LES CONTRETEMPS

Dramatis Personæ (the cast)

LÉLIE, (son of) fils de Pandolphe.
CÉLIE, (slave to) esclave de Trufaldin.
MASCARILLE, (lackey to) valet de Lélie.
HIPPOLYTE, (daughter of) fille d’Anselme.
ANSELME, (old man) vieillard.
TRUFALDIN, vieillard.
PANDOLPHE, vieillard.
LÉANDRE, (son) fils de famille.
ANDRÈS, (believed to be) cru égyptien.
ERGASTE, valet.
UN COURRIER.
DEUX TROUPES DE MASQUES

Lélie defends Célie’s virtue

You may remember that in Act Three, Mascarille tells Léandre, Lélie’s rival, that Clélie is a loose woman. Léandre does not want to marry a woman who is “public property.” However, Lélie so loves Célie that he will not believe Léandre who says that she is stained. She is as pure as the morning dew. He calls her his divinity

Feignez, si vous voulez, de ne me pas entendre;/ 1005 Mais, croyez-moi, cessez de craindre pour un bien,/ Où je serais fâché de vous disputer rien;/ J’aime fort la beauté qui n’est point profanée,/ Et ne veux point brûler pour une abandonnée.
Léandre à Lélie (III. iii)
[Pretend, if you please, not to understand me ; but believe me, do not apprehend that I shall take a property which I should be sorry to dispute with you. I adore a beauty who has not been sullied, and do not wish to love a depraved woman.]
Léandre to Lélie (III. 3, p. 39)

Ah! que vous êtes bon!/ 1010 Allez, vous dis-je encor, servez-la sans soupçon,/Vous pourrez vous nommer homme à bonnes fortunes: Il est vrai, sa beauté n’est pas des plus communes;/ Mais en revanche aussi le reste est fort commun.
Léandre à Lélie (III. iii)
[Oh! how credulous you are! I tell you once more, you may attend on her now without suspecting anybody. You may call yourself a lady-killer. It is true, her beauty is very uncommon, but, to make amends for that, the rest is common enough.]
Léandre to Lélie (III. 3, p. 39)

Ce que j’avance ici me vient de bonne part.
Léandre à Lélie (III. iii)
[What I state here I have from very good authority.]
Léandre to Lélie (III. 3, p. 40)

Quiconque vous l’a dit, est un lâche, un pendard;/ On ne peut imposer de tache à cette fille:/ Je connais bien son cœur.
Lélie à Léandre (III. iii)
[Whoever told you so is a scoundrel and a rascal. Nobody can discover the least blemish in this young lady; I know her heart well.]
Lélie to Léandre (III. 3, p. 40)

Mascarille has told Léandre that Célie is not the pure woman she appears to be. How can he doubt Mascarille?

Mais enfin Mascarille,/ 1025 D’un semblable procès est juge compétent;/ C’est lui qui la condamne.
Léandre à Lélie (III. iii)
[But yet Mascarille is a very competent judge in such a cause: he thinks her guilty.]
Léandre to Lélie (III. 3, p. 40)

Act Three, Scene Four

When Mascarille enters the stage, Lélie is livid.

1035 Langue de serpent fertile en impostures,/ Vous osez sur Célie attacher vos morsures!/ Et lui calomnier la plus rare vertu,/ Qui puisse faire éclat sous un sort abattu!
Lélie à Mascarille (III. iv)
[You serpent’s tongue! so full of lies! dare you fasten your stings on Celia, and slander the most consummate virtue that ever added lustre to misfortune?]
Lélie to Mascarille (III. 4, p. 40)

At this point, Léandre learns that Lélie does not beat Mascarille. Lélie is spoiling Mascarille’s stratagem, which is to make others believe that they must trust him,  because his master beats him. Mascarille tries to stop Lélie from saying the truth, but Lélie does not pay attention to him.

Quoi! châtier mes gens n’est pas en ma puissance?
Lélie à Léandre (III. iv)
[What! have I no right, then, to chastise my own servant?]
Lélie to Léandre (III. 4, p. 41)

Comment vos gens?
Léandre à Lélie (III. iv)
[What do you mean by saying “your servant?”]
Léandre to Lélie (III. 4, p. 41)

Encore! Il va tout découvrir.
Mascarille (III. iv)
[(Aside.) He is at it again! He will discover all.]
Mascarille (III. 4, p. 41)

Quand j’aurais volonté de le battre à mourir,/ Hé bien? c’est mon valet.
Lélie à Léandre (III. iv)
[Suppose I had a mind to thrash him within an inch of his life, what then? He is my own servant.]
Lélie to Léandre (III. 4, p. 41)

C’est maintenant le nôtre.
Léandre à Mascarille (III. iv)
[At present he is mine.]
Léandre to Lélie (III. 4, p. 41)

Donc les coups de bâton n’étaient qu’imaginaires.
Léandre à Mascarille (III. iv)
Then all this cudgelling is purely imaginary?
Léandre to Mascarille (III. 4, p. 42)

Léandre leaves.  

The Masquerades

As Act Three ends, Ergaste tells both Mascarille and Lélie, that he knows of a plot by Léandre. Léandre’s brigade will assault Trufaldin’s house, wearing a disguise, and will abduct Célie. They will be women. Lélie runs to Trufaldin asking him to keep his doors carefully closed.

Fermez soigneusement votre porte ce soir.
Lélie à Trufaldin (III. vii)
[Keep your door carefully closed tonight.]
Lélie to Trufaldin (III. 10, p. 46)

However, when Mascarille hears about the planned assault, he quickly gathers a brigade of his own that reaches Trufaldin’s house before Léandre and his team. Lélie finds Mascarille behind a disguise. He therefore blunders again and blames Mascarille. See the image at the bottom of this post. It is by François Boucher and Laurent Cars, and shows Mascarille dressed as a woman. Lélie lifts the veil.

Et contre cet assaut je sais un coup fourré,/ Par qui je veux qu’il soit de lui-même enferré;/ Il ne sait pas les dons dont mon âme est pourvue./Adieu, nous boirons pinte à la première vue.
Mascarille à Ergaste (III. v)
[Ay, well! He has not yet reached the height of his happiness; I may perhaps be beforehand with him; and as to this thrust, I know how to give him a counter- thrust, by which he may run himself through. He is not aware with what gifts I am endowed. Farewell, we shall take a cup together next time we meet.]
Mascarille to Ergaste (III. 6, p. 45)

Mascarille’s masquerade’s is foiled by Lélio. He blunders again. But he claims not to have been ignored only to switch to self-imprecation. Lélie/Lelio blames Mascarille only to blame himself. However is he entirely to blame? “How adverse is our fate!” Mascarille is a virtuoso, but there are “contretemps,” events that are always standing in both Lélie’s and Mascarille’s way.

Hélas! quelle surprise! et quel sort est le nôtre! L’aurais-je deviné,n’étant point averti/ 1230 Des secrètes raisons qui t’avaient travesti!/ Malheureux que je suis, d’avoir dessous ce masque,/ Été sans y penser te faire cette frasque!/ Il me prendrait envie, en ce juste courroux,/ De me battre moi-même, et me donner cent coups.
Lélie à Mascarille (III. viii)
[Alas! How astonished I am! How adverse is our fate! Could I possibly have guessed this, as you did not secretly inform me that you were going to disguise yourself?Wretch that I am, thoughtlessly to play you such a trick, while you wore this mask. I am in an awful passion with myself, and have a good mind to give myself a sound beating.]
Lélio to Mascarille (III. 12, p. 46)

In Act Three Scene Nine, Léandre’s brigade arrives. Trufaldin tells them that:

… La belle est dans le lit, et ne peut vous parler;/ 1250 J’en suis fâché pour vous: mais pour vous régaler/ Du souci qui pour elle ici vous inquiète,/ Elle vous fait présent de cette cassolette.
Trufaldin à Léandre (III. ix)
[… the girl is in her bed and cannot speak to you; I am sorry; but to repay you for all the trouble you have taken for her sake, she begs you will be pleased to accept this pot of perfume.]
Trufaldin to Léandre (III. 13, pp. 47 – 48)

We break here. Next we will read a conversation between Léandre and Anselme.
It is Act Four, Scene Three. The rest of the play is short. Lélie has a second rival.

(to be continued)

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Love to everyone 💕

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© Micheline Walker
31 March 2020
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Chronicling COVID-19 (3)

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Saint Matthew and the Angel by Guido Reni (Google)

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Matthew, 7.3)

I went into quarantine on 10 March. One person came to my apartment when the kitchen faucet exploded. It was a danger to my neighbours. I kept at a distance from the plumber and I chose a faucet that looks industrial. The kitchen no longer looks the same. I also disinfected the kitchen counters. Kitchen counters are the preferred home of germs and nasty relatives. Our colleague, Colltales, wrote about the many virtues of plain rubbing alcohol. It disinfects.

I could have lost money to Internet fraud. Fortunately, I pay a fee so my credit card is protected.  For my loved-ones, believing I had to renew McAfee was rather reckless. But many Quebecers did not start self-isolating before 23 March, the day the government locked down the province. Was I such a fool?

On 17 March, I phoned the clinic where my doctor works. I had an appointment that day, but I said that, in my opinion, getting into a cab to go to a public clinic did not seem prudent. I then learned that doctors had been asked, on that very day, to phone patients. My doctor phoned and also announced that he would be retiring in December 2020, which is a long time from now. Would the crisis last until then? He had found a doctor who would look after me. which reassured me, but he regretted that he could not refer all of his patients to a doctor. They would see supervised interns. My doctor supervises interns. One often knocked at the door, so I had to wait, but I had a doctor. In Quebec, it takes three years to find a family doctor. That is very disconcerting.

However, being told in March that my doctor will retire in December suggests that it might be a long time before doctors can see patients, except victims of the corona virus. I will attempt to make sure my medication can be renewed for at least two years.

Mistakes were made, but this pandemic was a surprise. Although blaming others may make some people feel better, it could be very wrong. I’m now ageing, but pain is still pain. COVID-19 is a terrible affliction. People could not tell what an evil it would be, but solidarity is our finest weapon. We must have one another to turn to.

Love to everyone 💕

St. Matthew and The Angel, 1661 - Rembrandt

Saint Matthew and the Angel by Rembrandt (WikiArt)

© Micheline Walker
29 March 2020
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Chronicling COVID-19 (2)

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Archangel by Raphael (Wikipedia)

Last night, I read that there were 3,977 confirmed and presumptive cases of coronavirus in Canada. Quebec leads Canada at 1,629 cases (MSN).

In the meantime, I am having difficulty renewing my PC fees of approximately $50. My credit card (Mastercard) will not pay. Yet, there is money to pay.

Allow me to say that, unfortunately, Quebec is not the best of environments. I have noted considerable defiance. Leaders should seek stability and security. For instance, in 1982, the Premier of Quebec, René Lévesque, refused to sign the Constitution. Yet, no referendum had given the Quebec government a mandate to secede. We must act in an orderly fashion.

I don’t know what is going on, but I live carefully, I have good neighbours, my nephew, François, and my dear friend Paulina. We phone and send emails. I also have my fine colleagues at WordPress.

Love to everyone 💕

Stjepan Hauser plays Schubert‘s Ave Maria

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Archangel Raphael and Tobias by Titian (christianimagesource.com)

© Micheline Walker
27 March 2020
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Que c’est triste Venise

A MI MANERA

Que c’est triste Venise (Que triste está Venecia) es una canción escrita por la novelista Françoise Dorin y compuesta e interpretada por Charles Aznavour.

Se lanzó como un single de 45 rpm en 1964 y fue un éxito internacional, especialmente en los países latinos gracias a su versión en español, titulada esta vez Venecia sin ti.

El vídeo, con la versión que grabó en francés Aznavour en 1964, recoge imágenes de otros publicados en YouTube en los que vemos Venecia estos últimos días prácticamente desierta a causa del coronavirus.

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Chronicling COVID-19

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Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

My posts are delayed because of essential business. Quebec is closed.

My main meal comes from meals-on-wheels. As I was going to pick it up, wearing protective gear, I bumped into an assembly of people who doubted we should take authorities seriously. They were not standing at a distance from one another and I saw a person coming out of the swimming pool room.

I didn’t think I had it in me to transform myself into the manager of the building. It was an incredible moment. What I said and wrote in emails was, basically,

disperse immediately and do not let anyone into the building. If something is delivered, it stays in the lobby and someone rings your apartment. Three apartments are for sale. Real Estate is not an essential service. No one comes to visit apartments. If a rule is broken, I’ll call the police, the RCMP (Mounted Police), la GRC (Gendarmerie royale canadienne)  …

This morning I saw a sign asking people not to use the swimming pool.

Our worst enemies are the people who are too arrogant to obey the law. They don’t know that their freedom ends where the freedom of others begin. Only food, medication and the mail can be delivered.

I then had a conversation with a friend who is a postmaster. Mailmen will not ask you to sign if there is a delivery. That is contact. Covid rests on surfaces, which may include the mail.

One must also realize that there is very little medical help. I often tell people that if they wish to be well treated, they should go to the vet’s office. They have to learn medicine carefully as animals do not speak, except “en son langage.”

I am embedding music played by Hank Knox, a member, by marriage, of Sir Ernest MacMillan‘s family. My dear friend Andrea, whom I lost to cancer recently, was Sir Ernest’s niece. I knew the family but not closely, except for Andrea. We became friends when David and I rented the lower floor of her house.

David had found employment in Toronto. We were in a hotel looking for a home. David drove through streets he knew I would like. He saw a sign on a big tree and Andrea standing outside. He learned that she loved music and cats. So David said he would pick me up because he was certain I wanted to live in that house and that a friendship would grow. I must phone Betsy. She sent me harpsichord music.

Hank Knox and Betsy MacMillan

https://www.mcgill.ca/music/hank-knox

https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Hank+Knox&&view=detail&mid=4484F90DC0AD59DEDB0C4484F90DC0AD59DEDB0C&&FORM=VDRVRV

© Micheline Walker
25 March 2020
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Un peu de tout …

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(Kevin Dietsch/UPI/Bloomberg News)

I have been in self-isolation for more than a week. I’ve never smoked. Yet, a little over a year ago, I lost my voice and I was then diagnosed with advanced emphysema. If I can remain in self-isolation, I may be safe, but how long can one be in self-isolation?

In theory, I should not see anyone, but tomorrow, a plumber will come to my apartment and replace the kitchen faucet. It burst apart. I spoke with the manager who told me it had to be replaced immediately, while there was still time.

Sherbrooke has testing facilities and treatment facilities. But distancing is the rule. In fact, authorities have asked people to refrain from going to testing facilities. One must phone and make an appointment. Symptoms must be very clear.

President Trump

Mr Trump tells us that he knew about the impending pandemic. Did he? As you know, with Mr Trump, first, the news is “fake news.” Second, he is not accountable. Yet, Americans will get paid sick leave, etc. They will be helped and they will have an income.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/18/trump-coronavirus-economic-plan/?utm_campaign=wp_post_most&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_most.

Ironically, on 16 March, Canadian Prime Ministre Justin Trudeau addressed Canadians. However, he did not close the border separating Canada from the United States. He may have feared a negative reaction from our neighbours to the South. But Mr Trump did not hesitate. The border is closed to non-essential traffic. In the days of novel coronavirus, distancing is necessary, but it is a form of togetherness. We need one another perhaps more than ever before.

Canada may have a small advantage. Most Canadians do what their experts tell them to do. Not that they are blinded by what authorities advise, but that they dare not be foolhardy. However, we lack supplies.

We are now returning to Molière…

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The Alcan Quartet performs Sir Ernest MacMillan‘s “Notre Seigneur en pauvre”

Europa

Europa

© Micheline Walker
18 March 2020
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The Coronavirus: Paid Sick Leave

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President Trump speaks about the coronavirus during a news conference at the White House on Sunday, (Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg)

President Trump  speaks about the coronavirus during a news conference at the White House on Sunday, (Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg)

https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/16/paid-sick-leave-coronavirus-house-bill/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/anthony-fauci-fights-outbreaks-with-the-sledgehammer-of-truth/2020/03/12/b3f81f52-6473-11ea-845d-e35b0234b136_story.html?utm_campaign=wp_week_in_ideas&utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&wpisrc=nl_ideas

Dear President Trump,

I would urge you to provide an income to all American employees whose benefits do not include paid sick leave. Would that I could say, help them when they fall ill, but such advice would make no sense. They must leave the workplace now. People who stay in the workplace will catch the virus and transmit it. The number of victims will then grow at an exponential rate.

One may be tempted to say that the economy will be hurt. Not necessarily. Pandemics are an industry. So much has to be manufactured: respirators, ventilators, the best masks, testing facilities, treatment facilities …   It’s like a war effort and the United States has fought wars and thrived.

Make sure that the people working in the Pandemic industry are protected from head to toe.

I’ve listened to many videos and heard about measures taken in various countries. Containment is essential. There is no better strategy than containment. But one must eat.

Let us listen to what our experts have to say. They are the authorities. They can organise the war on Covid-19. We also have economists, experts. They can keep the boat afloat as the battle rages and wipe up the mess when it subsides.

Accountability

By ensuring that drastic measures are taken to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus you will reassure the markets. It’s the responsible choice. This choice will also comfort the people of the United States and the world.

I am posting this article, but the situation has already started to change, for the better. People must leave the workplace.

No country should allow the spread of a potentially deadly virus, which will happen if the little guy cannot get away from the working place. Not only would he or she be in the line of fire, but the virus would not be contained and the state would be accountable.

Love to everyone

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Creación_de_Adám

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo (The Verge)

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo (The Verge)

© Micheline Walker
16 March 2020
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The Coronavirus.3

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Creación_de_Adám

The Creation of Adam (The Verge)

Tom Hanks, Rita Wilson, his wife, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s wife, Sophie Grégoire, have tested positive for Covid-19. Therefore, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in self-isolation, but he can work. Wherever it is possible, people are working from home. Moreover, in certain countries, employees whose benefits do not include paid sick leaves are being supported by their government. I hope that movement will spread because avoiding exposure to the virus is our best weapon. Covid-19 is extremely dangerous, but if we work together, we may defeat it.

Worse than a bomb … a tsunami

The BBC interviewed Italian Dr Giacomo Grasselli who stated that Covid-19 arrived in his country in a manner that was worst than a bomb. Covid-19 spreads quickly, it is agressive, and it is new. It’s a tsunami, says Dr Grasselli (CBC).

Italy was not given sufficient time to prepare. But many countries had time to prepare, at least minimally. They were able to enlarge medical facilities and purchase the materials they require. As well, people are being sent home, so they do not catch the disease and transmit it.

Pandemics are horrible and Covid-19 is a new threat, but I am seeing people working together to save themselves and to save their neighbours. Doctors alone cannot defeat Covid-19. It’s a community project.

Italy had little time to prepare, but the first order of business was containment, which is what Dr Grasselli is advising and which many of us have been given the time to do. However, Covid-19 is nevertheless a surprise and many of us are in denial.

I heard people trivialise the situation, which we can’t. We must keep at a distance from one another, which, in the days of coronavirus, is working together. Covid-19 is real and it is happening.

Two weeks before the bomb fell and multiplied, Dr Grasselli would not have expected the calimity that is unfolding.

I embedded a BBC (British) interview with Italian Dr Giacomo Grasselli (publications) as well as a CBC (Canada) interview.

Love to everyone

The BBC

The CBC

https://www.cbc.ca/radio/asithappens/as-it-happens-monday-edition-1.5491009/italians-must-follow-rules-and-stay-home-to-stop-coronavirus-disaster-says-doctor-1.5491013

Creación_de_Adám

The Creation of Adam by Michelangelo (Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
14 March 2020
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The Coronavirus.2

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Thetriumphofdeath

The Triumph of Death by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

This may seem to contradict an earlier post on Intellectual Property, but it doesn’t.

One copies, but one names one’s source. My post on Coronavirus can be shared.

Would that we could listen time and again to Smetana’s “Moldau.” Played on the harp by a lovely young woman, it is heavenly. But the spectrum of heavenly music is rather wide.

Love to everyone

1024px-Pieter_Bruegel_d._Ä._037

The Land of Cockaigne (1567), Alte Pinakothek, an illustration of the  medieval mythical land of plenty called Cockaigne, by Pieter Brueghel the Elder (Wikipedia)

The Coronavirus.1

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La peste noire en Europe a également au des conséquences dramatiques sur le reste du monde

Burying victims of the Bubonic Plague at Tournai

5a

In this history book written in the 1340s by the French chronicler and poet Gilles li Muisis, residents of a town stricken by the plague burn Jews, who were blamed for causing the disease. (Royal Library of Belgium)

About Covid-19

A potentially deadly virus is threatening lives everywhere. It may have started in China, and it may not. It seems that viruses and other pathogens can lie in a dormant state for years, perhaps centuries, only to rise again here and there. The Black Death is still alive. The Black Death so horrified Europeans that many of Europe’s inhabitants would not take baths fearing that freshly-cleansed skin could absorb pathogens.

I remember reading that Henri IV of France sent for his advisor, Maximilien de Béthune, Duc de Sully, but that hearing from his messenger that Sully had just taken a bath, Henri IV asked that he stay indoors for a few days. The Black Death also survived in songs and in literature. Camus (7 November 1913 – 4 January 1960) wrote La Peste (The Plague), 1947, but we will focus on Giovanni Boccacio’s Decameron. The Decameron was completed in 1353, as the Black Death (1347-1351) was waning. Wikipedia reports the “[i]n total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 475 million to 350–375 million in the 14th century epidemics.” The Decameron had an enormous influence on Geoffrey Chaucer‘s (1340 – 1400) Canterbury Tales. But we are not looking at the Decameron, as a work of literature. The Decameron, written in Florentine Italian, is an example of self-isolation to avoid contagion, and, in our case, an epidemic heralding a pandemic.

Black Death, pandemic that ravaged Europe between 1347 and 1351, taking a proportionately greater toll of life than any other known epidemic or war up to that time.[1]

Waterhouse_decameron

A Tale from the Decameron by John William Waterhouse, 1916 (Wikipedia Commons)

The Decameron: self-isolation

The Decameron consists of a hundred tales told by seven young women and three young men who had self-isolated outside Florence. Self-isolation may well be the best option is a global attempt to save humanity.  It’s a form of containment.

I believe that persons who can afford to self-isolate have a better chance of surviving Covid-19. The affluent and employees who benefit from sick leave may be able to self-isolate. But what about citizens who have been fired because they are not needed and may not have sick leave? These would be, for instance, persons working in travel agencies or for an airline company that may go bankrupt.

The agora is no longer a safe area and people should travel and use public transportation as little as possible. What happens to the individuals who have no sick pay? One cannot live without an income, but if earning an income means not only possible, but probable exposure to the coronavirus, remaining in the agora is unacceptable.

Flagellants-Black-Death-Netherlands-atonement-sins-God

Flagellants in the Netherlands scourging themselves in atonement, believing that the Black Death is a punishment from God for their sins, 1349 (Britannica

We spend billions on defence: war. And we may have to spend billions on another type of defence: a war on a devastating virus now deadlier than war. China is building hospitals and hospitals might be built elsewhere. But time is of the essence. Bill Gates and other wealthy people have donated huge amounts of money to essential research. But, again, time is of the essence. A researcher may have a brilliant idea tomorrow, but that may not happen. Moreover, producing the vaccine or remedy may also take time. In such a case, it is perhaps best to stay home at the government’s expense. Research is essential, but who and when will researchers discover the cure.

These viruses are unpredictable and fickle. The 1918 Spanish flu killed three grown sons in a day, but a daughter and her child survived. Coronavirus seems to attack the elderly and spare children. But we are all at risk, including those who recover. One will recover, but will one recover fully?  They may find it difficult to earn a living even if they can manage their illness.

I caught a virus (H1N1) in February 1976. It did not kill me, but caused a permanent disability that eventually cost me my position and my blue house. My employers knew I needed more rest than other persons, but my workload grew heavier than the workload assigned to my colleagues.

But the current case is coronavirus.

We must help those who cannot help themselves for lack of an income. We all pay taxes. Once this outbreak is under control, planes will fly again and travel agencies will reopen, but our current obligation is to save lives and contain the disease, which may mean self-isolation. Moreover, among the persons who survive, some may not be as strong as they were before their illness. Will employers everywhere increase their workloads, causing them to fall ill? That’s what they did to me.

It may cost a great deal of money, but we must save humanity. Let’s go through this horror with dignity, calm, and as charitably as we can. All of us must avoid exposure, and the elderly are at a terrible risk.

Life will be normal again.

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Sources and Resources

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[1] The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Black Death (Encyclopædia Britannica: 13 December 2019) https://www.britannica.com/event/Black-Death

Love to everyone

Johann Nepomuk Hummel — Ach, du lieber Augustin

Du lieber Augustin© Micheline Walker
10 March 2020
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