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. 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]

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
WordPress

Sganarelle’s Wife, etc.

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Sganarelle ou le Cocu imaginaire de Molière : « Allez, fripier d’écrits, impudent plagiaire. » Œuvres: Dessins par Lorentz, Jules David, etc. Gravures par les meilleurs artistes, Paris, Schneider, 1850.  (Wiki2.org)

—ooo—

I wrote a very long post on Sganarelle, ou le Cocu imaginaire and apologize. Yet there are points I would like to underline.

Célie’s Suivante: a Praise of Marriage

In those pleasant times, which flew away like lightning, I went to bed, in the very depth of winter, without kindling a fire in the room; even airing the sheets appeared then to me ridiculous; but now I shiver even in the dog days. In short, madam, believe me there is nothing like having a husband at night by one’s side, were it only for the pleasure of hearing him say, “God bless you,” whenever one may happen to sneeze. Clélie’s suivante praise of marriage (Scene 2).

Can this praise of marriage reassure Célie? She faints and drops her portrait of Lélie.

Sganarelle’s Wife: Jealousy or Love

I did write that Sganarelle’s wife was jealous, but did not quote her. When she sees Sganarelle helping Célie who has fainted, Sganarelle’s wife thinks he is unfaithful to her.

Ah! what do I see? My husband, holding in his arms… But I shall go down; he is false to me most certainly; I should be glad to catch him.
Sganarelle’s wife (Scene 4)

Moreover, Sganarelle’s wife knows that her husband is not a handsome man. She says that the young man the portrait depicts is the kind of person a woman would find attractive.  

Que n’ai-je un mari d’une aussi bonne mine,
Au lieu de mon pelé, de mon rustre…
Sganarelle’s wife, (Sc. 6, p. 6)
Alas! why have I not a handsome man like this for my husband instead of my booby, my clod-hopper…?
Sganarelle’s wife (Scene 6)

In the “recognition” scene (Scene 22), an anagnorisis, Sganarelle’s wife asks Célie not to seduce her husband’s heart. She is fond of her husband despite poor looks.

I am not inclined, Madam, to show that I am over-jealous; but I am no fool, and can see what is going on. There are certain amours which appear very strange; you should be better employed than in seducing a heart which ought to be mine alone.
Sganarelle’s wife to Célie (Scene 22)

Sganarelle viewed by Lélie

But Lélie is confused. Not only has Célie chosen Sganarelle, but the man is ugly, uglier than Lélie was told. How could Célie have found qualities in Sganarelle?

Alas! what have I heard! The report then was true that her husband was the ugliest of all his sex. Even if your faithless lips had never sworn me more than a thousand times eternal love, the disgust you should have felt at such a base and shameful choice might have sufficiently secured me against the loss of your affection… But this great insult, and the fatigues of a pretty long journey, produce all at once such a violent effect upon me, that I feel faint, and can hardly bear up under it.
Lélie, alone (Scene 10)

Lélie cannot see Sganarelle’s heart. He thinks his good looks should have served him. He doesn’t know the “other” man is Valère, nor does he know that “the cœur has its reasons, which reason doesn’t know.” (“Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point.”) (Blaise Pascal)

It is at this point that Célie’s maid decides to “interfere.” She knows that Célie loves Lélie and that Gorgibus has decided his daughter would marry Valère, rather than Lélie. What Célie’s suivante doest not appear to know is that Célie dropped her portrait of Lélie and that Sganarelle’s wife picked it up and admired it. Hearing his wife praise the portrait, Sganarelle snatched the portrait and became extremely jealous.

Célie’s suivante (maid) “interferes”

But Célie’s suivante knows that Célie is in love with Lélie, but that her father wants her to marry Valère.

Upon my word, I do not know when this entanglement will be unravelled. I have tried for a pretty long time to comprehend it, but the more I hear the less I understand. Really I think I must interfere at last. (Placing herself between Lelio and Celia). Answer me one after another, and (To Lelio) allow me to ask what do you accuse this lady of?
Célia’s maid to Lélie (Scene 22)

In other words she knows that Célie is not Sganarelle’s lover and that his wife is keeping him on a short leash.

But, the plot is as Lélie says, except that Célie has not married Sganarelle. Célie dropped the portrait which is in Sganarelle’s hands when Lélie talks to him.

As soon as I heard she was going to be married I hastened hither, carried away by an irrepressible love, and not believing I could be forgotten; but discovered, when I arrived here, that she was married to Sganarelle.
Lélie to Clélie’s suivante (Scene 22)

Lélie does have a rival, but the rival is an invisible Valère. That is why he was riding back to Paris as quickly as possible. So there is a blondin berne le barbon (the young man fools the old man)But as the plot unfolds, Gorgibus does not seem a blocking-character. The blondin berne le barbon to provide a frame story. The themes are jealousy, cuckolding, and false appearances. Sganarelle imagines that he is a cocu, and he can’t resist his bile.

Comments

By the way, yes Les Précieuses ridicules were extremely successful when the farce was first performed, on 18 November 1659. But, in the long run, Sganarelle, ou le Cocu imaginaire has been the more popular play. It’s progeny is truly impressive. I have unearthed more sources, but Sganarelle was paraphrased, imitated and adapted time and again. (See The Imaginary CuckoldLe Cocu imaginaire, Wiki2.org.) During Molière’s life time, or from 1660 to 1673, Sganarelle was played 122 times.[1] 

The fact that Sganarelle’s wife loves her husband says a great deal about Molière. Sganarelle, played by Molière, may not be handsome in the eyes of other persons. In fact, his wife knows that he is not handsome, but he is his her man.

Célie’s suivante unravels the mess, and her praise of marriage makes sense. A good husband provides warmth and reassurance. A man and wife are a household. They operate a small business and may become the best of friends. We will be looking at Les Quinze joyes de mariage (The Fifteen Joys of Marriage) a satire, but… Molière read it. It’s an Internet Archive publication, in old French, but I had to study old French.

320px-Blaise_Pascal_Versailles

Painting of Blaise Pascal made by François II Quesnel for Gérard Edelinck in 1691

Imagination

As for Blaise Pascal on imagination, see Section two #82 of his Pensées. It is Gutenberg [eBook #18269].

Imagination. It is that deceitful part in man, that mistress of error and falsity, the more deceptive that she is not always so; for she would be an infallible rule of truth, if she were an infallible rule of falsehood. But being most generally false, she gives no sign of her nature, impressing the same character on the true and the false.

The computer works quite well, but be very careful. Internet criminals are now very convincing. They use a form of terrorism. They say they want to protect you from the “bad guys” who are already helping themselves to your pension fund and stealing your identity. This isn’t true. They are the “bad guys.”

Yesterday, I realized I could not copy passages from my usual internet publications, such as toutmolière.net. I hope this is a temporary setback.

I apologize for not reading your posts. I could not use the computer.

Sources and Resources

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[1] Maurice Rat, ed., Les Œuvres complètes de Molière (Paris: Gallimard, collection La Pléiade, 1956), pp. 850-855.

Love to everyone 💕

De Lalande – Symphonies pour les soupers du Roi: Caprice de Villers-Cotterets (Part 1) (beautiful music)

© Micheline Walker
21 Juin 2019
WordPress

Molière’s “Sganarelle,” or “The Imaginary Cuckold”

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Sganarelle ou le Cocu imaginaire (The Imaginary Cuckold) is a one-act play consisting of twenty-four (24) scenes. It premièred on 28 May 1660, at the Théâtre du Petit-Bourbon, the first theater the troupe of Molière used after their return to Paris, in 1658. Molière’s comedians had found patronage, that of Monsieur frère unique du Roi, Louis XIV’s only brother. Monsieur‘s theater was the Petit-Bourbon, a theater Molière shared with la Comédie-Italienne, which is still a theater. Plays are performed in Italian. Molière’s comedians had become la troupe de Monsieur.

Molière’s Sganarelle ou le Cocu imaginaire was staged in the wake of his very successful  Précieuses ridicules, which had premièred on 18 November 1659. Molière’s Précieuses ridicules earned his troupe considerable notoriety. Although Sganarelle, ou le Cocu imaginaire was not as successful as Les Précieuses ridicules, Sganarelle as a type is one of Molière’s perplexing characters: Arnolphe (The School for Wifes), Tartuffe‘s Orgon, The Misanthrope‘s Alceste, L’Avare‘s miser, The Imaginary Invalid‘s Argan and, above all, the jaloux among them. According to scholar Paul Bénichou,[1] these characters, the jaloux above all, blend in almost equal proportions vanity and insecurity: vanité et inquiétude.

[1] Paul Bénichou, Morales du Grand Siècle (Paris: Gallimard, 1948), pp. 295-296.

1002869-Molière_en_habit_de_Sganarelle (1)

Molière as Sganarelle (Wiki2.org)

Sources

Sganarelle ou le Cocu imaginaire has been associated with Boisrobert’s Les Apparences trompeuses (1656) and Scarron’s La Fausse Apparence (1657). Deceptive appearances are a familiar theme in 17th-century French literature. In his Pensées, Blaise Pascal writes that human beings are at the mercy of puissances trompeuses, deceptive powers, one of which is imagination. Sganarelle is an imaginaire, thirteen years before Le Malade imaginaire (The Imaginary Invalid)

Therefore, although appearances may be deceptive, in Le Cocu imaginaire, Sganarelle is an imaginaire whose jealousy so thwarts reality that seeing his wife admiring the finely encased portrait of a good-looking young man triggers a series of misunderstandings, quiproquos, to which there does not seem to be an end.

It remains that Sganarelle ou le Cocu imaginaire‘s comedic plot formula is the usual all’s well that ends well, le tout est bien qui finit bien. However, the main obstacle to the young lover’s marriage does not appear to be Célie’s tyrannical father, a pater familias, but the imbroglio in which the self-deceived Sganarelle ensnares most members of the society of the play. 

Given its depiction of jealousy, the play is a comedy of manners, but its numerous  péripéties, twists and turns, also make it a comedy of intrigue. In fact, the mess is such that Célie’s suivante calls it a galimatias, a shemozzle. Célie’s suivante is the zanni of the comedy.

42e49878d25a93d19d51075a675f2d6b-4 (3)

Sganarelle par François Boucher (dessin) et Laurent Cars (gravure) (Pinterest)

DRAMATIS PERSONÆ

GORGIBUS, a citizen of Paris.
LELIO, in love with Celia. (Lélie)
SGANARELLE, a citizen of Paris and the self-deceived husband.
VILLEBREQUIN, father to Valère.
GROS-RENÉ, servant to Lelio.
A RELATIVE OF SGANARELLE’S WIFE.
CELIA, daughter of Gorgibus.(Clélie)
SGANARELLE’S WIFE.
CELIA’S MAID.

A PUBLICK PLACE IN PARIS.

A Pater Familias

As the curtain lifts, Clélie is crying because her father wishes to force a marriage with a man she does not love. Clélie loves Lélie:

Ah ! n’espérez jamais que mon cœur y consente
Clélie à Gorgibus (I. i.)
[Ah! never expect my heart to consent to that.]
Clélie to Gorgibus (I. 1) or Sganarelle, p. 47
Que marmottez-vous là, petite impertinente ?

Vous prétendez choquer ce que j’ai résolu ?
Je n’aurai pas sur vous un pouvoir absolu ?
Et par sottes raisons, votre jeune cervelle
Voudrait régler ici la raison paternelle ?
Gorgibus à Clélie (I. i) (Sganarelle)
[What do you mutter, you little impertinent girl? Do you suppose you can thwart my resolution? Have I not absolute power over you? And shall your youthful brain control my fatherly discretion by foolish arguments?]
Gorgibus to Clélie (I. 1)

It turns out, however, that Gorgibus has already agreed to a marriage between his daughter Célie and Lélie, a promise he cannot break on a whim.

J’aurais tort si, sans vous, je disposais de moi ;
Mais vous-même à ses vœux engageâtes ma foi.

Clélie à Gorgibus (I. i)
[Do you suppose, dear father, I can ever forget that unchangeable affection I owe to Lelio? I should be wrong to dispose of my hand against your will, but you yourself engaged me to him.]
Clélie to Gorgibus (I. 1).

The Portrait

After Célie’s conversation with Gorgibus and her suivante‘s comment to the effect that Lélie has been away too long, Célie faints and drops her portrait of Lélie. Sganarelle helps Célie.

Votre Lélie aussi, n’est ma foi qu’une bête,
Puisque si hors de temps son voyage l’arrête,
Et la grande longueur de son éloignement
Me le fait soupçonner de quelque changement
Suivante à Célie (I. ii)
[Upon my word, your Lelio is a mere fool to stay away the very time he is wanted; his long absence makes me very much suspect some change in his affection.]
Suivante à Lélie (I. 2)
Et cependant il faut… ah ! soutiens-moi.
Laissant tomber le portrait de Lélie.
Célie à sa suivante (I. ii)
[And yet I must—Ah! support me.]
(She lets fall the portrait of Lelio.)
Célie (I. 2)

Sganarelle’s Wife and the Portrait

Sganarelle’s wife suspects he is unfaithful. She has seen him help Célie when she fainted next to her suivante.
However, it so happens that she picks up the exquisitely encased, a jewel, portrait of a fine-looking young man and comments, aloud, that she has never seen anything more beautiful, praising both the workmanship and the young man’s likeness:

(En ramassant le portrait que Célie avait laissé tomber.)
Mais quel est ce bijou que le sort me présente,
L’émail en est fort beau, la gravure charmante,
Ouvrons.
Femme de Sg. (I. v) (p. 5)
(Taking up the picture which Celia had let fall.) But what a pretty thing has fortune sent me here; the enamel of it is most beautiful, the workmanship delightful; let me open it?)
Sg’s wife (I. 5)

…, sans l’apercevoir, continue.
Jamais rien de plus beau ne s’offrit à ma vue.

Le travail plus que l’or s’en doit encor priser.
Hon que cela sent bon.
Femme de Sg. (I. vi) (p. 6)
[(Not seeing her husband). I never saw anything more beautiful in my life! The workmanship is even of greater value than the gold! Oh, how sweet it smells!]
Sg’s wife (I. 6)

Now, Sganarelle is furious. This must be the portrait of the man cuckolding him:

Tu ne m’entends que trop, Madame la carogne ;
Sganarelle, est un nom qu’on ne me dira plus,
Et l’on va m’appeler seigneur Cornelius :
J’en suis pour mon honneur ; mais à toi qui me l’ôtes,
Je t’en ferai du moins pour un bras ou deux côtes.
Sg à sa femme (I. vi)
[(Snatching the portrait from her.) What, hussey! have I caught you in the very act, slandering your honourable and darling husband? According to you, most worthy spouse, and everything well considered, the husband is not as good as the wife?)
Sg to his wife (I. 6)

Lélie’s Return

Meanwhile, having been detained, Lélie and Gros-René are rushing back to Paris because rumours have arisen concerning Lélie’s marriage to Célie. It could be endangered, which it is. The first person he sees is Sganarelle who soon recognizes him. Sganarelle has Lélie’s portrait, a pledge given to Célie. Sganarelle  is holding a portrait which, is a portrait of him given as a gage, a pledge to Célie.

Je ne m’abuse point, c’est mon portrait lui-même.
Lélie, seul (I. ix)
[Heavens! what do I see? If that be my picture, what then must I believe?]
What do you say? She from whom you received this pledge…
Lélie to Sganarelle (I. 9)

Puis-je obtenir de vous, de savoir l’aventure,
Qui fait dedans vos mains trouver cette peinture.
Lélie à Sg. (I. ix) (p. 10)
[Will you inform me by what accident that picture came into your hands?]
Lélie to Sg. (I. 9)

(À part) D’où lui vient ce désir ; mais je m’avise ici…
Ah ! ma foi, me voilà de son trouble éclairci,
Sa surprise à présent n’étonne plus mon âme,
C’est mon homme, ou plutôt c’est celui de ma femme.

Lélie à Sg. (I. ix) ou (p.10 toutmolière.net))
[(Aside). Why does he wish to know? But I am thinking… (Looking at Lelio and at the portrait in his hand). Oh! upon my word, I know the cause of his anxiety; I no longer wonder at his surprise. This is my man, or rather, my wife’s man.]
Sganarelle, alone (I. 9)

Retirez-moi de peine et dites d’où vous vient…
[Pray, relieve my distracted mind, and tell me how you come by…]
Lélie à Sganarelle (I. ix)

Sganarelle hesitates:

…Mais faites-moi celui [l’honneur] de cesser désormais
Un amour qu’un mari peut trouver fort mauvais,
Et songez que les nœuds du sacré mariage…
Sg à Lélie (I. ix)
[… but henceforth, be kind enough to break off an intrigue, which a husband may not approve of; and consider that the holy bonds of wedlock…]
Sg to Lelio (I. 9)

Quoi, celle dites-vous dont vous tenez ce gage.
Lélie à Sg. (I. ix)
[What do you say? She from whom you received this pledge…]
Sg to Lélie (I. 9)
Est ma femme, et je suis son mari.
[Is my wife, and I am her husband.]
Sg to Lélie (I. 9)

Sganarelle needs a witness. In a scene reminiscent of George Dandin, he runs to fetch a relative, leaving behind a puzzled Lélie.

Ah ! que viens-je d’entendre ?
On me l’avait bien dit, et que c’était de tous
L’homme le plus mal fait qu’elle avait pour époux.
Lélie, seul (I. x) (pp. 12-23)
Alas! what have I heard! The report then was true that her husband was the ugliest of all his sex.
Lélie, alone (I. 10)

So astonished is Lelio that he nearly faints. As Sganarelle leaves, his wife looks after a distressed Lélie. 

Sganarelle’s Return

Sganarelle’s relative has good advice, but our jaloux thinks he has caught his wife, “in the act.” She is with Lélie.

… poursuit.
Tâchons donc par nos soins… Ah ! que vois-je, je meure,

Il n’est plus question de portrait à cette heure,
Voici ma foi la chose en propre original.
Sg seul (I. xiv) (p. 14)
[Aside seeing them. Ha! what do I see? Zounds! there can be no more question about the portrait, for upon my word here stands the very man, in propria persona.]
Sg alone (I. 14)

Lélie is at his wit’s end. Destiny has betrayed him:

Ah ! mon âme s’émeut et cet objet m’inspire…
Mais je dois condamner cet injuste transport,
Et n’imputer mes maux qu’aux rigueurs de mon sort.
Envions seulement le bonheur de sa flamme.
(Passant auprès de lui, et le regardant.)
Oh ! trop heureux d’avoir une si belle femme.
Lélie seeing Sg. (I. xv) (pp. 14-15)
[Oh! my soul is moved! this sight inspires me with … but I ought to blame this unjust resentment, and only ascribe my sufferings to my merciless fate; yet I cannot help envying the success that has crowned his passion. (Approaching Sganarelle). O too happy mortal in having so beautiful a wife.]
Lélie, to himself, seeing and looking at Sg. (I. 15)

Célie has seen and heard Lélie, but he has not visited her. She decides to speak to Sganarelle and asks whether Sganarelle knows him.

Quoi, Lélie a paru tout à l’heure à mes yeux,
Qui pourrait me cacher son retour en ces lieux.

Clélie (I. xvi) (p. 15)
[Who can that be? Just now I saw Lelio.
Why does he conceal his return from me?]
Célie (I. 16)

Celui qui maintenant devers vous est venu
Et qui vous a parlé, d’où vous est-il connu ?
Célie à Sganarelle (I. xvi) (p. 15)
[Pray, sir, how came you to know this gentleman who went away just now and spoke to you?]
Célie to Sganarelle (I. 16)

Sgnarelle says he doesn’t him, but that his wife does. The young man is cuckolding him. Célie probes further. Why does Sganarelle look so sad?

Si je suis affligé, ce n’est pas pour des prunes
Et je le donnerais à bien d’autres qu’à moi
De se voir sans chagrin au point où je me voi.
Des maris malheureux, vous voyez le modèle,
On dérobe l’honneur au pauvre Sganarelle ;
Mais c’est peu que l’honneur dans mon affliction
L’on me dérobe encor la réputation
.
Sganarelle à Célie (I. xvi)
[If I am sad it is not for a trifle: I challenge other people not to grieve, if they found themselves in my condition. You see in me the model of unhappy husbands. Poor Sganarelle’s honour is taken from him; but the loss of my honour would be small—they deprive me of my reputation also.]
Sg to Célie (I. 16)

Célie is very disturbed. Being in love with Sganarelle’s wife could explain Lélie’s secret return. She says that she was right!

Ah ! j’avais bien jugé que ce secret retour
Ne pouvait me couvrir que quelque lâche tour,
Et j’ai tremblé d’abord en le voyant paraître,
Par un pressentiment de ce qui devait être.

Célie (I. xvi)
[Ah! I find I was right when I thought his returning secretly only concealed some base design; I trembled the minute I saw him, from a sad foreboding of what would happen.]
Célie (I. 16)

Sganarelle bares his grief, in a soliloquy. However, he realizes that he is not the only husband to have been betrayed and that his affliction it is not worth dying for.

La bière [the grave] est un séjour par trop mélancolique
Et trop malsain pour ceux qui craignent la colique,
Et quant à moi je trouve, ayant tout compassé,
Qu’il vaut mieux être encor cocu que trépassé[.]

Sganarelle, seul (I. xvii)
[The grave is too melancholy an abode, and too unwholesome for people who are afraid of the colic; as for me, I find, all things considered, that it is, after all, better to be a cuckold than to be dead.]
Sganarelle, alone (I. 17)

But he is resentful and to avenge himself, he will tell everyone that his wife lies with Lélie.  Morever, his bile is making him consider “some manly action.”  He will return bearing arms, he will be incapable of using (scene 21).

Je me sens là, pourtant remuer une bile
Qui veut me conseiller quelque action virile[.]
Sganarelle, seul (I. xvii) (p. 18)
[I feel, however, my bile is stirred up here; it almost persuades me to do some manly action.]
Sganarelle, alone (I. 17)

Meanwhile, a spiteful Célie, dépit amoureux, tells her father that she will do her duty and marry Valère.

Faites quand vous voudrez signer cet hyménée,
À suivre mon devoir je suis déterminée,
Je prétends gourmander mes propres sentiments
Et me soumettre en tout à vos commandements.
Célie à Gorgibus (I. xviii) (p. 19-20)
[…I will sign the marriage contract whenever you please, for I am now determined to perform my duty. I can Célie to Gorgibus command my own inclinations, and shall do whatever you order me.]
Célie to Gorgibus (I. 18)

Célie’s suivante

Lélie thinks mistakenly that Célie loves Sganarelle. Sganarelle thinks mistakenly that Lélio loves his wife. Sganarelle has returned bearing arms. Why is Lélie being attacked? Célie’s suivante is perplexed.

Ce changement m’étonne.
Suivante (I. xix) (p. 21)
[This change surprises me.]
Suivante (I. 19)
Et lorsque tu sauras
Par quel motif j’agis tu m’en estimeras.
Suivante à Célie (I. xix)
[When you come to know why I act thus, you will esteem me for it.]
Suivante à Célie (I. 19)
Apprends donc que Lélie,
A pu blesser mon cœur par une perfidie,
Qu’il était en ces lieux sans…
Célie à sa suivante (I. xix)
[Know then that Lelio has wounded my heart by his treacherous behaviour, and has been in this neighbourhood without…]
Célie to her suivante  (I. 19)

Lélie asks Célie to remain where she is. (I. xx) (I. 20)

In Scene 21 Sganarelle returns bearing arms.

entre armé. Guerre, guerre mortelle, à ce larron d’honneur
Qui sans miséricorde a souillé notre honneur.
Sganarelle (I. xxi) (p. 20)
[I wage war, a war of extermination against this robber of my honour, who without mercy has sullied my fair name.]
À qui donc en veut-on?
(Turning round). Against whom do you bear such a grudge?
Lélie (I. xxi) (p. 20)

In scene 22, Sganarelle’s wife is angry at Célie, whom she suspects is her husband’s lover. But finally, Célie’s suivante decides to clear up the misunderstanding. Lélie and Célie are undeceived, but Célie has accepted to marry Valère. Lélie comforts her. Her father will keep his word, which Gorgibus is not ready to do. (I. 23)

But in scene 24, the last scene, Villebrequin, Valère’s father, comes to announce that Valère has married secretly, which frees Célie and Lélie.

So, all’s well that ends well. A “bonheur éternel” (eternal bliss) awaits our young lovers.

1002920-Molière

Molière par Pierre Mignard (Larousse)

Conclusion

Molière seldom signed documents, but this dénouement is Molière’s signature. No one suffers and nearly everyone has been blinded. Molière is not punitive. All are preparing for the forthcoming wedding.

As for Sganarelle, he is not the only character to have been deceived. He gives the entire adventure a moral, as though the play were a moralité.

A-t-on mieux cru jamais être cocu que moi.
Vous voyez qu’en ce fait la plus forte apparence
Peut jeter dans l’esprit une fausse créance :
De cet exemple-ci, ressouvenez-vous bien,
Et quand vous verriez tout, ne croyez jamais rien.
Sganarelle, à part
[Was there ever a man who had more cause to think himself victimized? You perceive that in such matters the strongest probability may create in the mind a wrong belief. Therefore remember, never to believe anything even if you should see everything.]
Sganarelle, aside

Sources and Resources

Love to everyone 💕

My computer is working, but I am feeling rather fragile. You will find errors in this post and it is very long, due mainly to the bilingual translations. I apologize. Further articles on Molière will be shorter.

_________________________
[1] Paul Bénichou, Morales du Grand Siècle (Paris: Gallimard, 1948), pp. 295-296.

Sganarelle

Micheline Walker
15 June 2019
WordPress

 

A Moment of Grace

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The Family of Trees
Félix Vallotton – 1922

I did not intend to write an article today. But I just realized that today is the anniversary of D-Day, and I have a story to tell. In fact, it is a story I have already told, but … 

One of my uncles survived D-Day for reasons he cannot understand. He then went north to Holland where he was asked to accompany prisoners of war who were being transported. They were seated at the back of a truck. All was well.

Out of the blue, one of the prisoners leaped from his seat and lowered my uncle’s body. My uncle nearly fell and he lost his rifle. The prisoner of war then helped him get up and retrieved the rifle. My uncle could not understand what had happened. So, the soldier showed him a metal wire the truck had just driven past. It would have decapitated my uncle had this “enemy” not seen it and acted promptly. 

This was a moment of grace and innocence. It was a moment so precious that my uncle never forgot. In peacetime, the two young men would have enjoyed a long conversation over coffee. War had separated them.

It has been seventy-five years. Yet, tears still come to my uncle’s eyes when he remembers. 

Schubert, Trio op. 100 – Andante con moto
Par le Trio Wanderer (Voyage d’hiver 2007 – Carte Blanche au Trio Wanderer, réalisation Jean-Pierre Barizien – CLC Productions)

Chrysanthemums and Autumn Foliage
Félix Vallotton – 1922

© Micheline Walker
6 June 2019
WordPress

 

And what about Perrin Dandin?

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l huitre et les plaideurs

L’Huître et les Plaideurs, illustration de Calvet-Rogniat (informations.documents.com)

Rabelais’ Perrin Dandin

There have been many Dandins. I remember François Rabelais‘ Perrin Dandin (Pantagruel, Third Book XLI), perhaps an early Dandin. Given the oral tradition, this Perrin Dandin may not be the first.

However, there is a Perrin Dandin in Racine’s Les Plaideurs (1668) and in La Fontaine’s “L’Huître et les Plaideurs” (“The Oyster and the Litigants”). La Fontaine’s “Oyster and the Litigants” was published in his second volume of fables (1678), but may date back to the early 1670s.

Perrin Dandin is a simple citizen in the “Pantagruel” of Rabelais, who seats himself judge-wise on the first stump that offers, and passes off hand a sentence in any matter of litigation; a character who figures similarly in a comedy of Racine’s, and in a fable of La Fontaine’s.

The Nuttall Encyclopædia(en.wikisource.org) (see James Wood [encyclopædist], Wikipedia.)

Jean Racine’s Perrin Dandin

Ironically, Jean Racine‘s Les Plaideurs was first performed in November 1668, at l’Hôtel de Bourgogne, Paris’ most prominent venue. It therefore premiered, in Paris, the same month as Molière’s George Dandin. Molière’s George Dandin is not a judge, but whenener he runs to his in-laws, he brandishes a contract. I have pointed out that in Paris, George Dandin was no longer a comédie-ballet and pastoral. It was a three-act farce in which a peasant lived the consequences of a marriage which, he thought, would elevate him to gentilhommerie. George Dandin’s Gentilhommerie is the Sotenvilles. “Sot” means stupid (and related adjectives).

A sotie is classified as a medieval farce and morality. Some argue, however, that it is a separate genre. Marrying Angélique, whom he had not courted (galanterie), was une sottise (foolish or silly) on the part of George Dandin. Could he not see sot in her parents’ name? They are Monsieur and Madame de Sotenville (from sot), and Madame de Sotenville was born a La Prudoterie, from prude. In Molière’s Le Misanthrope, Arsinoé is the opposite of Célimène. The prude is the opposite of the mondaine. Moreover, names such as Sotenville do not seem real. They seem and may be allegorical.

Whereas the characters in a farce would be distinguished individuals with proper names, the characters in the soties were pure allegories. The characters had names such as “First Fool” and Second Fool”, or Everyman”, Pilgrim” etc. Sometime there would be a leader of the fools, calledMother Fool(Mère Sotte).[1]

(See Sotie, Wikipedia.)
[1] Mère Sotte was the papacy. Soties were banned.

Geroge Dandin par J.M. Moreau (2)

Perrin Dandin, illustration de Moreau le Jeune (théâtre.information.com)

The above Dandin is not Molière’s George Dandin. It is Jean Racine’s Perrin Dandin featured in Les Plaideurs (1668). Racine’s Dandin is a besotted judge who has to judge at all times. While judging dogs, he allows his son Léandre to marry Chicanneau’s daughter Isabelle.

DANDIN : judge,
LÉANDRE : son of Dandin, fils de Dandin.
CHICANNEAU : bourgeois.
ISABELLE : Chicanneau’s daughter, fille de Chicanneau (chinanery).
LA COMTESSE. PETIT JEAN : portier. L’INTIMÉ : secrétaire. LE SOUFFLEUR (prompt).

LA FONTAINE

L’Huître et les Plaideurs

In my opinion, the best-known Dandin is Jean de La Fontaine’s. He is featured in L’Huître et les Plaideurs (The Oyster and the Litigants). Two pèlerins find an oyster. They both claim ownership of the oyster. Perrin Dandin walks by our pèlerins who decide he should judge who is the owner of the oyster. Perrin Dandin eats the oyster and takes our pilgrims’ money.

L’Huître et les Plaideurs

Un jour deux Pèlerins sur le sable rencontrent
Une Huître que le flot y venait d’apporter :
Ils l’avalent des yeux, du doigt ils se la montrent ;
A l’égard de la dent il fallut contester.
(read more)

Pendant tout ce bel incident,
Perrin Dandin arrive : ils le prennent pour juge.
Perrin fort gravement ouvre l’Huître, et la gruge,
Nos deux Messieurs le regardant.
Ce repas fait, il dit d’un ton de Président :
Tenez, la cour vous donne à chacun une écaille
Sans dépens, et qu’en paix chacun chez soi s’en aille.
Mettez ce qu’il en coûte à plaider aujourd’hui ;
Comptez ce qu’il en reste à beaucoup de familles ;
Vous verrez que Perrin tire l’argent à lui,
Et ne laisse aux plaideurs que le sac et les quilles.
JEAN DE LA FONTAINE
Livre 9, fable 9
1678

Jean de La Fontaine.PNG

Jean de La Fontaine par Hyacinthe Rigaud, en 1690 (Wiki2.org)

The Oyster and the Litigants

Two pilgrims on the sand espied
An oyster thrown up by the tide.
In hope, both swallowed ocean’s fruit;
But before the fact there came dispute.
(read more)

Amidst this sweet affair,
Arrived a person very big,
Ycleped Sir Nincom Periwig.
They made him judge, to set the matter square.
Sir Nincom, with a solemn face,
Took up the oyster and the case:
In opening both, the first he swallowed,
And, in due time, his judgment followed.
“Attend: the court awards you each a shell
Cost free; depart in peace, and use them well.”
Foot up the cost of suits at law,
The leavings reckon and awards,
The cash you’ll see Sir Nincom draw,
And leave the parties—purse and cards.
JEAN DE LA FONTAINE
Book 9, Fable 9
1678

L’Huître et les Plaideurs, illustration de Gustave Doré gravée par Louis Édouard Fournier, édition Louis Hachette, 1868 (informations.documents.com)

L’Huître et les Plaideurs, illustration de Jean-Baptiste Oudry (site officiel)

Conclusion

I wrote that comedy has redeeming mechanisms, such as the deceiver deceived, or trompeur trompé. In l’École des femmesdespite raising a wife, Agnès, Arnolphe loses her when she meets young Horace. Her instinct leads Agnès to fall in love with Horace and find safety in his presence. Yet, one sympathizes with Arnolphe. He loves Agnès, but he doesn’t know galanterie. The comedy ends in the traditional marriage. But comedy has more than one plot formula. Farces are circular. Dandin will forever plead his cause, but what if he had opened the bolted door when Angélique was desperate, and comforted her. Beauty loves Beast.

But suddenly I remembered the medieval soties, not to mention Reynard the Fox, its comic trial and Bruin losing the skin of his nose when it gets wedged in an opening in a log. But it’s “no skin off my nose,” as it grows back. It’s like a cartoon. Jill Mann,[2] who translated the Ysengrimus, the birthplace of Reynard the Fox, into English, compares this phenomenon to the flattened cat of cartoons who fluffs up again. In the world of cartoons, injuries may be reversible.

George Dandin lived before cartoons, but Molière knew the sotie and the cartoonish Reynard the Fox (Le Roman de Renart).

The Wikipedia entry on sotie compares the genre to carnivals. Mikhail Baktin, who studied Rabelais, identified the carnivalesque in Rabelais, a world upside down. Molière has not broken any rule. The carnivalesque is a constante in literature. However, Molière has a way of humanizing fools and vice versa. The Misanthrope is the epitome in this æsthetics.

I will make these words, my last words on George Dandin who is both right and wrong. But he is less a fool than the Sotenvilles, or is it the reverse?

By the way, se dandiner means to waddle and Dandin is a family name. George Dandin’s name is not allegorical.

RELATED ARTICLES

Sources and Resources

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[1] Mère Sotte was the papacy. Soties were banned.
[2] Jill Mann, “The Satiric Fiction of the Ysengrimus,” in Kenneth Varty (ed.), Reynard the Fox: Social Engagement and Cultural Metamorphoses in the Beast Epic from the Middle Ages to the Present (New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2000), p. 11.

Love to everyone 💕

 

The Carnival of the AnimalsCamille Saint-Saëns

L’Huître et les Plaideurs (Creighton University)

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5 June 2019
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Molière’s “George Dandin,” revisited (2)

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George Dandin (Gravure Edmond Hédouin?)   (documentation.théâtre.com)

(This post is very long. If you have read Molière’s “George Dandin” revisited (1), go to Act Two.)

George Dandin: a Comédie-Ballet & Pastoral

George Dandin ou le Mari confondu (George Dandin or the Abashed Husband) is a comédie-ballet combining a three-act farce and a pastoral in the form of interludes mainly. The comedy and the lyrics to the pastoral were written by Molière to music by Jean-Baptiste Lully. Contemporaries loved the music to George Dandin. It premièred at Versailles on 15 July 1668, as part of a Grand Divertissement royal celebrating the French victory at Aix-la-Chapelle. The comédie-ballet was performed three times at Saint-Germain-en-Laye from 3 to 6 November. However, when, on 9 November 1668, the three-act George Dandin was given in Paris, at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal, the pastoral had been removed.

Henri van Laun‘s six-volume translation of the plays of Molière, an Internet Archive publication, includes the text of a three-act play and the text of the pastoral. The two could be separated. The pastoral lightened an otherwise sombre farce. We are still using Henri van Laun’s translation of the three-act play and the toutmoliere.net’s collection of Molière’s plays.

In my post on the Jalousie du Barbouillé, I stated that the Jalousie du Barbouillé was a blueprint for George Dandin. George Dandin repeats the bolted door episode (Act Three)rom . In Molière, the unfortunate daughters of the nobility who were married against their will not be wives. Cuckoldry enters the picture. La Jalousie du Barbouillé does establish one of Molière central figures, le jaloux. It also introduces le cocu. If he marries, le jaloux faces cuckoldry.

Sources

Listed below, are sources Molière may have used when he wrote George Dandin:

*The Dolopatos was an Indian work written before the Common Era, and translated into Arabic and Hebrew (see Salon littéraire).

However, ascertaining sources for George Dandin and other plays by Molière is difficult. We know that Molière was well educated. He was a student at the Collège de Clermont, the current Lycée Louis-le-Grand. It was the finest lycée in Paris. Molière read Roman dramatists Plautus and Terrence, and may have read Greek dramatist Aristophanes. He also studied law. 

Molière’s first company, l’Illustre Théâtre, established in June 1643, went bankrupt two years later. So, in August 1645, Molière was jailed briefly, a day or so. He then left Paris and toured the provinces of France until the late 1650s. His base was Pézenas, but the répertoire of his troupe cannot be determined in an accurate manner. He didn’t write the plays members of his troupe performed. There is a story about a lost suitcase, but it seems his actors may have improvised their role, or nearly so, as did the stock characters of the Commedia dell’arte. 

However, Molière also borrowed from native French farces and fabliaux. As we have seen Le Médecin malgré lui (The Doctor in spite of himself) is rooted in the Vilain Mire, a medieval French fabliau about a doctor. By the seventeenth century, the original text of the Vilain Mire may have been a mere memory, but its subject matter had entered an oral tradition to return to a written tradition. In 1656, Barbazan published the first volume of his: Fabliaux et contes des poètes français du XIIIe, XIVe et XVe siècles. Barbazan’s collection “shares several elements with Le Médecin malgré lui, and, incidentally, Georges [sic] Dandin.” (See Molière 21). The complete French fabliaux were published in 1986. (See Molière 21.) For our purposes, the closest source of George Dandin is Molière’s own Jalousie du Barbouillé.

The Dramatis Personæ are as follows:

  • Georges Dandin (George Dandin), husband of Angelica
  • Angelica (Angélique), Georges Dandin’s wife
  • Sir Sotenville (Monsieur de Sotenville), Angelica’s father
  • Mrs Sotenville (Madame de Sotenville), Sir Sotenville’s wife
  • Clitander (Clitandre), in love with Angelica
  • Claudine, Angelica’s servant
  • Lubin, Clitandre’s servant
  • Colin, Dandin’s servant

ACT ONE

As the curtain lifts, Dandin tell spectators or readers how foolish he was to marry above his rank. He is a wealthy peasant.

Ah! qu’une femme Demoiselle est une étrange affaire, et que mon mariage est une leçon bien parlante à tous les paysans qui veulent s’élever au-dessus de leur condition, et s’allier comme j’ai fait à la maison d’un gentilhomme.
George Dandin, seul (I. i, p. 1) (or p. 349)
[Ah ! what a strange thing it is to be a woman of quality and a wife! and what an instructive lesson my marriage is to all peasants who wish to raise themselves above their condition…, and to ally themselves, as I have done, to a nobleman’s family.]
George Dandin, alone (I. 5, p. 261) ( or p. 349)

Dandin more or less bought Angélique, thereby affording the Sotenvilles money that would allow them to live up to their rank.

He complains that all he has acquired is a title: “de La Dandinière,” and being related to both the Sotenville and the La Prudoterie families. To the Sotenvilles and their daughter, he remains a peasant:   

L’alliance qu’ils font est petite avec nos personnes. C’est notre bien seul qu’ils épousent, et j’aurais bien mieux fait, tout riche que je suis, de m’allier en bonne et franche paysannerie[.]
Dandin, seul (I. i, p. 1)
[We ourselves count for very little in the match : they only marry our property; and I would have done much better[.]
Dandin, alone (I. 1, p. 261) (or p. 349)

Dandin realizes he has made a mistake:

George Dandin, George Dandin, vous avez fait une sottise la plus grande du monde.
[George Dandin! George Dandin! you have committed the greatest folly in the world.]
Dandin, alone (I. 1, p. 261) (or p. 349)

So, the action begins in scene two, when Dandin sees someone leaving his house. The person he sees is Lubin, Clitandre’s valet, who has delivered a message to Angélique. Not knowing who Dandin is, he tells him everything:

C’est que je viens de parler à la maîtresse du logis de la part d’un certain Monsieur qui lui fait les doux yeux, et il ne faut pas qu’on sache cela. Entendez-vous?
Lubin à Dandin (I. ii, p. 3)
[Because I have just been delivering a message to the mistress of the house from a certain gentleman who has an eye upon her; and it must not be known. Do you understand?]
Lubin to Dandin (I. 2, p. 261) or p. 350
Voilà la raison. On m’a enchargé de prendre garde que personne ne me vît, et je vous prie au moins de ne pas dire que vous m’ayez vu.
Lubin à Dandin (I. ii, p. 3)
[I have been told to take care that no one should see me; and let me beg of you, at least, not to say that you have seen me.]
Lubin to Dandin (I. 2, p. 262) or p. 351
Le mari, à ce qu’ils disent, est un jaloux qui ne veut pas qu’on fasse l’amour à sa femme, et il ferait le diable à quatre si cela venait à ses oreilles. Vous comprenez bien.
Lubin à Dandin (I. ii, p. 3 )
[The husband, from what they tell me, is dreadfully jealous, who will not allow his wife to be made love to; and there would be the devil to pay if it came to his ears. Now, do you understand?]
Lubin à Dandin (I. 2, p. 263) (or p. 351)

Dandin wishes to know whether Angélique sent a message back to Clitandre.

Elle m’a dit de lui dire… Attendez, je ne sais si je me souviendrai bien de tout cela. Qu’elle lui est tout à fait obligée de l’affection qu’il a pour elle, et qu’à cause de son mari qui est fantasque, il garde d’en rien faire paraître, et qu’il faudra songer à chercher quelque invention pour se pouvoir entretenir tous deux.
Lubin à Dandin (I. ii, p. 5)
[She has told me to tell him . . . stop; I do not know if I shall remember it all: that she is very much obliged to him for his affection towards her, and that he must be very  careful not to show it, on account of her husband, who is whimsical, and that he must bethink himself to invent something, so that they may converse with each other.]
Lubin to Dandin (I. 2, p. 264) (or p. 352)

Having heard Lubin, Dandin engages in another soliloquy. It appears he will be a “cocu,” which is a breech of the marriage contract. He must tell the Sotenvilles, but his in-laws find fault with the language he uses. Madame de Sotenville does not want to be called belle-mère, mother-in-law. She belongs to the nobility:

Ne vous déferez-vous jamais avec moi de la familiarité de ce mot de ma belle-mère, et ne sauriez-vous vous accoutumer à me dire Madame.
Madame de Sotenville à Dandin (I. iv. p. 6)
[Will you never divest yourself, with me, of the familiarity of that word, mother-in-law, and can you not accustom yourself to call me Madam?]
Madame de Sotenville to Dandin (I. 4, p. 255) (or p. 354)

Monsieur de Sotenville will not allow Dandin to refer to his daughter as “ma femme” (my wife). She is Madame. He also insists on being called “Sir:”

Doucement, mon gendre. Apprenez qu’il n’est pas respectueux d’appeler les gens par leur nom, et qu’à ceux qui sont au-dessus de nous il faut dire Monsieur tout court.
Monsieur de Sotenville à Dandin (I. iv, p. 6)
[Gently, son-in-law. Let me tell you that it is not respectful to address people by their names, and that we must only say, “Sir,” to those above us.]
Monsieur de Sotenville to Dandin (I. 4, p. 254) (or p. 354)

Moreover, George Dandin is told that being related to the Sotenville and the La Prudoterie families is a privilege. Madame de Sotenville is a La Prudoterie. His title has not elevated Dandin. Having been duly humiliated, he dares tell that a gentleman is in love with Angélique.

Je vous ai dit ce qui se passe pour vous faire mes plaintes, et je vous demande raison de cette affaire-là.
Dandin aux Sotenvilles (I. iv, p. 9)
[I have told you what is going on, to justify my complaints; and I ask you for satisfaction in this matter.]
Dandin to Sotenville (I. 4, p. 258) (or p. 357)

The Sotenvilles will investigate.

Nous allons éclaircir l’affaire. Suivez-moi, mon gendre, et ne vous mettez pas en peine, vous verrez de quel bois nous nous chauffons lorsqu’on s’attaque à ceux qui nous peuvent appartenir.
Sotenville à Dandin (I. iv, p. 10)
[We are going to clear the matter up. Follow me, son-in-law, and do not trouble yourself. You shall see what we are made of, when people attack those who
may belong to us.]
Sotenville to Dandin (I. 4, p. 258) (or p. 357)

Monsieur de Sotenville speaks to Clitandre who tells him that he is being slandered.

Voilà une étrange médisance. Qui vous a dit cela, Monsieur?
Clitandre à Sotenville (I. v, p. 11)
[What strange slander is this ! Who has told you
that, Sir?]
Clitandre to Sotenville (I. 5. p. 259) (or p. 359)

Having denied he sent une ambassade to Angélique, Clitandre wants to know who told Dandin that he sent une ambassade to Angélique. It could be Angélique herself: 

Est-ce donc vous, Madame, qui avez dit à votre mari que je suis amoureux de vous ?
Clitandre à Angélique (I. vi, p. 12)
[Is it you then, Madam, who have told your husband that I am in love with you?]
Clitandre to Angélique (I. 6, p. 260) (or p. 360)

She defends herself by making believe she is accusing him, but if reversed her words are an invitation to Clitandre to continue the galanterie. It’s a brilliant double entendre.

Moi, et comment lui aurais-je dit? Est-ce que cela est? Je voudrais bien le voir Je voudrais bien le voir vraiment que vous fussiez amoureux de moi. Jouez-vous-y, je vous en prie, vous trouverez à qui parler. C’est une chose que je vous conseille de faire. Ayez recours  pour voir à tous les détours des amants. Essayez un peu par plaisir à m’envoyer des ambassades, à m’écrire secrètement de petits billets doux, à épier les moments que mon mari n’y sera pas, ou le temps que je sortirai pour me parler de votre amour. Vous n’avez qu’à y venir, je vous promets que vous serez reçu comme il faut.
Angélique à Clitandre (I. vi, pp. 12-13)
[I? And how could I have told him? Is it so then? I should really like to see you in love with me. Just attempt it, pray; you will find out with whom you have to deal; I advise you to try the thing! Have recourse, by way of experiment, to all the lovers’ stratagems: just attempt to send me, for the fun of it, some messages, to write me some small love letters secretly; to watch the moments of my husband’s absence, or when I am going out to tell me of your love: you have only to set about it, I promise you you shall be received as you ought.]
Angélique to Clitandre (I. 6, p. 260) (p. 360)

After speaking with Angélique, Clitandre and Angélique both deny having sent or received a message. Clitandre is a gentilhomme and Angélique, Dandin’s wife, the daughter of the Sotenvilles. They are credible, but Dandin isn’t. Despite the money he gave the impoverished Sotenvilles, all Dandin received is a hollow title and a marriage contract, he remains a peasant. He has no credibility.

Si bien donc que si je le trouvais couché avec ma femme, il en serait quitte pour se dédire?
Dandin à Sotenville (I. vi, p. 15)
[Thus, if I had found him in bed with my wife, he would get off by simply denying it?]
Dandin to Sotenville (I. 8, p. 262) (or p. 363)

I will skip the episode where Dandin has to apologize to the Sotenvilles and Clitandre. They’ve lied, but they are “personnes de qualité,”

Head_of_a_Young_Girl_c_1745_4128

Woman’s Head by François Boucher, c. 1750 (WikiArt.org)

george dandin1

George Dandin, Alexandre-Joseph Desenne (Photo credit: Internet Archive) 

Act Two

In Greek literature, George Dandin, would be called an agroikós (rustic), a stock character. He is a peasant who has married into the upper classes and wishes to be separated from his wife when he realizes that he has simply bought a title: de la Dandinière. His marriage is a mésalliance. There have always been mésalliances. Some of us marry the wrong man or woman. In 17th-century France, aristocrats spent a fortune in an attempt to see Louis getting up (le lever) and going to bed (le coucher). They wanted to be ‘seen.’ Consequently, they spent a great deal of money and could not endow more than one of their daughters.

The Sotenvilles do not live in Paris, but they needed money and their best source was a rich peasant, the agroikós of Greek comedy. Dandin, our agroikós tells Angélique that she should live as wives live:

Je veux que vous y fassiez ce que fait une femme qui ne veut plaire qu’à son mari. Quoi qu’on en puisse dire, les galants n’obsèdent jamais que quand on le veut bien, il y a un certain air doucereux qui les attire ainsi que le miel fait les mouches, et les honnêtes femmes ont des manières qui les savent chasser d’abord.
Dandin à Angélique (II. i, p. 22)
[I wish you to do what a wife who only wishes to please her husband should do. Whatev[er people may say, gallants never trouble a woman unless she wishes it. There are certain sweet looks which attract them, as honey does flies; and virtuous women have a manner that drives them away immediately.]
Dandin to Angélique (II. 4, p. 269) (or p. 369)

Angélique disagrees: 

Moi, les [men] chasser! et par quelle raison? Je ne me scandalise point qu’on me trouve bien faite, et cela me fait du plaisir.
Angélique à Dandin (II. ii, p. 22)
[I, drive them away! and for what reason? I am not scandalised at being thought handsome, and it affords me pleasure.]
Angélique to Dandin (II.4, p. 270) (or p. 369)

Angélique thinks her husband should be pleased to know that other men admire his wife. Dandin should play that part:

Le personnage d’un honnête homme qui est bien aise de voir sa femme
considérée.
Angélique à Dandin (II. iv, p. 23)
[The part of a sensible man, who is glad to see his wife admired.]
Angélique to Dandin (II. 4, p. 270) (or p. 369)

But the Dandins do not admire wives committing adultery. Besides, does she have obligations? She claims she doesn’t and that the Dandins will get used to her lifestyle, if they want to:

Oh les Dandins s’y accoutumeront s’ils veulent. Car pour moi je vous déclare que mon dessein n’est pas de renoncer au monde, et de m’enterrer toute vive dans un mari. Comment, parce qu’un homme s’avise de nous épouser, il faut d’abord que toutes choses soient finies pour nous, et que nous rompions tout commerce avec les vivants? C’est une chose merveilleuse que cette tyrannie de Messieurs les maris, et je les trouve bons de vouloir qu’on soit morte à tous les divertissements et qu’on ne vive que pour eux. Je me moque de cela, et ne veux point mourir si jeune.
Angélique à Dandin (II. iv, p. 23)
[I declare that I do not intend to renounce the world, and to bury myself alive with a husband. What ! because a man thinks fit to marry us, everything must be at an end immediately, and we must break off all intercourse with every living being! This tyranny of husbands is a marvellous thing; and I think it very kind of them to wish that we should be dead to all amusements; and that we should live for them only! I laugh at that, and do not wish to die so young.]
Angélique to Dandin (II. 4, p. 270) (or pp. 369-370)
Moi? je ne vous l’ai point donnée de bon cœur, et vous me l’avez arrachée. M’avez-vous avant le mariage demandé mon consentement, et si je voulais bien de vous? Vous n’avez consulté pour cela que mon père, et ma mère, ce sont eux proprement qui vous ont épousé, et c’est pourquoi vous ferez bien de vous plaindre toujours à eux des torts que l’on pourra vous faire. Pour moi, qui ne vous ai point dit de vous marier avec moi, et que vous avez prise sans consulter mes sentiments, je prétends n’être point obligée à me soumettre en esclave à vos volontés, et je veux jouir, s’il vous plaît, de quelque nombre de beaux jours que m’offre la jeunesse; prendre les douces libertés, que l’âge me permet, voir un peu le beau monde, et goûter le plaisir de m’ouïr dire des douceurs. Préparez-vous-y pour votre punition, et rendez grâces au Ciel de ce que je ne suis pas capable de quelque chose de pis.
Angélique à Dandin (II. iv, p. 23)
[I did not make them willingly, and you forced them from me. Did you, before marriage, ask me my consent, and whether I cared for you ? You consulted only my father and mother. In reality, they have married you, and therefore you will do well always to complain to them about the wrongs which you may suffer. As for me, who did not tell you to marry me, and whom you took without consulting my feelings, I do not pretend to be obliged to submit, like a slave, to your will; and, by your leave, I mean to enjoy the few happy days of my youth, to take the sweet liberties which the age allows me, to see the fashionable world a little, and to taste the pleasure of having pretty things said to me. Prepare yourself for this, for your punishment; and thank Heaven that I am not capable of something worse.]
Angélique to Dandin (II. 4, p. 270) (or p. 370)

Clitandre has been prowling around and George Dandin has seen him.  He then learns from Lubin that Monsieur le Vicomte is with Angélique. George looks through the keyhole and sees Clitandre with his wife. At that very moment, kairos, the Sotenvilles arrive. Clitandre is about to leave, but he sees the Sotenvilles and Dandin. Angélique will make believe she is angry at Clitandre and will hit him with a stick. But it is her husband she hits: Dandin. The Sotenvilles are delighted to see their daughter chase Clitandre away and tell Dandin that he must be very happy.

Act Three

In Act Three, during a dark night, Lubin takes Clitandre to Dandin’s house and Claudine leads him to Angélique. Because it is dark, there is quite the chassé-croisé, a mix-up. Our lovers believe Dandin is sound asleep. He was, but he has heard his wife going down the steps and he inadvertently bumps into Lubin who thinks Dandin is Claudine and talks again. Dandin knows that the Vicomte is with Angélique. He asks Colin, his servant, to fetch the Sotenvilles and to do so as quickly as possible.

When Clitandre is about to leave Angélique, he thinks that perhaps she is a wife to Dandin.

Oui. Mais je songe qu’en me quittant, vous allez trouver un mari. Cette pensée m’assassine, et les priviléges qu’ont les maris sont des choses cruelle pour une amant  qui aime bien.
Clitandre à Angélique (III. v, p. 38)
[Yes. But I cannot help remembering that, when you leave me, you go back to a husband. This thought kills me; and a husband’s privileges are cruel things to a fond lover.]
Clitandre to Angélique (III. 5, 282) (or p. 385)
Serez-vous assez fort pour avoir cette inquiétude, et pensez-vous qu’on soit
capable d’aimer de certains maris qu’il y a. On les prend, parce qu’on ne s’en peut défendre, et que l’on dépend de parents qui n’ont des yeux que pour le bien, mais on sait leur rendre justice, et l’on se moque fort de les considérer au delà de ce qu’ils méritent.
Angélique à Clitandre (III. v, p. 38)
[Are you weak enough to have such anxiety, and do you think it possible to love a certain sort of husbands? We marry them, because we cannot help ourselves, and
because we depend upon our parents, who look only riches; but we know how to be even with them, and we take good care not to value them above their deserts.]
Angélique to Clitandre (III. 5, p. 282-283) (or p. 385)

Claudine warns Angélique that she and Clitandre must part.

Madame, si vous avez à dire du mal de votre mari, dépêchez vite, car il est tard.
Claudine à Angélique (III. v, p. 38)
[Madam, if you have any harm to say of your husband, you had better make haste, for it is getting late.]
Claudine to Angélique (III. 6, p. 283) (or p. 386)

Angélique and Claudine are returning indoors, but the door is locked. This episode was rehearsed in the Jalousie du Barbouillé. Angélique pleads with Dandin, but she must feigns suicide to re-enter the house. When the Sotenvilles arrive, Angélique is free to accuse her husband of having been out drinking.

Angélique’s father asks her to forgive Dandin:

Allons, venez, ma fille, que votre mari vous demande pardon.
Sotenville à Angélique (III. vii, p. 47)
[Come hither, daughter, that your husband may ask your pardon.]
Sotenville to Angélique (III. 14, p. 290) (or p. 393)

Moi ? lui pardonner tout ce qu’il m’a dit ? Non, non, mon père, il m’est impossible de m’y résoudre, et je vous prie de me séparer d’un mari avec lequel je ne saurais plus vivre.
Angélique to Sotenville (III. vii, p. 47)
[I! pardon him after all that he has said to me? No, no, father I cannot possibly make up my mind to it; and I beg of you to separate me from a husband with whom I can no longer live.]
Angélique to Sotenville (III. 14, p. 290) (or p. 393)

Angélique wants to end the marriage and so does Dandin, but Angélique’s father will not let her leave her husband.

Ma fille, de semblables séparations ne se font point sans grand scandale, et vous devez vous montrer plus sage que lui, et patienter encore cette fois.
[Such separations, daughter, are not brought about without a great deal of scandal; and you should show yourself wiser than he, and be patient once more.] (p. 395)
Sotenville
Comment patienter après de telles indignités? Non, mon père, c’est une chose où je ne puis consentir.
[How can I be patient after such indignities? No, father, I cannot consent to it.]
Angélique
Il le faut, ma fille, et c’est moi qui vous le commande.
[You must, daughter; I command you.] (p. 395)
Sotenville
Ce mot me ferme la bouche, et vous avez sur moi une puissance absolue.
[This word stops my mouth. You have absolute authority over me.]
Angélique
What gentleness.
Claudine
FR III. vii, p. 47
EN III. 14, p. 290-291 (or p. 395)

As for Dandin, he must kneel down and apologize to his wife, repeating, word for word, as though he were a child, what Monsieur de Sotenville says.

792336

George Dandin by François Boucher, Laurent Cars

Therefore, George says to himself that all he can do is drown himself:

Ah ! je le quitte maintenant, et je n’y vois plus de remède, lorsqu’on a comme moi épousé une méchante femme, le meilleur parti qu’on puisse prendre, c’est de s’aller jeter dans l’eau la tête la première.
Dandin (III. viii, p. 48)
[Ah! I give it up altogether, and I can see no help for it. When one has married, as I have done, a wicked wife, the best step on can take is to go and throw one’s self into the water, head foremost.]
Dandin (III. 15, p. 291) (or p. 396)

Conclusion

Angélique provides the most probable dénouement, which is the absence of a dénouement. Yet nothing is missing.

Tout ce que vous me faites faire ne servira de rien, et vous verrez que ce sera dès demain à recommencer.
Angélique à M. de Sotenville (III. vii, p. 47)
[Whatever you make me do will be of no use; we shall have to recommence to-morrow, you will see.]
Angélique to the Sotenvilles (III. 14, p. 291) (or p. 395)

If Dandin doesn’t drown, he will seek and find Angélique and Clitandre, perhaps in flagrante delicto, in the midst of it. He will run to the Sotenvilles and ask for satisfaction. There is a contract, but Angélique was never consulted. Her father probably said to her: “I command you.” Sotenville is both a pater familias and an impoverished aristocrat. All he could think of were his needs. The Sotenvilles are besotted by their rank, as we can see in Act One. As for Angélique, she was wronged, but she’s a “coquette.” However, the comedic formula used by Molière is consistent with that of farces: the deceiver deceived, except that Dandin knows he made a mistake.

J’enrage de bon cœur d’avoir tort, lorsque j’ai raison. (Dandin, I. vi, p. 15 )
[It makes me mad to be put in the wrong when I am in the right.] (I. 7. p. 262) (or p. 262)

Will Moore writes that “Dandin is essentially in the right, but he is in all actual cases made to appear in the wrong.”[2] But, according to Jules Brody, Alceste is “morally” right and “esthetically” wrong. In George Dandin, Molière remembers Le Misanthrope. Alceste is a jaloux and vain. “Je veux qu’on me distingue…” (I. i. v. 64, p. 3). “I must be singled out; to put it flatly,” (I. 1, Wikisource), but he seems “morally” right. 

Love to everyone

RELATED ARTICLES

Sources and Resources

_________________________
[1] There is disagreement concerning the date.
[2] See W. G. Moore, Molière: a New Criticism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968 [1949]), p. 118.
[3] See Jules Brody, “Don Juan” and “Le Misanthrope,” or the Esthetics of Individualism in Molière,” PMLA, 84 (May 1969) pp.
539-76.

th

© Micheline Walker
31 May 2019
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Molière’s “George Dandin,” revisited (1)

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I found an anecdote in a book on Molière published by Paris-MatchBoileau, a key figure in the development of the French language and literature, was asked by Louis XIV to identify the greatest writer of his reign. Boileau said that it was Molière. Louis was surprised, but he told Boileau that he, Boileau, was in a better position to judge.

Quel a été le plus grand écrivain de mon règne? (Louis)
[Who was the greatest writer of my reign?]
C’est Molière. (Boileau)
[It’s Molière.]
Ma foi, je ne l’aurais pas cruMais, indubitablement, vous êtes meilleur juge que moi en la matière. (Louis)
[Is that so? I wouldn’t have thought so. But you are, undoubtedly, the better judge in this matter.]

I bought this book when I lived in France. It had just been published. It is not an academic presentation of Molière, but it is informative, accurate by 1969 standards, and it has illustrations I have not seen navigating the internet. 

About George Dandin

There are several procès (legal proceedings or trials) in Molière. In George Dandin, we are dealing with a contract, a marriage contract. All George Dandin knows is what Lubin, Valère’s valet, has told him. Angélique has received a letter from Clitandre. He is in love. Lubin takes the letter to Angélique who replies that she is very interested in Clitandre, but that he must be careful, because her husband is jealous.

The Sotenvilles, Angélique’s parents, will investigate. Clitandre will deny having sent a letter (une ambassade) and Angélique will deny having received a letter.

Hearsay is not valid and aristocrats deny allegations credibly, or by way of being aristocrats: dans les formes. Dandin has a title. He is George de La Dandinière, but he will always be a peasant. As for Angélique, she will always say that he signed a contract with her family, and not with her. She had nothing to do in this matter, which is mostly accurate. As early as the end of Act One, Dandin has to apologize to the Sotenvilles and Clitandre. He repeats words dictated to him by Monsieur de la Sotenville.

With George Dandin, we move a little past cuckoldry. Dandin, a wealthy peasant, learns that his wife, Angélique, has a lover,[1] Clitandre, an aristocrat. Dandin believes this is proof of adultery or impending adultery, but it isn’t proof. The Sotenvilles, Angélique’s parents, would need to see Clitandre in bed with Angélique. But even if they did,  Clitandre might still get off, by denying. Dandin is a mere peasant.  

Si bien donc que si je le trouvais couché avec ma femme, il en serait quitte pour se dédire.
Dandin aux Sotenvilles (I. vi, p. 15)
[Thus, if I had found him in bed with my wife, he would get off by simply denying it?]
Dandin to the Sotenvilles (I. 7, p. 262)

Aristocracy is a mask and Dandin was naïve and vain. Vanity is a sin. Dandin could not become a gentilhomme. He may as well drown. Although he is right, he is wrong.

J’enrage de bon cœur d’avoir tort, lorsque j’ai raison.
Dandin, seul (I. vi, p. 15)
[(Aside). It makes me mad to be put in the wrong, when I am in the right.]
Dandin, alone (I. 8, p. 262)

George Dandin is not an “all’s well that ends well” scenario. George Dandin is a farce. The formula for farces is “tel est pris qui croyait prendre” or “deceiver deceived.” According to this comedic formula, Dandin will always complain and will always be forced to apologize.

With kind regards to everyone  💕

_________________________
[1] Someone in love.

Une jeune fillette
Le Poème Harmonique, Vincent Dumestre

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Toile de Jouy (Pinterest)

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The Strawberry Girl by Joshua Reynolds, 1775 (WikiArt.org)

I apologize for not writing for several days. My computer is on the blink.
I may need help.

Kind regards to everyone  💕

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Boy holding a Bunch of Grapes by Joshua Reynolds, 1770 (WikiArt.org)

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24 May 2019
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Molière’s “Jalousie du Barbouillé”

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la jalousie du barbouille

La Jalousie du Barbouillé (documentation.théâtre.com)

I have not found illustrations for La Jalousie du Barbouillé. The image above is a detail from an illustration by Abraham Bosse, showing Turlupin and Gaultier-Garguille, French farceurs at the Hôtel de Bourgogne. The Hôtel de Bourgogne, was the foremost venue for Paris actors and farceurs. Another venue was Le Théâtre du Marais, a jeu de paume, an interior tennis court.

La Jalousie du Barbouillé is a one-act farce, first performed in 1660. It is often associated with Le Médecin volant. Both are early plays. However, Le Barbouillé seems the blueprint for George Dandin, first performed in 1668. George Dandin is a rich peasant who foolishly marries into an impoverished aristocracy. La Jalousie du Barbouillé was staged a few times after it premièred, but the farce was unexpectedly removed from Molière’s répertoire and the text itself vanished. It was found by Jean-Baptiste Rousseau in the eighteenth century, but was not included in the complete works of Molière until the 1819 edition.

Sources

The Molière21 research group warn that ancestors to Molière’s plays are probably too numerous to list. Cuckoldry and jealousy have long been the subject of farces and fabliaux. Cuckoldry also provided canevas, plots, to the commedia dell’arte. However, Wikipedia’s entry on La Jalousie du Barbouillé mentions sources. One is the commedia dell’arte‘s Villano gelosi, another is a tale from Boccacio’s Decameron, Le Jaloux corrigé. Moreover, the angry or disconsolate Barbouillé and Dandin are incarnations of Pedrolino (Pierrot), the rejected and sad clown.

Our dramatis personæ are:

Le Barbouillé, husband to Angélique.
The Doctor.
Angélique.
Valère, lover to Angélique.
Cathau, maid to Angélique.
Gorgibus, father to Angélique.
Villebrequin (accompanies Gorgibus).
La Vallée.

Le Jaloux

La Jalousie du Barbouillé features one of Molière’s main figures: the  jaloux. Le jaloux combines two comedic functions. On the one hand, he is “in love,” but on the other hand, he is the blocking character of comedy, the alazṓn of Greek Old Comedy. If he has yet to marry, he resembles Arnolphe. Reprimands and imprecations are his native and only tongue. We have just read Le Sicilien ou l’Amour peintre. Had Dom Pèdre known the laws of gallantry, Isidore may not have fled with Adraste.

After le Jaloux marries, he remains a jaloux because he fears cuckoldry, which is his fate. The cocu is the laughing-stock of the society of the play. In La Jalousie du Barbouillé, his name suggests that his face is smeared: barbouillé.

Angélique

Yes, Angélique has met Valère and, serving the couple, is Cathau, Angélique’s maid. She is on the lookout. If she sees Gorgibus, Angélique’s father, she warns Valère and Angélique, who stop speaking as lovers do. Valère knows how to change topics:

Mademoiselle, je suis au désespoir de vous apporter de si méchantes nouvelles ; mais aussi bien les auriez-vous apprises de quelque autre ; et, puisque votre frère est fort malade…
Valère à Angélique (Sc. iv, p. 5)
[Mademoiselle, I am very sorry to bring you such bad news, but, you would have heard it from some one else, and since your brother is ill…]
Valère to Angélique (Sc. 4)

The Barbouillé’s Soliloquy

As the curtain lifts, the Barbouillé engages in a soliloquy, as will George Dandin. His soliloquy, or tirade, is a litany of the wrongs he endures, saddled as he is, with a flirtatious wife. He wishes her dead, but would be hanged if he had no proof of adultery:

Il faut avouer que je suis le plus malheureux de tous les hommes ! J’ai une femme qui me fait enrager : au lieu de me donner du soulagement et de faire les choses à mon souhait, elle me fait donner au diable vingt fois le jour ; au lieu de se tenir à la maison, elle aime la promenade, la bonne chère, et fréquente je ne sais quelle sorte de gens. Ah ! pauvre Barbouillé, que tu es misérable ! Il faut pourtant la punir. Si tu la tuais… L’intention ne vaut rien, car tu serais pendu. Si tu la faisais mettre en prison… La carogne en sortirait avec son passe-partout. Que diable faire donc ? Mais voilà monsieur le docteur qui passe par ici, il faut que je lui demande un bon conseil sur ce que je dois faire.
Barbouillé (Sc. I, p. 1)
[Everybody must acknowledge that I am the most unfortunate of men! I have a wife who plagues me to death; and who, instead of bringing me comfort and doing things as I like them to be done, makes me swear at her twenty times a day. Instead of keeping at home, she likes gadding about, eating good dinners, and passing her time with people of I don’t know what description. Ah! poor Barbouillé, how much you are to be pitied! But she must be punished. Suppose you killed her…? It would do no good, for you would be hung afterwards. If you were to have her sent to prison…? The minx would find means of coming out. –What the deuce are you to do?
But here is the doctor coming out this way; suppose I ask his advice on my difficulties.]
Barbouillé (Sc. 1)

The Barbouillé seeks the help of a doctor, a pedant, who is passing by. This doctor cannot give advice. The Barbouillé says a few words, which is all our pedant requires to display his knowledge. Doctors have the reputation of presenting bills. At the end of Scene two, the Doctor therefore indulges in a long tirade aimed at showing that expense is no object. He does’nt take money. The tirade being too long, I will indicate that it is at the very end of Scene ii, p. 4, FR Scene 2, EN.

Gorgibus

In the meantime, Monsieur Gorgibus, Angélique’s father, walks on stage, accompanied by Villebrequin, his entourage. Gorgibus fears cuckoldry as much as the Barbouillé, if not more. Should his daughter commit adultery, which is almost unavoidable, Gorgibus’ reputation would suffer. He is forever visiting his daughter and her husband, begging them to stop quarrelling. They quarrel. (Sc. v, p. 5):

Hé quoi? toujours se quereller! vous n’aurez point la paix dans votre ménage?
Gorgibus au Barbouillé
(Sc. v)
[What! will you always be quarrelling! Will you never have peace at home?]
Gorgibus to Barbouillé (Sc. 5)

An incoherent doctor butts in. For instance, he asks the Barbouillé not to use the word enrager: j’enrage [I am bursting with rage.], which is not the correct verb.[1] Whether the Barbouillé uses enrager or an another word is irrelevant. He is a nuisance. As the scene ends, the doctor is dragged away, a cord attached to his foot.

Au milieu de tout ce bruit, le Barbouillé attache le Docteur par le pied, et le fait tomber ; le Docteur se doit laisser sur le dos ; le barbouillé l’entraîne par la corde qu’il lui a attachée au pied, et, pendant qu’il l’entraîne, le Docteur doit toujours parler, et compter par ses doigts toutes ses raisons, comme s’il n’était point à terre.
(Sc. vi, pp. 8-9)
[In the midst of all this, Le Barbouillé ties the Doctor by the legs with a rope, throws him down on his back, and drags him away; the Doctor goes on talking all the time, and counts all his arguments on his fingers, as if he were not on the ground.]
(Sc. 6)

Cuckoldry

In La Jalousie du Barbouillé, Molière rehearses George Dandin ou le Mari confondu, performed in 1668. The two comedies share an episode. The Barbouillé’s Angélique is late returning home and finds herself locked out of the Barbouillé’s house. The Barbouillé will not open the door to let his wife enter. 

Oui? Ah! ma foi, tu peux aller coucher d’où tu viens, ou, si tu l’aimes mieux, dans la rue, dans la rue : je n’ouvre point à une coureuse comme toi. Comment, diable! être toute seule à l’heure qu’il est!  Je ne sais si c’est imagination, mais mon front m’en paraît plus rude de moitié.
Barbouillé à Angélique (Sc. xi, p. 10)
[Yes, you catch me! You may go and sleep where you come from; I shall not open to a gad-about like you. What! alone at this time of night! I don’t know if it is fancy, but my forehead seems to me already rougher by half.]
Barbouillé to Angélique (Sc. 11)

The Barbouillé so insists on keeping the door closed that Angélique says she will do something he will regret.

Sais-tu bien que si tu me pousses à bout, et que tu me mettes en colère, je ferai quelque chose dont tu te repentiras?
Angélique au Barbouillé (Sc. xi, p. 11)
[Do you know that if you push me too far, and put me in a passion, I may do something which will make you repent your unkindness.]
Angélique to Barbouillé (Sc. 11)

Tiens, si tu ne m’ouvres, je m’en vais me tuer devant la porte ; mes parents, qui sans doute viendront ici auparavant de se coucher, pour savoir si nous sommes bien ensemble, me trouveront morte, et tu seras pendu.
Angélique au Barbouillé (Sc. xi, p. 11)
[I declare that if you do not open to me, I will kill myself before the door; my parents will no doubt come here before going to bed, to see if we are all right together, and they will find me dead, and you will be hanged.]
Angélique to Barbouillé (Sc. 11)

She then makes believe she’s killed herself. Frightened, he goes out of the house, allowing her to enter. It was a trick which George Dandin will play on his wife, in the hope he will be vindicated. He would have the upper hand from the point of you of the law. (Act III. final scenes)

Comments

Le jaloux is doomed, whether or not he is in the right. Courting, le Jaloux cannot make himself loved. He cannot be loved. Once he marries, Molière’s jaloux is cuckolded, un cocu and barbouillé, smeared. He is the laughing-stock of the play’s society and he shames his in-laws, however vigilant a Gorgibus or a Barbouillé. Gorgibus asks his daughter to kiss her “husband:”

Allons, ma fille, embrassez votre mari, et soyez bons amis.
Gorgibus à Angélique (Sc. xii, p. 12)
[Come, daughter, kiss your husband, and be friends.]
Gorgibus to Angélique (Sc. 13)

One does not ask a woman to kiss her husband, nor does one ask a husband to apologize to his wife (George Dandin, p. 291). Angélique and Valère will become lovers. The Sotenville (George Dandin) are prosperous again, but they have sold a daughter and Dandin regrets marrying into the aristocracy. He blames himself.

As the curtain falls, Villebrequin, who has refused the hear sixty to eighty pages of instruction from a reappearing doctor, suggests all go to supper. 

Allons-nous-en souper ensemble, nous autres.
Villebrequin à tous (Sc. xiii, p. 13)
Let us all go and have some supper together.
Villebrequin to all (Sc. 13)

This invitation is formulaic and The Jealousy of the Barbouillé, an enigmatic comedy. “Nous autres” go to supper, but George Dandin, a second Barbouillé, feels he may as well drown (George Dandin, p. 291).

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____________________
[1] It is the correct verb.

With kind regards to everyone. 💕
(Apologies for a belated post.)

Four_Commedia_dell’Arte_Figures_claude-gillot

Claude Gillot (1673–1722), Four Commedia dell’arte Figures: Three Gentlemen and Pierrot, c. 1715 (Wiki2.org)

169331 (2)

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20 May 2019
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Claude Lorrain & a Carpe Diem

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Claude Lorrain – Pastoral scene with classical ruins.  Grenoble – Musée des Beaux Arts  (about-France.com Baroque and Classicism)

A Carpe Diem

Croyez-moi, hâtons-nous, ma Sylvie,  Believe me, let us hasten, my Sylvia,  
Usons bien des moments précieux;  and profit well by the precious time ;
Contentons ici notre envie,  let us here satisfy our desires.
De nos ans le feu nous y convie:  The passions of our age invite us ;
Nous ne saurions, vous et moi, faire mieux  you and I could not do better.

Quand l’hiver a glacé nos guérets,  Winter has covered our fields with ice,
Le printemps vient reprendre sa place,  Spring comes to take her place again,
Et ramène à nos champs leurs attraits;  and to our pastures gives their charms.
Mais, hélas! quand l’âge nous glace,  But when, alas ! old age has chilled our feelings,
Nos beaux jours ne reviennent jamais. our happy days return no more.

Ne cherchons tous les jours qu’à nous plaire, Let us seek all day naught but what pleases us;  
Soyons-y l’un et l’autre empressés;  let us both be earnest about it ;
Du plaisir faisons notre affaire, let pleasures be our business ;
Des chagrins songeons à nous défaire: let us get rid of all our troubles;
Il vient un temps où l’on en prend assez. a time will come when we shall have enough of them.
Quand l’hiver a glacé nos guérets, …

La Pastorale comique, Sc xiii, p. 7.
The Comic Pastoral, Sc 15, p. 51. (transl. Henri van Laun)

A Pastoral Landscape by Claude Lorrain, 1647 (WikiArt.org)

As you know, I hope to publish a book about Molière. I have not read all of Molière for decades. My PhD thesis was a discussion of six plays. The University of British Columbia’s Library has sent me a PDF copy, which I will convert into text I can edit.

Although I will seldom include the libretto in my little book, I am reading the plays of Molière in their entirety. The carpe diem located above is an “air.”

I apologize for posting rather long articles.

 

Love to everyone  💕

Benedetto Ferrari : « Non fia più ver » Philippe Jarrousky (contre-ténor) 

pastoral-landscape-1677

Pastoral Landscape by Claude Lorrain, 1677 (WikiArt.org)

© Micheline Walker
16 May 2019
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Molière’s “Sicilien” or “Love makes the Painter”

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Although Le Sicilien ou l’amour peintre forms part of Isaac de Benserade’s Ballet des Muses, and is a comédie-ballet, written by Molière and composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully, it differs from the third entrée: the incomplete Mélicerte and Comic Pastoral. Mélicerte and the Comic Pastoral were pièces de circonstance or plays written for a momentary event. The mourning period that followed the death of Anne d’Autriche, Louis XIV’s mother, was drawing to a close and would give way to festivities that were to take place at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. In other words, these were pièces de circonstance, momentary plays. Molière never wrote the third act of Mélicerte FR and removed the Comédie pastorale‘s FR theatrical scenes. Le Sicilien ou l’Amour peintre was written and published during Molière’s lifetime.

Moreover, in Le Sicilien, gone are shepherds and shepherdesses. These inhabited the literature of an earlier seventeenth century. The second half of the seventeenth century is often referred to as le Grand Siècle (1661-1715). Louis XIV’s reign began in 1661. The quest for a Golden Age is a permanent feature of literature, and would characterize eighteenth-century fêtes galantes. These would be oniriques, or dream-like. As for Le Sicilien ou l’Amour peintre, its main subject matter would be galanterie and the galant homme. Adraste, disguised as an artist and a Frenchman, is a galant homme. Juxtaposed to Adraste is Dom Pèdre, whose jealous nature keeps him from learning the spellbinding words of galanterie. He loves Isidore, a freed Greek slave, but he so fears losing her that he doesn’t use the words that could endear him to her. We remember l’École des femmes, The School for Wives‘ Arnolphe. 

In fact, one could sum up Le Sicilen ou l’Amour peintre by quoting The School for Wives (L’École des femmes). Arnolphe is too jealous to make himself loved. He admonishes Agnès, innocence personified, but Horace knows the appropriate “deux mots,” couple of words, that make him attractive.

Tenez, tous vos discours ne me touchent point l’âme.
Horace avec deux mots en ferait plus que vous.
Agnès à Arnolphe (V. iv, p. 73)
[All you say does not touch my heart.
Horace could do more with a couple of words.]
Agnès to Arnolphe (V. 4. p. 157)

L'école de femmes par Joullain

Le Sicilien par Ed. Héd.

Le Sicilien attribué à Edmond Hédouin (théâtre.documentation)

Le Sicilien ou l’Amour peintre (The Sicilian; or, Love Makes the Painter)

Le Sicilien ou l’Amour peintre is a one-act pastoral and comédie-ballet. The Ballet des Muses consisted of ballets mainly. Voltaire loved it. He wrote: « C’est la seule petite pièce en un acte où il y ait de la grâce. »[1] ‟It is the only little play in one act that has grace.” Molière had graced his one-act Sicilien and, although it was performed as the last ballet at Saint-Germain, it was also performed in Paris. It fared better at Saint-Germain than in Paris, which does not make it a lesser play. However, finding roots is difficult. One may grope, but Molière’s earlier plays are his main source.

Our dramatis personæ are

DON PEDRO, a Sicilian gentleman
ADRASTE, a French gentleman, in love with Isidore
ISIDORE, a Greek girl, Don Pedro’s slave.
A SENATOR. HALT, a Turk, Adraste’s slave.
ZAIDE, a young slave girl.*
Two SERVANTS. MUSICIANS. A SLAVE, singing. SLAVES, dancing. MOORS OF BOTH SEXES, dancing.
*Zaïde is CLIMÈNE, Adraste’s sister.

Adraste would like to speak to Isidore.

In scene five, he complains that Don Pedre is keeping Isidore out of sight. He has seen her and believes they are in love, but he tells Hali that it seems impossible to speak to Isidore. Lovers need to speak to one another.

Quoi! tous nos soins seront, donc, inutiles? et, toujours, ce fâcheux jaloux se moquera de nos desseins?
Adraste à Hali (Sc. v, p. 6)
[What ! Shall all our trouble be for nothing ? Shall this tiresome, jealous fellow always laugh at our attempts?]
Adraste to Hali (Sc. v, p. 65)

Non, le courroux du point d’honneur me prend; il ne sera pas dit qu’on triomphe de mon adresse; ma qualité de fourbe s’indigne de tous ces obstacles; et je prétends faire éclater les talents que j’ai eus du Ciel.
Hali à Adraste (Sc. v, p. 6)
[No. I get angry, and my honour is at stake; it shall not be said that anyone has outwitted me. My reputation as a rogue disdains all these obstacles ; and I am determined to show the talents that Heaven has given me.]
Hali to Adraste (Sc. 5, p. 66)

A stratagem is planned. Pedro will be fooled into thinking that Adraste is Damon, an artist who is supposed to paint a portrait of Isidore. Don Pedro introduces the artist:

Voici un gentilhomme que Damon nous envoie, qui se veut bien donner la peine de vous peindre.
Dom Pèdre à Isidore (Sc. xi, p. 13)
[This is a gentleman whom Damon sends us, and who will be kind enough to undertake your portrait.]
Don Pedro to Isidore (Sc.12, p. 72)

When he meets Isidore, the artist embraces her, so Don Pedro is miffed. Isidore, however, “accepts this honour:”

Holà, Seigneur Français, cette façon de saluer n’est  point d’usage en ce pays. (Don Pedro)
[Hullo! Sir Frenchman, this way of saluting is not the fashion in this country.]
C’est la manière de France. (Adraste)
[It is the fashion of France.]
La manière de France est bonne pour vos femmes; mais pour les nôtres, elle est, un peu, trop familière. (Don Pedro)
[The fashion of France may suit your ladies; but for ours, it is somewhat too familiar.]
Je reçois cet honneur avec beaucoup de joie; l’aventure me surprend fort; et, pour dire le vrai, je ne m’attendais pas d’avoir un peintre si illustre. (Isidore)
[I accept this honour with much pleasure. The adventure surprises me immensely; and, to tell the truth I did not expect to have such an illustrious painter.]
(Sc. xi, p. 13/Sc.12, p. 72)

Despite the presence of Dom Pèdre, Adraste courts Isidore whom, until then, he has only seen. Isidore doesn’t know whether he is truthful, but Adraste is convincing:

Oui, charmante Isidore, mes regards vous le disent depuis plus de deux mois, et vous les avez entendus: je vous aime plus que tout ce que l’on peut aimer, et je n’ai point d’autre pensée, d’autre but, d’autre passion, que d’être à vous toute ma vie.
Adraste à Isidore (Sc. xii, p. 16)
[Yes, charming Isidore, my looks have told you as much for the last two months, and you have understood them. I love you more than aught else, and have no other thought, no other aim, no other passion, than to be yours all my life.]
Adraste to Isidore (Sc. 8, p. 75)
Je ne sais si vous dites vrai, mais vous persuadez.
Isidore à Adraste (Sc. xii, p. 16)
[I do not know whether you speak the truth ; but you make me believe you.]
Isidore to Adraste (Sc. 8, p.75)
[What are you waiting for?]
Adraste to Isidore (Sc. 14, p. 76)
[To make up my mind.]
Isidore to Adraste (Sc. 14, p. 76)
[Ah ! when people love with all their hearts, they
make up their minds quickly.]
Adraste to Isidore (Sc. 14, p. 76)
[Very well then ! yes, I consent to it.]
Isidore to Adraste (Sc. 14, p. 76)

In Scene XIV, Climène, Adraste’s sister, bursts onto the scene, asking to be protected from a jealous husband. Don Pedro is surprised. He believes Frenchmen are not jealous. But the French, it appears, excell in every way.

Les Français excellent toujours dans toutes les choses qu’ils font[.] 

So, Don Pedro lets Climène/Zaïde enter wearing a veil. He lest her join the artist and Isidore, not knowing that he will be tricked. Climène gives Isidore her veil, which is how Adraste and Isidore leave unnoticed.

Ah! Seigneur cavalier, sauvez-moi, s’il vous plaît, des mains d’un mari furieux dont je suis poursuivie. Sa jalousie est incroyable, et passe dans ses mouvements tout ce qu’on peut imaginer. Il va jusques à vouloir que je sois, toujours, voilée; et pour m’avoir trouvée le visage un peu découvert, il a mis l’épée à la main, et m’a réduite à me jeter chez vous, pour vous demander votre appui contre son injustice. Mais je le vois paraître. De grâce, Seigneur cavalier, sauvez-moi de sa fureur.
Climène/Zaïde à Dom Pèdre (Sc. xiv, p. 18)
[Ah, Sir, save me, I beseech you, from the hands of an enraged husband who is close upon my heels. His jealousy is incredible, and surpasses in its violence every-thing imaginable. He carries it so far as to wish me to be always veiled ; and for having found me with my face a little uncovered he has drawn his sword, and he has compelled me to throw myself upon you, and to ask for your protection against his injustice. But I see him coming ; for heaven’s sake, honoured Sir, save me from his fury.]
Zaïde/Climène to Don Pedro (Sc. 15, p. 77)
Entrez là-dedans, avec elle, et n’appréhendez rien.
Dom Pèdre à Climène/Zaïde (Sc. xiv, p. 18)
[Go in there with her, and fear nothing.]
Don Pedro to Zaïde/Climène (Sc. 15, p. 77)

Comments

Salons” nurtured both l’honnête homme and le galant homme. Le galant homme is not un homme galant, a womanizer. Le galant homme is refined and knows how to please a woman, as does l’honnête homme. Charles Sorel is the author of Les Lois de la galanterie (1644), and Nicolas Faret wrote L’Honnête homme ou l’Art de plaire à la cour (1630). Molière himself sought to please … an audience.

In short, in Le Sicilien, Molière remembers jealous and possessive men. These men court women speaking the language of accountants. Moreover, they often resort to the law. They have rights. Don Pedro speaks to the Senator who can only think of a mascarade he has written. It’s a dialogue de sourds. Molière remembers Arnolphe. He also remembers Horace who tells each one of his plans to Arnolphe, but defeats Arnolphe.

According to Marcel Gutwirth, Molière main characters are le Jaloux, jealous men, l’Imposteur (le faux dévot) and the zanni, clever servants and fourbes, tricksters.[2] However, among these three types are Argan (The Imaginary Invalid), Harpagon (The Miser) and Arnolphe. These characters are obsessed. Harpagon is quite happy to retrieve his cassette.

Molière did not finish Mélicerte and destroyed La Comédie pastorale, the Comic Pastoral‘s theatrical scenes. As for Le Sicilien ou l’amour peintre, The Sicilian; or, Love Makes the Painter, it was an afterthought, or so it appears. But we have just read three humble, but delightful little plays, as moliéresque as can be.

Would that I had written: “Quand l’hiver a glacé nos guérets, …” (La Pastorale comique)

RELATED ARTICLES

Sources and Resources
Le Sicilien ou l’Amour peintre is a toutmolière.net publication
The Sicilian; or, Loves makes the Painter is and Internet Archive publication, translator Henri van Laun
Images belong to théâtre.documentation

_________________________
[1] Maurice Rat, ed., Les Œuvres complètes de Molière (Paris: Gallimard [La Pléiade], 1956), p. 950.
[2] Marcel Gutwirth, Molière ou l’invention comique (Paris: Ménard, 1966), p. 24.

Love to everyone 💕


Le Ballet des Muses — Jean-Baptiste Lully

 

Le Ballet des MusesThe Complete Play FR

© Micheline Walker
14 May 2019
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