Mike Pence: ‘Buckle Up’ For Trump’s First 100 Days

I thought I should share this with you.

PA Pundits - International

lucas_fred-200x200By Fred Lucas ~

Vice President-elect Mike Pence asserted Tuesday night that the Trump administration will have an aggressive first 100 days in office that includes rebuilding the military, repealing Obamacare, and naming a justice to the Supreme Court.

The Indiana governor and former U.S. House member said he has visited Capitol Hill about the agenda and issued a warning to GOP lawmakers.

“I told my former colleagues to buckle up, vacation is over,” Pence said to laughter from the audience.

“I told my former colleagues to buckle up, vacation is over,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence, a former Indiana congressman, said at a Heritage Foundation event Tuesday. (Photo: Max Becherer/Polaris/Newscom)“I told my former colleagues to buckle up, vacation is over,” Vice President-elect Mike Pence, a former Indiana congressman, said at a Heritage Foundation event Tuesday. (Photo: Max Becherer/Polaris/Newscom)

Pence spoke Tuesday night at The Heritage Foundation’s President’s Club Meeting, held at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., in front of about 700 people in the large ballroom. His speech came just 44 days before Donald Trump is…

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Borowitz: Wait Until Inauguration


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FILE - In this Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 file photo, President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump shake hands following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. As president-elect, Trump is calling for unity in words that draw attention precisely because they sound so unlike Trump, the candidate. But many question whether it is possible to reverse the campaign’s damage to political discourse and its ripples out to the way Americans speak to and about each other. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

FILE – In this Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016 file photo, President Barack Obama and President-elect Donald Trump shake hands following their meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. As president-elect, Trump is calling for unity in words that draw attention precisely because they sound so unlike Trump, the candidate. But many question whether it is possible to reverse the campaign’s damage to political discourse and its ripples out to the way Americans speak to and about each other. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

I am finishing a slightly longer post, on Molière, but glanced at the New Yorker which contained a short article written by journalist Andy Borowitz who publishes humorous material.

Borowitz on Trump, the New Yorker


Obama Politely Asks Trump to Wait Until Inauguration Before Destroying World

A few weeks ago, the unthinkable was electing Donald Trump to the presidency of the United States.

It appears that Russian President Vladimir Putin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and US President Donald Trump will join forces to fight Daesh (ISIL).


In the words of an academic…

On 26 November, I read an alarming article published in a Sherbrooke, Quebec’s local newspaper. Its author is University of Sherbrooke Applied Political Science Professor Emeritus Gilles Vandal. According to Professor Vandal, in the 1980s, Mr Trump studied Adolf Hitler‘s Mein Kampf (My Struggle). He then hired Roy Cohn as his lawyer who taught him how to cheat the system, how to destroy evidence to avoid lawsuits, to refuse to acknowledge wrongdoing and not to hesitate to lie, if necessary.

… dans les années 1980, Donald Trump trouvait son inspiration dans Mein Kampf et les discours de Hitler d’avant 1939. De plus, il a été à l’école de Roy Cohn, le principal adjoint de Joe McCarthy. Trump s’est adjoint Cohn comme principal avocat. Ce dernier lui a enseigné comme tricher avec le système, comment détruire des preuves pour éviter de se faire poursuivre, l’importance en toute chose de refuser de reconnaître ses torts et de ne pas hésiter à mentir si c’était nécessaire.
Gilles Vandal, « L’Univers raciste de Trump », La Tribune, le 26 novembre 2016, p. 17.

We are returning to Molière.

Love to everyone. 
Don McLean sings American Pie


© Micheline Walker
6 December 2016
(Updated 6 December 2016)



Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings


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


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

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

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

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


L’Avare (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 alazôn of Greek comedy, or the blocking character, and, on the other hand, the eirôn, the young couple and their supporters: valets, maids, zanni. It 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]

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 therefore, who 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) [1. 5 ]


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

A Comedy of Intrigue

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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

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

When his father falls, accidentally, Cléante is worried:

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

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

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

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


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

Love to everyone



Commedia dell’arte


Sources and Resources

The Miser is a Wikisource eBook (Charles Heron Wall, translator)
The Miser is an Internet Archive publication EN
The Miser is a Project Gutenberg publication [eBook #6923] EN
The Miser, Henri Fielding is an eText EN
L’Avare is a Molière21 (Tout Molière) internet publication FR
(cliquer sur Liens = Tout Molière = L’Avare) 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. 69-7o.
[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)

The Miser


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

© Micheline Walker
1 December 2016

The USA: the Best and the Worst





President-elect Donald J. Trump

The Best and the Worst

My grandfather was an American citizen. We often drove down to Massachusetts to visit with him and his wife. We loved our visits.

There were many conversations. My father told me several times that, as a country, the United States was the best and the worst.

Well, Americans had the best president, whom they nearly crucified, and now they may well have the worst president, who may crucify Americans.

Mr Trump is embroiled in some 75 lawsuits which means that he may not be able to do much for Americans after his inauguration. He was threatening to sue the eleven women who told he had assaulted them. It is at that point that Federal Bureau of Investigation  (FBI) Director James Comey reopened the investigation into Mrs Clinton’s emails, which is how Mr Trump was absolved.

We no longer heard that President-elect Donald Trump had assaulted at least eleven women: amnesia!

Mr Trump has since threatened to sue Mr Comey, but I doubt that it had anything to do with Mrs Clinton’s emails. He threatens everyone with a lawsuit. In fact, Mr Trump had also planned to sue  Hillary Clinton. He changed his mind, but may change it again.


Lawsuits: 3,500

According to USA Today, during the last 30 years Mr Trump was involved in 3,500 lawsuits. It is difficult to understand how and why he was elected to the presidency of the United States. He’ll be picking fights.


President Obama

President Obama will be missed. His competence, engaging personality, impeccable manners earned him the admiration and respect of the world. There were very few issues Barack Obama could not handle. The citizens of other countries felt safe and Americans were in good hands. He is attempting to ensure a safe transition.

Fidel Castro is Dead

How will the new tenant perform? Whom will he sue? Fidel Castro is dead. He made himself, metaphorically speaking, an absolute monarch and, reportedly, jailed and perhaps executed many Cubans. Yet he was a hero to other Cubans. At any rate, the time has come for the embargo to be lifted, but President-elect Donald J. Trump builds walls, not bridges.

A tragedy has befallen the United States and the world.

I have not written for a few days. Life took over…

Love to everyone


President Obama

Nat King Cole sings “Unforgettable”


© Micheline Walker
26 November 2016
(Revised 7 December 2016)





Misers in Literature


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The Miser by Hendrick Gerritsz Pot, Uffizi Gallery (Wikimedia Commons)

The Wealthy and the Miser

In literature, miserliness is not necessarily associated with considerable wealth. Misers are persons who feel comforted by their money and may enter into a fit of rage or collapse when they lose money. For Molière‘s Harpagon, a literary miser featured in L’Avare, money is as dear to him as his very life. In other words, for Harpagon, Molière’s miser, money is no less than Shylock’s “pound of flesh.” In comedies, miserliness may be an obstacle to a young couple’s mariage.

Molière’s Harpagon is a fine example of literary miserliness, but as a blocking character he is not boastful, which is the case with L’École des femmes‘ Arnolphe, who is certain he will never be un cocu, cuckolded, and Tartuffe’s Orgon, who can be tyrannical with impunity. Tartuffe takes sin out of sinning. Pantalone is the miser of the commedia dell’arte and he is also boastful, which leads to ridicule, the worst of fate.

L’Avare: in a Nutshell

  • Harpagon: the miser
  • Anselme: an older gentleman
  • Élise and Cléante: Harpagon’s children
  • Mariane and Valère: Anselme’s children

But let us return to Molière’s Miser. Harpagon is a blocking character and greed is the flaw that jeopardizes the marriage of the young lovers: two couples. Molière’s miser does not want to give a dowry to his daughter Élise. He wishes to marry her to a person who will take her without the usual dowry. Anselme, a fine gentleman, will marry her “sans dot” (without a dowry). Very few men married women who did not bring a dowry. As for his son, Cléante, Harpagon would like him to marry a widow. In 17th-century France, widows had a freedom and privileges daughters or married women did not enjoy. Widows had money, their dowry, but also wealth inherited from their deceased spouse. They could choose their second spouse or choose not to marry. A widow would be a perfect spouse for Cléante. She would look after him.

Élise’s friend Valère hopes to find his father, in which case he would be rich. A kind destiny may save him. Anselme is Valère’s father. In theory, his father drowned. As for Cléante, he hopes to be able to live elsewhere with Mariane, whom his father wants to marry. It will turn out that Mariane is Anselme‘s daughter who will ensure she marries Cléante. In other words, there an anagnorisis (a discovery) which will save both Valère (Élise) and Mariane (Cléante). Anselme is the father Valère is looking for and Mariane’s father. As for Harpagon, he will think he has lost a buried treasure, but it is concealed, not stolen. Cléante’s valet La Flèche has found it and confiscated it. When Harpagon is reunited with his treasure, a cassette reminiscent of Orgon’s cassette (Tartuffe), he is delighted and abandons plans to marry.

In short, when it is proven that Anselme is Valère’s father as well as Mariane’s father and Mariane’s mother’s husband, the young couples may marry. There is sufficient money. Anselme will pay for all expenses. Besides, he has found his wife, whom he thought had drowned.

We will continue and perhaps finish looking at L’Avare in my next post.


Shylock after the Trial, Sir John Gilbert (Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Predecessors and Descendants of Molière’s L’Avare

  • Shylock (The Merchant of Venice by Shakespeare) & predecessors
  • Séraphin (Un Homme et son péché by Claude-Henri Grignon)
  • Gesta Romanorum, Il Peconore, The Orator 

My last post was about Molière’s Miser‘s ancestry. Molière’s L’Avare (The Miser) (1658) is rooted in Roman playwright Plautus’ Aululuria, The Pot of Gold.  In the commedia dell’arte, Pantalone is the miser. However in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice (1596-1599),  we meet Shylock, the Jewish money-lender and miser. Among works preceding Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and Molière’s L’Avare, we should also mention Il Peconore, a collection of short stories by Giovanni Fiorentino (1378), published in Milan in 1558, and the Gesta Romanorum, a collection of Latin tales dating back to the end of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, one of which, the three caskets, inspired Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and The Orator, a tale or novella by Alexandre Sylvane, published in 1558 by Lodovico Domenichi and published in an English translation by William Painter, in 1596. (See Sources, The Merchant of Venice, Wikipedia.)

Literature has other misers closer to us. Scrooge, the protagonist of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (1843) is a miser. The miser also inhabits fables.[1] “A Beirut Maronite (a Roman Catholic following the Syrio-Antiochene rite, widespread in the area), Mārūn al Naqqāsh (died 1855), who knew French and Italian as well as Arabic and Turkish, adapted  Molière’s  L’Avare (“The Miser”) and presented it on a makeshift stage in Beirut in 1848.”[2]

In 1933, Claude Henri Grignon (8 July 1894 – 3 April 1976), a French-Canadian writer, journalist and politician, wrote a novel entitled Un Homme et son péché. The novel grew into one of the most popular Quebec radio serials, Un Homme et son péché. Later, it became a very successful television serial, entitled Les Belles Histoires des pays d’en haut (en haut is north). The musical theme of the television serial was a movement from Glazunov‘s Seasons: Autumn, Petit Adagio. Claude-Henri Grignon’s Un Homme et son péché also inspired a film: Séraphin: Heart of Stone, 2002.


Jessica, The Merchant of Venice by Luke Fildes


Literature has types, prototypes and archetypes (see Jungian archetypes, Wikipedia). These figures are universal and describe, in an intensive way, very real persons. One of Honoré de Balzac‘s Comédie humaine characters is Eugénie Grandet, a miser. The literary depiction of characters, or types, is rooted in Theophrastus (c. 371 – c. 287 BCE) who inspired La Bruyère (16 August 1645 – 11 May 1696), the author of Les Caractères (1688). Playwrights and writers, fabulists, in particular, have often depicted misers, occurrences of intertextualityMisers usually meet with a sorry end, but Molière’s L’Avare doesn’t.

Love to everyone


Sources and Resources

[1] La Fontaine, L’Avare qui a perdu son trésor, The Miser who had lost his Treasure (1[IV, 20]);  Le Savetier et le Financier, The Cobbler and the Financier (2.[VIII, 2])
[2] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Islamic-arts/Dance-and-theatre


François Couperin 3/3, Le Charme-L’Enjouement, Watteau


© Micheline Walker
22 November 2016
(Revised 23 November 2016)







Pantalone and Molière’s Miser


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Pantalone (1550)
Maurice Sand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maurice Sand

Below is an excerpt from an article I posted in 2014, when our topic was the commedia dell’artePantalone is a mask, a stock character. His name may differ from play to play, but his function, or role, does not change. He is the blocking character, or the obstacle to the marriage of comedy’s young lovers, the innamorati of the commedia dell’arte and, in the case of Pantalone, money prevents the marriages that comedy favours. He is an ancestor to Molière’s Harpagon, L’Avare‘s protagonist.

The portrait I am featuring above is by Maurice Sand, whose full name is Jean-François-Maurice-Arnauld, Baron Dudevant (1823–1889). He was the son of writer George Sand  (1 July 1804 – 8 June 1876), who separated from her husband, but brought up her son Maurice and daughter Solange (1828–1899). She may be the most colourful woman in 19th-century France and a prolific author. We will discuss George Sand in a future post.

Maurice Sand’s depiction of Pantalone is delightful. One of Maurice’s subject matters was la commedia dell’arte. You may remember that one of Molière‘s artists was Edmond Geffroy   1804-8 February 1895) FR. Maurice Sand’s Masques et bouffons de la comédie italienne, texte et dessins was published in 1860. Maurice was also a writer. He was a self-effacing gentleman, but kept company with the most famous writers and artists of his days.

A few weeks ago, I read André Maurois‘ biography of the three Dumas: mulatto général Dumas, Alexandre Dumas père and Alexandre Dumas fils. Maurois mentions Maurice several times. Dumas père, the most notorious Dumas (The Three Musketeers, etc.), was a very close friend of George Sand, but not her lover. Her famous lovers were composer and virtuoso pianist Chopin and poet Alfred de Musset (called Musset).

Molière and the Commedia dell’arte

Molière (15 January 1622 – 17 February 1673) was influenced by the comédie italienne and, in particular, by the commedia dell’arte. He once shared a theatre with the Italians. Moreover, Molière’s first troupe,  L’Illustre Théâtre, went bankrupt in 1645, the year it was founded. Molière spent 24 hours in jail and then left Paris and toured the provinces until 1658. We do not have the text of the many comedies he performed during the 13 years he lived outside Paris, but he may have posted a canevas, the plot, and members of his troupe improvised their role as did the actors of the commedia dell’arte.

Pantalone, the greedy alazôn, vs the eirôn

Pantalone is a heavy father or an alazôn, the blocking character of comedy, or the person who opposes the young lovers’ marriage. As for Pantalone, he is a ‘needy’ blocking character or Pantalon de’ Bisognosi, Italian for Pantalone of the Needy.’ His name derives from San Pantaleone, or Saint Pantaleon. (See Pantalone and Saint PantaleonWikipedia.) As an alazônPantalone is the opponent of the victorious eirôn (as in the word ironic), who helps bring about the marriage of the young lovers. The role, or function, of the alazôn may be played by several characters such as a braggart soldier, a miles gloriosus, or a pedant, il dottore. Roman playwright Plautus (c. 254–184 BCE) wrote the Aululariafeaturing the miser Euclio.

Pantalone is an ancestor to Molière’s L’Avare (The Miser). L’Avare‘s other ancestor is Euclio, the miser featured in Aulularia, the pot of gold, a play by Roman dramatist Plautus. Molière’s Miser was first performed on 9 September 1668, in the theatre of the Palais-Royal, le théâtre du Palais-Royal. Harpagon is a descendant of Plautus’ Euclio (see L’Avare, Wikipedia).

Molière’s L’Avare

My article on Molière’s L’Avare (The Miser) is ready for posting, but it is too long. This post will help me make it shorter. L’Avare originates in Greek Old Comedy and Greek New Comedy (Menander c. 342/41 – c. 290 BCE). He may be a type in the Latin Fabula palliata and Atellan Farce, but Molière’s best known-sources are PlautusAulularia and the commedia dell’arte. Money, or lack thereof, is a common obstacle to the marriage of comedy’s young lovers. As we will see in a future post, Molière’s L’Avare features two young couples and two father figures.

You may notice that a large number of individuals can be associated with Plautus’ Miles gloriosus and the commedia dell’arte‘s Pantalone, il Dottore and il Capitano. Comedies, farces in particular, often feature a boastful character. But Molière’s L’Avare is the depiction of a miser, a less prominent figure than boastful characters.

At any rate, here is a quotation from a post entitled Pantalone: la Commedia dell’arte (20 June 2014).

An Excerpt

Costume: Money

Pantalone is dressed as Pantalone and his costume is part of his mask. It is always the same and he looks like a hunchback. However, he is not Victor Hugo‘s Hunchback of Notre-Dame (1831). He is a hunchback because of the bag of money he conceals. Pantalone is lustful, jealous, deceitful, selfish, lazy, full of himself (“Il Magnifico”), but, above all, greedy.

Pantalone is the metaphorical representation of money in the commedia world. (See Pantalone, Wikipedia.)

Pantalone is “di bisognosi” (dans le besoin, the needy).

Other than his hunch, Pantalone wears a red cap, red tights, yellow Turkish slippers, a short vest and a long coat. (continue reading)

Love to everyone ♥



The Commedia dell’Arte

Sources and Resources

François Couperin 2/3, Airs, Gillot/Watteau


The Italian Comedians by Watteau, 1721 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

© Micheline Walker
20 November 2016

The US Election: its Aftermath


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Obstructionism & Populism

President-elect Donald Trump has stated that American elections were rigged. Although there could be truth to this statement, it is a generalization.

Yet Mrs Hillary Clinton suspects that the investigation into her emails jeopardized her bid for the Presidency of the United States. I believe it did. I have read that she had been somewhat careless in handling classified material, but the FBI had not found criminal wrongdoing at the close of its first investigation. However, reopening the investigation suggested wrongdoing. Nothing more was needed to eliminate Mrs Clinton and open the way for a tragedy.

Therefore, one could say that there was obstructionism, but obstructionism of a kind that cannot be pinned down entirely on people at the top, such as FBI Director James Comey. The court of public opinion is ruthless. It undid Mrs Clinton. Unless there were errors in calculating the votes, which does not seem to be the case, Americans voted Donald Trump into office. And he was elected by a populist United States, not its élite, which is somewhat ironical. As a billionaire, Donald Trump is probably one of the wealthy Americans who hide their tax dollar, which tends to put him on the very same level as the establishment, or part of the establishment.

It could also be that Americans wanted a change. Mrs Clinton had been in Washington for many years, which was both an advantage and a disadvantage. She was the experienced nominee, but she had already spent two terms in office as the wife of former President Bill Clinton. In the eyes of ordinary and not-so ordinary people, a husband and wife are one and the same person.

Consequently, contrary to Pascal’s Wager, a large number of Americans chose “infinite” losses rather than “limited” losses. One may argue that four years is a finite period of time. Mathematically, four years are four years. However, there are other yardsticks. The events of these four years may be defining and irreversible. As President Obama pointed out, if a person loses self-control twittering, will it be safe to trust him with the nuclear code? The results would be limitless.

In short, taking a risk, i.e. voting for Mr Trump, was a perilous choice and, therefore, not a  choice. He is the laughing-stock of the world.



Detail of Elihu Vedder‘s mural Government (1896), in the Library of Congress. The title figure bears a tablet inscribed with Lincoln’s famous phrase. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

America’s Credibility

There will be consequences. On 8 November 2016, the credibility the United States had gained during Barack Obama’s presidency was shaken by an amnesia-stricken and reckless American electorate. During his term as President of the United States, Mr Trump is likely to be what he was before his election: sexist, racist, lewd, brash, narcissistic, xenophobic, an unbearable misogynist, etc.

As well, Donald Trump is a nativist and his natives are white Americans. We know that he is married to Melania who is not an American by birth but is somewhat trans-cultural given her former occupation as supermodel. She was one of the tall and very slender ladies flying from runway to runway. They “appear,” as does Donald Trump.

The fact remains that when and if Donald Trump attends summits, the American discourse will no longer have the logic and fluency it did under President Obama. But, as President, Mr Trump may not attend summits.

Had Mr Trump not been elected, he might have appointed himself President of the United States and would have been a usurper. Mrs Clinton was not a perfect candidate. It appears she had some baggage, but she was more experienced which made her a safer choice. She was not likely to deprive Americans of social programmes. These programmes are not charity. Americans pay for them through their tax dollar.

Consider that, theoretically, it is now “open season” on Mexicans, Muslims, people of colour, persons of a different sexual orientation or women, and various dissenters. Mr Trump’s presidency promises to be authoritarian.

He is in favour of the death-penalty and he will penalize women whose life was threatened by a pregnancy that had to be terminated. I hope he will seek the advice of doctors in this respect. Doctors cannot let a woman die because she is pregnant. Doctors performing abortions will also be penalized. It is as though Mr Trump did not know that abortions and birth-control are different issues. When abortions were decriminalized in Canada, doctors could, at long last, intervene if the health and life of their patient was at risk. Their only option had been a hysterectomy. Is a woman’s life so unimportant that she should be left to suffer and die if a pregnancy threatens her health and her life ?

The United States should be as Abraham Lincoln defined it in the Gettysburg Address: a democracy. Mr Trump, whose bid for the presidency was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, militant racists, is a clear and present danger. He may also allow the bearing of guns in mid-town Manhattan.

He also had the support of the National Rifle Association.


The Bigger Picture

Let us look at the bigger picture. The European Union has been weakened because of Brexit and with Donald Trump steering the USA, the leader of France’s Front National, nativist  Marine Le Pen, feels emboldened. Under President-elect Donald J. Trump, I believe Russia stands to become a greater power, perhaps the main power. By electing Mr Trump to the presidency of the United States, Americans may have elevated Russian President Vladimir Putin to a more commanding position. Americans may, in fact, have changed the balance of power.

Canada ♥



Mr Trump is the President-elect and this is his honeymoon period. Moreover, hope springs eternal… We have to think that all will be well. It is a matter of survival, but the campaign tends to indicate that all is not and will not be well. I fear the aftermath of Mr Trump’s election to the presidency. It may lead to purges in the United States and a degree of erosion in Canada’s social programmes, if he slashes into Obamacare.

I opposed Mr Trump’s election for reasons which I believe were very good reasons. I will continue to oppose him if I see danger and abuse. But he may surprise us. He’s no longer a nominee and he is not a usurper. He is the President-elect of the United States. We’ll have to wait and see.

Love to everyone

“Beautiful Dreamer”
Stephen Foster
Jonathan Guyot Smith & Stephen Sasloe


© Micheline Walker
17 November 2016


“The Frogs Who Desired a King,” a Fable for our Times


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Les Grenouilles qui demandent un roi (La Fontaine)
The Frogs Asking [for] a King (La Fontaine)
Photo credit: La Fontaine site officiel

Les Grenouilles qui demandent un roi is the fourth fable in book three of La Fontaine’s first volume of Fables (1668), containing six books. His second volume, containing five books, was published in 1678. The twelfth book was published in 1694, shortly before his death. The same fable is also one of Æsop’s Fables, classified as number 44 in the Perry Index (the classification of Æsop’s Fables).

Les Grenouilles qui demandent un roi tells the story of “silly and frightened” frogs who live in a democracy, but, tired of democracy, ask Jupiter for a monarch. Jupiter acquiesces. From the skies descends a peace-loving king who makes a huge noise as he lands. This king is often represented as a beam or log.

Frightened by the din, the frogs go into hiding, only to return slowly to look at the king. The peace-loving king is a beam, which is not very kingly. The frogs start jumping on the beam-king, which the king tolerates as Jupiter grumbles. The beam-king is a kindly monarch, but he does not move.

Dissatisfied, the people go back to Jupiter to ask for a king who moves. So Jupiter sends them a crane that starts eating them up. In Æsop’s telling of this fable, the crane is a stork.

In Phædrus‘ Latin translation of this fable by Æsop, a second king is sent to the frogs. It is a water snake. There is no second king in La Fontaine.

Our silly frogs complain, and Jupiter tells them, first, that they should have kept their government (a democracy), second, that they should have been pleased to be sent a gentleman-king, the beam-king, and, third, to settle for the king they have for fear of encountering a worse one, La Fontaine’s celui-ci (this one) pointing to the voracious crane.

In Æsop, as noted above, the crane is a stork.


The Frogs prayed to Jove for a king:
“Not a log, but a livelier thing.”
Jove sent them a Stork,
Who did royal work,
For he gobbled them up, did their king.



An art nouveau illustration by Charles Robinson from an 1895 edition
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To read the fable in French, click on Les Grenouilles qui demandent un roi
To read the fable in English, click on The Frogs Asking [for] a King


The Baby’s Own Aesop by Walter Crane

The Moral

One of the morals of this fable is the eternal “Leave well enough alone,” but we are also reading a “Beware-of-your-wishes-as-they-may-come-true” narrative. The moral of this fable is also a defence of the status quo, the state of affairs.

If all is well, a change is not necessary. If forewarned of possible dangers, a change may be dangerous. Knowing there are very real dangers, one does not jump into uncertainty. In a serious election, one cannot say “I’ll give him or her a chance.” Acting in such a manner reflects a somewhat flawed understanding of democracy. As I wrote above, La Fontaine calls the frogs who are not pleased with the good king log, a beam: “gent fort sotte et fort peureuse,” very silly and very frightened people.

We do not know the exact origin of this fable. Æsop retold fables told in the Near East, Middle East and India, including Buddhist tales. The most likely source is the Sanskrit Panchatantra by Vishnu Sharma, written in the 3rd century BCE. The storyteller is Pilpay or Bidpai. Bidpai’s stories were translated by Persian scholar Ibn al-Muqaffa as Kalīlah wa Dimnah. Moreover, Æsopic fables translated into Latin, by Phædrus, or Greek, by Babrius, were retold several times after Phædrus and Babrius. There are modern references to the Frogs Who Desired a King or King Log & King Stork. Under The Frogs Who desired a King, Wikipedia quotes New Zealand author James K. Baxter who wrote:

A democratic people have elected
King Log, King Stork, King Log, King Stork again.

Because I like a wide and silent pond
I voted Log. That party was defeated.

Howrah Bridge and Other Poems, London, 1961

These words will be my conclusion.


Sources and Resources

Wikipedia’s The Frogs Who Desired a King is our best source of information on this fable.

La Fontaine site officiel (all the fables in French and English, images, etc.)

La Fontaine’s Fables

Æsop’s Fables
Perry Index #44
(a complete classification)

Ladislas Starevich, 1922


Arthur Rackham

© Micheline Walker
12 November 2016

Glenn Beck on the USA


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Glenn Beck: we don’t listen

I believe this is informative. To listen to Glenn Beck, one has to scroll down a little, but one gets there.

Beware, he may already have changed his mind. Afterthought.



© Micheline Walker
10 November 2016


Donald Trump: 370 Economists


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Mrs Clinton will not forget, at least not easily, but she was very composed while delivering her concession speech. No one expected Mr Trump to be elected to the presidency.

The Letter from 370 Economists

Many of us did our best to prevent a Trump victory, but democracy is flawed. It allows everyone to vote, including those who are incapable of making an informed decision. They are easily led by slogans. Democracy also allows anyone to run for office and, in the United States, the educated, including Nobel Prize winners, are mere ‘academics.’ With Donald Trump at the wheel, an economic collapse can be expected, which is frightening. One listens.

A group of 370 economists, including eight Nobel laureates in economics, have signed a letter warning against the election of Republican nominee Donald Trump, calling him a “dangerous, destructive choice” for the country.
Nick Timiraos, the Wall Street Journal, Nov. 1, 2016

No one listened. Mr Trump is a liar, a racist, a bigot, a bully, a misogynist, and a possible rapist. He is incapable of self-control, profoundly disturbed by Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but he has been voted into the office of President of the United States, despite serious warnings on the part of 370 economists who called him a “dangerous, destructive choice.” A know-it-all America dismissed warnings from the ablest and wisest. Mr Trump did not seek the presidency so he could serve his country. No, not even remotely. He sought the presidency to feed his ego, to serve himself.

bn-qo372_trumpe_m_20161101111503-1Donald Trump campaigns in Warren, Mich., on Monday. Adviser Peter Navarro reacted to the letter Tuesday, saying in part, “You shouldn’t believe economists or Nobel Prize winners on trade.” PHOTO: JEFF KOWALSKY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

What Happened?

How this happened is somewhat difficult to explain. It could be an example of the American psyche. (See Glenn Beck, below.)

However, the following is a possible scenario. When FBI Director James Comey reopened the investigation into Mrs Clinton’s emails, he placed her under a cloud of suspicion. Her emails had been investigated, but once wasn’t enough, he reopened the investigation knowing he would find no criminal wrongdoing on the part of Mrs Clinton. Investigating again was a witch hunt and I believe it jeopardized Mrs Clinton’s bid for the presidency of the United States.

The timing points to a set up, un coup monté. However, the ‘bad guy’ was Mr Trump, a sexual predator who was threatening to sue the women who confirmed that they had been assaulted by him. The ‘bad guy’ was not Mrs Clinton who used the wrong server, whatever that is, to send emails. She was cleared for the second time on Sunday 6 November, which was much too late for her to recover. Therefore, on Tuesday 8 November 2016, Americans, who customarily suspect the establishment, shot themselves in the foot and transformed the election into a small, but perhaps not so small, coup d’état.

My question remains. Who put FBI Director James Comey up to this dastardly deed?  The United States remains a house divided against itself. The Civil War is not over.

The Greater America

In fact, where is that greater America? I remember years of relative prosperity. For instance, when the interstate was built, President Dwight D. Eisenhower‘s initiative, Americans who could afford a car moved to a bungalow in suburbia. Many of these bungalows were cantilevered. There was a rumpus room, a recreation room, under the bedrooms. That is where couch potatoes slouched watching television. Cars could also take them to drive-in movie theatres where they slouched. In fact, food could be brought to a car and a large percentage of the slouching population got fatter. Smaller potatoes grew into larger potatoes as cars polluted the air. Was this a greater America? It would not be possible for 370 economists, a large number, to instill doubt into the mind of couch potatoes. Couch potatoes vegetate.

Glenn Beck: we don’t listen



About two weeks ago, Mr Trump stated that he was then quite certain President Obama was born in the United States, but that he had yet to be persuaded that President Obama was a Christian, not with a name like Barack Hussein Obama. This is an obsession, une idée fixe.

Hillary Clinton greeted supporters after delivering her concession speech on Wednesday in Manhattan. “This is painful, and it will be for a long time,” Mrs. Clinton said. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times


What next? If 370 economists called Mr Trump a “dangerous, destructive choice,” I have reason to fear. It’s a tragedy.

Canada and the United States are neighbours. We share the Great Lakes and many of us also share ancestry. At any rate, we welcomed draft dodgers and will welcome Americans who may think moving to Canada is an option. But how does one escape Donald Trump?

This, I believe, was my last post on the American presidency.

Love to everyone 

Nat King Cole sings “The Falling Leaves”


© Micheline Walker
9 November 2016 (11/9)