British Prime Minister David Cameron as he speaks in the House of Commons on June 29, 2016(Home Office / Parliamentary Recording Unit via Agence France Presse Photo)
The day after the vote…
I remember the Quebec Referendums, the 1995 referendum in particular. There was so much fear.
Would older Quebec citizens get their pension cheques?
How would Quebecers purchase groceries?
Could they still use Canadian currency?
Would the Canadian armed forces still protect them?
Would Desjardins be the only bank?
Just how would they pay the rent or make their mortgage payments?
Would they need a passport to visit friends and family in Ottawa, Toronto and provinces west of Ontario or east of Quebec?
What would happen to Acadians and other French communities living outside Quebec?
Would Canada cease to be a bilingual country?
Could Quebec count on its immigrants to remain in Quebec?
Would there be yet another exodus of its more affluent population? (This is what happened when the Parti québécois was first voted into office (1976).
Would Quebecers leaving Quebec sell their home in American currency? Some still do.
These may seem picayune details, but they are not, which is why the Clarity Act was passed. Canada had to made sure no province could walk away from Confederation in a precipitous manner thus creating considerable anxiety, disorder and years of instability.
As it turns out, those who advocated leaving did not have a plan. What would happen the day after the vote?
Not all European countries have joined the European Union. But the countries that did not join knew that the next day would not differ from the day before. Their decision not to join was not made overnight and could not plunge millions of citizens into years of detrimental uncertainty. As for other countries denied membership, they simply remained as they had been.
There is nothing wrong with not belonging to the EU, but the decision to leave must reflect the will of the people.
Countries belonging to the European Union. This map still shows Britain as a member.(Photo credit: Google)
It would seem imprudent for countries to leave the EU overnight and do so after a mere referendum. Important decisions, such as leaving the European Union require more than a referendum. There has to be a consensus. Too many citizens are opposed to leaving the European Union. The referendum showed that nearly half of Britons opposed leaving the European Union. Therefore, there is no consensus.
After Donald Trump attacked President Obama for not blaming Muslims for the Orlando massacre, President Obama stated that Mr Trump, the Republican presidential presumptive, had a “dangerous mindset.” I believe the gentleman shown in the photograph below also has a “dangerous mindset.”
Yes! We won! Now send them back. (Diamond Geezer via Associated Press)
John Kerry’s Suggestion
John Kerry, the United States Secretary of State, has suggested that Britain could “walk back” its decision. The British Government held a referendum, but there is dissent and a “dangerous mindset.”
Protesters gather against the EU referendum result in Trafalgar Square on June 28, 2016 in London, England. There is still the possibility that the British government will disregard the referendum result.(Jeff J Mitchell / Getty Images)
In short, it may be in the best interest of Britons not to break from the European Union at this point. Not if there isn’t a consensus. Not if the motivation was even remotely racist. And not if there wasn’t a plan.
One is surprised and one isn’t. During difficult periods of history, folding back has occurred, and we are at a difficult moment in history.
However, given that the results of the Brexit vote were very close and that the “leave” vote was followed by a wave of racist comments directed at Muslims and at members of the Polish population of Britain, I wonder whether or not Britons want to leave the European Union.
The reaction of many Britons brings to mind Donald Trump’s hasty determination that ISIL terrorists were the perpetrators of the Orlando Massacre. It appears the LBGT were targeted even though the suspected killer was an American citizen of Afghan origin.
A man wearing an anti immigration T-shirt walks during Armed Forces Day Parade in Romford, England, on Saturday. (Diamond Geezer via Associated Press)
Quebec has held referendums regarding a possible separation from the rest of Canada. For all practical purposes, the answer to the last referendum was both a “yes” (49.42%) and a “no” (50.58%). (See Quebec Referendum, 1995, Wikipedia.) As a result, the Clarity Act was passed by the House on 15 March 2000, and by the Senate, in its final version, on 29 June 2000. (See Clarity Act, Wikipedia.)
During the political campaign that led to the election of Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada, Mr Mulcair, the leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, asked the current Prime Minister of Canada what his number was regarding the Clarity Act, or Bill C-20. Mr Trudeau waited a little and then answered that his number was 9. “Nine Supreme Court justices said one vote is not enough to break up this country.”
I realize that British prime minister David Cameron is opposed to another referendum, but it would be my opinion that the results of the British referendum are inconclusive. Nearly half of Britons voted against leaving the European Union and it turns out that among those who voted in favour of leaving, several misinterpreted the question. (See United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, 2016, Wikipedia.)
The Brexit question was not whether or not Britain should exclude Muslims and Poles from entering their country. If “leave” supporters misread or misunderstood the question, democracy may not have been duly served.
The refugee crisis is a destabilizing factor in Europe, particularly in those countries that have yet to recover from the breakdown of the Soviet Union. Moreover, there have been dreadful terrorist attacks. One lives in fear of another. But Muslim refugees are the victims of terrorists and autocrats.
In short, if Britain leaves the European Union, Britons would be making a numerically democratic choice, but if nearly half of Britons voted not to leave and if the “leave” vote reflects a perceptible degree of racism, it could be that the results of the referendum are both too close and too tainted for Britain to act.
I am not suggesting that the United Kingdom pass a “clarity act,” but if it is ascertained that racism played a significant role in the “leave” vote, it could well be that the tail is wagging the dog.
George Dandin ou le Mari confondu (George Dandin or the Abashed Husband) is a three-act comédie-balletwritten by Molière and composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully. It premièred on 18 July 1668,at Versailles. The comédie-ballet was part of a Grand Divertissement royal, a celebration of the French victory at Aix-la-Chapelle. On 9 November 1668, it was performed as a three-act play at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal. Devoid of its pastoral interludes, consisting mainly in a conversation between shepherdesses George Dandin was a rather sombre three–act farce. The pastoral lightened George Dandin.
Pastorals find their origin in Guarini‘s (1538-1612) Pastor Fido (1590), The Faithful Shepherd. As for GeorgeDandin, a farce, it may also be rooted in Giovanni Boccacio‘s (1313-1375) Decameron, 4th, 7th, and 8th days. The Decameron contains 100 tales told by young men and women hiding from the plague. These were very influential. Chaucer may have read the Decameron when he was on a mission to Italy in 1372. The structure of his Canterbury Tales resembles that of the Decameron.
George Dandin is also associated with an Indian work, the Dolopatos, written before the Common Era and translated into Arabic and Hebrew (see Salon littéraire). It was also translated into Latin and then French. It could be that Molière’s own Jalousie du Barbouillé, which may date back to 1650, was the dramatist’s source.
In Greek literature, George Dandin, would be called an agroikos (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. Such incidents were frequent in 17th-century France because aristocrats wanted to be ‘seen’ at court, which costs a fortune. They could not afford dowries for all their daughters. Often only one was endowed.
Angélique’s parents, the Sotenvilles, are impoverished nobility, but they do have a home in Paris. In order to live up to their rank, the Sotenvilles literally sold their daughter to Dandin. Nothing is more important to the Sotenvilles than their rank, which vilifies them. As for George Dandin, although he bought the title of Monsieur de la Dandinière, the Sotenvilles (sot=stupid) continue to see him as a peasant and so does their daughter. In Molière as in Shakespeare, one must to one’s own self be true. Dandin’s marriage is a mésalliance, and Angélique is a “lamb,” as Claudine calls her.
A Mésalliance – Cuckoldry
In Act III, Scene 5, Clitandre points to the incongruous aspect of Angélique’s marriage to Dandin:
(…) et que c’est une étrange chose que l’assemblage qu’on a fait d’une personne comme vous avec un homme comme lui !
[(…) and that the union of a woman like you to a man like him is somewhat strange.(III, 5)]
The marriage has not been consummated (Act III, Scene V ), but there is a contract.
Typically, in Molière, a mésalliance (marrying into a different class) and a forced marriage (un mariage forcé) lead to cuckoldry, the fate so feared by Arnolphe(L’École des femmes, 1662). Dandin was foolish and the Sotenvilles, sots, as their name suggest. When her parents will not allow her to be separated from Dandin, Claudine, Angélique’s maid, says: “It is a pity to see a poor young wife treated in such a fashion; it cries to Heaven for vengeance.” (Claudine, III, 12) However, Dandin is treated neither as a husband nor as a nobleman.
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
The play is a three-act farce and the overall dramatic action, the deceiver deceived, or trompeur trompé, is reflected in each act. The action is triggered in the same manner as in L’École des femmes. Dandin is told that he has a rival, Clitandre, by the rival’s valet, Lubin. Like Arnolphe, Dandin believes this intelligence will help him. He wishes to prove to his in-laws that he has a wicked wife from whom he should be separated, which her parents would never allow. However, Clitandre or Angélique always talk their way out of every ploy used by the ill-fated Dandin.
In Act One, Clitandre, who happens to be with Angélique, suggests that Angélique betrayed him.
Est-ce donc vous, Madame, qui avez dit à votre mari que je suis amoureux de vous ? (Clitandre, I. v)
[Is it you then, Madam, who have told your husband that I am in love with you?] (Clitandre, I, 6)
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. Dandin is then asked to apologize to Clitandre who is a genuine gentilhomme. (I. 8)
In Act Two, once again Lubin tells George everything. Angélique’s parents are brought to see their daughter breaking the terms of the contract, her marriage contract. Act Two, Scene 3 resembles L’École des femmes (III, 2). Dandin tries to impress upon his wife that, given the marriage contract, she has duties, but she is very quick to state that George married her parents. She was not consulted. Angélique denies that she has obligations towards George. When Dandin asks her to chase galants away she speaks as does Agnès in L’École des femmes. She will not chase galants away.
Moi, les [men courting her] chasser ! et par quelle raison ? Je ne me scandalise point qu’on me trouve bien faite, et cela me fait du plaisir. (Scene ii) [I drive them away! and for what reason? I am not scandalised at being thought handsome, and it affords me pleasure.] (Scene 4)
Angélique is caught speaking with Clitandre, but she feigns anger at Clitandre. (Scene 10) Once again, Dandin is punished. It seems Clitandre is being hit with a stick, but George Dandin is the victim.
In Act Three, Angélique thinks George is sleeping. She is outside with Clitandre. It’s night time and very dark. Believing he is speaking with Claudine, Lubin tells George Dandin everything. But matters are as in the School for Wives, he is speaking to the young couple’s barbon, Dandin. The latter asks Colin, his valet, to seek his in-laws.
In Scene 5, Clitandre is worried. Husbands have privileges. Angélique tells him that she does not make love with Dandin:
Serez-vous assez fou pour avoir cette inquiétude, et pensez-vous qu’on soit capable d’aimer de certains maris qu’il y a ? (Scène v) [Are you weak enough to have such anxiety, and do you think it is possible to love a certain sort of husbands?] (Scene 5)
In Scene VI, Angélique and Claudine, her maid, cannot re-enter the house. George Dandin has bolted the door. She tells him she has wronged him and, in desperation, she makes believe she has killed herself. When he opens the door to see if she is dead, she and Claudine lock him out. The Sotenvilles arrive and Angélique accuses George Dandin of having spent the evening drinking.
Angélique wants to end the marriage and so does Dandin, but Angélique’s father will not let her leave her husband. Monsieur de Sotenville gives himself the puissance absolue, the absolute power (Scène 7), of a pater familias. Angélique is asked by her father to forgive Dandin, a husband from whom she wants to be separated.
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. (Scène 7)
[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.] (Scene 14)
As for Dandin, the Sotenvilles force him to kneel down and apologize to Angélique. Therefore, George says to himself that all he can do is go and drown himself, which is indeed all the he can do:
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. (Scène 8)
[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.] (Scene 15)
As noted above, in Molière, mésalliance and forced marriages lead to cuckoldry. All Dandin has gained by marrying Angélique is a title: de la Dandinière, a hollow and ridiculous title. “Se dandiner” means to waddle.
A Problematical comedy
Monsieur de Sotenville: a pater familias – fear
Marriage being a contract and a sacrament, Molière’s George Dandin is a problematical farce. In L’École des femmes, Arnolphe and Agnès were not married. But the Sotenvilles are George Dandin’s in-laws and parasites. They married Angélique to him because of the money he could provide.
Initially, George Dandin was also a parasite. He wanted a title. But the curtain rises on a desperate husband who wishes to see the marriage terminated. We know that the marriage has not been consummated. (Scene V)
Monsieur de Sotenville is the archetypal pater familias. Claudine obeys because she is afraid of him. Fear is very much a factor in Molière. The Sotenvilles may still need Dandin’s money, but more importantly, a separation could be a scandal. They are the Sotenvilles:
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. (Scène vii)
[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.] (Scene 14)
Honour is invoked, but far more severe a threat is the authority Monsieur de Sotenville has given himself. He possesses his daughter.
You must, daughter; I command you. (Monsieur de Sotenville, Scene 14)
[This word stops my mouth. You have absolute authority over me.] (Angélique, Scene 14)
“Poor lamb,” says Claudine, Angélique’s maid.
As Angélique bemoans, it will happen again and again. The structure of farces allows constant reversals. They are like the Saturnalia of ancient Rome.
Tout ce que vous me faites faire ne servira de rien, et vous verrez que ce sera dès demain à recommencer. (Angélique, Scène 7)
[Whatever you make me do will be of no use; we shall have to recommence to-morrow, you will see. (Scene 14)]
In the world of comedy, there are no rules of marriage. The genre promotes the marriage of the young lovers. In this play, however, the dramatic structure, i.e. the reversals, dominate. However, while militating in favour of the real young lovers, the farce is unkind to Angélique and Clitandre. They cannot marry because Angélique’s parents will not allow their daughter to come home.
George Dandin is filled with comical scenes, such as the double entendre. The manner in which the Sotenvilles deal with George is also comical. (I. 4) So is the way in which Monsieur de Sotenville introduces himself to Clitandre. He mentions his lineage. (I. 5) In fact, the Sotenvilles are ridiculous. In George Dandin, lineage is mocked as it has never been. Madame de Sotenville’s maiden name is de la Prudoterie.
It could be said therefore that Molière rescues the comedic by pushing the farce to an extreme. Everything is a joke. When the curtain falls, the play will not have taken place. It will have been a joke.
The most famous line of the play is:
“J’enrage de bon cœur d’avoir tort, lorsque j’ai raison.” (Dandin, I. i)
[It makes me mad to be put in the wrong when I am in the right.] (I. 7)
In fact, Dandin is both in the wrong and in the right. According to Will G. Moore, “Dandin is essentially in the right, but he is in all actual cases made to appear in the wrong.”
_________________________ There is disagreement concerning the date.  Michel Serres, Le Parasite (Paris : Hachette littératures, coll. Pluriel, 1997 ), p. 361-373.  See W. G. Moore, Molière: a New Criticism (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1968 ), p. 118.
I have read several articles about Mr Trump and my opinion remains unchanged. In fact, I believe he may jeopardize the safety of I do not understand that the Republicans chose him as their nominee to the office of President of the United States.
However, Republicans have started to distance themselves from Mr Trump because of his avowed intention to prevent not only Muslims, but Mexicans and people originating from Latin-American countries, from entering the United States.
Although Mr Trump has lost the support of some key members of the Republican party, he remains defiant. He will finance his way to the Presidency. But will the citizens of the United States vote for a man who does not represent a party?
The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic Monthly published a series of articles on Mr Trump, one of which is about his mind. I am a little wary of such articles, but do believe that Mr Trump’s manners and language preclude his being considered an appropriate candidate to the office of President of the United States. As we say in Quebec, Donald Trump n’est pas sortable (he’s not fit to be seen). It may therefore be difficult for those Republicans who have turned their back on him to adopt a new stance.
The tragic Orlando Massacre invites serious reflection on the issue of discrimination, a sturdy perennial. The President of the United States cannot discriminate against people on the basis of ethnicity and faith. Nor can he discriminate against people on the basis of gender and sexual orientation. But Mr Trump does discriminate against Muslims, all Muslims, and Mexicans as well as other Americans of Latin-American origin. The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that:
“Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
See Discrimination, Wikipedia.)
The good news is that Mr Trump now agrees with President Obama “for watch list gun ban.” Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association disagrees, but the fact remains that one cannot shoot without a gun and that arming people will not address the problem of terrorism. Omar Mateen had access to a powerful weapon and several guns.
The Second Amendment lost its validity the moment the United States had a militia. However, if one enjoys marksmanship, there are facilities where such individuals may engage in their sport. Marksmen and women will not hurt anyone if their weapon is kept in a secure area. Sadly, some gun owners do not put their weapon(s) away from the reach of children which has caused siblings to shoot a sister or a brother. Children may think the gun is a toy.
Walking down the street carrying a gun can also lead to tragedies. For instance, the police may at times pull the trigger too quickly because of fear of being shot. It would be my opinion that endangering the life of innocent people is a breach of the social contract and that it negates the Second Amendment.
The Pulse was a club where L.G.B.T. (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans) socialized as is their right. Discriminating against people on the basis of sexual orientation seems extremely narrow-minded. As a WordPress colleague pointed out to me, people of different sexual orientation have a right to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
I agree fully. Gays deserve the same respect as other law-abiding members of society, which includes gathering on a Saturday evening to socialize and relax. No one was creating a disturbance at the Pulse. I encourage you to read Half-man of Orlando (colltales.com). Virginia Woolf wrote Orlando (1928).
As stated in an earlier post, although Mr Mateen claimed allegiance to the Islamic State, it does not appear he was directed to kill for Isil. However, as he was in the process of murdering people, he did tell the police that the United States should “stop bombing” Syria and Iraq. The Obama administration considers the Orlando massacre a crime of terror and hate, and it will welcome more Muslim refugees. The refugees are the victims of Islamic fundamentalism and rigid autocracies.
Americans are divided with respect to the role they should play in the Middle East, but in the end, it will be, and should be, for the Middle East to determine its fate.
In short, the Orlando Massacre has so many facets and it raises so many issues that it may well be one of the most significant events in recent history.
The Orlando Massacre will long be remembered as a horrific event. But we are now hearing about the courage of people who saved dozens of lives risking their own. These accounts are very touching and they show love. The police did all it could. They broke holes through the walls so they could get in and stop the massacre. I thank all these generous and fearless individuals.
Hatred: Donald Trump
In the meantime, however, Donald Trump, a presidential hopeful, has disgraced himself. Should he be voted into office, he would prevent Muslims from entering the United States. Before he started killing, Omar Mateen, the presumed shooter, claimed allegiance to the Islamic State, but it is unlikely that he was directed to kill innocent citizens by anyone. President Obama is calling the crime “homegrown.” We will know more as the investigation progresses.
The Republicans erred in choosing Mr Trump as their candidate to the presidency of the United States. Presidents cannot allow themselves to make statements in which they demonstrate hatred. In fact, candidates to the presidency of the United States cannot even allow themselves to think as Mr Trump thinks.
At the moment, not only has Mr Trump displayed Islamophobia, but he has also made it very clear that he is a racist. Several years ago, I watched an A&E television program and I heard Mr Trump boast to Bill Curtisthat a certain club was so exclusive that African-Americans could not enter.
He is also a misogynist and, in this regard, extremely offensive. Does Mr Trump think that women are irresponsible citizens who undergo abortions frivolously? Besides, Mr Trump cannot make pronouncements in this area as he is not a qualified medical practitioner. He’s a bully and, as you know, a liar.
What will we do when President Obama is replaced? He cared for the people. He had the qualifications expected of world leaders. He didn’t rush to judgment. He was able to perform his duties despite systematic obstructionism. He survived two government shutdowns. He has an open, brilliant and beautiful mind and he has earned the respect and admiration of the world.
But Donald Trump! The Orlando massacre was a great tragedy which a presidential hopeful used to foam at the mouth and offend Muslims.
Mr Trump has shown that he is “unfit,” a word I am borrowing, to run for the office of President of the United States.
I apologize for neglecting my very dear readers. Life has been unkind. I’m glad we have each other.
Yesterday, posting was not possible. Writing on Molière in the wake of the shooting spree in Orlando seemed blasphemous.
I wish to extend heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims. I also wish to extend sincere condolences to all Americans, Canada’s neighbours to the south.
Before he started shooting, the presumed killer, Omar Seddique Mateen, made a phone call and declared his allegiance to the Islamic State. ISIL has since claimed responsibility for the killings.
Donald Trump was prompt to blame United States President Barack Obama for not naming Mr Mateen in his address to Americans. Accusations are inflammatory and the crime had not been investigated. For instance, although a very effective automatic weapon was used, there was a large number of victims. There could have been more than one shooter.
Mr Trump has no sympathy for Muslims.
Moreover, homosexuals and lesbians were targeted, which complicates matters. It may have been an attack on homosexuals and lesbians.
Whatever the ethnicity of the killer(s), it would seem very wrong to blame all Muslims for this barbaric act. We all know that rotten apples are committing horrendous crimes in the Middle East forcing a large number of Muslims to leave their homes.
One cannot shoot without a gun.
Kathleen Battle sings Care Selve from Händel’s Atalanta 8 / 9
Portrait of a Young Man with RedCap by Sandro Botticelli (Google Images)
When L’École des femmeswas first performed, on 26 December 1662, it created a controversy, which Molière addressed by writing a one-act play in prose entitled La Critique de l’École des femmes(1663). The short play features characters discussing L’École des femmes. It has often been considered Molière’s ars poetica.
According to Dorante, the most prominent figure in the Critique, if the spectator laughed, the play was a success. The School for Wives had generated laughter so, using Dorante’s criterion, it was successful. Dorante also states that writing comedies is particularly difficult because one has to depict persons “d’après nature,” or as they are:
Mais lorsque vous peignez les hommes, il faut peindre d’après nature[.] Dorante (I, 6) La Critique de l’École des femmes [But when one depicts human beings, one must depict their true nature.] Dorante (I. 7) p. 177
In Le Tartuffe, Molière depicted his faux dévot “d’après nature.” However, the play was banned because Tartuffe, who feigned devotion, acted very much like a devout person, which offended the dévots of Paris: la Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement.
As for L’École desfemmes, it was criticized because of details mainly. For instance, one person found the manner in which Arnolphe questions Agnès rather crude. Arnolphe wants to know if Horace took anything from her other than her hands and arms, which he caressed. She hesitates to tell that he took the ribbon Arnolphe had given her. She says “le” and this “le” was obscene according to Climène, a précieuse.
Ah ! ruban, tant qu’il vous plaira ; mais ce, le, où elle s’arrête, n’est pas mis pour des prunes. Il vient sur ce, le, d’étranges pensées. Ce, le, scandalise furieusement ; et quoi que vous puissiez dire, vous ne sauriez défendre l’insolence de ce, le. Climène (1, 3)
The “le” (the) was not only offensive, but it wasn’t there for nothing: “pour des prunes[.]” This “le” led to strange thoughts: d’étranges pensées and was therefore “furiously scandalous.”
Obscenity was not the play’s most important ‘flaw.’ However, it was extremely amusing, and Molière wrote comedies. The more relevant flaw, according to our characters, was that Molière had made Arnolphe express himself using numerous soliloquies as well as asides (apartés). These were not part of the dramatic action, said some members of the group.
Dorante countered that:
Les récits eux-mêmes y sont des actions suivant la constitution du sujet. Dorante (I, 6) La Critique de l’École des femmes [There is a good deal of action in it, passing on the stage; the narratives are themselves actions, according to the constitution of the piece, …] Dorante (1, 7) The School for Wives Criticized
These were indeed part of the action because Arnolphe could not tell anyone, not even Chrysalde, the play’s raisonneur, about the “star […] bent on driving [him] to despair” (The School for Wives, p. 21). Arnolphe was a star-crossed barbon.
The Dramatic Action
In L’École des femmes, the dramatic action is triggered by a doubling of the identity of the blocking character. Horace, our young lover, does not know that Arnolphe, his father’s friend, is Monsieur de la Souche and that in confiding to Arnolphe, he is in fact confiding to his rival. When Arnolphe learns that young Horace has fallen in love with Agnès who is kept sequestered by a very jealous Monsieur de la Souche, he must conceal his grief and bewilderment. He speaks to himself and, if he didn’t, there would be gaps in the dramatic action. There has to be a dialogue, which there is.
Oh ! que j’ai souffert durant cet entretien ! Jamais trouble d’esprit ne fut égal au mien. Avec quelle imprudence et quelle hâte extrême Il m’est venu conter cette affaire à moi-même ! Arnolphe (I, 4, v. 357-360) L’École des femmes [Oh, what I have endured during this conversation! Never was trouble of mind equal to mine! With what rashness and extreme haste did he come to tell me of this affair!] The School for Wives, p. 9.
Destiny plays the key role in L’École des femmes and Arnolphe blames destiny throughout the play:
In Act V, scene 7, Arnolphe speaks about the above-mentioned “star which is bent on driving [him] to despair,” and remains defiant.
Quoi ? l’astre qui s’obstine à me désespérer, Ne me donnera pas le temps de respirer, Coup sur coup je verrai par leur intelligence, De mes soins vigilants confondre la prudence, D’une jeune innocente, et d’un jeune éventé ? Arnolphe (V, 7, v. 1182-1186) [What, will the star which is bent on driving me to despair allow me no time to breathe? Am I to see, through their mutual understanding, my watchful care and my wisdom defeated one after another? Must I, in my mature age, become the dupe of a simple girl and a scatter−brained young fellow?] The School for Wives, p. 21.
Destiny is so cruel to Arnolphe that it brings in a “real” father. When Enrique, Agnès’ biological father, arrives, Agnès ceases to be Arnolphe’s ward, which she has been for 13 years. Arnolphe is so perturbed that, having expressed himself quite fluently in several soliloquies and asides, he suddenly loses his ability to speak. In an aparté, Chrysalde tells Arnolphe, who is returning to his house, that, given his fear of cuckolding, it is best for him not to marry. Arnolphe is indeed spared cuckolding, but he has been crushed by destiny.
Life as a game of dice: “un jeu de dés”
Destiny is so powerful that in Act IV, Scene 8, Chrysalde, the raisonneur himself, suggests that all Arnolphe can do, if betrayed by “cursed fate,” is to select an appropriate response to this “accident.” Destiny is an indomitable force that can strike anyone at any time. In fact, Chrysalde tells Arnolphe that cocuage is what one makes of it: “Le cocuage n’est que ce que l’on le fait.” (Chrysalde, IV, 8, v. 1301). Destiny (le sort) gives men a wife and life is a jeu de dés, a game of dice. One corrects such accidents as cocuage though “good management,” une bonne conduite:
Quoi qu’on en puisse dire, enfin, le cocuage Sous des traits moins affreux aisément s’envisage; Et, comme je vous le dis, toute l’habileté Ne va qu’à le savoir tourner du bon côté. Chrysalde (I, 4, v. 357-360) L’École des femmes [In short, say what you will, cuckolding may easily be made to seem less terrible; and, as I told you before, all your dexterity lies in being able to turn the best side outwards.] The School for wives, p. 22.
Mais comme c’est le sort qui nous donne une femme, Je dis que l’on doit faire ainsi qu’au jeu de dés, Il faut jouer d’adresse et d’une âme réduite, Corriger le hasard par la bonne conduite. Chrysalde (IV, 8. v. 1282-1285) L’École des femmes [But as fortune gives us a wife, I say that we should act as we do when we gamble with dice, when, if you do not get what you want, you must be shrewd and good−tempered, to amend your luck by good management.] The School for wives, p. 22.
If one takes into account destiny’s power, Arnolphe’s obsessive fear of cuckolding is in his nature. This immutability of nature is a premise in Molière. Arnolphe is as he is and Agnès is as she is. For instance, she can tell Horace that she is kept by a very jealous man. Agnès may be an ignorant girl, but she knows about jealousy. She also knows about the game of dice.
Agnès and Horace
In L’École des femmes, the laws of comedy are pushed to an extreme. After Agnès escapes Monsieur de la Souche, which could be the resolution of the play, Horace asks Arnolphe to house and guard Agnès so her reputation is protected.
Moreover, it is barely credible that Agnès’ biological father should arrive the moment his daughter is being led away by Arnolphe. It is also barely credible that Agnès should have fallen in love with the young man her father wanted her to marry. Molière doubles the father figure: Monsieur de la Souche and Enrique, who has decided his daughter would marry Horace. Were it not for Chrysalde’s intervention, and the power of destiny, Horace’s marriage may have been a mariage forcé.
(…) Si son cœur a quelque répugnance. Je tiens qu’on ne doit pas lui faire résistance. Chrysalde (V, 7, v. 1684-1686) [If it is repugnant to him, I think we ought not to force him. I think my brother will be of my mind.] The School for Wives, p. 28.
Le hasard [chance] en ces lieux avait exécuté Ce que votre sagesse avait prémédité. Horace (V, 9, v. 1764-1765) [Accident has done here what your wisdom intended.] The School for Wives, p. 29.
Such words as “hasard” (chance) and “le Ciel,” (heaven) reveal a view of the world according to which destiny controls mankind. L’École des femmes may therefore reflect Jansenism, but the word Jansenism is not used.
Allons dans la maison débrouiller ces mystères, Payer à notre ami ses soins officieux, Et rendre grâce au Ciel qui fait tout pour le mieux. Chrysalde (V, 9,v. 1775 -1778) [Let us go inside, and clear up these mysteries. Let us shew our friend some return for his great pains, and thank Heaven, which orders all for the best.] The School for Wives, p. 29.
In The Tartuffe, there is a reference to casuistry. Tartuffe knows how to “pacify scruples:”
Je sais l’art de lever [to lift] des scrupules. (Tartuffe, IV, 4, v. 1486.) [I know the art of pacifying scruples.] Tartuffe, IV, 4.
However, Molière does not associate L’École des femmes with an ideology. We know that Molière borrowed his subject matter from Paul Scarron‘s translation of a Spanish novella by Doña Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor, which Scarron entitled La Précaution inutile. We also know that L’École des femmes has Italian antecedents. It could be, therefore, that ancestors to L’École des femmes gave destiny an important role. Yet, it seems unlikely that they gave destiny as decisive a role as Molière did.
Jansenists maintained that only those whom God had chosen would be saved. This notion was referred to as the theory of predestination, a theory associated with Saint Augustine, or Augustine of Hippo (13 November 354 CE – 28 August 430 CE).
Molière did not have to refer to an ideology when writing L’École des femmes. He did not need to. Comedy promotes the success of the young lovers. Yet seldom has destiny countered a barbon‘s wishes as imperatively. Dismissing predestination is somewhat difficult because of the central role given soliloquies. Arnolphe must hide from Horace that he is Monsieur de la Souche, until Chrysalde says:
(…) Ce nom l’aigrit ; C’est Monsieur de la Souche, on vous l’a déjà dit. (Chrysalde, V, 7, v. 1712-1703.) [That name annoys him. He is Monsieur de la Souche, as you were told before.] The School for Wives, p. 28.
As noted above, in L’École des femmes, life is compared to a jeu de dés [dice]. Gambling is also invoked by Agnès herself.
Mon Dieu, ne gagez pas, vous perdriez vraiment. (Agnès, II, 5, v. 474.)  [Oh, Heaven, do not bet; you would assuredly lose.] The School for wives, p.10.
However, I will not conclude that L’École des femmes reflects Jansenism, except marginally. The laws of comedy promote the marriage of the young lovers and farces do not tolerate boasting. Moreover, jealousy is a topos, a lieu commun.
_________________________  Gabriel Conesa, Le Dialogue moliéresque (Paris: SEDES-CDU, 1992), p. 30.
Roxanne Lalande, “L’École des femmes : matrimony and the laws of chance,” in David Bradby and Andrew Calder (editors), The Cambridge Companion to Molière (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), p. 165-176.
 “casuistry”. Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia
Arnolphe, or Monsieur de la Souche Agnès,une ingénue, raised by Arnolphe Horace, the jeune premier whose father is Oronte Oronte, Horace’s father and a friend of Arnolphe Chrysalde, the raisonneur and Arnolphe’s friend Enrique, Chrysalde’s brother-in-law
The dramatis personæ also includes a notary, a maid (Georgette), and a valet (Alain).
Arnolphe & Monsieur de la Souche
a fortuitous victory
In L’École des femmes (1662), the victory of the young couple, Horace and Agnès, is mostly fortuitous and irony is the main literary device used by Molière. Ironically, Horace tells Arnolphe, the blocking character, or senex iratus, everything he and Agnès have done and everything they plan to do.
Molière has made this possible by creating a barbon who has just changed his name. Young Horace, our jeune premier, thinks his rival is Monsieur de la Souche, not Arnolphe. Our pedant, Arnolphe, is a friend of his father as well as Chrysalde’s friend. Horace does not hesitate to ask him for money no more than Arnolphe hesitates to loan him the amount he needs. He also gives him the wallet. Arnolphe knows he will be repaid. Ironically, Horace has no reason to think that Arnolphe is not supportive of him in every way. On the contrary.
In fact, after he and Agnès have fled the house in which she was kept by Monsieur de la Souche, a jealous man, Horace asks Arnolphe, his rival, to look after Agnès while he makes preparations for what we suspect is a wedding. Horace wishes to protect Agnès’ reputation and he must speak to his father’s regarding his marriage. He therefore asks Arnolphe to be Agnès’ temporary guardian. Irony suffuses the comedy and, at this point, reaches its climax.
C’est à vous seul [Arnolphe] aussi, comme ami généreux, Que je puis confier ce dépôt amoureux. (Horace, V. ii, 1430-5.)
[(…) and as I have trusted the whole secret of my passion to you, being assured of your prudence, so to you only, as a generous friend, can I confide this beloved treasure.] The School for Wives, p. 24.
Octave Uzanne, Le Livre, Paris, A. Quantin, 1880 [1719 edition]. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Irony also stems from Agnès’ ignorance. Arnolphe has Agnès raised in a convent, asking that she learn as little as possible about the ways of the world. That, he believes, is his very best precaution. He doesn’t want to cuckolded.
As you know, before leaving for about ten days, Arnolphe directs Georgette, Agnès’ maid, and Alain, her manservant, not to let anyone into Agnès’ house. He also directs Agnès not to see anyone. However, Arnolphe has learned from Horace that he has seen a lovely woman and that he is in love, which is why he needs the money he has just borrowed. Arnolphe is afraid and decides to speak with Agnès. He tells her that he has he has been told than an unknown young man came to her house. These people, he says, are méchantes langues, slandering tongues. He claims he is ready to bet they are not telling the truth.
Mon Dieu, ne gagez pas : vous perdriez vraiment. (Agnès, II. v, 473.)
[Oh, Heaven, do not bet; you would assuredly lose.] The School for Wives, p. 10.
Quoi! c’est la vérité qu’un homme… (Arnolphe II. v, 474.)
[What! It is true that a man… ]
(…) Chose sûre.
Il n’a presque bougé de chez nous, je vous jure. (Agnès II. v, 475-6.)
[Quite true. I declare to you that he was scarcely ever out of the house.] The School for Wives, p. 10-11.
She has given him a ribbon, and he has kissed her arms, Arnolphe wants to know more.
Passe pour le ruban. Mais je voudrais apprendre,
S’il ne vous a rien fait que vous baiser les bras. (Arnolphe, II. v, 580-1.)
[Oh! let the ribbon go. But I want to know if he did nothing to you but kiss your arms.] The School for Wives, p. 12.
Comment. Est-ce qu’on fait d’autres choses ? (Agnès, II. v, 582.)
[Why! do people do other things?] The School for Wives, p. 12.
(…) Non pas. Mais pour guérir du mal qu’il dit qui le possède, N’a-t-il point exigé de vous d’autre remède ? (Arnolphe, II. v, 583-4.)
[Not at all. But, to cure the disorder which he said had seized him, did he not ask you for any other remedy?] The School for Wives, p. 12.
Non. Vous pouvez juger, s’il en eût demandé, Que pour le secourir j’aurais tout accordé. (Agnès, II. v, 585-6.)
[No. You may judge that I would have granted him anything to do him good, if he had asked for it.] The School for Wives, p. 12.
Chrysalde was right. Virtue is not enough:
(…) L’honnêteté suffit. (Arnolphe, I. i, 106.) Mais comment voulez-vous, après tout, qu’une bête Puisse jamais savoir ce que c’est qu’être honnête. (Chrysalde, I. i, 107-8.)
(…) Virtue is quite enough.
But how can you expect, after, all, that a mere simpleton can ever know what it is to be virtuous?] The School for Wives, p. 4.
The School for Wives combines several comic texts: the farce, the comedy of manners, and the comedy of intrigue. It is also rooted in the commedia dell’arte. Arnolphe resembles Il Dottore, an inflatedcharacter who ends up deflated.
Arnolphe has the audacity to think he can fool destiny and destiny undoes him. In LÉcole des femmes, destiny reigns supreme and Arnophe will be the trompeur trompé of farces:
(…) Oui ; mais qui rit d’autrui Doit craindre qu’en revanche on rie aussi de lui. (Chrysalde, I. i, 45-6.)
[Yes; but he who laughs at another must beware, lest he in turn be laughed at himself.] The School for Wives, p. 3.
He, Chrysalde, believes he cannot control destiny. He therefore refrains from mocking others so others do not mock him. According to the laws of comedy, lashing out leads to a backlash. The deceiver is deceived.
In Act I, scene 4, Arnolphe tells Horace that watching cocus is like watching a comedy. But he is now on the same stage, as the cocus he ridiculed, thinking he could shape destiny and boasting about it.
C’est un plaisir de prince, et des tours que je voi Je me donne souvent la comédie à moi. (Arnolphe, I. iv, 295-6.)
[It is a pleasure fit for a King; to me it is a mere comedy to
see the pranks I do.] The School for Wives, p. 7.
In this scene, we see to what extent Arnolphe himself has caused his demise. Agnès is so innocent she “would have granted him [Horace] anything to do him good, if he had asked.” Would that she had known more! Chrysalde was right. Virtue is not enough.
(…) L’honnêteté suffit. (Arnolphe, I. i, 104.) [Mais comment voulez-vous, après tout, qu’une bête Puisse jamais savoir ce que c’est qu’être honnête.] (Chrysalde, I. ii, 105-6.)
(…) Virtue is quite enough.
[But how can you expect, after, all, that a mere simpleton can ever know what it is.] The School for Wives, p. 4.
Arnolphe is fully undone. However, he is included in the final society, imperfect as it may be.
Allons dans la maison débrouiller ces mystères, Payer à notre ami ces soins officieux, Et rendre grâce au Ciel qui fait tout pour le mieux. (Chrysalde, V. scène dernière, 1775-7.)
[Let us go inside, and clear up these mysteries. Let us shew our friend some return for his great pains, and thank Heaven, which orders all for the best.] The School for Wives, p. 29.
Molière as Arnolphe (detail)
Les Farceurs français et italiens depuis soixante ans et plus, 1670
When Horace first meets Arnolphe, in Act one, he is carrying two letters addressed to Arnolphe. These indicate that Oronte, Horace’s father, will be visiting with a person Horace does not know.
We know, therefore, that there may be unexpected changes, a discovery: anagnorisis.
It so happens that the guest who will accompany Oronte, Horace’s father is Enrique, Chrysalde’s brother-in-law. It was a private marriage and a daughter was born to Henrique and Angélique. Enrique had to leave France unexpectedly, so the child was left in the custody of a woman who grew too poor to look after Agnès. This woman had to entrust her charge to a person who could afford to raise Agnès. Agnès was 4 years old. These are the circumstances under which Arnolphe became Agnès’ ward. She is now 17.
In Act V, when Enrique arrives, Agnès ceases to be Arnolphe’s ward. Suddenly, after 13 years, Arnolphe no longer has any authority over Agnès. In fact, Agnès can talk. She is not “bête.” Arnolphe therefore leaves devastated and unable to speak: “tout transporté et ne pouvant parler.”
Scholar Bernard Magné has noted that in the final discovery scene (reconnaissance) scene, Arnolphe loses the ability to speak:
(…) Dans la scène de reconnaissance finale, Arnolphe perd réellement l’usage de la parole.
Earlier, when he was pulling a reluctant Agnès away, Arnolphe called her causeuse (a talker):
Allons, causeuse, allons. (Arnolphe, V. ix, 1726.)
[Come along, chatterbox.] L’École des femmes, p. 29.
Agnès has indeed gained the ability to speak :
Oui : mais pour femme, moi, je prétendais vous prendre, Et je vous l’avais fait, me semble, assez entendre. (Arnolphe, V. iv, 1510-11.)
[Yes; but I meant to take you to wife myself; I think I gave you to understand it clearly enough.] The School for Wives, p. 26.
Oui : mais à vous parler franchement entre nous, Il est plus pour cela selon mon goût que vous. (Agnès, V. ix, 1512-13.) [You did. But, to be frank with you, he is more to my taste for a husband than you. With you, marriage is a trouble and a pain, and your descriptions give a terrible picture of it; but there—he makes it seem so full of joy that I long to marry.] The School for Wives, p. 26.
Vraiment, il en sait donc là-dessus plus que vous ; Car à se faire aimer il n’a point eu de peine. (Agnès, V. iv, 1539-40.) [Of a truth then he knows more about it than you; for he had no difficulty in making himself loved.] The School for Wives, p. 26.
Le moyen de chasser ce qui fait du plaisir (Agnès, V. iv, 1527.)
[How can we drive away what gives us pleasure?] The School for Wives, p. 26.
According to the laws of comedy, lashing out at someone leads to a backlash: trompeur trompé, deceiver deceived.
Honour is fragile
In Act I, Arnolphe expresses a view of marriage according to which a wife is dependent on her husband. He is glad that Agnès will owe him everything.
Je me vois riche assez, pour pouvoir, que je croi, Choisir une moitié, qui tienne tout de moi, Et de qui la soumise, et pleine dépendance, N’ait à me reprocher aucun bien, ni naissance. (Arnolphe, I. i, 123-6.)
[I think I am rich enough to take a partner who shall owe all to me, and whose humble station and complete dependence cannot reproach me either with her poverty or her birth.] The School for Wives, p. 4.
However, after realizing that he nearly lost Agnès, Arnolphe tells Agnès that he has difficulty making himself loved and that his honour is fragile. Horace knows how to make himself love:
Que ne vous êtes-vous comme lui fait aimer ? (Agnès, V. iv, 1535.)
[Why did you not make yourself loved, as he has done?] The School for Wives, p. 26.
Car à se faire aimer il n’a point eu de peine. Agnès. (Agnès, V. iv, 1540.) [For he had no difficulty in making himself loved.] The School for Wives, p. 26.
In Act III, Arnolphe says:
Songez qu’en vous faisant moitié de ma personne ;
C’est mon honneur, Agnès, que je vous abandonne :
Que cet honneur est tendre, et se blesse de peu ;
Et qu’il est aux enfers des chaudières bouillantes,
On l’on plonge à jamais les femmes mal vivantes.
Ce que je vous dis là ne sont pas des chansons :
Et vous devez du cœur ces leçons. (Arnolphe III. i, v, 721-28.)
[Remember, Agnès, that, in making you part of myself, I give my honour into your hands, which honour is fragile, and easily damaged; that it will not do to trifle in such a matter, and that there are boiling cauldrons in hell, into which wives who live wickedly are thrown for evermore.] The School for Wives, p. 14.
In short, Arnolphe is like Orgon who needs Tartuffe to be a tyrant. He also resembles Alceste who preaches truthfulness so he can believe those who praise him. If Arnolphe’s honour depends on marital fidelity, it is best he remain unmarried in a world that is at the complete mercy of destiny.
The problem with this play is the overwhelming power of destiny. The reconnaissance scene he is recourse no one should have to use. But Arnolphe’s précaution was useless. In fact, knowing everything Agnès and Horace were doing, Arnolphe loses Agnès. However, he does not lose her because he asks Arnolphe to look after her, he loses her because a real father arrives after a very long absence. Enrique suddenly replaces Arnolphe and does so fortuitously. Arnolphe loses his ability to speak, which, in the eyes of most people, is a privilege given human beings only.
Molière borrowed his École des femmesfrom Paul Scarron (c. 1 July 1610 in Paris – 6 October 1660 in Paris), the author of the Roman comique (1651-1657) who also translated Spanish stories, one of which was La Précaution inutile.
The delicate portrayal in Agnès of an awakening temperament, all the stronger for its absence of convention, is a marvel of comedy, as are Arnolphe’s clumsy attempts at lover’s talk. Meanwhile, a young man, Horace, falls in love with Agnès at first sight.