I had expressed regret that my brother died when he could have survived. He would have been 76 yesterday. I have just returned from a memorial service in his honour.
I also shared my view of the strange manner in which certain doctors believe anxiolytics and sleeping pills are the same medication. They may belong to the same family, but one does not take sleeping pills before getting into one’s car.
As well, I mentioned being told that I was responsible for the hemorrhage I suffered. I should have known that aspirins thin the blood.
Moreover, I am seeing abuse of the elderly. If one loses one’s driver’s license, one also loses one’s autonomy and helpers may start controlling your life.
Finally, promoters have found ways of having hastily constructed near or above a grocery store to make life easier for persons who are ageing. These apartments cost a fortune. One can buy or rent. Promoters want to make millions and do, at the expense of the elderly.
We now enter Molière’s Imaginary Invalid. During the fourth performance of the play, Molière collapsed. He fainted. However, he decided to finish the performance. He was then taken home, hemorrhaged and died. He suffered from tuberculosis.
Louis XIV authorized his being buried in consecrated grounds, but he was buried at night.
A revised Les Femmes savanteshas been published. I hope you will not be taken back to ealier drafts, which the computer does. I think it will work. If it does’nt, I will reinsert the article in a new post. The post is in Word, but my computer is not working well.
A reference to Martine, the kitchen-maid, is missing. Martine is fired because she has made a grammar mistake. She is told she should know Vaugelas, a grammarian. Philaminte rules the household.
My posts will be used in the book. The book however is more analytical and scholarly. Writing posts is nevertheless extremely helpful. I can see how the plays work. In Molière, the plot is not as significant as manners, but there has to be a plot that brings about the marriage that takes place as the curtain falls. Ariste brings letters that tell of the family’s financial demise and Trissotin, three times a fool, leaves.
For instance, Armande combines two functions: the young lover and the blocking character, as does Alceste in the Misanthrope. Bélise is sottise itself. She thinks Clitandre loves her until the very end of the play, when she condemns haste.
Qu’il prenne garde au moins que je suis dans son cœur. Par un prompt désespoir souvent on se marie, Qu’on s’en repent après tout le temps de sa vie.
Bélise à tous (V. scène dernière, p. 74)
[Let him take care, for I still retain my place in his heart. Despair often leads people to conclude a hasty marriage, of which they repent ever after.]
Bélise to all (V. last scene)
This is information we can add to the post. In Molière’s comedies, people are what they are. Clitandre was rejected by Armande, but when he decides to marry Henriette, it is because he is what he is and Henriette will accept him as he is.
The picture that adorns the Poème Harmonique’s video of Le Roi a fait battre tambour is by Charles Coypel, who also illustrated Les Femmes savantes. I love combining the play, the music, and the illustrations.
My computer truly harmed my post on Les Femmes savantes. It devoured entire sections. So, I will publish it again, when it has been revised. First, I must rest. I had not kept an entire copy of the post in Word.
It is interesting to see that in Les Femmes savantes, Molière transferred the power vested in men to a tyrannical woman. The play is not about knowledge on the part of woman, but on the very genuine abuse young women suffered in seventeenth-century France. One marries a person one is attracted to and who will be a friend for life.
Trissotin and Vadius are pedants who can no more control their anger than Philaminte. To make matters worse, Trissotin is also trying to marry Henriette so he can help himself to the family’s wealth. He’s a parasite.
A knowledgeable woman would not be fooled by pedants and swindlers. As for Trissotin and Vadius, they would not be allowed in a Salon.
Now that the papers have been signed, it could well be that a petit savant will be allowed entrance into the world. In French venir au mondemeans to be born.
I did not include a discussion of Les Femmes savantes in my thesis. I worked on the problematic plays. Henriette resembles Tartuffe‘s Elmire, Orgon’s wife, an admirable woman.
Events are definitely keeping me humble. In comedy, this is the place to be.
Love to everyone 💕
J. P. É. Martini: Plaisir d’amour (1785) for soprano and fortepiano / Le Poème Harmonique
CHRYSALE, an honest bourgeois PHILAMINTE, wife to CHRYSALE
ARMANDE & HENRIETTE, their daughters ARISTE, brother to CHRYSALE
BÉLISE, his sister CLITANDRE, lover to HENRIETTE
TRISSOTIN, a wit (bel esprit) VADIUS, a learned man MARTINE, a kitchen-maid LÉPINE, servant to CHRYSALE
JULIEN, servant to VADIUS
The scene is in Paris
Les Précieuses ridicules
l’honnête homme & galanterie
Les Femmes savantes is the last of Molière’s three grandes comédies: five acts written in alexandrine verses. It was preceded by Tartuffe (1664) and Le Misanthrope(1666). It would be classified as a comedy of manners(mœurs).
Molière may have drawn his inspiration from a play by Calderón, or Chappuzeau’s L’Académie des femmes.There is a degree of intertextuality in Molière’s Femmes savantes. However,the play originates in Molière’s own Précieuses ridicules (The Affected Ladies), a one-act play, first staged on 18 November 1659 at the Petit-Bourbon, Molière told Donneau de Visé that he wished to revisit Les Précieuses ridicules.
Préciosité was a seventeenth-century movement that had a civilizing influence on courtiers and the rapidly-growing bourgeoisie. L’honnêtehomme was born in Salons, but he is a descendant of Baldassare Castiliogne‘s (6 December 1478 – 2 February 1529) Il Cortegiano or The Book of the Courtier, written between 1508 and 1528.
The galant homme also developed in the Salons. Courtship was modelled onMadeleine de Scudéry‘s Carte de Tendre, featured in Clélie, one of her novels. The map of the country of love, a French Arcadia, was engraved by Francois Chauveau. Précieuses (precious women) wanted to be courted as indicated in the Carte de Tendre, a monument to proper galanterie, based on rather astute psychology. It represented three forms of love: reconnaissance (roughly, indebtedness), inclination (attraction), and estime.
Les Femmes savantes features three femmes savantes. They are Philaminte (Chrysale’s wife), their daughter Armande, and Chrysale’s sister Bélise. Armande has a younger sister, Henriette, who wishes to marry. For our femmes savantes, sexual intercourse is bestial. In this respect, Molière is revisiting his Précieuses ridicules. Précieuses enjoyed listening to the witty poetry of the gentlemen they entertained, but were not easily convinced to marry. Our learned women are besotted.
For instance, when Clitandre tells Bélise that he loves Henriette, hoping to win an ally, but Bélise believes he is using an oblique approach to tell her that he loves her.
Ah certes le détour est d’esprit, je l’avoue, Ce subtil faux-fuyant mérite qu’on le loue; Et dans tous les romans où j’ai jeté les yeux, Je n’ai rien rencontré de plus ingénieux. Bélise à Clitandre (I. iv. p. 9)
[Ah! truly now, the subterfuge shows excellent wit. This subtle evasion deserves praise; and in all the romances I have glanced over, I have never met with anything more ingenious.] Bélise to Clitandre (I. 4)
Bélise has read too many romances inhabited by shepherds and shepherdesses. She cannot be Clitandre’s ally.
As for Clitandre, he is an honnête hommewho wishes to marry a woman who does not consider sexual intimacy bestial. He finds in Henriette a young lady who looks forward to being a loving wife and a good mother. Henriette tells her sister Armande, a learned lady, that if their mother had always rejected men, Armande would not be alive. Procreation ensures the perpetuation of human life and nature has made lovemaking pleasurable.
Mais vous ne seriez pas ce dont vous vous vantez, Si ma mère n’eût eu que de ces beaux côtés; Et bien vous prend, ma sœur, que son noble génie N’ait pas vaqué toujours à la philosophie. De grâce souffrez-moi par un peu de bonté Des bassesses à qui vous devez la clarté; Et ne supprimez point, voulant qu’on vous seconde, Quelque petit savant qui veut venir au monde. Henriette à Armande (I. i, p. 3) [But you would not have been what you boast yourself to be if our mother had had only her nobler qualities; and well it is for you that her lofty genius did not always devote itself to philosophy. Pray, leave me to those littlenesses to which you owe life, and do not, by wishing me to imitate you, deny some little savant entrance into the world.] Henriette to Armande (I. 1)
Philaminte is forewarned by Julien, a valet to Vadius, a “learned gentleman” whom Trissotin introduces in Chrysale’s home, that Trissotin wants to marry her daughter, because of the family’s wealth, and that he plagiarizes (IV. iv, p. 59) (IV. 4 EN). But Philaminte is so blinded by Trissotin that she does not heed Julien’s warning. On the contrary.
Et moi, pour trancher court toute cette dispute, Il faut qu’absolument mon désir s’exécute. Henriette, et Monsieur seront joints de ce pas; Je l’ai dit, je le veux, ne me répliquez pas: Et si votre parole à Clitandre est donnée, Offrez-lui le parti d’épouser son aînée. Philaminte à Chrysalde (V. iii, p. 70)
[And I, to put an end to this dispute, will have my wish obeyed. (Showing TRISSOTIN) Henriette and this gentleman shall be united at once. I have said it, and I will have it so. Make no reply; and if you have given your word to Clitandre, offer him her elder sister.] Philaminte to Chrysale (V. 3)
Trissotin will be unmasked by the raisonneur, Ariste, Chrysale’s brother, who fools Trissotin into believing that Chrysale and Philaminte have lost their fortune. Trissotin no longer wishes to marry Henriette who may therefore marry Clitandre, to whom she is attracted.
A Portrait of Armande
Ironically, Clitandre, who will marry Henriette, first courted Armande, who claims him for herself on the grounds of immorality on his part, an absurd claim.
Au changement de vœux nulle horreur ne s’égale, Et tout cœur infidèle est un monstre en morale. Armande à Clitandre (IV. ii, p. 52)
[Nothing can be compared to the crime of changing one’s vows, and every faithless heart is a monster of immorality.] Armande to Clitandre (IV. 2)
Est-ce moi qui vous quitte, ou vous qui me chassez? Clitandre à Armande (IV. II, p. 52)
[Do I leave you, or do you not rather turn me away?] Clitandre to Armande (IV. 2)
Armande so loves Clitandre that she is ready to overcome her aversion for nœuds de chair and chaînes corporelles. She has harmed herself.
Hé bien, Monsieur, hé bien, puisque sans m’écouter Vos sentiments brutaux veulent se contenter; Puisque pour vous réduire à des ardeurs fidèles, Il faut des nœuds de chair, des chaînes corporelles; Si ma mère le veut, je résous mon esprit À consentir pour vous à ce dont il s’agit.
Armande à Clitandre (IV. ii, p. 53) [Well, well! Sir, since without being convinced by what I say, your grosser feelings will be satisfied; since to reduce you to a faithful love, you must have carnal ties and material chains, I will, if I have my mother’s permission, bring my mind to consent to all you wish.] Armande to Clitandre (IV. 2)
But it’s too late, says Clitandre.
Il n’est plus temps, Madame, une autre a pris la place; Et par un tel retour j’aurais mauvaise grâce De maltraiter l’asile, et blesser les bontés,
Où je me suis sauvé de toutes vos fiertés. Clitandre à Armande (IV. ii, pp. 53-54)
[It is too late; another has accepted before you and if I were to return to you, I should basely abuse the place of rest in which I sought refuge, and should wound the goodness of her to whom I fled when you disdained me.] Clitandre to Armande (IV. 2)
Bélise still thinks she is in Clitandre’s heart.
On pourrait bien lui faire Des propositions qui pourraient mieux lui plaire: Mais nous établissons une espèce d’amour Qui doit être épuré comme l’astre du jour; La substance qui pense, y peut être reçue, Mais nous en bannissons la substance étendue. Bélise à tous (V. iii, pp. 70-71)
[Propositions more to his taste might be made. But we are establishing a kind of love which must be as pure as the morning-star; the thinking substance is admitted, but not the material substance.] Bélise to all (V. 3)
Trissotin and Vadius
In the meantime, Trissotin and Vadius, have quarelled bitterly. Molière did not depict real persons. He used miroirs publics (La Critique de l’École des femmes, sc. 6). However, Trissotin is modelled on l’abbé Cotin, who had a vile temper, and Vadius is the sarcastic Gilles Ménage. Both gentlemen dishonour themselves by quarrelling, which is not insignificant. They are not to be admitted to Salons, where there is no room for anger. Nor is Philaminte a candidate for a Salon.
Les Femmes savantes is a mundus inversusin that the pater familias is a mater familias. Philaminte, Chrysale’s wife, rules. In Les Femmes savantes, Molière has vested unto a woman, the authority normally vested in men. Women are just as capable of opposing a marriage as men are. In this play, the blocking character is used at its most basic level, that of function. So, Philaminte, Henriette’s mother, is our alazṓn. As for Chrysale, Henriette and Armand’s father, let us read.
Non: car comme j’ai vu qu’on parlait d’autre gendre, J’ai cru qu’il était mieux de ne m’avancer point. Chrysale à Ariste (II. ix, p. 27) Certes votre prudence est rare au dernier point! N’avez-vous point de honte avec votre mollesse? Et se peut-il qu’un homme ait assez de faiblesse Pour laisser à sa femme un pouvoir absolu, Et n’oser attaquer ce qu’elle a résolu? Ariste à Chrysale (II. ix, p. 27)
[No; for as she talked of another son-in-law, I thought it was better for me to say nothing. Chrysale to Ariste (II. 9)
Your prudence is to the last degree wonderful! Are you not ashamed of your weakness? How can a man be so poor-spirited as to let his wife have absolute power over him, and never dare to oppose anything she has resolved upon? ] Ariste to Chrysale (II. 9)
Chrysale is not so docile. Philaminte is as Chrysale describes her to his brother Ariste: bilious, “un vrai dragon,” and a “diable.”
Mon Dieu, vous en parlez, mon frère, bien à l’aise, Et vous ne savez pas comme le bruit me pèse. J’aime fort le repos, la paix, et la douceur, Et ma femme est terrible avecque son humeur. Du nom de philosophe elle fait grand mystère, Mais elle n’en est pas pour cela moins colère; Et sa morale faite à mépriser le bien, Sur l’aigreur de sa bile opère comme rien Pour peu que l’on s’oppose à ce que veut sa tête, On en a pour huit jours d’effroyable tempête. Elle me fait trembler dès qu’elle prend son ton. Je ne sais où me mettre, et c’est un vrai dragon; Et cependant avec toute sa diablerie, Il faut que je l’appelle, et «mon cœur», et «ma mie» Chrysale à Ariste (II. ix, p. 28)
[Ah! it is easy, brother, for you to speak; you don’t know what a dislike I have to a row, and how I love rest and peace. My wife has a terrible disposition. She makes a great show of the name of philosopher, but she is not the less passionate on that account; and her philosophy, which makes her despise all riches, has no power over the bitterness of her anger. However little I oppose what she has taken into her head, I raise a terrible storm which lasts at least a week. She makes me tremble when she begins her outcries; I don’t know where to hide myself. She is a perfect virago; and yet, in spite of her diabolical temper, I must call her my darling and my love.]
Chrysale to Ariste (II. 9)
Philaminte has un pouvoir absolu (absolute power). So, a form of doubling, or a comedy is required. The marriage that ends comedies will take place because the raisonneur, Chrysale’s brother, will bring to Philaminte and Chrysale letters indicating that they have lost their wealth. Trissotin will no longer wish to marry Henriette and Clitandre will attempt to look after Chrysale’s family.
In other words, salvation comes through a ploy. No deus ex machina is required, but Ariste resorts to a “théâtre dans le théâtre.” This process underscores the powerlessness of the society of the play. The alazṓn, a senex iratus, would block the marriage comedy demands, were it not for a little “farce.”
La Querelle des femmes
Moreover, we cannot includeLes Femmes savantes in the querelle des femmesor the woman question, as Philaminte, whom I call the blocking character, is a woman. Given that she would force sexual intercourse on her daughter. Philaminte is extremely cruel.
The title of Les Femmes savantesmay lead the reader or spectator to expect a discussion on the merits of knowledge in the case of women. However, Molière’s play has little to do with the benefits of educating women. Les Femmes savantes is yet another comedy where a blocking character opposes the marriage of young lovers. However, there is a difference. The blocking character is not the traditional heavy father. Philaminte, a woman, is our tyrant.
My doctor asked me to take one Aspirin tablet every morning, to avoid a cardiovascular accident. It was prescribed medication. However, I suffer from a very mild form of haemophilia, so I haemorrhaged. It happened during the night, when I was sound asleep. I did not notice I had bled until morning, when I saw dry blood on the bedclothes, all around my mouth, my teeth, my hands, my night gown. What a mess!
Les Femmes savantes (1672) is hilarious, but there are comments that could lead one to think that Molière was a misogynist. He wasn’t, but he featured pedants and women who opposed marriage, sexual intercourse, especially. The laws governing comedies demand a marriage, i.e. the perpetuation of life.
Molière features characters who cannot steer a middle-ground (called modération [restraint]) and threaten the marriage of comedy’s young lovers. Les Femmessavantes has affinities with LesPrécieuses ridicules (1659). Magdelon and Cathos are blinded by their wish to open a salon. They cannot tell that Mascarille and Jodelet are valets to La Grange and Du Croisy, fine young men they have rejected.
Henriette’s mother, Philaminte, her sister Armande and aunt, Bélise, are blinded not so much by genuine knowledge, but by pedantry. They want Henriette to marry Trissotin (sotmeans fool or idiot, and tri suggests trinity [three]). As for Henriette’s father, Chrysalde, although he wishes his daughter to marry Clitandre, he does as his wife dictates. Philaminte runs their household, their ménage.
our femmes savantes are Philaminte, Chrysale’s wife, Bélise and Armande
the young lovers are Henriette (Armande’s sister) and Clitandre
our pedant is Trissotin (bel esprit)
Chrysale is Armande and Henriette’s father
Ariste is Chrysale’s brother, a helper, and the raisonneur
Vadius is a learned man
the play also features servants, Martine is the most important
Monsieur Jourdain, bourgeois.
Madame Jourdain, his wife. Lucile, their daughter.
Nicole, maid. Cléonte, suitor of Lucile.
Covielle, Cléonte’s valet.
Dorante, Count, suitor of Dorimène.
Pupil of the Music Master.
Master of Philosophy.
Many male and female musicians, instrumentalists, dancers, cooks,
tailor’s apprentices, and others necessary for the interludes.
l’ingénue (the young woman)
le jeune premier (the young man)
valets, maids, etc. (helpers)
We know the plot of the Would-be Gentleman. Monsieur Jourdain, who is attempting to elevate himself from bourgeoisie to gentilhommerie, wants his daughter to marry an aristocrat. Therefore, Monsieur Jourdain is a threat to Lucile and Cléonte, his daughter and the young man she wishes to marry, a bourgeois.
Helping Lucile, l’ingénue, is Nicole, a saucy servant. Helping Cléonte, the jeune premier, is Covielle, a valet. In some comedies, the young lovers are helpless and would never marry, were it not for the stratagems or their valets and servants. In the commedia dell’arte, zanni are very clever. They are tricksters. Covielle may not be a Brighella, but he devises the turquerie that fools our would-be gentleman, Monsieur Jourdain. Cléonte plays along.
Monsieur Jourdain believes one can learn gentilhommerie and hires a group of maîtres. The music and dance masters are the first to arrive at the bourgeois‘ house and mention that Monsieur Jourdain’ wish to be an aristocrat, provides them with a good income. The music master says:
This is a nice source of income for us — this Monsieur Jourdain, with the visions of nobility and gallantry that he has gotten into his head. You and I should hope that everyone resembled him. (I. 1) [Il est vrai. Nous avons trouvé ici un homme comme il nous le faut à tous deux. Ce nous est une douce rente que ce Monsieur Jourdain, avec les visions de noblesse et de galanterie qu’il est allé se mettre en tête. Et votre danse, et ma musique, auraient à souhaiter que tout le monde lui ressemblât.] (I. i, p. 2)
However, the music master says that applause and praise do not necessarily bring money and that Monsieur Jourdain is in fact quite clever.
J’en demeure d’accord, et je les goûte comme vous. Il n’y a rien assurément qui chatouille [tickles] davantage que les applaudissements que vous dites; mais cet encensne fait pas vivre. (I. i, p. 2)
[ I agree, and I enjoy them as you do. There is surely nothing more agreeable than the applause you speak of; but that incense does not provide a living.] (I. 1) Il a du discernement dans sa bourse. (I. i, p. 2)
[He has discernment in his purse. His praises are in cash, and this ignorant bourgeois is worth more to us, as you see, than the educated nobleman who introduced us here.] (I. 1)
In scene two, a musician sings a new song:
I languish night and day, my suffering is extreme Since to your control your lovely eyes subjected me; If you thus treat, fair Iris, those you love, Alas, how would you treat an enemy? (I. 2)
Monsieur Jourdain finds the song a “little mournful” (lugubre) He proposes a song that has a sheep in it: “Il y a du mouton dedans.”
I thought my Jeanneton As beautiful as sweet; I thought my Janneton Far sweeter than a sheep. Alas! Alas! She is a hundred times, A thousand times, more cruel Than tigers in the woods! (Monsieur Jourdain sings, I. 2) (I. ii, p. 4 FR)
His masters praise him, so he says that he knew “sans avoir appris la musique” (I. ii, p. 4) (“It’s without having learned music.” I. 2). It is always without his having learned, or because he does not want the lesson.
The next master is the fencing master (le maître d’armes). The fencing master is delighted with Monsieur Jourdain’s progress: You did marvelously! (II. 2); Vous faites des merveilles! (II. ii, p. 10).
As I have told you, the entire secret of fencing lies in two things: to give and not to receive; and as I demonstrated to you the other day, it is impossible for you to receive, if you know how to turn your opponent’s sword from the line of your body. This depends solely on a slight movement of the wrist, either inward or outward.
(Fencing Master to Monsieur Jourdain, II. 2)
In this way then, a man, without courage, is sure to kill his man and not be killed himself?
(Monsieur Jourdain to Fencing Master, II. 2)
I believe the image featured above shows a degree incompetence on the part of Monsieur Jourdain. One of his legs should be behind him, so he can pull himself away, and one ahead, so he can attack. That is how he will “kill his man and not be killed.”
the marchioness: “Marquise, vos beaux yeux… ”
His philosophy master wants to know whether Monsieur Jourdain wishes to learn morale, among other subjects. Monsieur Jourdain enquires: “Qu’est-ce qu’elle dit cette morale?” (What does this morale say?) When the philosophy master tells him that it “teaches men to moderate their passions,” he stops the master: “No, let’s leave that. I’m as choleric as all the devils and there’s no morality that sticks, I want to be as full of anger as I want whenever I like.” (“Non, laissons cela. Je suis bilieux comme tous les diables; et il n’y a morale qui tienne, je me veux mettre en colère tout mon soûl, quand il m’en prend envie.” (II. iv, p. 14 FR ; II. 4 EN)
First, Monsieur Jourdain’s philosophy master teaches Monsieur Jourdain the difference between prose and verse. He learns that he has spoken prose his entire life and was never told. But he knew prose. He knew it without instruction.
Par ma foi, il y a plus de quarante ans que je dis de la prose, sans que j’en susse rien; et je vous suis le plus obligé du monde, de m’avoir appris cela. (Monsieur Jourdain au maître de philosophie, II. iv, p. 16)
[By my faith! For more than forty years I have been speaking prose without knowing anything about it, and I am much obliged to you for having taught me that.]
(Monsieur Jourdain to his philosopher master, II. 4)
Monsieur Jourdain has been mentioning a Marchioness. So he asks his maître de philosophie to teach him how to phrase: “Beautiful marchioness, your lovely eyes make me die of love.” (“Marquise, vos beaux yeux me font mourir d’amour.”) Monsieur Jourdain’s philosophy master moves the words around:
“Of love to die make me, beautiful marchioness, your beautiful eyes.” “Your lovely eyes, of love make me, beautiful marchioness, die.” “Die, your lovely eyes, beautiful marchioness, of love make me.”
Or else: “Me make your lovely eyes die, beautiful marchioness, of love.”
(The philosophy master, II. 4 EN; II. iv, p. 16 FR)
When asked by Monsieur Jourdain which of the above is the best tournure, phrase, the maître de philosophie replies that it would be: “Beautiful marchioness, your lovely eyes make me die of love.” (“Marquise, vos beaux yeux me font mourir d’amour.”) Monsieur Jourdain is delighted to learn that he had said it correctly without instruction. In fact, he does things without instruction and refuses instruction if the topic does not suit him: morale. However, he has learned that he phrase a compliment, without instruction.
Madame Jourdain, Lucile, Nicole (maid), and Covielle (valet)
Before the arrival of the fencing master, the maîtres quarrel. All believe that their skill is the superior skill. A tailor has also visited. Monsieur Jourdain is “decked out.” He says, however, that his shoes hurt him but he is told, peremptorily, that they don’t.
As of Act Three, the maîtres have left. The rest of the play is devoted to the loversand a possible second couple. Madame Jourdain has heard that her husband might be planning to court a marchioness: Dorimène. In fact, Dorante is courting Dorimène at Monsieur Jourdain’s expense. Dorimène has a beautiful diamond ring. He has borrowed money from Monsieur Jourdain, promising to pay his debts. Dorante takes Dorimène to Monsieur Jourdain’s house where they dine sumptuously: music and all… (at Monsieur Jourdain’s expense).
Nicole, the maid, and Madame Jourdain, our bourgeois’ “sensible” wife, make fun of Monsieur Jourdain’s craze for aristocracy… Madame Jourdain wants a faithful husband, Nicole will not have these people mess up the house. Finally, Cléonte is angry at Lucile because she ignored him when he bumped into her. Cléonte is resentful, and will not let Covielle talk him out ofdépit amoureux (III. ix, p. 31 ; III. 9), until Covielle starts mentioning imperfections in Lucile. Cléonte disagrees. He loves Lucile and would die for her. A lover is as The Misanthrope‘s Éliante says in her tirade. He loves “even the faults of her whom he admires.” (II. iv, 711-730, pp. 30-31; II. 5)
Madame Jourdain wants Lucile to marry a bourgeois, Cléonte, not Dorante. Bourgeois have money, but Dorante is borrowing money… Under Louis XIV, aristocrats had to be seen. So they maintained homes, carriages, etc. in Paris. They sought the privilege of seeing Louis rise and Louis go to bed: le grand lever,le petit lever, le grand coucher, le petit coucher. (See Levée [ceremony], Wiki2. org.) Few could sit on a bench, usually an ottoman, the only seats available. Moreover, Madame Jourdain will not be humiliated. George Dandin is humiliated. When she learns Lucile is marrying the Grand Turc‘s son, Madame Jourdain is alarmed, but Covielle reassures her.
All’s well that ends well. Lucile and Cléonte marry and so do Dorimène and Dorante. Monsieur Jourdain is perfectly happy as a mamamouchi. I doubt that Dorante will pay his debt. He needed money to court the Marchioness, and Monsieur Jourdain loaned him the money he required. Dorante did not intend to marry Lucile.
No one can change Monsieur Jourdain, so a mere disguise allows the young lovers, Lucile and Cléonte to marry, with Madame Jourdain’s blessing. Besides, although his masters are at times ridiculous, the questions are asked by Monsieur Jourdain and Monsieur Jourdain is the person who answers. The philosophy master is not ridiculed. In fact, Monsieur Jourdain has been generous with his masters and it appears that as a veuve, a widow, Dorimène is quite capable of looking after Dorante, who seems an impoverished gentleman.
Attending a good performance of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme will delight an audience, but one can also read Molière. There is a sense in which Molière is in the words and in the dialogues. For instance, the masters quarrel, but it is among themselves, which is revealing. Monsieur Jourdain does not participate in the quarrel. He says little more than: Doucement (softly), Tout beau (all’s well), De grâce (for pity’s sake) and Je vous en prie (I beg you), but the maître de philosophie arrives “just in time” to relieve Monsieur Jourdain :
Holà, Monsieur le philosophe, vous arrivez tout à propos avec votre philosophie. Venez un peu mettre la paix entre ces personnes-ci.
[Aha! Monsieur Philosopher, you come just in time with your philosophy. Come, make a little peace among these people.]
(Monsieur Jourdain, II. iii, p. 11; II. 3)
Le Bourgeois gentilhomme is a five-act comédie-ballet written in prose rather than the twelve-syllable or piedsl’alexandrin, the ‘vers noble.’’ As we have seen, Dom Juan (1665) is also a comedy in five acts, a criterion for grandes comédies, but it is written in prose. So doubt lingers as to Dom Juan‘s status as a comedy. Is it or is it not a grande comédie? Doubt also lingers about L’Avare, The Miser. It could be argued that the use of prose in a five-act play is a dramatic device. Dom Juan is a serious play in need of comic relief. Incongruity and ambiquity are hallmarks of Molière’s comedies.
The Bourgeois Gentilhomme‘s plot is the usual blondin-berne-barbon (the young lover fools the old man), which is the Shakespearean “all’s well that ends well.” The young lovers are Cléonte and Lucile, Monsieur Jourdain’s daughter. Monsieur Jourdain is a blocking-character in that he is attempting to elevate himself from bourgeoisie to aristocratie and wants his daughter to marry an aristocrat. He is a domestic tyrant.
As you may recall, in 17th-century France, offices could be bought. In 1631, under Louis XIII, Molière’s father, Jean Poquelin, bought an office, “valet de chambre ordinaire et tapissier du roi” (valet of the King’s chamber and keeper of carpets and upholstery). It could have provided Molière with a comfortable living, had he not wanted to be a playwright and an actor. In other words, the sale of offices allowed members of the Third Estate to rise to prominence. Bourgeois, rich and powerful, were at court.
Monsieur Jourdain, our barbon, is not a gentilhomme; he is an enriched bourgeois attempting to become a gentilhomme. The title of Molière’s play is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, which differs little from grand seigneur méchanthomme, in Dom Juan and, in The Misanthrope, the atrabilaire amoureux, Alceste’s contrariness. Monsieur Jourdain could be described as a senexiratus, an alazṓn. The alazṓn, whether a miles gloriosus or a senex iratus is defined as “an impostor that sees himself as greater than he actually is.” Monsieur Jourdain is not a faux dévôt. He is a social climber.
Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme opposes the young lovers, Lucile and Cléonte, and Monsieur Jourdain, the alazṓn. Monsieur Jourdain wants his daughter to marry an aristocrat, but Covielle, Cléonte’s laquais, and Cléonte devise une comédie, a play within a play,featuring fashionable Turks, une turquerie,during which Lucile accepts to marry Cléonte, disguised as the son of the Grand Turc. Lucile realizes that the son of the Grand Turc is Cléonte in disguise, but mere appearances easily fool Monsieur Jourdain who has been made a Mamamouchi.
Monsieur Jourdain, bourgeois.
Madame Jourdain, his wife. Lucile, their daughter.
Nicole, maid. Cléonte, suitor of Lucile.
Covielle, Cléonte’s valet.
Dorante, Count, suitor of Dorimène.
Pupil of the Music Master.
Master of Philosophy.
Many male and female musicians, instrumentalists, dancers, cooks,
tailor’s apprentices, and others necessary for the interludes.
Marco Horvat Sylvie Moquet (viola)
Friederike Heumann (viola da gamba) Vincent Dumestre (cittern, baroque guitar, theorbo)
Quand le Roi a fait battre tambour (bis) When the King had the drums beat,
Pour saluer ses dames,To greet his ladies,
La première qu’arriva The first to arrive
Lui a ravi son âme. Took his soul away.
– Marquis, dis-moi, la connais-tu ? – Marquis, tell me, do you know her?
À qui est cette dame ? Whose lady is she?
Le marquis lui a répondu : (bis) The marquis answered
– Sire roi, c’est ma femme. –Sir King, she’s my wife.
– Marquis, t’es plus heureux qu’un roi (bis) – M., you are happier than a king
D’avoir femme si belle. To have so lovely a wife.
Si tu voulais l’honneur donner,If you gave me the honour,
De coucher avec elle. Of sleeping with her.
– Sir’, vous avez tout le pouvoir – Sir, you have all the power
Tout pouvoir et puissance. All power and might. Mais si vous n’étiez pas le roi, (bis) But if you were not the king, J’en aurais ma vengeance. I would avenge myself.
– Marquis, ne te fâche donc pas, (bis) – M., don’t get angry,
T’auras ta récompense : You’ll have your reward:
Je te ferai dans mes armées I will make you, in my armies,
Beau maréchal de France. A fine marshall of France.
– Adieu, ma mie, adieu, mon cœur, (bis) – Farewell my love, farewell my heart,
Adieu mon espérance ! Farewell my hope!
Puisqu’il faut servir le roi, Since one must the king serve,
Séparons-nous d’ensemble. Let us part.
– Le roi l’a prise par la main, (bis) –The king took her by the hand,
L’a menée dans sa chambre ; And led her to his room;
La belle en montant les degrés While climbing the steps, the lady
A voulu se défendre. Tried to defend herself.
– Marquise, ne pleurez pas tant ! (bis) – Marquise, do not cry so much!
Je vous ferai Princesse ; I’ll make you a Princess;
De tout mon or et mon argent, Of all my gold and my silver.
Vous serez la maîtresse. You will be the mistress.
– Gardez votre or ! Et votre argent ! (bis) – Keep your gold and keep your silver!
N’appartient qu’à la Reine ; To the Queen alone it belongs;
J’aimerais mieux mon doux Marquis I’d rather have my gentle Marquis
Que toutes vos richesses ! Than all of your riches!
– La reine a fait faire un bouquet (bis) – The Queen had a bouquet
De belles fleurs de lyse Of pretty lilies made
Et la senteur de ce bouquet, And the scent of this bouquet,
Fit mourir marquise. The Marquise, it killed.
Le roi lui fit faire un tombeau The King had a coffin made
Tout en fer de Venise Of iron from Venice
A fait marquer tout à l’entour And had it engraved all around
« Adieu belle marquise » “Farewell beautiful marquise”
 “fer” (iron) could be “verre” (glass). One can barely tell the difference.  This song may be otherwise told and translated (see YouTube). I used and translated the Poème Harmonique‘s lyrics. In the 18th century, le roi was le roé, moi and toi were moé and toé, and avoir and pouvoir were avoér and pouvoér.
A kind reader recommended Émile Gaboriau‘s “Les Cotillons célèbres” (1861). He wrote that Gaboriau “describes in a humorous style the mistresses of Louis XIV, the Regent and Louis XV, including the Marquise de Pompadour.” It’s a lovely book and Gaboriau was very prolific.
Writing about Dom Juanhas been a pleasure. In fact, I received a comment about libertinage in 17th century France.
I read René Pintard’s Le Libertinage érudit dans la première moitié du XVIIe siècle when I was writing my thesis, years ago, but I do not own a copy of this book. Wikipedia FR has an entry on the subject and the book is summarized, by GRIHL FR. But obtaining the material one requires to write a book is truly difficult.
By virtue of his profession, a playwright and an actor, Molière is associated with libertinage érudit. Actors were excommunicated. But libertinage érudit and libertinage are not synonyms. Molière did not lead a dissolute life. However, his Tartuffe (1664) and his Dom Juan (1665) were attacked by la cabale des dévôts. He had to rewrite Tartuffe twice before the play could be performed (1669). As for his Dom Juan, although it was a great success, it closed after 17 performances and was not published until 1682, with passages removed. In 1683, Dom Juan was published in Amsterdam,
La Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement
The most important group of dévots, or faux-dévots, was the Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement, Compagnie du Saint-Sacrement, a secret society. Louis XIV himself could not protect Molière fully. Not that impiety went unpunished in Dom Juan, but that devotion is linked to religion and that there were in France genuinely devout persons as well as faux-dévots, persons feigning devotion. Feigned devotion is a powerful mask, and all the more so when it fills the needs of a potentially tyrannical, but frightened pater familias.
It so happens that Orgon needs Tartuffe and is therefore easily blinded by his own needs. He sees what he wishes to see and hears what he wishes to hear. Only Orgon and his mother, Madame Pernelle, see a dévot in Tartuffe. Other members of Orgon’s family can tell that Tartuffe is a hypocrite and a rogue, but they do not have a strong-box, une cassette, containing potentially incriminating evidence. A friend of Orgon was involved in the Fronde and Orgon has his strong-box. So Orgon gives Tartuffe the cassette to breathe easier. However, Tartuffe takes it to the Prince, “our monarch,” endangering Orgon.
Le fourbe, qui longtemps a pu vous imposer, Depuis une heure, au Prince a su vous accuser, Et remettre en ses mains, dans les traits qu’il vous jette, D’un criminel d’État, l’importante cassette, Dont au mépris, dit-il, du devoir d’un sujet, Vous avez conservé le coupable secret. Valère à Orgon (1835-40, V. vi, p. 104) [The villain who so long imposed upon you,
Found means, an hour ago, to see the prince,
And to accuse you (among other things)
By putting in his hands the private strong-box
Of a state-criminal, whose guilty secret,
You, failing in your duty as a subject,
(He says) have kept.] Valère to Orgon (V. 6)
The prince, our monarch, “ennemi de la fraude” (v. 1906, p. 107) sees that Tartuffe is a criminal. Orgon is forgiven. (V. last scene). L’Exempt (an officer) returns the cassette to Orgon as well as the deed to his property.
“The surprise twist ending, in which everything is set right by the unexpected benevolent intervention of the heretofore unseen King, is considered a notable modern-day example of the classical theatrical plot device Deus ex machina.” (See Tartuffe, Wiki2.org.)
The above could have been taken out of my thesis. I studied the pharmakós in six of Molière’s plays. The thesis was entitled: L’Impossible entreprise: une étude sur le pharmakós dans le théâtre de Molière. (The Impossible endeavour:a study of the pharmakós in Molière’s Theatre). In Molière’s comedies, the society of the play may be powerless, hence the use of a deus ex machina. Doublings, as in L’Avare(The Miser), are another recourse. In L’Avare, a second (real and benevolent) father surfaces. Truth be told, Tartuffe goes to prison, but he took little more than he was given. He was given the cassette by Orgon. The cassette comes back to haunt Orgon (V. i; V. 1), which makes him, to a significant extent, a scapegoat.
Feigned devotion is a mighty mask. Dom Juan fools Dom Louis, his father, and silences Dom Carlos who is ready to fight a duel that will avenge his sister, Done Elvire. There were real dévots in 17th France, but several members of the cabale desdévôts were faux-dévots. In 17th century France, one could also use casuistry, which could legitimize nearly all sins. Tartuffe reassures Elmire using casuistry. Moreover, there were dévots and faux-dévôts in high places. The Prince de Conti and theSieur de Rochemont were aristocratic censeurs.
The Alazṓn: the senex iratus and the miles gloriosus
I did not mention Baroque aesthetics in Dom Juan, but he has been called an homme de vent, windy. Nor did I mention sexuality, except briefly, in another post. Dom Juan would like to be an Alexandre, Alexander the Great. The word to conquer puts an emphasis on numbers. Sganarelle tells the peasant-girls that his master is an “épouseur du genre humain,” (II. iv); “the groom of the entire human race” (II.4, p. 27), but there is no eroticism in Dom Juan.
As for sources, most scholars mention Tirso de Molina’s (24 March 1579 – 12 March 1648) Burlador de Sevilla. He is considered the source in what could be described as the “Don Juan cycle,” but Molière’s source may have been Italian. Two of Molière’s contemporaries wrote a Don Juan: Dorimond (1659) and Villiers (1660).Whether they influenced Molière cannot be ascertained. But if Don Juan is a legendary figure, when Molière wrote his Dom Juan, the story had circulated for several years.
Finally, Dom Juan has been considered a poorly-constructed play, une pièce “assez mal construite.” It takes us from grands seigneurs to Pierrot, a peasant who does not want to lose his fiancée to Dom Juan. The play does seem poorly constructed. For instance, I have mentioned the picaresque nature of Molière’s Dom Juan. Picaresque suggests a horizontal line broken, with each encounter, by a vertical line (see Paradigms and Syntagms). It seems Dom Juan and Sganarelle are walking along, meeting artistocrats and peasants, all the way to the supernatural Statue. The trompeur trompé (deceiver deceived) plot formula is circular.
We must stop here. This is our last post on Dom Juan. I should note that Louis XIV banned secret societies in 1666. I doubt he did so to eliminate the Société du Saint-Sacrement. I suspect absolutism precluded secret societies.