Jealousy as a Tragic Flaw
A long conclusion to Dom Garcie de Navarre is not necessary, not for our purposes. But there is more to say. Dom Garcie’s jealousy is not quite the same as that of a man who fears cuckolding. Dom Garcie truly loves Done Elvire and his feelings are reciprocated. I mentioned three events, two of which are the letters. Done Elvire is offended, but she forgives Dom Garcie. At the very beginning of the play, he tells her that he cannot repress his feelings.
Ah! Madame, il est vrai, quelque effort que je fasse,/ Qu’un peu de jalousie en mon cœur trouve place,/ 265 Et qu’un rival absent de vos divins appas/ Au repos de ce cœur vient livrer des combats.
Dom Garcie à Done Elvire (I. iii)
[Alas, Madam, it is true, that, notwithstanding my utmost effort, some trifling jealousy lingers in my heart; that a rival, though distant from your divine charms, disturbs my equanimity.]
Dom Garcie to Elvira (I. 3)
Molière wrote a comédie héroïque, but Dom Garcie’s jealousy is a tragic flaw. Pity plays a role in Dom Garcie, and we know it does as soon as the curtain lifts.
At the beginning of Act Four, before our third event, the disguise, Dom Alvar says to Donna Elvira:
1096 Madame, il fait pitié, jamais cœur que je pense,/ Par un plus vif remords n’expia son offense;/ Et si dans sa douleur vous le considériez,/ Il toucherait votre âme, et vous l’excuseriez.
Dom Alvar à Done Elvire (IV. i)
[Madam, he deserves your pity. Never was any offence expiated with more stinging remorse; if you were to see his grief, it would touch your heart, and you would pardon him.]
Don Alvarez to Elvira (IV. 1)
Dom Alvar also mentions Dom Garcie’s age. Age is a factor in Molière. We have seen it in Dom Juan:
At first, Dom Alvar’s words do not appease Done Elvire:
Ah! c’est trop en souffrir, et mon cœur irrité/ Ne doit plus conserver une sotte bonté;/ Abandonnons l’ingrat à son propre caprice,/ Et puisqu’il veut périr, consentons qu’il périsse;/ 1430 Élise… À cet éclat vous voulez me forcer,/ Mais je vous apprendrai que c’est trop m’offenser.
Done Elvira to Élise (IV. viii)
[Ha! This can no longer be borne; I am too angry foolishly to preserve longer my good nature. Let me abandon the wretch to his own devices, and, since he will undergo his doom, let him—Eliza!… (To Don Garcia). You compel me to act thus; but you shall see that this outrage will be the last.
Done Elvira to Élise (IV. 8)
The Anagnorisis: forgiveness
But Elvire forgives. The play features a redeeming anagnorisis or recognition. Done Elvire is Dom Alphonse’s sister:
Un éclatant arrêt de ma gloire outragée,/ À jamais n’être à lui me tenait engagée;/ Mais quand par les destins il est exécuté,/ J’y vois pour son amour trop de sévérité;
Et le triste succès de tout ce qu’il m’adresse/ 1565 M’efface son offense, et lui rend ma tendresse./ Oui, mon cœur trop vengé par de si rudes coups, Laisse à leur cruauté désarmer son courroux,/ Et cherche maintenant par un soin pitoyable/ À consoler le sort d’un amant misérable;/ 1570 Et je crois que sa flamme a bien pu mériter/ Cette compassion que je lui veux prêter.
Done Elvire (V. ii)
[When my honour was outraged, I vowed openly never to be his; but as I see that fate is against him, I think I have treated his love with too great severity; the ill success that follows whatever he does for my sake, cancels his offence, and restores him my love. Yes, I have been too well avenged; the waywardness of his fate disarms my anger, and now, full of compassion, I am seeking to console an unhappy lover for his misfortunes. I believe his love well deserves the compassion I wish to show him.]
Done Elvire (V. 2)
At first sight, this change of heart may seem artificial on Done Elvire’s part, but it isn’t, except that comedy has its rules. Done Elvire is the King’s sister, so her love will be sisterly and Dom Alphonse’s brotherly. Dom Alphonse/Silve will marry Donna Ignès. She was his first love and by Done Elvire’s own standards, one marries one’s first love. Dom Garcie is Elvire’s first love. Failing to marry him would a “crime.”
In fact, the degree to which Dom Garcie’s jealousy frustrates and angers her could be looked upon as proportionate to her love. She is the King’s sister and could dismiss him. As for Dom Garcie, he fails in his mission to kill Mauregat, after which, had he been successful, he planned to die. He sees himself as dishonoured. It is as though Dom Silve and Dom Garcie fought a duel as rivals for Done Elvire’s affection. But the duel was an interior conflict, which Dom Alvar recognizes and, ultimately, Dom Garcie himself.
In Act Four, Dom Garcie says to Dom Alvar that he, Dom Garcie, is his worst enemy:
Ah! Dom Alvar, je vois que vous avez raison,
Mais l’enfer dans mon cœur a soufflé son poison;
Et par un trait fatal d’une rigueur extrême,
1485 Mon plus grand ennemi se rencontre en moi-même.
Dom Garcie à Dom Alvar (IV. ix)
[Ah! Don Alvarez, I perceive you were in the right; but hell breathed its poison into my soul; through a merciless fatality I am my worst enemy.]
Dom Garcie to Dom Alvar (IV. 9)
But in Done Elvire’s eyes, both she and Dom Garcie have public interests. These are her words, not Dom Garcie’s.
Mais, enfin, vous savez comme nos destinées,/ Aux intérêts publics sont toujours enchaînées,/ Et que l’ordre des Cieux pour disposer de moi,/ 1595 Dans mon frère qui vient, me va montrer mon roi.
Done Elvire à Dom Garcie (V. iii)
But you know that it is the doom of such as we are, to be always the slaves of public interests; that Heaven has ordained that my brother, who disposes of my hand, is likewise my King.
Done Elvire to Don Garcia (V. 3)
Done Elvire has shown pity previously and will do so again. Moreover, jealousy has harmed Dom Garcie. In no way does Done Elvire perceive jealousy as a sign a love. On the contrary. She vowed not to marry Dom Garcie. However, she loves him.
La Carte de Tendre
In the case of Dom Garcie, a brief look at Madeleine de Scudéry‘s “map of Tendre” is useful. Tendre is the country of love.
The Carte de Tendre is included in Mademoiselle de Scudéry’s Clélie, histoire romaine. It was engraved by François Chauveau. Madeleine de Scudéry, an indefatigable writer, had a Salon. She had attended Catherine de Rambouillet‘s salon, the Chambre bleue d’Arthénice (an anagram of Catherine), but as Catherine de Vivonne grew older, Sappho opened her own salon. Gatherings took place every Saturday. These are referred to as les Samedis de Sappho or La Société du Samedi.
The Map of Tendre consists of three rivers: Inclination, Estime, and the river Reconnaissance. Lovers descending the river Inclination (attraction) had fallen in love. Those descending Estime admire the lover they had chosen. As for the river Reconnaissance, it represents gratitude. Done Elvire’s love for Dom Garcie includes all three rivers. The little villages are steps to love, such as Billet Doux, love letters. All lead to a dangerous sea, une mer dangereuse, but in the salons of the middle to late 17th century, one had accepted that love was dangerous, but that to love and to be loved, was, by and large, worth the risks. Love was the greater good. It was a fact of life, but husbands were galants hommes. They were the Prince d’Ithaque. As of the Princesse d’Élide fewer ladies woke early to go hunting and kill a boar, which is how Sostrate may marry Ériphile (Les Amants magnifiques).
Molière has juxtaposed a prince and jealousy, which in Dom Garcie alienates Done Elvire, were it not, first that an anagnorisis reveals that only sisterly or brotherly love is possible between Elvira and her King. Dom Alphonse will marry his first love, and so will Done Elvire, in whose eyes, Dom Garcie has not been dishonoured. In fact, Dom Alphonse is pleased to serve Dom Garcie’s love.
Mon cœur, grâces au Ciel, après un long martyre,
1845 Seigneur, sans vous rien prendre à tout ce qu’il désire,
Et goûte d’autant mieux son bonheur en ce jour,
Qu’il se voit en état de servir votre amour.
Dom Alphonse à Dom Garcie (V. ii)
[My heart, thank Heaven, after a long torture, has all that it can desire, and deprives you of nothing, my Lord. I am so much the happier, because I am able to forward your love.]
Dom Alphonse to Dom Garcie (V. 6)
As for Donna Elvira, she shares Dom Alvar’s opinion. She sees Dom Garcie’s as pitiable and his jealousy, as an illness.
… Et votre maladie est digne de pitié./ Je vois, Prince, je vois, qu’on doit quelque indulgence,/ Aux défauts, où du Ciel fait pencher l’influence,/ 1870 Et pour tout dire, enfin, jaloux, ou non jaloux;/ Mon roi sans me gêner peut me donner à vous.
Done Elvire à Dom Garcie (V. ii)
[… and your malady deserves to be pitied. Since Heaven is the cause of your faults, some indulgence ought to be allowed to them; in one word, jealous or not jealous, my King will have no compulsion to employ when he gives me to you.] (V. 6)
Dom Garcie de Navarre was a failure. It is very long and analytical. Critic René Bray views Dom Garcie as héroïque, but it is his opinion that “preciosity is all the same, something other, and more complex, than the taste for moral analysis.”
La préciosité est tout de même autre chose, et plus complexe, que le goût de l’analyse morale.
He quotes Francis Baumal:
Il se peut après tout que Molière, sauf peut-être dans les Écoles, n’ait point marqué ses préférences et se soit contenté de peindre la société de son temps telle qu’il la voyait.
“It could be after all that Molière, except maybe in his Écoles, did not emphasize his preferences and that he was content to depict the society of his time as he saw it.”
Sources and Resources
The Misanthrope is a Wikisource publication EN
Dom Garcie de Navarre is a toutmoliere.net publication FR
Dom Garcie de Navarre is Gutenberg’s [EBook #6740] EN
René Bray’s La Préciosité et les Précieux is an archive.org publication
Images belong to the BnF, but the source of the image featured at the top of his post has been lost.
Bold characters are mine.
I translated Bray and Baumal.
 René Bray, La Préciosité et les Précieux (Paris: Nizet, 1960 ), pp. 222 – 223.
 Francis Baumal, Molière auteur précieux (Paris: La Renaissance du livre, 1925).
 René Bray, La Préciosité et les Précieux, loc. cit.
Kind regards to everyone. 💕
© Micheline Walker
7 December 2019