As you know, I wrote posts on every play Molière wrote. Molière is a major writer. In fact, the French language is often referred to as la langue de Molière. Quotations were in both French and English, and each one was followed by a link taking readers to the entire play.
Toutmolière.net / Molière 21 has been removed from the internet. So, links following my quotations no longer lead to the complete play. I believe a few of my posts are entries.
However, I hope sincerely that the toutmolière.net/ Molière 21 site will be reintroduced among necessary entries. I so enjoyed using these toutmolière.net.
English translations of my quotations were taken from an Internet Archive‘s translation of the plays of Molière. I had chosen Henri van Laun. The print is small but it can be enlarged. The full texts of certain plays is available courtesy of the Gutenberg Project, Wikisource, and other sources, but most of my Molière posts no longer have a link to the French text and I fear readers will not “run around.” A teacher’s presentation of a work is a key source of learning. Illustrations are also very important.
Many people are confined to their home or bed. They cannot go to a library or a bookstore, because there is no convenient transportation. Some are blind or have poor eyesight, so audio books are important. Henri van Laun was an excellent moliériste and translator. The print was small, but it could be enlarged.
I hope toutmolière.net /Molière 21 will reinsert Molière’s plays on the internet so people reading my 82 posts will be able to read more than its short quotations.
My doctoral thesis has been published on the internet by the University of British Columbia. However, the copy that was used has many spelling and surface errors. I will correct these.
Messieurs, je vous en prie, rendez-nous toutmolière.net.
We will survive. I was going through my Molière’s plays because I would like to present more fables by Jean de La Fontaine. Molière and Jean de La Fontaine were good friends and the same age. Both were influenced by Rabelais.
ALCESTE, in love with Célimène
PHILINTE, friend of Alceste
ORONTE, in love with Célimène
ELIANTE, Célimène’s cousin
ARSINOE, friend of Célimène
ACASTE, a marquis
CLITANDRE, a marquis
BASQUE, Célimène’s servant
AN OFFICER of the Marshals’ Court
DUBOIS, Alceste’s valet
The Scene is at Paris
Alceste vs Philinte
In act I, scene i of TheMisanthrope, Alceste, the misanthrope, claims that court is filled with people who praise a person, but find fault with the same person the moment he or she leaves. He is angry with his friend Philinte who has been courteous with a person he barely knows. Were he Philinte, he would hang himself.
Go to, you ought to die for very shame!
Such conduct can have no excuse; it must
Arouse abhorrence in all men of honour.
I see you load a man with your caresses,
Profess for him the utmost tenderness,
And overcharge the zeal of your embracings
With protestations, promises, and oaths;
And when I come to ask you who he is
You hardly can remember even his name!
Your ardour cools the moment he is gone,
And you inform me you care nothing for him!
Good God! ’tis shameful, abject, infamous,
So basely to play traitor to your soul;
And if, by evil chance, I’d done as much,
I should go straight and hang myself for spite.
(Alceste to Philinte, I. 1)
(French I. i)
Philinte is an honnête homme. He would not tell an ageing Émilie, la vieille Émilie, that the manner in which she uses makeup (le blanc) and behaves (faire la jolie) does not suit an ageing woman:
PHILINTE Quoi ! vous iriez dire à la vieille Émilie Qu’à son âge il sied mal de faire la jolie, Et que le blanc qu’elle a scandalise chacun ? (I. i)
[What! would you tell old Emilie
that ’tis unbecoming at her age to play the pretty girl;
or that the paint she wears shocks every one? Le Misanthrope (I. 1)]
Ironically, Alceste is in love with Célimène who enjoys depicting the ills of others. She does so to entertain those who admire her. Célimène is a charming twenty-year-old widow seeking attention and pleasure. In seventeenth-century France, young, and not-so-young, widows were privileged. They could choose to marry or not to marry, and, if they chose to marry, they married a person whom they loved, not a spouse imposed on them by a greedy father.
Her portrait of Alceste is that of a man who is very contrary.
Must not the gentleman needs contradict?
What! Would you have him think like other people,
And not exhibit, in and out of season,
The spirit of gainsaying he’s endowed with?
Others’ opinions are not fit for him,
And he must always hold the opposite,
Because he’d fear to seem like common mortals,
If he were caught agreeing with anyone. The glory of contradiction charms him so He often takes up arms against himself
And falls to combating his own beliefs
If he but hears them from another’s lips.
(Célimène to everyone, II. 5)
[L’honneurde contredire, a, pour lui, tant de charmes, Qu’il prend, contre lui-même, assez souvent, les armes ; Et ses vrais sentiments sont combattus par lui, Aussitôt qu’il les voit dans la bouche d’autrui.]
(Célimène à tous, II. iv)
Given his view of society, a world where everyone speaks ill of others, Alceste’s love for Célimène, is incongruous. Destiny has been unkind to him. However, although he is contrary, he does not criticize Célimène in the portrait scene (2.iv). He turns to her admirers and blames them.
CLITANDRE Pourquoi s’en prendre à nous ? Si ce qu’on dit, vous blesse, Il faut que le reproche, à Madame, s’adresse. (II. iv)
[But why blame us? If what is said offends you,
You must address your censures to the lady.]
CLITANDRE Pour moi, je ne sais pas ; mais j’avouerai, tout haut, Que j’ai cru, jusqu’ici, Madame sans défaut.
ACASTE De grâces, et d’attraits, je vois qu’elle est pourvue ; Mais les défauts qu’elle a, ne frappent point ma vue. (II. iv)
[‘Tis not for me to say; still, I’ll declare
That hitherto I’ve found the lady faultless.]
I find her full of graces and attractions;
But as for faults, I haven’t seen them yet. (II. 5)
Les rieurs sont pour vous, Madame, c’est tout dire ;
Et vous pouvez pousser, contre moi, la satire. (II. iv)
[You (Célimène) have the laughers, madam, on your side;
That’s saying everything. On with your satire!] (II. 5)
But Alceste loves Célimène and will not criticize her. Éliante, Célimène’s cousin who is very fond of Alceste, tells everyone that persons who are in love do not find faults in the person they love. If a woman is fat, her “carriage” is “majestic.” One likes what could be considered a disadvantage in the eyes of a person who is not “in love.”
Love is but little subject to such laws,
And lovers always like to vaunt their choice.
Their passion can find naught in her to blame,
For in the loved one, all seems lovable.
They count her faults perfections, and invent
Sweet names to call them by. The pallid maiden
Is like a pure white jasmine flower for fairness;
The frightful dark one is a rich brunette;
The lean one has a figure lithe and free; The fat one has a fine majestic carriage
The dowdy, graced with little charm, is called
A careless beauty; and the giantess
Appears a goddess to adoring eyes.
The dwarf is deemed a brief epitome
Of heaven’s miracles; the haughty maiden
Is worthy of a crown; the cheat is clever;
The silly dunce, so perfectly good-hearted;
The chatterbox, so pleasantly vivacious;
The silent girl, so modest and retiring. Thus does a lover, whom true passion fires, Love even the faults of her whom he admires.
(Éliante to everyone, II. 4)
(French II. iv)]
A first reading of Éliante’s tirade may lead to believe Éliante’s tirade excludes Alceste. In act II, scene 1, when Alceste is alone with Célimène, he finds fault with the company Célimène keeps. Alceste and Célimène are alone. Alceste’s belaviour is not courteous. (II. i)
C’est pour me quereller, donc, à ce que je voi, Que vous avez voulu me ramener chez moi ?
Je ne querelle point ; mais votre humeur, Madame, Ouvre, au premier venu, trop d’accès dans votre âme ; Vous avez trop d’amants, qu’on voit vous obséder, Et mon cœur, de cela, ne peut s’accommoder. (II. i)
So—’twas to scold at me, apparently,
That you were kind enough to bring me home?
I am not scolding. But your humour, madam,
Gives any and everyone too easy access
Into your heart. You have too many lovers
Besieging you—a thing I can’t endure.
Alceste is jealous. Yet, Éliante’s tirade is about all lovers, including Alceste.
ÉLIANTE C’est ainsi, qu’un amant, dont l’ardeur est extrême, Aime, jusqu’aux défauts des personnes qu’il aime. (II. iv)
[Thus does a lover, whom true passion fires,
Love even the faults of her whom he admires.]
(Éliante to everyone, II. 5)
Alceste is as Éliante says: blinded by love. As for Alceste, he is vain, which leads him to criticize civil behaviour, because he has no way of knowing whether praise of him is genuine praise or more politeness. He is yet another vaniteuxinquiet, vain but uncertain, as Paul Bénichou correctly identifies flawed humanity in Molière’s plays. Moreover, Alceste is rigid, which, according to Henri Bergson, generates laughter. (See Laughter, Wiki2.org.)
ALCESTE Quel avantage a-t-on qu’un homme vous caresse, Vous jure amitié, foi, zèle, estime, tendresse, Et vous fasse de vous, un éloge éclatant, Lorsque au premier faquin, il court en faire autant ? (Alceste I. i)
[What use is it to have a man embrace you,
Swear friendship, zeal, esteem, and faithful love,
And loudly praise you to your face, then run
And do as much for any scamp he meets?]
(Alceste I. 1)
Sur quelque préférence, une estime se fonde, Et c’est n’estimer rien, qu’estimer tout le monde. (Alceste I. i)
[Real love must rest upon some preference;
You might as well love none, as everybody.]
(Alceste I. 1)
Le Misanthrope is a problematic play. Célimène would marry Alceste, but she would not follow him into a desert, a refuge in seventeenth-century France. She is too young.
CÉLIMÈNE Moi, renoncer au monde, avant que de vieillir ! Et dans votre désert aller m’ensevelir !
(Célimène, V. scène dernière)
[What, I renounce the world before I’m old,
And go be buried in your solitude!]
(Celimene, V. last scene)
Yet, the curtain falls on a marriage. Éliante will marry Philinte. Both follow Alceste, so everyone leaves the stage. The curtain falls and nobody is laughing. True to Célimène’s portrait of him, Alceste has taken up arms against himself. Alceste who loves Célimène, who loves him, refuses to marry her.
Moreover, although Alceste is rigid, he shares Philinte’s views, but he will not be tolerant and calm. He will beangry (bile).
ALCESTE Je veux qu’on soit sincère, et qu’en homme d’honneur On ne lâche aucun mot qui ne parte du cœur.
(Alceste I. i)
[Be genuine; and like a man of honour
Let no word pass unless it’s from the heart.]
(Alceste I. 1)
PHILINTE Je prends, tout doucement, les hommes comme ils sont,
J’accoutume mon âme à souffrir ce qu’ils font;
Et je crois qu’à la cour, de même qu’à la ville,
Mon flegme est philosophe, autant que votre bile. (Philinte I. i)
[I quietly accept men as they are,
Make up my mind to tolerate their conduct,
And think my calmness is, for court or town,
As good philosophy as is your choler.]
(Philinte I. 1)
Structurally, Alceste, as a character, combines several comedic functions. He is the heavy father (the alazôn of Greek comedy) who opposes the marriage of young lovers. But he is also the innamoratiof the commedia dell’arteand Atellane farce, not to mention the young lover of Greek Old Comedy (Aristophanes). Finally, he is the eirôn, a role he shares with Philinte. He is all three stock characters of farces. However, Molière’s Misanthrope is not a farce. Or is it? TheMisanthrope is une grande comédie (five acts, alexandrine verses [12 syllables], the court). The play also contains “mirrors.” Arsinoé, the prude, is Célimène as she could be at an older age.
This is incomplete, but allow me to quote our colleague David Nicholson (17 February 2019): “Molière’s plays are classics because their themes are universal; they’re at home across oceans and centuries.”
 Paul Bénichou, Morales du Grand Siècle (Paris : Gallimard, 1948), pp. 295-296.
 Micheline Bourbeau-Walker, LE MISANTHROPE, ou la comédie éclatée, in David Trott & Nicole Boursier, eds. L’Âge du Théâtre en France/The Age of Theater is France (Edmonton: Academic Printing and Publishing, 1988), pp. 53-61.
There are indications I will not live eternally, but I have an unfinished project: publishing a book on Molière.
This goal may be unrealistic. However, I will not be given another chance. It will be a short book and I may not have reviewed recent literature on the subject as thoroughly as I would like to. Yet, I wrote a PhD thesis on Molière, and a PhD thesis is a scholarly venture. Moreover, I was expected to “dust it off,” a thesis is a thesis, and publish it.
Dusting it off is what I plan to do. In other words, it will not sound too scholarly. I will quote fellow moliéristes, but will focus on my findings.
Tartuffe, 1664 – 1669
Dom Juan, 1665
Le Misanthrope, 1666
Were it not for the intervention of a second father, the young couples in L’Avare(The Miser), 1668, could not marry. They would be at the mercy of Harpagon’s greed.
Matters are worse in Tartuffe, 1664 -1669. Were it not for the intervention of the king, not only would the young lovers not marry, but Orgon’s family would be ruined. In The Misanthrope,1666, Alceste is his own worst enemy. In Dom Juan, 1665, Dom Juan is removed by a deus ex machinaand he has left Elvira, his wife.
Chapters may resemble Molière’s “L’Avare:” Doublings, a post. This post is informative, but not too scholarly. It also illustrates my main finding. In Molière’s plays, the young lovers cannot marry without an intervention, or putting on a play (Le Bourgeois gentilhomme). In L’Avare, they are saved by a second father: doublings. Molière uses stage devices, such as a deus ex machina, to save the society of the play.
Therefore, if a blocking character is removed, he is apharmakos (a scapegoat).
Lysandre, a jeune premier (a leading man) in Molière’s theatre. His name recurs as do other names, such as Clitandre, Valère.
Molière used the stock characters of the commedia dell’arte, but when he was touring the provinces, he sometimes posted a sketch, le canevas, and characters wrote their role. In other words, Molière did not write comedies before he returned to Paris. But he had to publish his Précieuses ridicules so no one else could claim the comedy, a farce, was his or hers.
This is a very short post. My computer cannot access WordPress easily. My new computer should arrive soon. I’m upgrading.
I may publish early posts, the ones that were not read.
If the computer will let me, I will read your posts.
Monsieur Loyal, Le Tartuffe by Edmond Geffroy(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Allow me a short post.
Edmond Geffroy‘s FR was an actor and a sociétaire, one of the shareholders, of the Comédie-Française. But he was also an artist and the painting above is a watercolour portrait of an actor who played the role of Monsieur Loyal, the bailiff in Molière’s Tartuffe. I believe it has been auctioned off by Drouot.com, in Paris.
If we look at other paintings of Molière’s characters, a few appear to be by Edmond Geoffroy. They are signed, but the signature is difficult to read. However, the ‘G’ in the portrait of Monsieur Loyal resembles the ‘G’ of other portraits of Molière’s characters: the portrait of Tartuffe‘s (1664), that of Alceste, the protagonist in Molière’s The Misanthrope (1666), Monsieur Jourdain, the Bourgeois gentilhomme (1670), and other characters inhabiting Molière’s theatrical world.
Alceste, Le Misanthrope
Scapin, Maurice Sand or Geoffroy
Monsieur Jourdain, Le Bourgeois gentilhomme
About Edmond Geffroy
Edmond Geffroy (1804 – 1895) entered his career at the Comédie-Française in 1829. He married Eulalie Dupuis, whose mother, Rose Dupuis, was a sociétaire de la Comédie-Française, or a shareholder.
Geoffroy was a successful actor who was named the 254th shareholder of the Comédie-Française in 1835. He was Dean of the shareholders between 1862 and 1865. He retired as sociétaire in 1865. Edmond Geffroy created the role of Chatterton, Alfred de Vigny‘s Romantic hero, with Marie Dorval as Kitty Bell.
Scène de Chatterton, Lithographie de Jacques Arago (Photo credit: Larousse)
As an artist, Geffroy apprenticed at Amaury-Duval‘s atelier. He showed paintings at the Salon de Paris from 1829 until 1863 and, in 1841, he was awarded two medals: a second-place and a third-place medal.
Some of his portraits depict groups. But between 1851 and 1863, he made portraits of his colleagues, individual actors mainly, wearing either civilian clothes or the costume they had worn performing their favourite role. Eight of his paintings hang in the foyer of the Comédie-Française.
Edmond Geffroy also executed history paintings and depictions of religious scenes.