The School for Wives  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

L'école des femmes (The School for Wives) is a theatrical comedy written by the 17th century French playwright Molière and considered by some critics to be one of his finest achievements. It was first staged at the Palais Royal theatre on December 26, 1662 for the brother of the King. The play depicts a character who is so intimidated by femininity that he resolves to marry his young, naïve ward and proceeds to make clumsy advances to this purpose. It raised some outcry from the public, which seems to have recognized Molière as a bold playwright who would not be afraid to write about controversial issues. In June 1663, the playwright cunningly responded to the uproar against this play with another piece entitled La Critique de L'École des femmes, in which he provided some explanation for his unique style of comedy.

Plot

Arnolphe, the main protagonist, is a man of 42 years who has groomed the young Agnès since the age of 4. Arnolphe supports Agnes living in a convent until the age of 17, when he removes her and moves her to one of his abodes. His intention is to bring up Agnès in such a manner that she will be too innocent to make him a cuckold, or being unfaithful to him. He becomes obsessed with avoiding the fate of cuckoldry. In order to do this, he forbids the nuns who are instructing her from teaching her anything that might lead her astray. Right from the very first scene, Chrysalde warns Arnolphe of his downfall, but Arnolphe takes no notice.

After Agnes moves into Arnolphe's house, Horace arrives on the scene ahead of his father and Arnolphe's friend Oronte, and falls in love with Agnès and she with him. Not realizing that Arnolphe and Monsieur de la Souche are the same person, Horace unwittingly confides all his activities with Agnès to Arnolphe. Arnolphe then schemes in order to out-maneuver Horace and ensure that Agnès will marry him.

Arnolphe becomes more and more frustrated as the play goes on. Agnès continues to have rendez-vous with Horace despite Arnolphe's displeasure until, finally, a misunderstanding leads Arnolphe to believe that Agnès has agreed to marry him and Agnès to believe that Arnolphe has given her permission to marry Horace. When they realize the real beliefs of the other person, Arnolphe forbids her from seeing Horace. Horace, in his distress, comes to Arnolphe, asking for his help in rescuing Agnès from "Monsieur de la Souche". So, Horace and Agnès's plan was moot.

The final act provides great irony when Oronte and Enrique arrive on the scene and announce that Horace is to marry Enrique's daughter - which turns out to be Agnès, rendering all of Arnolphe's scheming useless.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "The School for Wives" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools