by Jean Baptiste Molière English verse by Timothy Mooney
Comedy:
Full Length. Five Acts; Estimated Running Time 80 minutes (without intermission). 40-minute version available.
Cast: 7 Male, 2 Female, 9 Total. Setting: Single Exterior Setting.

World Premiere Production Available


Cast, Set Details

CAST:
7 Male, 2 Female, 9 Total

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
ARNOLPHE, otherwise known as Monsieur de la Souche
AGNES, brought up as ward to Arnolphe
HORACE, in love with Agnes
CHRYSALDE, friend to Arnolphe
ENRIQUE, brother-in-law to Chrysalde
ORONTE, Horace’s father, and friend to Arnolphe
NOTARY
ALAIN, a peasant, servant to Arnolphe
GEORGETTE, peasant woman, servant to Arnolphe

SCENE:
Single Exterior Setting: A house and garden in a small square in Paris.


About the Adaptation

The School For Wives (1662), finds a prospective husband who thinks he has come upon the perfect solution for keeping a wife chaste and devoted. In almost all of these plays, by the way, the unwanted husband was a much older figure, with the wife a blossoming young woman, desperately in love with another man. (This fact was to cause much speculation on the nature of the relationship that Moliere maintained with the 19-year-old girl who married him when he was forty.) In this instance, the older man chooses an orphan girl to marry, putting her in the convent at the age of four, so that she will emerge, years later, completely dumb. In this case, it is her very ignorance that foils her patron, as she doesn't know any better than to fall in love with someone who is not her fiancee.


Excerpt

The School for Wives

The School For Wives
Act II, Scene 5
ARNOLPHE, AGNES

 

AGNES

What’s wrong? You seem to be a bit unsteady.

Did you find my compassion so amiss?

Have I performed improperly in this?

ARNOLPHE

Oh, no! But tell, this audience you gave,

Concluded ... how? How did the man behave?

 

AGNES

Oh, my! I have to say he was transported

How quickly he recovered and cavorted,

The gifts he tendered leave me speechless yet,

As well as things for Alain and Georgette.

Had you observed his thoughtfulness, his fuss,

You would be as in love with him as us.

 

ARNOLPHE

Ah! Tell me what he did with you alone.

 

AGNES

He spoke his love with sighs and such a moan,

With language so agreeable and fine,

That I was captivated with each line.

I hardly can describe unprecedented

Upheavals which I could not have prevented.

I can’t describe the unfamiliar notions

Which seemed to set off indiscreet explosions …

All I can say is I was quite disarmed

And found myself both overwhelmed and charmed.

 

ARNOLPHE (Aside.)

Oh cursed inquest of an artless brain,

In which inquisitor feels all the pain!

(Aloud.) Besides these pretty things he said to you,

Did he bestow some kisses on you too?

 

AGNES

Ah, sir! He took my arms, my hands, each finger,

And kissed as though he’d never tire to linger.

 

ARNOLPHE

And was that all he took from you, Agnes? (Pause.)

Hah?

 

AGNES

          Why, he did --

 

ARNOLPHE

                             What?

 

AGNES

                                       Take --

 

ARNOLPHE

                                               Oh?!

 

AGNES

                                                        The --

 

ARNOLPHE

                                                                And? Yes?!

 

AGNES

I cannot say. You would be angry when ...

 

ARNOLPHE

Oh, no.

 

AGNES

            I think.

 

ARNOLPHE

                      I’d not.

 

AGNES

                                  Swear to it then.

 

ARNOLPHE

I swear.

 

AGNES

           He took -- I’m sure you will be mad.

 

ARNOLPHE

No.

 

AGNES

       Yes.

 

ARNOLPHE

                  No, no, no, no! What is so bad?

What could he take that’s so mysterious?

 

AGNES

He took ...

 

ARNOLPHE (Aside.)

             I’m mad. I am delirious.

 

AGNES

He took from me the ribbon that you gave me,

Forgive me. I could not stop him to save me.

 

ARNOLPHE

Forget the ribbon. What I want to know

Is if that’s quite as far as he would go.

To kiss your arms, and hands, and fingers too.

 

AGNES

What? Are there other things that people do?

 

ARNOLPHE

Oh, no. ... Unless some ... remedy had pleased him,

To cure the dread disorder which had seized him.

 

AGNES

No, but you may imagine, if he’d asked,

I’d gladly done whatever job he’d tasked.


Order The School for Wives

Title of Play
Your email address
Your Name
Mailing Address
Purpose: Study, Production, Moliere Fan, Other
Theater Affiliation