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.
7 Male, 2 Female, 9 Total
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, Horaces father, and friend to Arnolphe
ALAIN, a peasant, servant to Arnolphe
GEORGETTE, peasant woman, servant to Arnolphe
Single Exterior Setting: A house and garden in a small square in Paris.
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.
The School For Wives
Act II, Scene 5
What’s wrong? You seem to be a bit unsteady.
Did you find my compassion so amiss?
Have I performed improperly in this?
Oh, no! But tell, this audience you gave,
Concluded ... how? How did the man behave?
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.
Ah! Tell me what he did with you alone.
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.
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?
Ah, sir! He took my arms, my hands, each finger,
And kissed as though he’d never tire to linger.
And was that all he took from you, Agnes? (Pause.)
Why, he did --
I cannot say. You would be angry when ...
Swear to it then.
He took -- I’m sure you will be mad.
No, no, no, no! What is so bad?
What could he take that’s so mysterious?
He took ...
I’m mad. I am delirious.
He took from me the ribbon that you gave me,
Forgive me. I could not stop him to save me.
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.
What? Are there other things that people do?
Oh, no. ... Unless some ... remedy had pleased him,
To cure the dread disorder which had seized him.
No, but you may imagine, if he’d asked,
I’d gladly done whatever job he’d tasked.
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