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31.1.11

Two Precious Maidens Ridiculed

by Molière

One of my very best friends, the hilarious and talented Amanda Smith, told me she used to do a monologue from this play. I knew it must be funny if she was drawn to it, so I went to my second home, the Strand, and picked up a copy.

It's very funny - in that way only french comedies are.. The title suggests it all - it is the story of two women who think more highly of themselves than their positions warrant. After snubbing two suitors who didn't measure up to their standards ("A fine sense of chivalry they have - to begin a relationship by treating us like wives!" mourns Magdelon, one of the girls), their father/uncle expresses his disappointment:
I tell you that marriage is a simple and holy thing, and if you're honest, you'll talk about it right from the beginning.
This is not what Magdelon wanted to hear:
Good Gothic, if everybody thought that, a novel would end as soon as it started.
I will now use 'Good gothic' as much as possible in normal conversation.

What we have here is a classic case of girls-who-read-too-many-books-and-consequently-romanticize-love-to-the-point-of-unrealistic-expectation. I have been accused of this. I cannot imagine why.

The suitors are pissed and decide to enact revenge on the two girls. They send their lackeys into the drawing room to pose as society men. The lackeys play their parts well and the girls think the cream of society is coming to their doorstep. One of the servants goes so far as to recite an "impromptu" for the ladies, claiming that their beauty and charm is so overwhelming that he is driven to recite:

Oh, oh, I could not have been on guard,
For when I innocently stared at you too hard, 
Your sly little eye stole my heart. O grief!
Stop thief, stop thief, stop thief, stop thief!


Now, this should have tipped the ladies off. But, because they are not really so great themselves, and probably don't have very much education in the forms of poetry, they are none the wiser. .. OR they are just so blinded by potential popularity they IGNORE the poor excuse for a verse. Regardless, it's very funny to watch the men parade around the room and make fools of the women.

Mascarille, one of the lackeys, pretends that he has written a play, and when asked which company he will give it to, he responds:
What a question! Naturally, to the Bourgogne Players. They are the only ones who know how to play for effect. The others are ignorant fellows who talk like people. They don't know how to snort out their lines or pause at a strategic point. And how can we recognize a fine line if the actor doesn't pause to warn us that it is time to show our appreciation?
The Bourgogne Players were Molière's rivals, so not only does he get a dig in at them, but he has the opportunity to create a bit of a "Hamlet's advice to the players" moment.

As the title suggests, the women are punished for their folly. I really loved imagining this play in my mind and it's a quick and easy read if you're looking for something to put a smile on your face!

Tomorrow's Play: 3x3, or 9 after 9 by Shane Breaux and Kevin Brewer

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