Short summary - Turcaret (or Le Financier) - Alain-René Lesage

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - Turcaret (or Le Financier)
Alain-René Lesage

After the death of her husband, the young baroness found herself in very constrained circumstances. Therefore, she is forced to encourage the courtship of the unsympathetic and far from her circle, the businessman Türkare, who is in love with her and promises to marry. It is not entirely clear how far their relationship has gone, but the fact is that the baroness has become practically a kept woman to Türkare: he pays her bills, makes expensive gifts and constantly appears at her house. By the way, the whole action of the comedy takes place in the baroness's boudoir. The beauty herself has a passion for the young aristocrat Chevalier, who wasted her money without a twinge of conscience. The maid of the Baroness Marina worries about the profligacy of the hostess and is afraid that Tyurkare, having learned the truth, will deprive the Baroness of all support. The play begins with this quarrel between the lady and the servant. The Baroness recognizes Marina's arguments as correct, promises her to break with the Chevalier, but her resolve is not enough for long. As soon as the footman Chevalier Fronten runs into the boudoir with a tearful letter from the owner, informing about another major loss in cards, the baroness gasps, melts and gives the last - a diamond ring recently presented to Türkara. “Lay it down and rescue your master,” she punishes. Marina is in despair from such cowardice. Fortunately, a servant of Türkare appears with a new gift - this time the businessman sent a bill for ten thousand Ecu, and with it awkward verses of his own composition. Soon he himself comes on a visit, during which he spreads his feelings to the baroness who listens favorably to him. After his departure, the Chevaliers and Fronten appear in the boudoir. Marina lets off a few caustic phrases at them, after which the Baroness can not stand it and dismisses her. She indignantly leaves the house, noticing that she will tell "Mr. Türkar" everything. The Baroness, however, is confident that she will be able to convince Türkare of anything. She gives the Chevalier a promissory note so that he can quickly receive money on it and redeem the pledged ring.
Left alone, the quick-witted lackey Fronten philosophically remarks: “Here it is, life! We rob the coquette, the coquette pulls from the tax-farmer, and the tax-farmer robs everyone who comes to hand. Circular fraud is fun, and that's all! "
Since the loss was only a fiction and the ring was not laid anywhere, Fronten quickly returns it to the Baroness. This is very helpful, since an angry Türkare soon appears in the boudoir. Marina told him how insolently the Baroness used his money and gifts. Furious, the farmer smashes the expensive china and the bedroom mirrors to smithereens. However, the Baroness maintains complete composure and arrogantly parries all reproaches. She attributes the "slander" erected by Marina to the fact that she was expelled from the house. At the end, she shows an intact ring, which was allegedly given to the Chevalier, and here Türkare is already completely disarmed. He mutters an apology, promises to re-furnish the bedroom and again vows his passionate love. In addition, the Baroness takes the floor from him to exchange her footman for Fronten, a servant of the Chevalier. By the way, she passes off the latter as her cousin. Such a plan was drawn up in advance, together with the chevalier, in order to more conveniently entice money from the tax farmer. Marina is replaced by a new pretty maid Lisette, Fronten's bride and, like him, a decent cheat. This couple is trying to persuade more to please the owners and wait in the wings.
Wanting to make amends, Türkare buys new sets and mirrors for the Baroness. In addition, he informs her that he has already acquired a plot in order to build a "wonderful mansion" for his beloved. “I’ll rebuild it at least ten times, but I’ll make it my way,” he proudly declares. At this time, another guest appears in the salon - a young marquis, a friend of the Chevalier. This meeting is unpleasant for Türkara - the fact is that he once served as a lackey for the Marquis's grandfather, and recently shamelessly cheated on his grandson, about which he immediately tells the Baroness: “I warn you, this is a real flayer. He values his silver as much as gold. " Noticing the ring on the baroness's finger, the marquis recognizes in it his family ring, which Türkare deftly appropriated for himself. After the Marquis left, the tax farmer awkwardly justifies himself, noting that he cannot lend money “for nothing”. Then, from the conversation between Türkare and the assistant, which is conducted right in the baroness's boudoir - she tactfully leaves for such an occasion - it becomes clear that the tax farmer is engaged in large speculations, takes bribes and distributes warm places by acquaintance. His wealth and influence is very great, but troubles dawned on the horizon: some treasurer, with whom Türkare was closely associated, went bankrupt. Another nuisance reported by the assistant is that Mrs. Türkare is in Paris! But the Baroness considers Türkare to be a widower. All this requires immediate action from Türkare, and he hastens to leave. True, before leaving the nosy Fronten manages to persuade him to buy the baroness his own expensive exit. As you can see, the new lackey has already begun the duties of driving large sums of money out of the owner. And, as Lisette rightly notes at Frontin, "judging by the beginning, he will go far."
Two mischievous aristocrats, the Chevalier and the Marquis, discuss their heartfelt victories. The Marquis tells about a certain countess from the provinces - if not of her first youth and dazzling beauty, but of a cheerful disposition and willingly giving him her affection. An interested chevalier advises a friend to come with this lady in the evening to a dinner party with the Baroness. This is followed by the scene of yet another luring out of Türkare's money in a way invented by the cunning Fronten. The tax farmer is being frankly played about, which he does not even suspect. A petty official sent by Fronten, posing as a bailiff, presents a document stating that the baroness allegedly owes ten thousand livres according to the obligations of her late husband. The Baroness, playing along, portrays first confusion, and then despair. Upset Türkare cannot but come to her aid. He drives away the "bailiff", promising to take all debts upon himself. When Türkare leaves the room, the Baroness uncertainly notices that she begins to feel remorse. Lisette warmly reassures her: “First you have to ruin the rich man, and then you can repent. Worse if you have to repent that you missed such an opportunity! "
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Soon a tradeswoman, Madame Jacob, who is recommended by a friend of the Baroness, comes to the salon. In the meantime, she says that her sister brings the rich man Türkar, but this "geek" does not help her at all - as, by the way, and his own wife, whom he sent to the province. “This old rooster always ran after every skirt,” the trader continues. “I don’t know who he’s contacted now, but he always has a few ladies who rob him and cheat him ... And this fool promises to marry everyone.”
The Baroness was struck with thunder by what she heard. She decides to break up with Türkare. “Yes, but not before you ruin him,” clarifies the prudent Lisette. For dinner, the first guests arrive - this is the marquis with the fat "countess", who, in fact, is none other than Mrs. Türkare. The simple-minded countess with importance describes what kind of high society life of the eye leads in her provinces, not noticing the murderous ridicule with which the baroness and the marquis comment on her speeches. Even Lisette does not deny herself the pleasure of inserting a caustic word into this chatter, such as: "Yes, this is a real school of gallantry for the whole of Lower Normandy." The conversation is interrupted by the arrival of the Chevalier. He recognizes the lady in the "Countess" that she also attacked him with her courtesies and even sent her portrait. The Marquis, having learned about this, decides to teach the ungrateful traitor a lesson.
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He is avenged very soon. First, the saleswoman of the gospoyas Jacob appears in the salon, followed by Türkare. All three of the closest relatives fall on each other with rude abuse - to the delight of the aristocrats present. At this time, the servant reports that Türkare is urgently summoned by his companions. Fronten, who then appeared, announces a catastrophe - his owner was arrested, and everything in his house was confiscated and sealed on a tip from creditors. The promissory note for ten thousand crowns, issued to the Baroness, was also lost, since the Chevalier instructed Fronten to take him to the money changer, and the lackey did not manage to do this ... The Chevalier was in despair - he was left without funds and the usual source of income. The Baroness is also in despair - she is not just ruined, she is also convinced that the Chevalier deceived her: after all, he convinced that he had the money and he bought the ring with it ... Former lovers part very coldly. Perhaps the Marquis and the Chevalier will console themselves over dinner at a restaurant where they are going together.
One quick Fronten wins. He explains in the finale to Lisette how cleverly he deceived everyone. After all, the bearer bill remained with him, and he had already changed it. Now he has a decent capital, and he and Lisette can get married. "You and I will give birth to a bunch of kids," he promises to the girl, "and they will be honest people."
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However, this complacent phrase is followed by the last remark of the comedy, very ominous, which is uttered by the same Fronten: “So, the kingdom of Türkare is over, mine begins!”
(Lesage accompanied the comedy with a dialogue between Asmodeus and Don Cleophas - characters from Lame Devil - in which they discuss Türkare, staged in French Comedy, and the audience's reaction to this performance. The general opinion, as Asmodeus sarcastically says, “that everything the characters are implausible and that the author has overdone it, drawing morals ... ".)