Short summary - The Imaginary Invalid - Molière - Jean-Baptiste Poquelin

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Imaginary Invalid
Molière - Jean-Baptiste Poquelin

After long calculations and checking the records, Argan finally realized why his health had deteriorated so much lately: as it turned out, this month he took eight types of drugs and made twelve rinse injections, while last month there were as many as twelve types of drugs and twenty klysters. He decided to put this circumstance on display to the doctor Purgon who used it. So after all, and not to die for long.
Argan's household treated his obsession with his own health in different ways: his second wife, Belina, indulged the doctors in everything, convinced that their drugs would most likely bring her husband to the grave of any illnesses; her daughter, Angelica, perhaps did not approve of her father's mania, but, as her daughter's duty and respect to her parent were prescribed to her, she modestly kept her mouth shut; on the other hand, the maid Tuaneta completely lost her girdle - she reviled the doctors and insolently refused to examine the contents of the master's chamber-pot for bile escaping under the influence of drugs.
The same Tuaneta was the only one to whom Angelica opened up in her feeling for the young Cleant. She saw him only once - in the theater, but for this short meeting, the young man managed to charm the girl. Not only was Cleantus very handsome, he also protected Angelica, not being then familiar with her, from the rudeness of an irreverent gentleman.
Imagine Angelica's amazement when her father spoke to her about marriage - from his first words, she decided that Cleant had wooed her. But Argan soon disappointed his daughter: he meant by no means Cleanthes, but a much more suitable, from his point of view, groom - the nephew of Dr. Purgon and the son of his brother-in-law, Dr. Diafuarus, Tom Diafuarus, who himself was a doctor less than five minutes. In Diafuarus Jr., as in a son-in-law, he saw a bunch of advantages: first, the family will have its own doctor, which will save you from spending on doctors; secondly, Toma is the only heir to both his father and Uncle Purgon.
Angelica, although she was terrified, out of modesty did not utter a word, but Argan listened to everything that followed from Tuaneta. But the maid only shook the air in vain - Argan firmly stood his ground.
Angelica's marriage was disagreeable to Belina, but she had her own considerations for that: she did not want to share the legacy of Argan with her stepdaughter and therefore did her best to send her to the monastery. So Angelica completely entrusted her fate to Tuanete, who readily agreed to help the girl. The first thing she had to do was to inform Cleanta that Angelica was being wooed for another. She chose the old usurer Punchinelle, who had been hopelessly in love with her for a long time as a messenger.
The procession of the intoxicated with love Punchinelle down the street, leading to a funny incident with the police, was the content of the first interlude with songs and dances.
Cleant was not long in coming and soon came to Argan's house, but not as a young man in love, wishing to ask Angelica's hand, but in the role of a temporary singing teacher - Angelica's real teacher, a friend of Cleant, as if he had to urgently leave for the village. Argan agreed to be replaced, but insisted that classes were held only in his presence.
Before the lesson began, however, Argan was informed about the arrival of Diafuarus the father and Diafuarus the son. The future son-in-law made a great impression on the owner of the house with a multi-scholarly welcoming speech. Then, however, he mistook Angelica for Argan's wife and spoke to her as a future mother-in-law, but when the misunderstanding cleared up, Toma Diafuarus proposed to her in expressions that delighted grateful listeners - there was also a statue of Memnon with its harmonic sounds, and heliotropes, and the altar of delights ... As a gift to Tom's bride, he presented his treatise against the followers of the harmful theory of blood circulation, and as the first joint entertainment he invited Angelica to visit the autopsy of a female corpse the other day.
Quite satisfied with the merits of the groom, Argan wished his daughter to show herself. The presence of the singing teacher came in handy here, and the father ordered Angelica to sing something for the entertainment of society. Cleantha handed her the sheet music and said that he had just a sketch of a new opera - just a trifling improvisation. Addressing as if to everyone, but in fact only to his beloved, he in a bucolic manner - replacing himself with a shepherd boy, and her shepherd boy and placing both in the appropriate entourage - retold a short story of their love with Angelica, allegedly serving as the plot of the composition. This story ended with the appearance of the shepherdess in the shepherdess's house, where he found an unworthy rival, who was favored by her father; now or never, despite the presence of the father, the lovers had to explain themselves. Cleant and Angelica sang and in touching improvised couplets confessed their love to each other and vowed fidelity to the grave.
The lovers sang a duet until Argan felt that something indecent was happening, although he did not understand what exactly. Telling them to stop, he immediately got down to business - he offered Angelica to shake hands with Toma Diafuarus and call him her husband, but Angelica, who had not dared to contradict her father before, flatly refused. The venerable Diafuarus left without anything, trying to keep a good professional face even with a bad game.
Argan was already beside himself, and then Belina found Angelica Cleant in the room, who, at the sight of her, fled. So when his brother Berald came to him and started talking about the fact that he had a good fiancé for his daughter, Argan did not want to hear about anything like that. But Berald had in store for his brother a cure for excessive gloom - a performance by a troupe of gypsies, which was supposed to work no worse than the Purgon klyisters.
The dances of the gypsies and their songs about love, youth, spring and the joys of life were a second interlude, entertaining the audience in between actions.
In a conversation with Argan, Berald tried to appeal to the mind of his brother, but to no avail: he was firm in the belief that only a doctor should become his son-in-law, and no one except for whom Angelica wants to marry is the tenth thing. But really, Berald wondered, Argan, with his iron health, is going to mess with doctors and pharmacists all his life? According to Berald, there could be no doubts about the excellent strength of Argan's health, if only because the whole sea of drugs he took has not yet killed him.
The conversation gradually turned to the topic of medicine, as such, and its very right to exist. Berald argued that all doctors - although they are mostly well-educated in the humanities, fluent in Latin and Greek - are either charlatans who cleverly empty the wallets of gullible patients, or artisans who naively believe in charlatan spells, but also benefit from it. The structure of the human body is so subtle, complex and full of secrets, sacredly protected by nature, that it is impossible to penetrate into it. Only nature itself is able to defeat the disease, provided, of course, that doctors do not interfere with it.
No matter how Berald fought, his brother stood his ground to death. The last known way to overcome Berald's blind faith in doctors was to somehow reduce Argan to one of Moliere's comedies, in which representatives of medical pseudoscience are so good at it. But Argan did not want to hear about Moliere and predicted a terrible death for him, abandoned by the doctors to the mercy of fate.
This highly scientific controversy was interrupted by the appearance of the pharmacist Flerand with a klystyr, personally and lovingly prepared by Doctor Purgon in accordance with all the rules of science. Despite Argan's protests, the pharmacist was driven away by Berald. leaving, he promised to complain to Purgon himself and kept his promise - a short time after his departure, Doctor Purgon, insulted to the core, burst into Argan. He has seen a lot in this life, but so that his klystyr would be so cynically rejected ... Purgon announced that from now on he did not want to have any business with Argan, who, without his care, will undoubtedly come to a state of complete incurability in a few days, and in a few more - will give away the ends from bradypepsia, apepsia, dyspepsia, lientery, etc.
As soon as one doctor said goodbye to Argan forever, another one appeared at his doorstep, though suspiciously similar to the maid Tuaneta. He immediately introduced himself as an unsurpassed wandering physician, who is not at all interested in trivial cases - give him a good dropsy, a pleuritic person with pneumonia, at worst a plague. Such a famous patient as Argan simply could not fail to attract his attention. The new doctor instantly recognized Purgon as a charlatan, made prescriptions directly opposite to Purgonovs, and with that left.
On this, the medical topic was exhausted, and the conversation between the brothers about Angelica's marriage was resumed. For a doctor or a monastery - no third is given, insisted Argan. The idea of placing his daughter in a monastery, quite obviously with bad intent, imposed Belin on her husband, but Argan refused to believe that she, the person closest to him, might have some kind of bad intent. Then Tuaneta offered to arrange a small rally, which was supposed to reveal the true face of Belina. Argan agreed and pretended to be dead.
Belina was indecently delighted at the death of her husband - now, at last, she could manage all his money! Angelica, and after her and Cleant, seeing Argan dead, were sincerely killed and even wanted to abandon the thought of marriage. Having resurrected - to the horror of Belina and the joy of Angelica with Cleant, - Argan agreed to the marriage of his daughter ... but on the condition that Cleant learns to be a doctor.
Berald, however, expressed a more sensible idea: why not learn to become a doctor for Argan himself. And as for the fact that at his age, knowledge is unlikely to get into the head - this is nothing, no knowledge is required. As soon as you put on your doctor's gown and cap, you can easily begin to talk about diseases, and, moreover, in Latin.
By a happy coincidence, actors familiar to Berald were nearby, who performed the last interlude - a buffoonery, spiced with dances and music, the initiation ceremony as a doctor.