Short summary - The School for Husbands - Molière - Jean-Baptiste Poquelin

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The School for Husbands
Molière - Jean-Baptiste Poquelin

The text of the play is preceded by the author's dedication to the Duke of Orleans, the king's only brother.
The brothers Sganarelle and Aristus try unsuccessfully to convince each other of the need to change. Sganarelle, always gloomy and unsociable, condemning the vagaries of fashion, reproaches his older brother for frivolity and panache: "Here is a true old man: he deftly fools us / And wants to cover up his gray hair with a black wig!" The sisters Leonora and Isabella appear, accompanied by the maid, Lisette. They continue to discuss the brothers without noticing their presence. Leonora assures Isabella that she will support her and protect her from Sganarelle's nagging. The brothers enter into a conversation - Sganarelle demands that Isabella return home, and Leonora and Arista try to persuade him not to interfere with the girls' walk. Sganarelle objects, he reminds that the father of the girls before his death entrusted them to the care of the brothers, "Allowing us to marry them / Or dispose of their fate in a different way." Therefore, Sganarelle believes, each of the brothers has the right to act with the girl in his care, in accordance with their own ideas about life. Arista can pamper Leonora and encourage her passion for dress and entertainment, he, Sganarelle, requires Isabella to retreat, considering it sufficient entertainment for her to fix clothes and knit stockings.
The servant Lisette intervenes in the conversation, outraged that Sganarelle is going to keep Isabella locked up, as is customary in Turkey, and warns the unreasonable guardian that "Whoever rereads us is in danger." Aristus urges his younger brother to think again and reflect on the fact that "the school is secular, instilling a good tone, / Teaches us no less than a great book" and that one should be a husband, but not a tyrant. Sganarelle persists and orders Isabella to leave. Everyone follows, leaving Sganarelle alone.
At this time, Valera appears, in love with Isabella, and his servant Ergast. Noticing Sganarelle, whom Valera calls "my terrible argus, / Cruel guardian and guardian of my beautiful", they intend to enter into a conversation with him, but this does not immediately succeed. Having managed to attract the attention of Sganarelle, Valera could not achieve the desired result of getting closer to his neighbor, pursuing the only goal - to be able to see Isabella. Left alone with his servant, Valera does not hide his grief, because he knows nothing about Isabella's feelings for him. Ergast consoles him, rightly believing that "Spouses and fathers are jealous sorrows / The affairs of lovers were usually made easier." Valera complains that for five months now she has not been able to approach her beloved, since Isabella is not only locked up, but also alone, which means that there is no servant who, for a generous reward, could be an intermediary between the young man in love and his object passion.
Sganarelle and Isabella appear, and from their remarks it is clear that they are continuing a conversation that had been started long ago, and it is obvious that Isabella's cunning succeeded - she managed to convince Sganarelle of the need to talk to Valera, whose name is a girl, allegedly quite by accident, where I heard. Sganarelle, left alone, is eager to get even with Valera immediately, as he took Isabella's words at face value. He is so absorbed in his thoughts that he does not notice his mistake - he knocks on his own door, believing that he has approached Valera's house. The young man begins to make excuses for his presence in Sganarelle's house, but soon realizes that a misunderstanding has occurred. Not noticing that he is in his own house, Sganarelle, refusing the offered chair, hurries to talk to Valera. He informs that he intends to marry Isabella, and therefore wants "that your immodest look does not bother her." Valera is surprised and wants to know how Sganarelle learned about his feelings for Isabella, because he did not manage to get close to her for many months. The young man is even more surprised when Sganarelle says that he learned about everything from Isabella herself, who could not hide Valera's disrespect from her beloved, Valera's surprise convinces Sganarelle that Isabella's speech is true. Valera, accompanied by Ergast, hurries to leave so that Sganarelle does not realize that he is in his own house. Isabella appears, and the guardian tells her about how the conversation with Valera took place, how the young man tried to deny everything, but shyly quieted down when he learned that Sganarelle was acting on behalf of Isabella. The girl wants to be sure that Valera fully understood her intentions, so she resorts to a new trick. She informs her guardian that Valera's servant threw a box with a letter through her window, and she wants to return it immediately. At the same time, Sganarelle must make it clear to Valera that Isabella did not even want to open the letter and does not know its content. The fooled Sganarelle is delighted with the virtues of his pupil, is ready to fulfill her instructions exactly and goes to Valera, never ceasing to admire and extol Isabella.
The young man, having opened the letter, no longer doubts the disposition of the young beauty to him, ready to unite with him as soon as possible, otherwise the hated guardian Sganarelle himself will have time to marry her.
Sganarelle appears, and Valere humbly admits that he realized the futility of his dreams of happiness with Isabella and will keep his unrequited love to the grave. Confident in his triumph, Sganarelle retells in detail to his pupil the conversation with the young man, without knowing it, conveys the answer of her beloved to Isabella. This story prompts the girl to act further, and she persuades the guardian not to trust the words of Valera, who, according to her, intends to kidnap Sganarelle's bride. Once again, the fooled guardian goes to Valera and reports that Isabella revealed to him the black plans of an impolite neighbor who planned to kidnap someone else's bride. Valere denies everything, but Sganarelle, acting on the instructions of his pupil, is ready to take the young man to Isabella and give him the opportunity to be convinced of the veracity of his words. Isabella skillfully portrays indignation, barely seeing Valera. Sganarelle convinces her that there was only one way to get rid of annoying courtship - to allow Valer to listen to the verdict from the lips of the object of his passion. The girl does not miss the opportunity to describe her situation and express her wishes: “I expect that my dear will immediately take action / And take everything away from the unwelcoming hope”. Valera is convinced that the girl is passionate about him and is ready to become his wife, and the hapless guardian does not understand anything.
Isabella continues to weave her webs and convinces Sganarelle that her sister Leonora is in love with Valera. Now that Valera is ashamed because of Isabella's virtues and must leave, Leonora dreams of a date with him and asks her sister for help. She wants, pretending to be Isabella, to meet with Valera. The guardian pretends to be upset for his brother, locks the house and follows Isabella, believing that he is pursuing Leonora. After making sure that the imaginary Leonora entered Valera, he runs after the commissioner and the notary. He convinces them that a girl from a good family has been seduced by Valera and now there is an opportunity to combine them in an honest marriage. He himself is in a hurry for his brother Arist, who is sure that Leonora is at the ball. Sganarelle gloats and reports that this ball is in Valera's house, where Leonora actually went. Both brothers join the commissioner and the notary, and it turns out that Valera has already signed the necessary documents and only the lady's name needs to be entered. Both brothers confirm their consent to the marriage with Valera of their pupil with a signature, while Aristus believes that it is about Isabella, and Sganarelle - that about Leonore.
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Leonora appears, and Aristus blames her for not telling him about her feelings for Valera, since her guardian never hindered her freedom. Leonora confesses that she dreams only of marriage with Arista and does not understand the reasons for his grief. At this time, newlyweds and representatives of the authorities appear from Valera's house. Isabella asks her sister for forgiveness for using her name to achieve the fulfillment of her desires. Valera thanks Sganarelle for getting his wife out of his hands. Aristus advises his younger brother to accept what happened with meekness, because “your actions alone are the cause of everything; / And in your lot the saddest thing is / That no one spares you in such trouble. "