Short summary - The Marriage of Figaro - La Folle Journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro - Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

French literature summaries - 2021

Short summary - The Marriage of Figaro - La Folle Journée, ou le Mariage de Figaro
Pierre-Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais

The action takes place during one crazy day in the castle of Count Almaviva, whose household in this short time manage to weave a dizzying intrigue with weddings, courts, adoption, jealousy and reconciliation. The heart of the intrigue is Figaro, the count's steward. This is an incredibly witty and wise man, the closest aide and advisor to the count in ordinary times, but now has fallen out of favor. The reason for the count’s displeasure is that Figaro decides to marry the charming girl Suzanne, the countess’s maid, and the wedding should take place on the same day, everything is going well, until Suzanne talks about the count’s idea: to restore the shameful right of the seigneur to the bride's virginity under threat of upsetting the wedding and deprive them of their dowry. Figaro is shocked by the similar baseness of his master, who, not having time to appoint him as housekeeper, is already going to send him to the embassy in London by courier to calmly visit Suzanne. Figaro vows to turn the voluptuous count around his finger, conquer Suzanne and not lose the dowry. As the bride says, intrigue and money are his element.
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Two more enemies threaten Figaro's wedding. The old doctor Bartolo, from whom the count, with the help of the cunning Figaro, kidnapped the bride, found an opportunity, through his housekeeper Marceline, to take revenge on the offenders. Marceline is going through the court to force Figaro to fulfill the promissory note: either return her money, or marry her. The Count, of course, will support her in an effort to prevent their wedding, but her own wedding will be arranged thanks to this. Once in love with his wife, the count, three years after his marriage, slightly cooled towards her, but mad and blind jealousy took the place of love, while out of boredom he drags after the beauties throughout the district. Marceline is head over heels in love with Figaro, which is understandable: he does not know how to get angry, is always in a good mood, sees only joys in the present and thinks just as little about the past as about the future. In fact, it is Dr. Bartolo's direct duty to marry Marceline. By marriage, they were to be tied by a child, the fruit of forgotten love, stolen by the gypsies in infancy.
The Countess, however, does not feel completely abandoned, she has an admirer - the page of His Excellency Cherubino. This is a charming little prankster, going through a difficult period of growing up, already aware of himself as an attractive young man. The change in outlook completely confused the teenager, he takes turns caring for all the women in his field of vision and secretly in love with the countess, his godmother. The frivolous behavior of Cherubino displeases the count, and he wants to send him to his parents. Desperate boy goes to complain to Suzanne. But during the conversation, the Count enters Suzanne's room, and Cherubino hides behind a chair in horror. The count is already bluntly offering Suzanne money in exchange for a date before the wedding. Suddenly they hear the voice of Basil, a musician and pimp at the count's court, he approaches the door, the count, in fear that he will be caught with Suzanne, hides behind a chair where Cherubino is already sitting. The boy runs out and climbs into the chair with his feet, and Suzanne covers him with a dress and stands in front of the chair. Basil is looking for the count and at the same time takes the opportunity to persuade Suzanne to offer his master. He hints at the favor of many ladies to Cherubino, including her and the countess. Seized with jealousy, the count gets up from his chair and orders to immediately send the boy, who is trembling under his hiding meanwhile. He pulls off the dress and finds a little page under it. The count is sure that Suzanne had a date with Cherubino. Furious that they overheard his sensitive conversation with Susanna, he forbids her to marry Figaro. At the same moment, a crowd of smartly dressed villagers appears, led by Figaro. The sly man brought the count's vassals to solemnly thank their master for canceling the seigneur's right to the bride's virginity. Everyone praises the count's virtue, and he has no choice but, cursing Figaro's cunning, to confirm his decision. They also beg him to forgive Cherubino, the count agrees, he makes the young man an officer of his regiment, with the condition that he immediately leave to serve in distant Catalonia. Cherubino is in despair that he is parting with his godmother, and Figaro advises him to play the departure, and then quietly return to the castle. In revenge for Suzanne's intransigence, the count is going to support Marceline at the trial and thus disrupt Figaro's wedding.
Figaro, meanwhile, decides to act with no less consistency than his Excellency: to moderate his appetites for Susanna, inspiring the suspicion that his wife is being encroached upon. Through Basil, the count receives an anonymous note that a certain admirer will seek a date with the countess during the ball. The Countess is outraged that Figaro is not ashamed to play the honor of a decent woman. But Figaro assures that he will not allow himself this with any woman: he is afraid to get to the point. To bring the count to white heat - and he is in their hands. Instead of a pleasant pastime with another man's wife, he will be forced to follow on the heels of his own, and in the presence of the Countess, he will no longer dare to interfere with their marriage. The only thing to be afraid of is Marceline, so Figaro orders Suzanne to appoint the count in the evening in the garden. Instead of a girl, Cherubino will go there in her costume. While his lordship is on the hunt, Suzanne and the countess must change their clothes and comb Cherubino, and then Figaro will hide him. Cherubino comes, they change his clothes, and between him and the countess there are touching hints that speak of mutual sympathy. Suzanne left for the pins, and at this moment the count returns from the hunt ahead of time and demands that the countess let him in. Obviously, he received the note, penned by Figaro, and is furious. If he finds a half-naked Cherubino, he will shoot him on the spot. The boy hides in the dressing room, and the countess, terrified and confused, runs to open the count. The count, seeing his wife's confusion and hearing a noise in the dressing room, wants to break down the door, although the Countess assures him that Suzanne is changing her clothes there. Then the count goes to get the tools and takes his wife with him. Suzanne opens the dressing room, releases Cherubino, barely alive from fear, and takes his place; the boy jumps out of the window. The Count returns, and the Countess, in despair, tells him about the page, begging him to spare the child. The Count opens the door and, to his amazement, finds Suzanne laughing there. Suzanne explains that they just decided to play him, and Figaro wrote that note himself. Having mastered himself, the countess reproaches him for coldness, groundless jealousy, and unworthy behavior. The stunned count in sincere repentance begs him to forgive. Figaro appears, the women force him to admit that he is the author of the anonymous letter. Everyone is ready to make up, when the gardener comes and talks about the man who fell out of the window, who crumpled all the flower beds. Figaro is in a hurry to compose a story, how, frightened by the count's wrath over the letter, he jumped out the window, hearing that the count had unexpectedly interrupted the hunt. But the gardener shows a piece of paper that fell out of the fugitive's pocket. This is the order for the appointment of Cherubino. Fortunately, the Countess recalls that the order was missing a seal, Cherubino told her about it. Figaro manages to get out: Cherubino allegedly transmitted an order through him, on which the count must put a seal. In the meantime, Marceline appears, and the count sees in her the instrument of revenge of Figaro. Marceline demands a trial of Figaro, and the count invites the local court and witnesses. Figaro refuses to marry Marceline, as he considers himself a noble rank. True, he does not know his parents, since the gypsies stole him. The nobility of his origin is proved by the mark on his hand in the form of a spatula. At these words, Marceline throws herself on Figaro's neck and declares him to be her lost child, the son of Dr. Bartolo. The litigation, thus, is resolved by itself, and Figaro, instead of an angry fury, finds a loving mother. The countess, meanwhile, is going to teach the jealous and unfaithful count a lesson and decides to go on a date to him herself. Suzanne, under her dictation, writes a note where the Count is scheduled to meet in the gazebo in the garden. The count must come to seduce his own wife, and Suzanne will receive the promised dowry. Figaro accidentally learns about the appointment, and, not understanding its true meaning, loses his mind from jealousy. He curses his unfortunate fate. Indeed, it is not known whose son, stolen by the robbers, brought up in their notions, he suddenly felt disgust for them and decided to go the honest way, and everywhere he was pushed aside. He studied chemistry, pharmaceuticals, surgery, was a veterinarian, playwright, writer, publicist; as a result, he became a wandering barber and began to live a carefree life. One fine day Count Almaviva arrives in Seville, recognizes him, Figaro married him, and now, in gratitude for the fact that he got the Count's wife, the Count decided to intercept his bride. An intrigue ensues, Figaro is in the balance of death, almost marries his own mother, but at the same time it turns out who his parents are. He saw everything and was disappointed in everything for his difficult life. But he sincerely believed and loved Suzanne, and she betrayed him so cruelly, for the sake of some kind of dowry! Figaro hurries to the place of the proposed date to catch them red-handed. And in a dark corner of the park with two gazebos, the final scene of a crazy day takes place. Hidden, the Count's meetings with "Suzanne" await Figaro and the real Suzanne: the former wants revenge, the latter - a funny sight. So they overhear a very instructive conversation between the count and the countess. The count admits that he loves his wife very much, but he was pushed to Suzanne by a thirst for variety. Wives usually think that if they love their husbands, that's it. They are so helpful, so always helpful, invariably and under any circumstances, that one day, to your amazement, instead of feeling bliss again, you begin to experience satiety. Wives simply don't know the art of keeping their husbands attracted. The law of nature forces men to seek reciprocity, and it is up to women to be able to keep them. Figaro tries to find the conversation in the dark and stumbles upon Suzanne, dressed in the dress of a countess. He still recognizes his Suzanne and, wishing to teach the Count a lesson, plays a scene of seduction. The enraged count hears the entire conversation and summons the entire house to publicly expose the unfaithful wife. They bring torches, but instead of the countess with an unknown admirer, they find Figaro and Suzanne laughing, and the countess, meanwhile, leaves the gazebo in Suzanne's dress. The shocked count for the second time in a day begs his wife for forgiveness, and the newlyweds receive a wonderful dowry.