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Double Inconstancy


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AT: Double Infidelity; Infidelities; Changes of Heart A: Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux Pf: 1723, Paris Pb: 1724 Tr: 1901 G: Romantic com. in 3 acts; French prose S: The Prince's palace, indeterminate period C: 4m, 3f, extrasWhile out hunting, the Prince has met and fallen in love with a simple country maiden Silvia. However, she loves Arlequin and, although brought to court and offered status and wealth, rejects the Prince's advances. The courtiers try to fulfil the Prince's wishes: the servant Trivelin's promises of riches fail to impress the simple country lad Arlequin, who sees no merit in having two homes and many servants. He refuses to yield Silvia to the Prince, and the beautiful Lisette tries unsuccessfully to seduce him. Despite Arlequin's swearing eternal love to Silvia, he is obviously affected by Flaminia, who pretends to be mourning her dead lover. Disguising himself as an officer, the Prince woos Silvia, and Flaminia begins to push home her advantage with Arlequin. Despite their hesitation in becoming unfaithful to each other, Arlequin begins to love Flaminia and Silvia her ‘officer’, who finally reveals himself as the Prince.

AT: Double Infidelity; Infidelities; Changes of Heart A: Pierre Carlet de Chamblain de Marivaux Pf: 1723, Paris Pb: 1724 Tr: 1901 G: Romantic com. in 3 acts; French prose S: The Prince's palace, indeterminate period C: 4m, 3f, extras

Marivaux's gentle comedies do not depend on external action but on the subtle processes of love and the movements of the heart. Suspended in a timeless sphere (even if Arlequin's scepticism about wealth has a contemporary satirical edge), his characters, even the servants, are stylishly elegant and all speak charming dialogue, which was subsequently pilloried as marivaudage. A play like The Double Inconstancy may now be revisited not just as a nostalgic voyage into a prelapsarian idyll but also as a gently humorous insight into romantic love.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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