Overview

Would-Be Gentleman


'Would-Be Gentleman' can also refer to...

 

More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

GO

Show Summary Details

Quick Reference

AT: The Citizen Turned Gentleman; The Merchant Gentleman; The Prodigious Snob; The Self-Made Gentleman; The Middle-Class Gentleman; The Proper Gent; The Bourgeois Gentleman A: Molière Pf: 1670, Château de Chambord Pb: 1670 Tr: 1672 G: Com.-ballet in 5 acts; French alexandrines S: M. Jourdain's home, Paris, c.1670 C: 10m, 4f, extrasM. Jourdain is a vain middle-class individual, who imagines that he can use his wealth to raise himself to the status of the gentry. He has preposterously uncomfortable and hideous clothes tailored and insists on instruction in music, dance, fencing, and philosophy, without having a real interest in any of them. From the Philosopher, Jourdain is delighted to learn that he has been speaking prose all his life without knowing it. Jourdain hopes to initiate an affair with Countess Dorimène, supposedly assisted by an unscrupulous nobleman Dorante, who borrows money from Jourdain and is intent on winning Dorimène for himself. Jourdain's daughter Lucile is in love with Cléonte, who asks Jourdain for Lucile's hand in marriage. However, Jourdain is determined that Lucile shall marry only a ‘gentleman’. While Jourdain entertains his aristocratic guests Dorimène and Dorante, the arrival of the son of the Grand Turk is announced (in fact, Cléonte in disguise). This ‘royal visitor’ has fallen in love with Lucile and wishes to confer the title of ‘Mamamouchi’ on Jourdain. In a ballet, Jourdain is duly crowned with a colossal turban, and he willingly gives his daughter to Cléonte. Meanwhile Dorimène, impressed by Dorante's apparent generosity, consents to marry him.

AT: The Citizen Turned Gentleman; The Merchant Gentleman; The Prodigious Snob; The Self-Made Gentleman; The Middle-Class Gentleman; The Proper Gent; The Bourgeois Gentleman A: Molière Pf: 1670, Château de Chambord Pb: 1670 Tr: 1672 G: Com.-ballet in 5 acts; French alexandrines S: M. Jourdain's home, Paris, c.1670 C: 10m, 4f, extras

The genre of the comedy-ballet (this was Moliére's tenth and best, with music by Lully) provided spectacle, song, and dance, as well as comedy (what would now be termed a multi-media performance). Molière's laughter at a merchant trying to become a gentleman does not derive from snobbery, for Jourdain's attempts to better himself are not in themselves reprehensible. What is ludicrous is that he imagines he can use his wealth to buy culture, philosophy, and illicit aristocratic sex, while blocking the happiness of the young lovers. Unlike most of Molière's comedies, the play ends before he is forced to recognize the truth.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


Reference entries

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.