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- THE MIDDLE CLASS GENTLEMAN - 1/17 -


THE MIDDLE CLASS GENTLEMAN (Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme)

by

MOLIERE (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622-1673)

Translated by Philip Dwight Jones

Comedy-Ballet presented at Chambord, for the entertainment of the King, in the month of October 1670, and to the public in Paris for the first time at the Palais-Royal Theater 23 November 1670

The Cast

Monsieur Jourdain, bourgeois. Madame Jourdain, his wife. Lucile, their daughter. Nicole, maid. Cleonte, suitor of Lucile. Covielle, Cleonte's valet. Dorante, Count, suitor of Dorimene. Dorimene, Marchioness. Music Master. Pupil of the Music Master. Dancing Master. Fencing Master. Master of Philosophy. Tailor. Tailor's apprentice. Two lackeys. Many male and female musicians, instrumentalists, dancers, cooks, tailor's apprentices, and others necessary for the interludes.

The scene is Monsieur Jourdain's house in Paris.

ACT ONE

SCENE I (Music Master, Dancing Master, Musicians, and Dancers)

(The play opens with a great assembly of instruments, and in the middle of the stage is a pupil of the Music Master seated at a table composing a melody which Monsieur Jourdain has ordered for a serenade.)

MUSIC MASTER: (To Musicians) Come, come into this room, sit there and wait until he comes.

DANCING MASTER: (To dancers) And you too, on this side.

MUSIC MASTER: (To Pupil) Is it done?

PUPIL: Yes.

MUSIC MASTER: Let's see. . . This is good.

DANCING MASTER: Is it something new?

MUSIC MASTER: Yes, it's a melody for a serenade that I set him to composing here, while waiting for our man to awake.

DANCING MASTER: May I see it?

MUSIC MASTER: You'll hear it, with the dialogue, when he comes. He won't be long.

DANCING MASTER: Our work, yours and mine, is not trivial at present.

MUSIC MASTER: This is true. We've found here such a man as we both need. This is a nice source of income for us -- this Monsieur Jourdain, with the visions of nobility and gallantry that he has gotten into his head. You and I should hope that everyone resembled him.

DANCING MASTER: Not entirely; I could wish that he understood better the things that we give him.

MUSIC MASTER: It's true that he understands them poorly, but he pays well, and that's what our art needs now more than anything else.

DANCING MASTER: As for me, I admit, I feed a little on glory. Applause touches me; and I hold that, in all the fine arts, it is painful to produce for dolts, to endure the barbarous opinions of a fool about my choreography. It is a pleasure, don't tell me otherwise, to work for people who can appreciate the fine points of an art, who know how to give a sweet reception to the beauties of a work and, by pleasurable approbations, gratify us for our labor. Yes, the most agreeable recompense we can receive for the things we do is to see them recognized and flattered by an applause that honors us. There is nothing, in my opinion, that pays us better for all our fatigue; and it is an exquisite delight to receive the praises of the well-informed.

MUSIC MASTER: I agree, and I enjoy them as you do. There is surely nothing more agreeable than the applause you speak of; but that incense does not provide a living. Pure praises do not provide a comfortable existence; it is necessary to add something solid, and the best way to praise is to praise with cash-in-hand. He's a man, it's true, whose insight is very slight, who talks nonsense about everything and applauds only for the wrong reasons but his money makes up for his judgments. He has discernment in his purse. His praises are in cash, and this ignorant bourgeois is worth more to us, as you see, than the educated nobleman who introduced us here.

DANCING MASTER: There is some truth in what you say; but I find that you lean a little too heavily on money; and material interest is something so base that a man of good taste should never show an attachment to it.

MUSIC MASTER: You are ready enough to receive the money our man gives you.

DANCING MASTER: Assuredly; but I don't place all my happiness in it, and I could wish that together with his fortune he had some good taste in things.

MUSIC MASTER: I could wish it too, that's what both of us are working for as much as we can. But, in any case, he gives us the means to make ourselves known in the world; and he will pay others if they will praise him.

DANCING MASTER: Here he comes.

SCENE II (Monsieur Jourdain, Two Lackeys, Music Master, Dancing Master, Pupil, Musicians, and Dancers)

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Well gentlemen? What's this? Are you going to show me your little skit?

DANCING MASTER: How? What little skit?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Well, the. . . What-do-you-call it? Your prologue or dialogue of songs and dances.

DANCING MASTER: Ha, ha!

MUSIC MASTER: You find us ready for you.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I kept you waiting a little, but it's because I'm having myself dressed today like the people of quality, and my tailor sent me some silk stockings that I thought I would never get on.

MUSIC MASTER: We are here only to wait upon your leisure.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I want you both to stay until they have brought me my suit, so that you may see me.

DANCING MASTER: Whatever you would like.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: You will see me fitted out properly, from head to foot.

MUSIC MASTER: We have no doubt of it.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I had this robe made for me.

DANCING MASTER: It's very attractive.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: My tailor told me the people of quality dress like this in the mornings.

MUSIC MASTER: It's marvelously becoming.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Hey lackeys! My two lackeys!

FIRST LACKEY: What do you wish, Sir?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Nothing. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention. (To the two masters) What say you of my liveries?

DANCING MASTER: They're magnificent.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: (Half opening his gown, showing a pair of tight red velvet breeches, and a green velvet vest, that he is wearing) Here again is a sort of lounging dress to perform my morning exercises in.

MUSIC MASTER: It is elegant.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Lackey!

FIRST LACKEY: Sir?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: The other lackey!

SECOND LACKEY: Sir?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Hold my robe. (To the Masters) Do you think I look good?

DANCING MASTER: Very well. No one could look better.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Now let's have a look at your little show. MUSIC MASTER: I would like very much for you to listen to a melody he (indicating his student)has just composed for the serenade that you ordered from me. He's one of my pupils who has an admirable talent for these kinds of things.


THE MIDDLE CLASS GENTLEMAN - 1/17

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