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Sganarelle, or, the Self-Deceived Husband   By: (1622-1673)

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Sganarelle, or, the Self-Deceived Husband is a comedic play written by an unknown author during the late 17th century. Set in France, it follows the story of Sganarelle, a middle-aged man who finds himself entangled in a web of deceit and absurdity.

The play begins with Sganarelle, a husband who believes he has the perfect marriage. However, he soon discovers that his wife, Martine, has been engaging in an affair. Unbeknownst to Sganarelle, Martine concocts a plan to convince her husband that he is suffering from a mysterious and incurable illness. This ploy aims to make him more docile and forgiving towards her actions.

As the story progresses, Sganarelle meets a group of quacks who exploit his gullibility. They manipulate him into believing that he possesses tremendous medical knowledge and convince him to become a fake doctor.

The play delves into themes of deception, male naiveté, and the absurdity of societal norms. Sganarelle's character exemplifies the self-deception that often occurs within relationships, where individuals choose to overlook faults or remain oblivious to the truth in order to maintain a facade of happiness.

The author skillfully employs satire and farce to critique societal expectations and the power dynamics within marriage. Sganarelle's journey from a self-assured husband to a deluded doctor serves as a witty commentary on the flaws and vulnerabilities underlying human nature.

One of the play's standout strengths lies in its vibrant and comical cast of characters. Sganarelle's interactions with the eccentric quacks, as well as his odd encounters with various patients, create moments of hilarity throughout. The play often relies on physical comedy and witty banter, resulting in a light-hearted and enjoyable reading experience.

Moreover, the plot's twists and turns keep the reader engaged, as Sganarelle's actions become increasingly outrageous. The play's relatively short length also contributes to its fast pace, allowing the story to unfold swiftly without any unnecessary detours.

However, one drawback of this play is the lack of character development. Sganarelle's transformation is primarily driven by external forces, and his personal growth or self-reflection is limited. While the comedic elements are entertaining, the play does not offer deep insights into the human condition or provoke thought-provoking questions.

Overall, Sganarelle, or, the Self-Deceived Husband is a humorous and lively play that offers a satirical critique of societal expectations and the pitfalls of self-deception. Its witty dialogue, absurd situations, and comical characters make for an enjoyable reading experience. While it may lack a profound exploration of its themes, it remains a classic example of French farce and a testament to the enduring popularity of comedic plays from the 17th century.

First Page:






28TH MAY, 1660.


Six months after the brilliant success of the Précieuses Ridicules , Molière brought out at the Théâtre du Petit Bourbon a new comedy, called Sganarelle, ou le Cocu Imaginaire , which I have translated by Sganarelle, or the self deceived Husband . It has been said that Molière owed the first idea of this piece to an Italian farce, Il Ritratto ovvero Arlichino cornuto per opinione , but, as it has never been printed, it is difficult to decide at the present time whether or not this be true. The primary idea of the play is common to many commedia dell' arte , whilst Molière has also been inspired by such old authors as Noël Du Fail, Rabelais, those of the Quinze joyes de Mariage , of the Cent nouvelles Nouvelles , and perhaps others.

The plot of Sganarelle is ingenious and plausible; every trifle becomes circumstantial evidence, and is received as conclusive proof both by the husband and wife. The dialogue is sprightly throughout, and the anxious desire of Sganarelle to kill his supposed injurer, whilst his cowardice prevents him from executing his valorous design, is extremely ludicrous... Continue reading book >>

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