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“The Figaro Trilogy” by Beaumarchais and “The Misanthrope” by Moliere Essay

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Updated: Sep 29th, 2021

Introduction

This analytical essay takes into consideration two books, in both of which the authors have tried to present certain social issues that were present back in those days, and are still existent in our society as well.

The first book that has been taken under consideration goes by the name of The Figaro Trilogy and is a compilation of numerous works by the author namely Beaumarchais. The Figaro Trilogy plays consist of Le Barbier de Séville, Le Mariage de Figaro, and La Mère coupable. These plays are considered to be some of the most prominent French plays ever, considering the fact that the trilogy ranges over the entire disorderly period of French history that is the Revolution.

The most significant characters in all these plays go by the names of Figaro and Count Almaviva and Rosine. The relationship between Figaro and Count Almaviva begins as a mere light-hearted master-and-servant relationship in Le Barbier, after which they both become opponents over Suzanne in Le Mariage, which basically presents a fair picture of the struggle that existed between people of various classes in pre-revolutionary France. Finally, both the characters get back together and fight against the evil notions of Bégearss, in which the author portrays reconciliation between them in La Mère.

The second book that has been taken under consideration is called The Misanthrope and was written by Moliere. The central character of the book namely Alceste has a problem. He does not wish to negotiate over the standards that he holds regarding truth and honesty. In the world that he lived in, in the 17th-century French court what matters the most is the appearances of a person. The character is noble by his nature and is an outcast in the world in which he lives High and noble in nature, he is alienated from the world because he disregards its desires of heart, its hollowness, the falsehood that exists within it, and the hypocrisy that is present along with countless paltry shortcomings.

He deems it a crime that a person should trade politeness only to portray as being humble in front of others, talk bad about friends behind their backs, and act polite and even lie about how well something is written when the author asks for it an honest opinion. He practices what he believes, he is not a hypocrite, yet this does not protect him from becoming a mere slave of a woman who he loves, even though she has all the qualities that he hates. The woman he loves is named Celimene. Alceste completely realizes his mistake of loving someone whose habits are not even worthy of him, he is stuck between a conflict that exists between his head and his heart, which eventually leads to the termination of the prevalence of the former.

Summary

The first play presented in The Figaro Trilogy goes by the name of The Barber of Seville in which Count Almaviva depends on Figaro, a person who is inferior to him in terms of social class to persuade Rosina who he loves with all his heart. Figaro comes up with a wonderful plan to win over Rosina, he also realizes the fact that it is just so dramatic how all social inequalities vanish when those belonging to the upper class need the assistance of a low-class man. Right after getting married to Rosina, the Count places back all social boundaries, which leads us to The Marriage of Figaro in which we see the Count’s sagacity of privilege comes back right when he desires to achieve what Figaro has gained – Susanna.

Till the time that Beaumarchais wrote the last story of the trilogy, namely The Guilty Mother, the Revolution started being prevalent in his writings. His characters are brought in from the Eden of Spain all the way to the Terror of France, where the Count is found stopping everyone from calling him ‘Lordship.’ In this extremely troubled environment, the resentment of the Count causes harm to the entire household, as he tries to conceal himself behind his devious secretary.

This is where Figaro finally gets to meet his rival in the form of a Machiavellian manservant. Both of them compete over the devotion they have towards their employer. Eventually, by the end of the story, Figaro wins over his rival and saves the Count’s life once again and every other character gets a chance to reunite.

In the second book, the central character Alceste is in love with a woman who has all the qualities he hates. The woman, namely Celimene fools around with his endurance, takes away all of his independence while adding to her own, etc. In opposition to Alceste is a character by name of Philinte, who is a mere slave of the society as he follows each tradition and custom of the society only because he believes that it is wise to make the most out of whatever is placed before one and that one should accept the world as it is. These two characters are exact opposites of each other, one being rather cynical about how people live their lives full of hypocrisy while the other believes that being nice to people is all that matters even if you have to fake it.

In both of the books, we find one common factor, people being materialistic, with only their worldly belongings that matter to society. In the first book, we see that the upper class uses those belonging to the lower class in order to get what they want. This is a factor that is as yet present in our society, where the higher authorities make use of those lower than them to attain their desires and requirements. This was a prevalent problem back in 17th century France and is a problem in our current society as well. But here we must note that it was the sacrifices and the efforts of Figaro that saved the count and created harmony amongst everyone in the society.

On the other hand, we find the same problem with Celimene playing with Alceste’s and several other men’s feelings. She causes trouble between all of them as they fight over who is better for her and who is not. By the end of the fight, everyone realizes that Celimene really is not worth their time and effort, and she is left with Alceste even though she does not wish to be with him at all. Alceste realizes this fact and finally decides that it was wrong of him to fall in love with Celimene who is such a low being.

Here we get to see that when people play around with others’ feelings, they themselves get to be left alone in the long run. This is yet another problem that is still common in our society. People do not care much about how others would feel because of their wrong-doings. Both of the authors through their writings have tried to inform people of these social issues, hoping people would learn and become better people. But this most certainly does not seem to be happening when it comes to the real world as this problem just seems to be taking over everywhere.

Conclusion

In the light of the above discussion, we can hereby culminate that the authors of both books have tried to evoke awareness about certain social issues through their writings, hoping people would rectify them.

Bibliography

Beaumarchais. The Figaro Trilogy. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN: 0-192-80413-8.

Moliere. The Misanthrope. United States of America: Dover Publications. ISBN: 0-486-27065-3.

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