The play begins with a prologue and an alternative prologue. The first prologue is titled ‘‘Eclogue,’’ which refers to a short poem that is usually ‘‘pastoral,’’ or reflecting idyllic, rural shepherd life. This eclogue involves a number of gods from classical mythology, including Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and Pan, the Greek god of shepherds and fertility. After an introduction praising Louis XIV and stating that the comedy-ballet was ‘‘devised for his relaxation,’’ the prologue praises the king’s war efforts with a rustic song and dance, until Pan enters and says that the best way to serve Louis is to entertain and charm him. The much shorter alternative prologue is a monologue, or speech by a single character, in which a shepherdess laments that foolish doctors cannot heal the sorrows of her heart.
Act 1 opens with Argan adding up his many doctor’s bills and ringing for the maid, Toinette, who reveals her impatience with Argan and goes to fetch his daughter, Angélique. Argan, who is a hypochondriac, then goes off to the bathroom while Angélique asks Toinette for advice about Cléante, the young man with whom she recently fell in love, and who has promised to ask for her hand in marriage. When Argan returns, Angélique is delighted to hear him tell her of a marriage he has arranged for her, until she discovers that she is betrothed not to Cléante but to Thomas Diafoirus,...
(The entire section is 927 words.)
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