Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Léonor and Isabelle, orphaned on the death of their father, are committed by his deathbed wish to the guardianship of his friends Sganarelle and Ariste, with the additional charge that if Sganarelle and Ariste do not marry the young women, then the guardians are to provide suitable husbands for their wards. The two brothers have different ideas about the upbringing of the orphans. The elder, Ariste, chooses to conform to the fashions of the day but without going to extremes. He gives his ward, Léonor, the opportunity to attend balls and dances and meet the gallants of the city. Although he himself wishes to marry her, he loves Léonor sufficiently to leave the choice to her.
Sganarelle, in contrast, thinks that all this is foolish. Where Ariste hopes to govern only by affection, Sganarelle believes in the effectiveness of severity. He confines Isabelle strictly to her quarters and to household duties, thus keeping her from meeting any eligible young men. Determined to marry her himself, he hopes to discipline her to that end. When Sganarelle scoffs at his brother’s leniency and predicts that he will in the end be tricked by so young a wife, Léonor declares that if she marries her guardian she will be faithful to him, but if she were to be Sganarelle’s wife she would not be answerable for any of her actions.
Meanwhile, Valère, Sganarelle’s new neighbor, has fallen in love with Isabelle, whom he has seen at a distance, and Isabelle...
(The entire section is 1223 words.)
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