In A Flea in Her Ear, which character is satirical?

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belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Although all the characters in the play are humorous, the most overtly satirical character is the tourist Rugby, who is a broad parody of a British man, and of foreign tourists in general. Rugby is rude and loud, and tries very hard to seduce any woman he sees; however, since he does not speak French very well, he is unsuccessful. His intrusion allows much of the farce to continue, and throughout the play he has trouble with communication since he persists in speaking English:

RUGBY: (Thick English accent) Nobody called? I say, did nobody call for me?

FERRAILLON: What's that?

RUGBY: Nobody called, I said? Nobody called? (Ferraillon and Olympia look at each other and shrug) I'm asking you, did nobody call?

OLYMPIA: (Shouting as if he were deaf) No!


FERRAILLON: It's amazing, this fixation he'd got about speaking English. Don't I speak to him in good plain French?
(Feydeau, A Flea in Her Ear, Google Books)

Even his name, Rugby, is that of a sport commonly played in and associated with England. In this manner, he is a specific parody and a satire on the "ugly tourist" character, having little or no characterization and purpose other than to create confusion and humor. With his over-the-top dialogue and the related performance, Rugby injects a note of pure silliness into the play; his role is to fight the standard farce of mistaken identities and create chaos.

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