Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 414
The Affected Young Ladies, a one act play by Moliere, starts with the two "repulsed lovers" La Grange and Du Croisy stating that they have just been treated with disdain by a couple of "country wenches, giving themselves more ridiculous airs." Shocked and angry, they plot revenge. La Grange tells his friend he has a valet named Mascarille who they could persuade to pose as the rich, romantic, poetic type the girls seem to crave.
Meanwhile Gorgibus, who set up the meeting between his niece Cathos and daughter Magdelon and the two men, is mythed at the two men's vague replies to his questions. Curious, and little upset, he visits his niece and daughter to find out what happened.
They tell him that the two men simply weren't good enough. In their words the perfect lover should be
agreeable, must understand how to utter fine sentiments, to breathe soft, tender, and passionate vows; his courtship must be according to the rules.
They continue to talk in a naive fashion, even asking Gorgibus to call them Aminthe and Polixene, names they think "possess a charm, which you must needs acknowledge."
The maid announces that a man called the Marquis de Mascarille (La Grange's valet) has come to visit. The girls are immediately excited and the Marquis
doesn't disappoint them, impressing the girls with his wit and turn of phrase. At one point Cathos compares him to a fictional hero called Amilcar.
As the so called Marquis continues to entertain the girls with his terrible poetry and songs, the maid reenters to tell them that the Viscount de Jodelet is here to see them (Du Croisy's valet.).
The Marquis and the Viscount pretend to be good friends and the Viscount pretends to be an army veteran. Rather flirtatiously, and to the girl's delight, he lets them touch his scar, resulting in a competition between him and the Marquis where they compare wounds and stories about the famous people they know.
The girls then order musicians and the meeting turns into a dance where the Marquis and the Viscount continue to compete with each other. La Grange and Du Croisy interrupt the dance in scene 16 to reveal the Marquis and Viscount as their valets. The two girls are shocked. They complain to Gorgibus, but he states they deserve everything they got.
Yes, it is a cruel trick, but you may thank your own impertinence for it, you jades. They have revenged themselves for the way you treat.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 889
Gorgibus brings his daughter Magdelon and his niece Cathos from their country home for a stay in Paris. There La Grange and Du Croisy, calling on them to propose marriage, are greatly disgusted by the affectation displayed by the young ladies, for the girls adopt a manner prevalent everywhere in France, a combination of coquetry and artificiality. With the help of their valets, La Grange and Du Croisy determine to teach the silly young girls a lesson. One of the valets, Mascarille, loves to pass for a wit; he dresses himself as a man of quality and composes songs and verses.
Gorgibus, meeting the two prospective suitors, inquires into their success with his niece and his daughter. The evasive answers he receives make him decide to discuss the affair with the two ladies. He waits for them while they paint their faces and arrange their hair. When they are finally ready to receive him, he is enraged by their silly conversation.
He expected them to accept the two young men, who are wealthy and of good family, but the affected young ladies explain that they spurn suitors who are so direct and sincere. Much to the girls’ disgust, the young men proposed at their first meeting. They want lovers to be pensive and sorrowful, not joyful and healthy, as La Grange and Du Croisy are. In addition, a young lady must refuse her lover’s pleas in order to make him miserable. If possible, there should also be adventures: the presence of rivals, the scorn of fathers, elopements from high windows. Another fault the girls find with the two young men is that they are dressed simply, with no ribbons or feathers on their clothing. Poor Gorgibus thinks that his daughter and niece are out of their minds, especially when they ask him to call them by other names, for their own are too vulgar. Cathos is to be called Aminte, and Magdelon Polixene. Gorgibus knows one thing after this foolish conversation—either the two girls will marry quickly or they will both become nuns.
Even their maid cannot understand the orders the girls give her, for they talk in riddles. She announces that a young man is in the parlor, come to call on the two ladies. The caller is the Marquis de Mascarille, in reality La Grange’s valet. The girls are enchanted with Mascarille, for he is a dandy of the greatest and most artificial wit. His bombastic puns are so affected that the girls think him the very soul of cleverness. He pretends to all sorts of accomplishments and acquaintances. On the spot, he composes terrible verses and songs, which he sings out of key and in a nasal tone. He claims to have written a play that will be acted at the Royal Theater. He draws their attention to his beautiful dress, complete with ribbons, feathers, and perfume. Not to be outdone, the ladies boast that although they know no one in Paris as yet, a friend promises to acquaint them with all the fine dandies of the city. They are a perfect audience for the silly valet. They applaud each verse, each song, each bit of shallow wit.
The Viscount Jodelet, in reality Du Croisy’s valet, joins the group. He claims to be a hero of the wars, in command of two thousand horsemen, and he lets the girls feel the scars left by deadly wounds he received. The two scoundrels are hard put to outdo each other in telling the foolish girls ridiculous tales. When they talk of their visits with dukes and countesses, the girls are fascinated by their good connections. Running out of conversation, the two valets then ask the girls to arrange a party. They send for musicians and other young people in order to have a proper dance. Mascarille, not being able to dance, accuses the musicians of not keeping proper time, and Jodelet agrees with him.
The dance is in full swing when La Grange and Du Croisy appear and fall upon the two impostors, raining blows on them and calling them rogues. Mascarille and Jodelet try to pretend it is all a joke, but their masters continue to beat them. When other servants appear and begin to strip the clothes from the two pretenders, the girls scream in horror. La Grange and Du Croisy berate them for receiving servants better than they receive their masters. They tell the girls that if they love the two scoundrels so well, they must love them without their masters’ finery. Taking all the outer apparel from the rogues, La Grange and Du Croisy order them to continue the dance.
Gorgibus, having heard of the scandal on the streets of Paris, soundly berates the pranksters for the disgrace they bring on his house. All Paris, all France even, will laugh at the joke, for the young people at the dance are now spreading the news up and down the streets and in the cafés. Gorgibus is furious with La Grange and Du Croisy for their trick, but he knows the stupid girls deserve the treatment they received. He sends the two valets packing and orders the affected young ladies to hide themselves from the world. Then he curses folly, affectation, and romantic songs, the causes of his horrible disgrace.