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...
(The entire section is 889 words.)