*Paris. Capital of France and fashion capital of Western Europe. To pinpoint the place represented in his play, Molière deliberately wrote the name of Paris into his dialogue many times. For example, when Mascarille asks several young ladies what they think of Paris, one of them replies that Paris is the “great bureau of marvels, the center of good taste, wit, and gallantry.” It is the sophisticated manners of the great city at the zenith of France’s ancien régime that are satirized as much as the naïve young women who are victims of a practical joke.
Stage settings in Molière’s plays were always minimalistic, partly because he never knew where his plays would be performed. Often the plays were taken from town to town over muddy roads and performed in tennis courts, in private homes, or even outdoors. The primitive travel conditions made it impossible to transport elaborate scenery and furniture. In The Affected Young Ladies the stage is so barren that characters must call for chairs to be brought for their visitors. However, the elaborate gowns worn by the young ladies and the extravagant costumes worn by the Marquis de Mascarille and Viscount Jodelet would establish that the scene represented was a mansion in the capital city.
It was important to Molière to make it clear to audiences that his comedy was taking place in a specific location, a city where fantastic fashions appeared and disappeared with remarkable swiftness. His provincial young ladies are made ridiculous because their affectations have been superseded by new affectations which can only be learned at court.