The Affected Young Ladies

by Moliere

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The Affected Young Ladies (a.k.a The Pretensions Young Ladies; French: Les Précieuses ridicules) is a 1659 one-act satire written by famed French playwright and poet Jean Baptiste Poquelin, widely known as Molière. It is written in prose, and tells the story of two young and pretentious women, Magdelon and Cathos, who came to Paris from the French provinces in order to find love. Gorbious, a kind, rich and well respected aristocrat, father of Magdelon and uncle of Cathos, wishes the best for his daughter and his niece, and decides that they should marry two young and refined men of his choosing. Thus, he presents La Grange and Du Croisy.

However, the précieuses think that the men are unworthy of their love and sophistication, and proceed to mock them. The two suitors then vow to have their revenge. They tell their valets to pretend to be bourgeoisies and woo the two ladies. The valets present themselves as Marquis de Mascarille and Vicomte de Jodelet. Magdelon falls in love with the “Marquis” and Jodelet falls in love with the “Vicomte.” When the valets reveal their true identities, which is, essentially, the resolution of the plot, the two ladies, who took pride in their wit and their intelligence, feel ashamed and ridiculed for being so naive.

With The Pretensions Young Ladies Molière wanted to portray the way men and women of the French society acted and behaved, especially those who belonged to the bourgeoisie. Thus, the play is a comedy of manners, and it was widely praised for its entertaining and humorous narrative. It premiered in Paris on 18 November 1659 at the Théâtre du Petit-Bourbon, and attracted the Parisian upper class and aristocracy, and even King Louis XIV and his patronage. The play is still successfully produced to this day.

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