The Imaginary Invalid

by Moliere

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Summarize all scenes in act 1 of Le Malade Imaginaire.

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In the first act, Argan begins the action by complaining about his doctor’s bills and Toinette, Angélique and Cléante enter. Angélique is worried about her father’s reaction. They argue about her marriage to Thomas Diafoirus.

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Argan begins the action summing his doctor’s bills. Toinette, the irreverent maid, enters, scolds him, and then leaves to bring his daughter, Angélique, to him. When they arrive, the hypochondriac goes to the bathroom while Angélique sighs over her new heartthrob, Cléante. She is concerned about her father’s reaction when Cléante asks her father for her hand, as he has committed to doing. Argan returns and reveals that he has arranged a marriage for her—but her joy turns to horror when she learns it is not to Cléante. Instead, she is to marry a medical student, Thomas Diafoirus. The three of them argue about this decision, and Argan threatens to beat Toinette and force Angélique into a convent.

The act continues with a scene between Argan and his current wife, Béline, who is Angélique’s stepmother. He has decided to cut his daughter out of his will and leave everything to Béline, to which end he calls a notary. Toinette gets wind of this development and warns Angélique of her stepmother’s bad influence. The daughter is fixated on the marriage problem. Toinette commits to serving as an intermediary in communicating with Cléante by way of the moneylender Punchinello. He then appears in the ‘‘First Interlude,’’ which includes his serenade and a violin chorus, interrupted by the entry of a group of archers, who threaten to arrest him until he pays them off.

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You can find a summary of this act, as well as the prologue and Acts II & III at the link below. Here is the summary of Act I:

Act 1 opens with Argan adding up his many doctor’s bills and ringing for the maid, Toinette, who reveals her impatience with Argan and goes to fetch his daughter, Angélique. Argan, who is a hypochondriac, then goes off to the bathroom while Angélique asks Toinette for advice about Cléante, the young man with whom she recently fell in love, and who has promised to ask for her hand in marriage. When Argan returns, Angélique is delighted to hear him tell her of a marriage he has arranged for her, until she discovers that she is betrothed not to Cléante but to Thomas Diafoirus, who is about to graduate from medical school. Toinette argues with Argan, but he threatens to put his daughter in a convent unless she marries Thomas, and he chases Toinette with a stick.

Argan’s second wife, Béline, enters and consoles him, and Argan calls for a notary to discuss his will, since he would like to leave all of his money to his wife. Toinette warns Angélique that her stepmother is trying to undermine her interests, but Angélique is only concerned that her father does not arrange for her to marry a man she loves. Toinette promises to send word to Cléante about the arranged marriage by talking to Punchinello, an old moneylender. The scene then shifts to the ‘‘First Interlude,’’ in which Punchinello sings his lover a serenade, until he is interrupted by an old woman, a chorus of violins, and then a group of archers, who he bribes to avoid being arrested.

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