Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 679
Early one morning Petit Jean stood in front of Dandin’s house while he complained about the sad state of affairs created by his master’s madness. Judge Dandin suddenly wanted to sit in judgment on his own family and to go to bed with his robes on. He had even ordered his rooster killed, saying that a defendant had bribed the bird to wake him up too late.
It was necessary for Leandre to have his father watched day and night, and this was the reason why Petit Jean could not sleep and was complaining. Leandre also insisted that Judge Dandin should not be allowed to go into court, but Dandin was constantly attempting to escape the watchfulness of his family in order to do so. When L’Intime and Petit Jean caught him trying to climb out the window, the noise awakened Leandre, who tried to persuade his father to go back into the house. Finally Petit Jean took Dandin into the house by force.
Leandre confessed to L’Intime his wish to have a note delivered to Isabelle, daughter of their neighbor, Chicanneau, and L’Intime promised to help him. At that moment Chicanneau arrived and insisted on seeing Dandin about one of his trials; the bourgeois was constantly engaged in lawsuits. Petit Jean firmly refused to let him enter. During the argument La Comtesse arrived; she also was always suing someone. Chicanneau tried to advise her about one of her lawsuits. When she misunderstood him and they began to quarrel, both asked Petit Jean to act as a witness. He tried his best to pacify them.
In order to deliver the note to Isabelle, L’Intime disguised himself as a process server and insisted that Leandre dress as a police commissioner. The idea was to give Isabelle the letter while serving La Comtesse’ writ on Chicanneau. Finding Isabelle alone, they succeeded in giving her the letter just as Chicanneau arrived home. Isabelle, pretending that it was a legal paper, tore up the note and declared that she detested lawsuits. In order to convince Chicanneau, L’Intime produced the actual document from La Comtesse. Chicanneau, doubting that L’Intime was a process server, administered a sound thrashing.
When Leandre arrived in his disguise, L’Intime complained bitterly about the bad treatment he had received and the defiance of the law exhibited by both Chicanneau and Isabelle. Leandre, seizing upon this situation as an opportunity to “question” Isabelle, tricked her into admitting her feelings toward him. Chicanneau, bewildered, failed to understand what was happening and signed what he thought was a police report, but which was actually a marriage contract between Leandre and Isabelle.
Dandin, meanwhile, was running from one window of his house to another. Insisting on giving audience to Chicanneau and La Comtesse, he succeeded in pulling Chicanneau inside the house through a cellar window. When he next tried to escape, Leandre suggested that he preside at the trial of Citron, a dog that had eaten a chicken.
Declaring that he had never seen them before, Chicanneau complained to Leandre about the process server and the police commissioner. Leandre suggested that Chicanneau and Isabelle demand justice from Dandin.
Meanwhile, Leandre staged the trial of Citron, with Petit Jean and L’Intime acting as lawyers. Petit Jean, as the prosecutor, had difficulty in playing his role in spite of help from Le Souffleur, the prompter, at every other word. L’Intime, acting as the defense lawyer, was so eloquent that Dandin fell asleep. On awakening, he decided to condemn the dog to the gallows. L’Intime then produced a basket of puppies and, swearing that they would become orphans if the dog were executed, pleaded their cause. Dandin, greatly perplexed, discussed this situation with everyone.
Chicanneau and Isabelle arrived. When Leandre produced the marriage contract, Chicanneau threatened to go to court over the agreement. Leandre assured him, however, that he had no interest in Isabelle’s dowry. Mollified, Chicanneau finally agreed to the marriage. Then, as a welcoming present to Isabelle, Dandin decided to acquit Citron.
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