Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 596
At the beginning of act III, the Count wavers back and forth over whether he will rule in Marceline's favor or in Figaro's. Although Suzanne agrees to meet him that night, the Count does not trust her motivation because he realizes that she has told Figaro of his seduction plan. He decides instead to champion Marceline's cause.
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At the trial, a blot over a crucial word renders unclear the exact meaning of the contract between Marceline and Figaro. After numerous readings, the Count decides that Figaro must, within the day, repay Marceline or marry her. Figaro tries to escape the verdict by arguing that he cannot marry without his parents' permission. However, he was stolen by gypsies at birth, so he does not know their identity. He reveals a mark on his arm, leading Marceline to realize that he is her and Bartholo's illegitimate son. Marceline embraces her long-lost son, but Bartholo is disgusted because he dislikes Figaro. Suzanne rushes in with money the Countess gave her to enable Figaro to repay the loan, but Marceline returns it to Figaro as his dowry. The Countess, Suzanne, and Figaro then urge Bartholo to marry Marceline.
Figaro asks Suzanne not to meet the Count, and she agrees. However, when she tells the Countess of her intention, the Countess points out that she needs Suzanne's help so she can have the opportunity to win back her husband's love. The two women write a note to the Count, asking for a meeting under the elm trees. During the double wedding ceremony, Suzanne passes her note to the Count. Figaro observes the Count reading it but does not yet know it is from Suzanne. However, a chance comment alerts him to this fact and the location of the meeting. Figaro grows jealous and angry but, at Marceline's advice, decides to attend the rendezvous secretly.
The Countess, disguised as Suzanne, meets the Count, Cherubino, and Fanchette, who had arranged their own meeting. They hide in the pavilion on the left, where Marceline has also ensconced herself. The Count attempts to seduce "Suzanne," and her complicity angers Figaro, who is observing the pair from afar. He steps forward to stop the Count, the Count flees, and the Countess enters the pavilion on the right. Figaro then meets Suzanne, disguised as the Countess, but he quickly recognizes his bride's voice. To get back at Suzanne, he proposes a sexual liaison to the Countess. When Suzanne realizes that Figaro has recognized her, she explains why she made the rendezvous with the Count. When the Count returns to find "Suzanne," he becomes irate upon seeing his "wife'' with Figaro. Suzanne flees into the pavilion on the left, while the Count seizes Figaro and places him under arrest. Figaro pretends that he was about to have an affair with the Countess. The Count goes into the pavilion to drag his wife out and force her to admit her infidelity in front of the household. However, Cherubino, Fanchette, and Marceline are dragged out instead. Then Suzanne herself comes out, but she hides her face so the Count will still think she is the Countess. The company all fall on their knees in front of the Count, begging him to forgive his wife. While he steadfastly declares that he will never do so, the disguised Countess emerges from the other pavilion and joins the others. Seeing both Suzanne and his wife, the Count realizes that he has been tricked. The play ends with Figaro and Suzanne married and rich with a triple dowry.