Places Discussed

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Figaro and Suzanne’s bedroom

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Figaro and Suzanne’s bedroom. Room that Figaro and Suzanne hope to share after their marriage. The minimal furniture reflects the fact that the marriage has not yet taken place. It also emphasizes the poverty of the couple, which makes them susceptible to Marceline’s machinations.

Countess’s bedroom

Countess’s bedroom. The luxurious appointments emphasize the differences of class that separate the characters and cause Figaro’s struggles. The use of bedrooms, private places linked to secrecy, also coincides with the numerous plots in which the characters engage.

Throne room

Throne room. This setting further stresses the power of the count with the portrait of the king representing his aristocratic connections. A secondary scene involving the count and Figaro’s proposed trip to England serves both to mock the English and to show how Figaro’s trickery will aid him.

Gallery

Gallery. Public room that allows the characters to spy on one another, creating new problems. The festive decorations reflect the joy of Figaro and Suzanne, who seem to have overcome the obstacles to their marriage.

Park

Park. Outdoor setting that functions as the location of Figaro’s famous revolutionary monologue. This is especially appropriate in that, outside the château, Figaro seems to gain increased freedom.

Historical Context

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Last Updated on May 7, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 670

France on the Brink of Revolution
Throughout the 1700s, France was the largest and most powerful nation in Europe. French society was divided into three estates. The First Estate consisted of the clergy of the Roman Catholic Church and made up less than one percent of the population. The Second Estate, the nobility, made up less than two percent of the population. People were born into the Second Estate, but they could also purchase titles. Neither the First nor the Second Estate paid any significant taxes. The Third Estate consisted of everyone else in France, from the peasants to the bourgeoisie, and constituted about ninety-seven percent of the French population.

Around the mid-1700s, discontent in France began to grow among the members of the Third Estate. Peasants were charged higher rents, and laborers' wages did not match the rising cost of food. The bourgeoisie, the urban middle class, wanted political power equal to their economic strength, less governmental interference in business dealings, and their sons to have important positions in the church, government, and army. The Third Estate also resented being the only group to pay taxes.

France was also undergoing a serious financial crisis. Left with huge debts after fighting the Seven Years' War, Louis XV, who ruled France from 1715 to 1774, raised taxes, borrowed more money from bankers, and refused to economize. His successor, Louis XVI, saw France's debts rise as the country aided the colonists in the American Revolution. Louis's financial advisers advocated taxing the First and Second Estates. When such taxes were proposed, the nobles protested and refused to cooperate; some even took part in riots. By 1787, the country stood on the brink of financial ruin.

Having little choice, Louis called representatives of all three estates to the Estates General at the Palace of Versailles in May 1780. He hoped that the group would approve his new plan of imposing taxes upon the wealthy. However, the Third Estate refused to follow the old custom that called for each of the three representative bodies to cast one vote. When the king did not take action, the Third Estate, on July 17, 1789, declared itself the National Assembly. This action began the French Revolution, which brought an end to the French monarchy.

The American Revolution
The American Revolution started in 1776...

(The entire section contains 2197 words.)

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