The School for Wives

by Moliere

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The School for Wives is a five-act comedy written by a French playwright known as Moliere. It was first performed in 1662. The School for Wives was written as a companion piece to Moliere's 1661 play, The School for Husbands.

The characters of The School for Wives include:

  • Arnolphe
  • Agnes
  • Horace
  • Enrique
  • Oronte
  • Chrysalde
  • Alain
  • Georgette
  • The Notary


Also known as Moinseur de la Souche, Arnolphe is the protagonist of this play. He is a wealthy, forty-two-year-old man who wants a wife. The problem is that he is convinced that all wives cheat. He is certain that if he marries, his wife will commit adultery and he will be disgraced in the eyes of the public. Arnolphe decides that the only way to avert this fate is to find a naive, uneducated girl who can be brainwashed and controlled. With this in mind, he decides to "train" his young ward Agnes to be his wife.


Agnes is eighteen years old when the action of the play begins. She has been Arnolphe's ward for fourteen years and is completely unaware of his ridiculous plan. Before Arnolphe can tell her of his intentions, she falls in love with a young man named Horace. Arnolphe is furious and feels as though Agnes has somehow betrayed him. He decides to force her to marry him. However, Agnes only wants Horace and steadfastly refuses to marry anyone else.


Horace is a young man who falls in love with Agnes the second he sees her. He desperately wants to marry Agnes and enlists the help of his father's friend Arnolphe. Horace does not realize that Arnolphe is Agnes's guardian, and he is also unaware that Arnolphe plans to marry Agnes. As far as Horace knows, Agnes's guardian is a man named Moinseur de la Souche. Arnolphe does everything he can to thwart Agnes' young suitor and even has the servants beat Horace with clubs, but Horace is not deterred.


Enrique is Agnes's father. Arnolphe believes that Agnes is an orphan, but he is wrong. Enrique was forced to flee the country when his wife died. He gave Agnes to a poor country woman, who then gave the girl to Arnolphe. When Enrique finally finds out where Agnes is, he speaks with Horace's father and attempts to arrange a marriage between Horace and Agnes.


Oronte is Horace's father. He is also a friend of Enrique and Arnolphe. Oronte wants Horace to marry Enrique's daughter.


Chrysalde is an old friend of Arnolphe. He is also Enrique's brother-in-law. Chrysalde cautions Arnolphe against his plan to brainwash, control, and marry Agnes, but Arnolphe does not listen.


Alain is a poor peasant man from the country. He is Arnolphe's manservant.


Georgette is a poor peasant woman from the country. She is Arnolphe’s maidservant.

The Notary

An unnamed notary is summoned by Arnolphe when Arnolphe decides to marry Agnes against her will.

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