The School for Wives



  • (L'école des femmes) A comedy by Molière,first produced in 1662 at the Théâtre du Palais-Royal and thenwith great success at the public theaters in Paris. The controversy aroused by the piece, which some critics considered immoral, provoked three moreplays, all produced the following year. La Critique de l'école des Femmes, written by Molière in response to criticism of the original play, included a caricature of the playwright Edmé Boursault. Boursault responded with an attack on Molière in Le Portrait du peintre, causing Molière to counterattack with L'Impromptu de Versailles, which again ridiculed Boursault and the Hôtel de Bourgogne company. The two dramatists were later reconciled.

    The plot of The School for Wives involves a middle-aged Parisian, Arnolphe, who intends to marry his young ward, Agnès. To ensure her innocence he has had her raised by nuns; however, the sheltered Agnès falls for Horace, the son of Arnolphe's friend Oronte. Arnolphe discovers the affair, becomes increasingly jealous and frustrated, and nearly kills Horace.Eventually, Oronte persuades him that the young lovers should marry.