The Middle Class Gentleman

by Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (Moliere)

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SCENE I (Dorimène, Monsieur Jourdain, Dorante, two Male Musicians, a Female Musician, Lackeys)

DORIMÈNE: Why, Dorante, that is really a magnificent repast!

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: You jest, Madame; I wish it were worthy of being offered to you. (All sit at the table).

DORANTE: Monsieur Jourdain is right, Madame, to speak so, and he obliges me by making you so welcome. I agree with him that the repast is not worthy of you. Since it was I who ordered it, and since I do not have the accomplishments of our friends in this matter, you do not have here a very sophisticated meal, and you will find some incongruities in the combinations and some

barbarities of taste. If Damis, our friend, had been involved, everything would have been according to the rules; everything would have been elegant and appropriate, and he would not have failed to impress upon you the significance of all the dishes of the repast, and to make you see his expertise when it comes to good food; he would have told you about hearth-baked bread, with its golden brown crust, crunching tenderly between the teeth; of a smooth, full-bodied wine, fortified with a piquancy not too strong, of a loin of mutton improved with parsley, of a cut of specially-raised veal as long as this, white and delicate, and which is like an almond paste between the teeth, of partridges complimented by a surprisingly flavorful sauce, and, for his masterpiece, a soup accompanied by a fat young turkey surrounded by pigeons and crowned with white onions mixed with chicory. But, as for me, I declare my ignorance; and, as Monsieur Jourdain has said so well, I only wish that the repast were more worthy of being offered to you.

DORIMÈNE: I reply to this compliment only by eating.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Ah! What beautiful hands!

DORIMÈNE: The hands are mediocre, Monsieur Jourdain; but you wish to speak of the diamond, which is very beautiful.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Me, Madame? God forbid that I should wish to speak of it; that would not be acting gallantly, and the diamond is a very small thing.

DORIMÈNE: You are very particular.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: You are too kind. . .

DORANTE: Let's have some wine for Monsieur Jourdain and for these gentlemen and ladies who are going to favor us with a drinking song.

DORIMÈNE: It is marvelous to season good food, by mixing it with music, and I see I am being admirably entertained.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Madame, it isn't . .

DORANTE: Monsieur Jourdain, let us remain silent for these gentlemen and ladies; what they have for us to hear is of more value than anything we could say. (The male singers and the woman singer take the glasses, sing two drinking songs, and are accompanied by all the instrumental ensemble.)


Drink a little, Phyllis, to start the glass round. Ah! A glass in your hands is charmingly agreeable! You and the wine arm each other, And I redouble my love for you both Let us three -- wine, you, and me -- Swear, my beauty, to an eternal passion.

Your lips are made yet more attractive by wetting with wine! Ah! The one and the other inspire me with desire And both you and it intoxicate me Let us three -- wine, you, and me -- Swear, my beauty, to an eternal passion.


Let us drink, dear friends, let us drink; Time that flies beckons us to it! Let us profit from life as much as we can. Once we pass under the black shadow, Goodbye to wine, our loves; Let us drink while we can, One cannot drink forever.

Let fools speculate On the true happiness of life. Our philosophy Puts it among the wine-pots. Possessions, knowledge and glory Hardly make us forget troubling cares, And it is only with good drink That one can be happy.

Come on then, wine for all, pour, boys, pour, Pour, keep on pouring, until they say, "Enough."

DORIMÈNE: I don't believe it's possible to sing better, and that is positively beautiful.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I see something here, Madame, yet more beautiful.

DORIMÈNE: Aha! Monsieur Jourdain is more gallant than I thought.

DORANTE: What! Madame, what did you take Monsieur Jourdain for?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I would like for her to take me at my word.


DORANTE: You don't know him.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: She may know me whenever it pleases her.

DORIMÈNE: Oh! I am overwhelmed.

DORANTE: He is a man who is always ready with a repartee. But don't you see that Monsieur Jourdain, Madame, eats all the pieces of food you have touched?

DORIMÈNE: I am captivated by Monsieur Jourdain . . .

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: If I could captivate your heart, I would be . . .

SCENE II (Madame Jourdain, Monsieur Jourdain, Dorimène, Dorante, Musicians, Lackeys)

MADAME JOURDAIN: Aha! I find good company here, and I see that I was not expected. Was it for this pretty affair, Monsieur Husband, that you were so eager to send me to dinner at my sister's? I just saw stage decorations downstairs, and here I see a banquet fit for a wedding. That is how you spend your money, and this is how you entertain the ladies in my absence, and you give them music and entertainment while sending me on my way.

DORANTE: What are you saying, Madame Jourdain? And what fantasies are you getting into your head that your husband spends his money, and that it is he who is giving this entertainment to Madame? Please know that it is I; that he only lends me his house, and that you ought to think more about the things you say.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Yes, what impertinence. It is the Count who presents all this to Madame, who is a person of quality. He does me the honor of using my house and of wishing me to be with him.

MADAME JOURDAIN: All that's nonsense. I know what I know.

DORANTE: Come Madame Jourdain, put on better glasses.

MADAME JOURDAIN: I don't need glasses, sir, I see well enough; I have had suspicions for a long time, and I'm not a fool. This is very low of you, of a great lord, to lend a hand as you do to the follies of my husband. And you, Madame, for a great lady, it is neither fine nor honest of you to cause dissension in a household and to allow my husband to be in love with you.

DORIMÈNE: What is she trying to say with all this? Goodness Dorante! You have outdone yourself by exposing me to the absurd fantasies of this ridiculous woman.

DORANTE: Madame, wait! Madame, where are you going?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Madame! Monsieur Count, make excuses to her and try to bring her back. Ah! You impertinent creature, this is a fine way to act! You come and insult me in front of everybody, and you drive from me people of quality.

MADAME JOURDAIN: I laugh at their quality.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I don't know who holds me back, evil creature, from breaking your head with the remains of the repast you came to disrupt. (The table is removed).

MADAME JOURDAIN: (Leaving) I'm not concerned. These are my rights that I defend, and I'll have all wives on my side.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: You do well to avoid my rage. She arrived very inopportunely. I was in the mood to say pretty things, and I had never felt so witty. What's that?

SCENE III (Covielle, disguised; Monsieur Jourdain, Lackey)

COVIELLE: Sir, I don't know if I have the honor to be known to you?


COVIELLE: I saw you when you were no taller than that.


COVIELLE: Yes. You were the most beautiful child in the world, and all the ladies took you in their arms to kiss you.


COVIELLE: Yes, I was a great friend of your late father.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Of my late father?

COVIELLE: Yes. He was a very honorable gentleman.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: What did you say?

COVIELLE: I said that he was a very honorable gentleman.



MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: You knew him very well?

COVIELLE: Assuredly.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: And you knew him as a gentleman?

COVIELLE: Without doubt.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Then I don't know what is going on!


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: There are some fools who want to tell me that he was a tradesman.

COVIELLE: Him, a tradesman! It's pure slander, he never was one. All that he did was to be very obliging, very ready to help; and, since he was a connoisseur in cloth, he went all over to choose them, had them brought to his house, and gave them to his friends for money.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I'm delighted to know you, so you can testify to the fact that my father was a gentleman.

COVIELLE: I'll attest to it before all the world.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: You'll oblige me. What business brings you here?

COVIELLE: Since knowing your late father, honorable gentleman, as I told you, I have traveled through all the world.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Through all the world!


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I imagine it's a long way from here to there.

COVIELLE: Assuredly. I returned from all my long voyages only four days ago; and because of the interest I take in all that concerns you, I come to announce to you the best news in the world.


COVIELLE: You know that the son of the Grand Turk is here?


COVIELLE: What! He has a very magnificent retinue; everybody goes to see it, and he has been received in this country as an important lord.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: By my faith! I didn't know that.

COVIELLE: The advantage to you in this is that he is in love with your daughter.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: The son of the Grand Turk?

COVIELLE: Yes. And he wants to be your son-in-law.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: My son-in-law, the son of the Grand Turk?

COVIELLE: The son of the Grand Turk your son-in-law. As I went to see him, and as I perfectly understand his language, he conversed with me; and, after some other discourse, he said to me, "Acciam croc soler ouch alla moustaph gidelum amanahem varahini oussere carbulath," that is to say, "Haven't you seen a beautiful young person who is the daughter of Monsieur Jourdain, gentleman of Paris?"

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: The son of the Grand Turk said that of me?

COVIELLE: Yes. Inasmuch as I told him in reply that I knew you particularly well and that I had seen your daughter: "Ah!" he said to me, "marababa sahem;" Which is to say, "Ah, how I am enamored of her!"

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: "Marababa sahem" means "Ah, how I am enamored of her"?


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: By my faith, you do well to tell me, since, as for me, I would never have believed that "marababa sahem" could have meant to say "Oh, how I am enamored of her!" What an admirable language Turkish is!

COVIELLE: More admirable than one can believe. Do you know what Cacaracamouchen means?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Cacaracamouchen? No.

COVIELLE: It means: It means, "My dear soul."

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Cacaracamouchen means "My dear soul?"


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: That's marvelous! Cacaracamouchen, my dear soul. Who would have thought? I'm dumbfounded.

COVIELLE: Finally, to complete my assignment, he comes to ask for your daughter in marriage; and in order to have a father-in-law who should be worthy of him, he wants to make you a Mamamouchi, which is a certain high rank in his country.


COVIELLE: Yes, Mamamouchi; that is to say, in our language, a Paladin. Paladin is one of those ancient . . . Well, Paladin! There is none nobler than that in the world, and you will be equal to the greatest lords of the earth.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: The son of the Grand Turk honors me greatly. Please take me to him in order to express my thanks.

COVIELLE: What! He is going to come here.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: He's coming here?

COVIELLE: Yes. And he is bringing everything for the ceremony of bestowing your rank.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: That seems very quick.

COVIELLE: His love can suffer no delay.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: All that embarrasses me here is that my daughter is a stubborn one who has gotten into her head a certain Cleonte, and she swears she'll marry no one but him.

COVIELLE: She'll change her mind when she sees the son of the Grand Turk; and then there is a remarkable coincidence here, it is that the son of the Grand Turk resembles this Cléonte very closely. I just saw him, someone showed him to me; and the love she has for the one can easily pass to the other, and . . . I hear him coming. There he is.

SCENE IV (Cléonte, as a Turk, with three Pages carrying his outer clothes, Monsieur Jourdain, Covielle, disguised.)

CLÉONTE: Ambousahim oqui boraf, Iordina, salamalequi.

COVIELLE: That is to say: "Monsieur Jourdain, may your heart be all the year like a flowering rosebush." This is the way of speaking politely in those countries.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I am the most humble servant of His Turkish Highness.

COVIELLE: Carigar camboto oustin moraf .

CLÉONTE: Oustin yoc catamalequi basum base alla moran.

COVIELLE: He says: "Heaven gives you the strength of lions and the wisdom of serpents."

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: His Turkish Highness honors me too much, and I wish him all sorts of good fortune.

COVIELLE: Ossa binamen sadoc babally oracaf ouram.

CLÉONTE: Bel-men.

COVIELLE: He says that you should go with him quickly to prepare yourself for the ceremony; then you can see your daughter and conclude the marriage.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: So many things in two words?

COVIELLE: Yes; the Turkish language is like that, it says much in few words. Go quickly where he wants.

SCENE V (Dorante, Covielle)

COVIELLE: Ha, ha, ha! My faith, that was hilarious. What a dupe! If he had learned his role by heart, he could not have played it better. Ah! Ah! Excuse me, Sir, Wouldn't you like to help us here in an affair that is taking place.

DORANTE: Ah! Ah! Covielle, who would have recognized you? How you are made up!

COVIELLE: You see, ha, ha!

DORANTE: What are you laughing at?

COVIELLE: At a thing, Sir, that well deserves it.


COVIELLE: I'll give you many chances, Sir, to guess the stratagem we are using on Monsieur Jourdain to get him to give his daughter to my master.

DORANTE: I can't begin to guess the stratagem, but I guess it will not fail in its effect, since you are undertaking it.

COVIELLE: I see, Sir, that you know me too well.

DORANTE: Tell me what it is.

COVIELLE: Come over here a little to make room for what I see coming. You can see part of the story, while I tell you the rest.

(The Turkish ceremony for ennobling Monsieur Jourdain is performed in dance and music, and comprises the Fourth Interlude.) [The ceremony is a burlesque full of comic gibberish in pseudo-Turkish and nonsensical French, in which Monsieur Jourdain is made to appear ludicrous and during which he is outfitted with an extravagant costume, turban, and sword.]


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