The Middle Class Gentleman

by Jean-Baptiste Poquelin (Moliere)

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SCENE I (Monsieur Jourdain, Music Master, Dancing Master, Lackeys)

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: That's not all that bad, and those people there hop around well.

MUSIC MASTER: When the dance is combined with the music, it will have even better effect, and you will see something quite good in the little ballet we have prepared for you.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: That's for later, when the person I ordered all this for is to do me the honor of coming here to dine.

DANCING MASTER: Everything is ready.

MUSIC MASTER: However, sir, this is not enough. A person like you, who lives magnificently, and who are inclined towards fine things, should have a concert of music here every Wednesday or every Thursday.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Is that what people of quality do?


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Then I'll have them. Will it be fine?

MUSIC MASTER: Without doubt. You must have three voices-- a tenor, a soprano, and a bass, who will be accompanied by a bass-viol, a theorbo, and a clavecin for the chords, with two violins to play the ritournelles.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: You must also add a trumpet marine. The trumpet marine is an instrument that pleases me and it's harmonious.

MUSIC MASTER: Leave it to us to manage things.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: At least, don't forget to send the musicians to sing at table.

MUSIC MASTER: You will have everything you should have.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: But above all, let the ballet be fine.

MUSIC MASTER: You will be pleased with it, and, among other things, with certain minuets you will find in it.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Ah! Minuets are my dance, and I would like you to see me dance them. Come, my Dancing Master.

DANCING MASTER: A hat, sir, if you please. La, la, la, la. La, la, la, la. In cadence please. La, la, la, la. Your right leg. La, la, la, la. Don't move your shoulders so. La, la, la, la. Your arms are wrong. La, la, la, la. Raise your head. Turn the toe out. La, la, la, la. Straighten your body up.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: How was that? (Breathlessly)


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: By the way, teach me how to bow to salute a marchioness; I shall need to know soon.

DANCING MASTER: How you must bow to salute a marchioness?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Yes, a marchioness named Dorimène.

DANCING MASTER: Give me your hand.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: No. You only have to do it, I'll remember it well.

DANCING MASTER: If you want to salute her with a great deal of respect, you must first bow and step back, then bow three times as you walk towards her, and at the last one bow down to her knees.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: (After the Dancing Master has illustrated) Do it some. Good!

LACKEY: Sir, your Fencing Master is here.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Tell him to come in here for my lesson. I want you to see me perform.

SCENE II (Fencing Master, Music Master, Dancing Master, Monsier Jourdain, a Lackey)

FENCING MASTER: (After giving a foil to Monsieur Jourdain) Come, sir, the salute. Your body straight. A little inclined upon the left thigh. Your legs not so wide apart. Your feet both in a line. Your wrist opposite your hip. The point of your sword even with your shoulder. The arm not so much extended. The left hand at the level of the eye. The left shoulder more squared. The head up. The expression bold. Advance. The body steady. Beat carte, and thrust. One, two. Recover. Again, with the foot firm. Leap back. When you make a pass, Sir, you must first disengage, and your body must be well turned. One, two. Come, beat tierce and thrust. Advance. Stop there. One, two. Recover. Repeat. Leap back. On guard, Sir, on guard. (The fencing master touches him two or three times with the foil while saying, "On guard." )

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: How was that? (Breathlessly)

MUSIC MASTER: You did marvelously!

FENCING MASTER: As I have told you, the entire secret of fencing lies in two things: to give and not to receive; and as I demonstrated to you the other day, it is impossible for you to receive, if you know how to turn your opponent's sword from the line of your body. This depends solely on a slight movement of the wrist, either inward or outward.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: In this way then, a man, without courage, is sure to kill his man and not be killed himself?

FENCING MASTER: Without doubt. Didn't you see the demonstration?


FENCING MASTER: And thus you have seen how men like me should be considered by the State, and how the science of fencing is more important than all the other useless sciences, such as dancing, music, ...

DANCING MASTER: Careful there, Monsieur swordsman! Speak of the dance only with respect.

MUSIC MASTER: I beg you to speak better of the excellence of music.

FENCING MASTER: You are amusing fellows, to want to compare your sciences with mine!

MUSIC MASTER: See the self-importance of the man!

FENCING MASTER: My little Dancing Master, I'll make you dance as you ought. And you, my little musician, I'll make you sing in a pretty way.

DANCING MASTER: Monsieur Clanger-of-iron, I'll teach you your trade.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: (To the Dancing Master) Are you crazy to quarrel with him, who knows tierce and quarte, and who can kill a man by demonstration?

DANCING MASTER: I disdain his demonstrations, and his tierce, and his quarte.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Careful, I tell you.

FENCING MASTER: What? You little impertinent!

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Oh! My Fencing Master.

DANCING MASTER: What? You big workhorse!

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Oh! My Dancing Master.

FENCING MASTER: If I throw myself on you ...


DANCING MASTER: If I get my hands on you ...


FENCING MASTER: I'll go over you with a curry-comb, in such a way...


DANCING MASTER: I'll give you a beating such as ...


MUSIC MASTER: Let us teach him a little how to talk!


SCENE III (Philosophy Master, Music Master, Dancing Master, Fencing Master, Monsieur Jourdain, Lackeys)

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Aha! Monsieur Philosopher, you come just in time with your philosophy. Come, make a little peace among these people.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: What's happening? What's the matter, gentlemen.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: They have got into a rage over the superiority of their professions to the point of injurious words and of wanting to come to blows.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: What! Gentlemen, must you act this way? Haven't you read the learned treatise that Seneca composed on anger? Is there anything more base and more shameful than this passion, which turns a man into a savage beast? And shouldn't reason be the mistress of all our activities?

DANCING MASTER: Well! Sir, he has just abused both of us by, despising the dance, which I practice, and music, which is his profession.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: A wise man is above all the insults that can be spoken to him; and the grand reply one should make to such outrages is moderation and patience.

FENCING MASTER: They both had the audacity of trying to compare their professions with mine.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Should that disturb you? Men should not dispute amongst themselves about vainglory and rank; that which perfectly distinguishes one from the other is wisdom and virtue.

DANCING MASTER: I insist to him that dance is a science to which one cannot do enough honor.

MUSIC MASTER: And I, that music is something that all the ages have revered.

FENCING MASTER: And I insist to them that the science of fencing is the finest and the most necessary of all sciences.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: And where then will philosophy be? I find you all very impertinent to speak with this arrogance in front of me, and impudently to give the name of science to things that one should not even honor with the name of art, and that cannot be classified except under the name of miserable gladiator, singer, and buffoon!

FENCING MASTER: Get out, you dog of a philosopher!

MUSIC MASTER: Get out, you worthless pedant!

DANCING MASTER: Get out, you ill-mannered cur!

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: What! Rascals that you are ... (The philosopher flings himself at them, and all three go out fighting).

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Monsieur Philosopher!

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Rogues! Scoundrels! Insolent dogs!

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Monsieur Philosopher!

FENCING MASTER: A pox on the beast!


PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Impudent rogues!

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Monsieur Philosopher!

DANCING MASTER: The devil take the jackass!



MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Monsieur Philosopher!

MUSIC MASTER: To the devil with the impertinent fellow!


PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Rascals! Beggars! Traitors! Impostors! (They leave).

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Monsieur Philosopher, Gentlemen! Monsieur Philosopher! Gentlemen! Monsieur Philosopher! Oh! Fight as much as you like. I don't know what to do, and I'll not spoil my robe to separate you. I would be a fool to go among them and receive some damaging blow.


SCENE IV (Philosophy Master, Monsieur Jourdain)

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: (Straightening the collar that indicates he is a Philosopher) Now to our lesson.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Oh! Sir, I am distressed by the blows they gave you.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: It's nothing. A philosopher knows how to take these things and I'll compose a satire against them, in the style of Juvenal, which will fix them nicely. Let it be. What would you like to learn?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Everything I can, for I have every desire in the world to be educated, and I'm furious that my father and mother did not make me study all the sciences when I was young.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: This is a reasonable sentiment. Nam sine doctrina vita est quasi mortis imago. You understand that, and you doubtless know Latin?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Yes, but act as if I did not know it. Tell me what it says.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: It says that without science life is almost an image of death.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: That Latin is right.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Don't you know some principles, some basics of the sciences?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Oh yes! I can read and write.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Where would it please you for us to begin? Would you like me to teach you logic?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: What is this logic?

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: It is that which teaches the three operations of the mind.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: What are these three operations of the mind?

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: The first, the second, and the third. The first is to conceive well by means of the universals; the second is to judge well by means of the categories; and the third is to draw well a conclusion by means of figures. Barbara, Celarent, Darii, Ferio, Baralipton, etc.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Those words are too ugly. This logic doesn't suit me at all. Let's learn something else that's prettier.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Would you like to learn morality?



MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: What does it say, this morality?

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: It treats of happiness, teaches men to moderate their passions, and ...

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: No, let's leave that. I'm as choleric as all the devils and there's no morality that sticks, I want to be as full of anger as I want whenever I like.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Would you like to learn physics?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: What's it about, this physics?

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Physics explains the principles of natural things and the properties of the material world; it discourses on the nature of the elements, of metals, minerals, of stones, of plants and animals, and teaches the causes of all the meteors, the rainbow, the will o' the wisps, the comets, lightning, thunder, thunderbolts, rain, snow, hail, winds, and whirlwinds.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: There's too much commotion in it, too much confusion.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Then what do you want me to teach you?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Teach me how to spell.


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Afterwards, you may teach me the almanack, to know when there is a moon and when not.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: So be it. Following your thought and treating this matter as a philosopher, it is necessary to begin according to the order of things, by an exact knowledge of the nature of letters and the different ways of pronouncing them all. And thereupon I must tell you letters are divided into vowels, called vowels because they express the voice; and into consonants because they sound with the vowels and only mark the diverse articulations of the voice. There are five vowels or voices: A, E, I, O, U.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I understand all that.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: The vowel A is formed by opening the mouth widely : A. Its vowels are to be given the sounds used in vocalizing: Ah-aye-ee-o-ou.


PHILOSOPHY MASTER: The vowel E is formed by approaching the lower jaw to the upper: A, E.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: A, E; A, E. By my faith, yes. Ah! How fine!

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: And the vowel I, by bringing the jaws still nearer each other and stretching the two corners of the mouth towards the ears: A, E, I.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: A, E, I. I. I. I. That's true. Long live science!

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: The vowel O is formed by opening the jaws and drawing together the two corners of the lips, upper and lower: O.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: O, O. There's nothing truer. A, E, I, O,I, O... That's admirable! I, O, I, O.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: The opening of the mouth happens to make a little circle which represents an O.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: O, O, O. You are right! O. Ah! What a fine thing it is to know something!

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: The vowel U is formed by bringing the teeth nearly together without completely joining them, and thrusting the two lips outward, also bringing them nearly together without completely joining them: U.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: U, U. There's nothing truer. U.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Your two lips thrust out as if you were making a face, whence it results that if you want to make a face at someone and mock him, you have only to say to him "U."

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: U, U. That's true. Ah! Why didn't I study sooner in order to know all that!

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Tomorrow we shall look at the other letters, which are the consonants.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Are there things as curious about them as about these?

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Without a doubt. The consonant D, for example, is pronounced by clapping the tongue above the upper teeth: D.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: D, D, Yes. Ah! What fine things! Fine things!

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: The F, by pressing the upper teeth against the lower lip: F.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: F, F. That's the truth. Ah! My father and my mother, how I wish you ill!

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: And the R, by carrying the tip of the tongue to the top of the palate, so that being grazed by the air that comes out with force, it yields to it and comes back always to the same place, making a kind of trill: R. AR.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: R, R, AR. R, R, R, R, R, RA. That's true. Ah! What a clever man you are! And how I have lost time! R, R, R, AR.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: I'll explain to you all these strange things to their very depths.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Please do. But now, I must confide in you. I'm in love with a lady of great quality, and I wish that you would help me write something to her in a little note that I will let fall at her feet.


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: That will be gallant, yes?

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Without doubt. Is it verse that you wish to write her?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: No, no. No verse.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Do you want only prose?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: No, I don't want either prose or verse.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: It must be one or the other.


PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Because, sir, there is no other way to express oneself than with prose or verse.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: There is nothing but prose or verse?

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: No, sir, everything that is not prose is verse, and everything that is not verse is prose.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: And when one speaks, what is that then?


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: What! When I say, "Nicole, bring me my slippers, and give me my nightcap," that's prose?


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: By my faith! For more than forty years I have been speaking prose without knowing anything about it, and I am much obliged to you for having taught me that. I would like then to put into a note to her: "Beautiful marchioness, your lovely eyes make me die of love," but I want that put in a gallant manner and be nicely turned.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: Put it that the fires of her eyes reduce your heart to cinders; that you suffer night and day for her the torments of a . . .

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: No, no, no. I want none of that; I only want you to say "Beautiful marchioness, your lovely eyes make me die of love."

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: The thing requires a little lengthening.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: No, I tell you, I want only those words in the note, but turned stylishly, well arranged, as is necessary. Please tell me, just to see, the diverse ways they could be put.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: One could put them first of all as you said them: "Beautiful marchioness, your lovely eyes make me die of love." Or else: "Of love to die make me, beautiful marchioness, your beautiful eyes." Or else: "Your lovely eyes, of love make me, beautiful marchioness, die." Or else: "Die, your lovely eyes, beautiful marchioness, of love make me." Or else: "Me make your lovely eyes die, beautiful marchioness, of love."

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: But, of all those ways, which is the best?

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: The way you said it: "Beautiful marchioness, your lovely eyes make me die of love."

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I never studied, and yet I made the whole thing up at the first try. I thank you with all my heart, and I ask you to come tomorrow early.

PHILOSOPHY MASTER: I shall not fail to do so. (He leaves).

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: What? Hasn't my suit come yet?


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: That cursed tailor makes me wait all day when I have so much to do! I'm enraged. May the quartan fever shake that tormentor of a tailor! To the devil with the tailor! May the plague choke the tailor! If I had him here now, that detestable tailor, that dog of a tailor, that traitor of a tailor, I . . .

SCENE V (Master Tailor, Apprentice Tailor carrying suit, Monsieur Jourdain, Lackeys)

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Ah! You're here! I was getting into a rage against you.

MASTER TAILOR: I could not come sooner, and I put twenty men to work on your suit.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: You sent me some silk hose so small that I had all the difficulty in the world putting them on, and already there are two broken stitches.

MASTER TAILOR: They get bigger, too much so.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Yes, if I always break the stitches. You also had made for me a pair of shoes that pinch furiously.

MASTER TAILOR: Not at all, sir.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: How, not at all!

MASTER TAILOR: No, they don't pinch you at all.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I tell you, they pinch me.

MASTER TAILOR: You imagine that.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: I imagine it because I feel it. That's a good reason for you!

MASTER TAILOR: Wait, here is the finest court-suit, and the best matched. It's a masterpiece to have invented a serious suit that is not black. And I give six attempts to the best tailors to equal it.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: What's this? You've put the flowers upside down.

MASTER TAILOR: You didn't tell me you wanted them right side up.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Did I have to tell you that?

MASTER TAILOR: Yes, surely. All the people of quality wear them this way.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: The people of quality wear the flowers upside down?


MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Oh! It's alright then.

MASTER TAILOR: If you like, I'll put them right side up.


MASTER TAILOR: You have only to say so.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: No, I tell you. You've made it very well. Do you think the suit is going to look good on me?

MASTER TAILOR: What a question! I defy a painter with his brush to do anything that would fit you better. I have a worker in my place who is the greatest genius in the world at mounting a rhinegrave, and another who is the hero of the age at assembling a doublet.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: The perruque and the plumes: are they correct?

MASTER TAILOR: Everything's good.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: (Looking at the tailor's suit) Ah! Ah! Monsieur Tailor, here's the material from the last suit you made for me. I know it well.

MASTER TAILOR: You see, the material seemed so fine that I wanted a suit made of it for myself.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Yes, but you should not have cut it out of mine.

MASTER TAILOR: Do you want to put on your suit?

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: Yes, give it to me.

MASTER TAILOR: Wait. That's not the way it's done. I have brought men to dress you in a cadence; these kinds of suits are put on with ceremony. Hey there! Come in, you! Put this suit on the gentleman the way you do with people of quality.

(Four APPRENTICE TAILORS enter, two of them pull off Monsieur Jourdain's breeches made for his morning exercises, and two others pull off his waistcoat; then they put on his new suit; Monsieur Jourdain promenades among them and shows them his suit for their approval. All this to the cadence of instrumental music.)

APPRENTICE TAILOR: My dear gentleman, please to give the apprentices a small tip.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: What did you call me?

APPRENTICE TAILOR: My dear gentleman.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: My dear gentleman! That's what it is to dress like people of quality! Go all your life dressed like a bourgeois and they'll never call you "My dear gentleman." Here, take this for the "My dear gentleman."

APPRENTICE TAILOR: My Lord, we are very much obliged to you.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: "My Lord!" Oh! Oh! "My Lord!" Wait, my friend. "My Lord" deserves something, and it's not a little word, this "My Lord." Take this. That's what "My Lord" gives you.

APPRENTICE TAILOR: My Lord, we will drink to the health of Your Grace.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: "Your Grace!" Oh! Oh! Oh! Wait, don't go. To me, "Your Grace!" My faith, if he goes as far as "Highness," he will have all my purse. Wait. That's for "My Grace."

APPRENTICE TAILOR: My Lord, we thank you very humbly for your liberality.

MONSIEUR JOURDAIN: He did well, I was going to give him everything.

(The four Apprentice Tailors celebrate with a dance, which comprises the Second Interlude.)


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