Patience; or, Bunthorne's Bride
is a satire by W. S. Gilbert with music by Arthur Sullivan
on the aesthetic movement and the soldiers of the 35th Dragoon Guard. The play deals with two rival poets, the grouchy, effeminate and decadent Bunthorne, and the kind and gentle but vain and vapid Grosvenor.
Patience, a dairy maid who knows nothing of love, is told it is the only truly unselfish emotion, and so sets out to find such truly selfless love. The other characters are a male chorus of manly and dashing but dim dragoons, and a female chorus of languid and pretentious but charming maidens.
This work provides examples of
- Abhorrent Admirer: Lady Jane to Bunthorne. (While he wouldn't give any of his female admirers the time of day, he considers her the absolute worst.)
- Affectionate Parody: The show makes fun of the "aesthetic movement" as popularized by Oscar Wilde, but Wilde himself was a fan and even went on tour in America to help publicize the show. (It helped that G&S's producer, Richard D'Oyly Carte, was also Wilde's booking agent.)
- All Girls Want Decadent Poets: All except Patience, that is.
- All Love Is Unrequited: The soldiers love the maids, who all love Bunthorne, who loves Patience, who loves nobody.
- Bachelor Auction: At one point, Bunthorne is prepared to raffle himself in marriage, angering the Dragoons since presumably one of their lovers would hold the winning ticket.
- Blessed with Suck: Grosvener is So Beautiful, It's a Curse.
- Christmas Cake: Lady Jane
- Grande Dame: Lady Jane, again.
- Have a Gay Old Time: Patience sings "For I Am Blithe and I Am Gay" in a song about her ignorance and innocence about love.
- High-Class Glass: Bunthorne, only in some productions
- Hurricane of Puns: The second stanza of "The Magnet and The Churn."
- Ironic Episode Title: The subtitle is "Bunthorne's Bride"; as it turns out, Bunthorne's eventual bride is nobody.
- Kick the Dog: Teasing Tom "punched his poor little sisters' heads/And Cayenne-peppered their four-post beds."
- List Song / Patter Song: This is Gilbert and Sullivan, after all. "If You Want a Receipt for that Popular Mystery..."
- Morality Ballad: Satirized in Grosvener's poems "Gentle Jane" and "Teasing Tom."
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Any resemblance of certain characters in this play to Oscar Wilde is probably not unintentional.
- Opening Chorus: "Twenty Lovesick Maidens We."
- Parody: Bunthorne's poetry and stylistic affectations satirized the "aesthetic movement" popularized by Oscar Wilde.
- Patter Song: "If You Want a Receipt for That Popular Mystery." (Doubles as an "I Am" Song since the Dragoons are introducing themselves.)
- Purple Prose: Parodied with the maidens who speak, for example, of the inner brotherhood of aesthetics being "consummately utter"; in other words, completely complete.
- Reference Overdosed: "If You Want a Receipt" rattles off Shout Outs to a bewildering number of famous figures, some of them well-known but many of them well into Viewers Are Geniuses territory (less so at the time, of course).
- Sexy Man, Instant Harem: Grosvener. "Conceive, then, the horror of my situation when I tell you that it is my hideous destiny to be madly loved at first sight by every woman I come across!"
- Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!: Our female lead does not love, and is happy because she does not love (in both senses of the clause). She does admit love eventually ("I had no idea it was a duty!"). But after a third character is forced to renounce it, most of the other characters decide that romantic love is irrelevant. And, until the end, love is depicted as nothing but painful.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Bunthorne and Grosvenor
- So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Poor Grosvenor.
- Stupid Good: Patience.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Parodied. "If this young man expresses himself in terms too deep for me / Why, what a very singularly deep young man this deep young man must be!"
- The Ingenue: Patience is woefully naive when it comes to matters of love, which is a major plot point.
- Unwanted Harem: Played with. Bunthorne affects an interest in aesthetic poetry because he thinks it will get him an (un)wanted harem, and this actually works quite well... until the handsome Grosvener shows up, causing the ladies to immediately transfer their affections.
: Yes yes—I am aesthetic
All the Ladies: Then, we love you!
Dragoons: They love him! Horror!
Bunthorne and Patience: They love him! Horror!
Grosvener: They love me! Horror! Horror! Horror!
- Viewers Are Geniuses: If you get even half the references in "If You Want a Receipt for that Popular Mystery," you may consider yourself remarkably well-read.
- What Is This Thing You Call Love?: The eponymous character specifically does not, in the beginning, understand why all the other women love when it is clear that Love Hurts. When it is explained to her, she immediately sets out to fall in love:
Patience: I had no idea that love was a duty!