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Theatre / The Bourgeois Gentleman

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The Bourgeois Gentleman (Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, also translated as The Middle-Class Aristocrat or The Would-Be Noble) is a 1670 comedy play by Molière.

Monsieur Jourdain is a bourgeois, but he admires the aristocrats and he tries to behave like them to be accepted in their social circle. So he takes various courses: dance, music, fencing, and philosophy. He also sees Dorante, a count who often borrows large sums of money from him.

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The Bourgeois Gentleman provides examples of:

  • Aerith and Bob: Some characters have real-life names, like Monsieur and Madame Jourdain, Lucile, and Nicole. Others have fictional names created by Molière, like Cléonte, Dorante and Dorimène. Covielle is also a fictional name coming from Commedia dell'Arte.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • The Turkish language that Cléonte speaks is gibberish. Justified because he only pretends to speak Turkish, and Monsieur Jourdain is too stupid to tell the difference.
    • Monsieur Jourdain is shortly made to undergo a ceremony under the pretext of ennobling him Turkish-style. The Mufti and his assistants perform most of the ceremony, not in actual Turkish, but in "Sabir" or "Lingua Franca", a largely romance pidgin that was once used to facilitate communication in the Mediterranean Basin. Justified again, as the ceremony is a sham meant to trick Monsieur Jourdain and may have involved locals speaking the foreign language they knew rather than actual Turks.
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  • Beta Couple: Covielle (Cléonte's servant) and Nicole (Lucile's servant), to Cléonte and Lucile. The two couples are in love; both men are angry at the women at first, because Nicole and Lucile ignored Covielle and Cléonte when they met by chance on the street. Covielle and Nicole encounter less problems than Lucile and Cléonte, but in the end they all get married with their respective lover.
  • Child Marriage Veto: When Lucile learns that her father refuses to give consent to her marrying Cléonte, she gets upset and insists that she will marry no other. She remains steadfast when Monsieur Jourdain informs her that he will be giving her to the son of the Great Turk and loudly protests. However, on realizing that it is actually her boyfriend disguised as a Turkish prince, she does an about-face and consents on the pretext of submitting to her father.
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  • Con Man: Dorante manages to squeeze large sums of money out of Monsieur Jourdain. He even makes him pay the ring he gives to his lover, Dorimène.
  • Everything's Sparkly with Jewelry: Monsieur Jourdain buys a ring with a large diamond for Dorimène. He puts Dorante in charge of giving it to Dorimène. Dorante gives it to her, but pretends that he bought it himself.
  • Happily Ever After: Exaggerated. In the end, Lucile gets married with Cléonte, Nicole with Covielle, and Dorimène with Dorante.
  • Impossibly Tacky Clothes: The new suit of Monsieur Jourdain is so ridiculous that Nicole cannot stop laughing when she sees it.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Dorante is a count, but his low income forces him to turn to his talent of Con Man to maintain his lifestyle.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Covielle about Monsieur Jourdain:
      Covielle: What a dupe! If he had learned his role by heart, he could not have played it better.
    • Lucile to her father:
      Lucile: What! Father, look at you! Are you playing in a comedy?
  • Nouveau Riche: Monsieur Jourdain is very rich because his father made a fortune as a cloth dealer, but he lacks the culture and the style of the aristocrats, so he tries to learn it from various teachers. He fails miserably and always looks ridiculous.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Cléonte dresses up as a Turkish prince. Lampshaded by Covielle who tells Monsieur Jourdain that by chance the Turkish prince looks exactly like Cléonte.
  • Parental Marriage Veto:
    • Monsieur Jourdain does not want his daughter Lucile to marry Cléonte, because he is not an aristocrat. Circumventing that veto for the young lovers becomes the main plot of the rest of the play.
    • When Madame Jourdain hears that her husband is marrying his daughter off to the son of the Great Turk, she is horrified and steadfastly refuses to give her consent. On being taken aside and having it clarified that said suitor is actually Cléonte, she changes her tune and plays along with the ruse.
  • Protagonist Title: The title refers to Monsieur Jourdain, the protagonist.
  • Rapid-Fire Interrupting: Monsieur Jourdain tries to give Nicole instructions to clean the house, but Nicole keeps on interrupting him with her bursts of laughter.
  • Romancing the Widow: Dorante charms Dorimène, a widow.
  • Servile Snarker: Both Covielle (Cléonte's servant) and Nicole (the Jourdains' maid) are insolent and snarky.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Lucile and Cléonte love each other, but Lucile's father, Monsieur Jourdain, does not want them to marry because Cléonte is not an aristocrat.
  • Triang Relations: Type 4: Dorante and Dorimène love each other, and Monsieur Jourdain falls for Dorimène.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Monsieur Jourdain, the protagonist, is an ignorant nouveau riche. He is an unfaithful husband and he ignores the wishes of his daughter.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Monsieur Jourdain is very rich and very stupid. His various teachers, his tailor and Dorante take advantage of him and squeeze large sums of money out of him.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Monsieur Jourdain is a married man, but he falls in love with Domimène and tries to charm her.
  • Zany Scheme: Cléonte dresses up as a Turkish prince to convince Monsieur Jourdain to let him marry his daughter.

Alternative Title(s): Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, The Middle Class Aristocrat, The Would Be Noble

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