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Theatre / The Learned Ladies

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The Learned Ladies (Les Femmes Savantes, which is closer to "the wise women"), is a 1690 Molière comedy which satirizes female learning and pretense.

Chrysale's household has been thrown into chaos. His wife, Philominte, daughter Armande and sister Belise have compeltyl fallen under the spell of the pretentious poet Trissotin, and become enraptured by learning and philosophy. Even worse, his younger daughter, Henriette, the only one immune to the philosophy frenzy wants nothing more than to marry her fiance Clitandre, but Philominte prefers she marry Trissotin, who of course, is only after their money. Chrysale must learn to assert himself and take control of his household before the marriage occurs!


The Learned Ladies provides examples of:

  • Book Dumb: Arguably Henriette and Clitandre, who care nothing for books and learning. However, both are quite clever, and are not taken in by Trissotin.
  • Celibate Hero: What Armande is trying to be.
  • Dumb Is Good: The women's desire to be "learned" is mocked, while those uninterested in books and philosophy win in the end.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Younger sister Henriette as the "beautiful sister" and elder Armande as the "smart sister". Subversion, as its Armande who is trying to bring Henriette up to her level, and the entire family takes her side.
  • Henpecked Husband: Chrysale, to an alarming degree.
  • The Ingenue: Henriette
  • Not So Above It All: Armande. Although she can argue quite passionately against marriage and sex, she still seems to have feelings for Clitandre, or at very least, wants his affections.
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  • Only Sane Man: Henriette, Clitandre and Ariste.
  • Self-Proclaimed Love Interest: Belise to every man she meets, while the others around her think she is delusional.
  • Stylistic Suck: Trissotin's poems. The "learned ladies" think they're the greatest things ever written.
  • Useful Book: Chrysale says that all of Belise's books are useless, except for a big Plutarch which he uses to put his bands in to keep them flat.


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