The Marriage of Rosine: Discourses on Women in the Plays of Beaumarchais
By the latter half of the eighteenth century, women in France had gained a new sort of power, both in culture and politics. This new social structure sparked a reactive and occasionally vehement debate, known as le quarrel des femmes. In that same time period Beaumarchais’s Le Marriage de Figaro was written and produced. Often seen as a symbol of the French Revolution, the play has already generated many volumes on research on its political and social implications. This paper will take a slightly different view. As le quarrel des femmes continued and grew, representations of women also transformed, and this carried over into play writing.
Women were thought to be calm, moral influences by nature; this made their position as salonieres natural and desirable as it would create the required balance in conversation. However others were not willing to be directed by women, whom they knew to be inferior. These diverse opinions contain a shared thread, women as a moral force. This idea may be flattering, but also definitively put women on a different plane with men. In stark contrast to other discourses Le Marriage de Figaro, most often studied for its presentation of equality between men, advocates for equality in marriage and criticizes the society that puts women at the mercy of men.Four couples, each, to varying degrees, a composed of a virtuous woman and a villainous man, demonstrate the benefits of equality, the destruction the subjugation of women may cause, and the joy that is found once these inequalities are righted.
Faculty Mentor: David Eick, French Studies
Page last modified July 14, 2009