Marriage Of Figaro Essay, Research Paper
Imagine that you were at a performance of ?The Marriage of Figaro? in 1784. Write a review of the play for inclusion in a main-stream journal of the day.
Last night I finally saw the long awaited sequel to ?The Barber of Seville?, long awaited not for it?s theratrical value, but perhaps because it has been rumored that upon it?s presentation to his royal highness Louis XVI, the King was to have remarked that such a play could never be allowed on stage. Fortunately for us he did not stand by this appraisal and for the first time last night the play ?The Marriage of Figaro was performed in a theatre. Audiences were not disappointed. Unlike other sequels this play actually held some of the freshness and vigour of his earlier work, ?The Barber of Seville.? The characters are perceptibly the same, although time has passed in Andalusia. The court of Versailles still reverberates to the sounds of gaiety and laughter and yet there is a sense of disillusionment, that happiness can not necessarily be won merely through the pursual thereof. The mood still appears to be one of irresponsibility; the characters live for the day and indulge in all the follies that this lifestyle brings.
Figaro is still a young man, young and in love; and yet he is old enough to have serious doubts as to the full extent of his luck; will this love and good fortune last forever? He is still one of the wittier characters of the play but at times his wit seems to fall more into the realms of irony. He has seen the world and appears to know what?s in it. He is not the man he was in The Barber. The character appears to have good sense, seasoned with vivacity and forays of humour. It is a part written to bring honour to the talents of of any player fine enough to discern the fine shades of the part and fully rise to the occasion; just as the actor playing the part last night achieved. Upon reading the script it would be easy to see how this funny character could be spoiled by the inference of a caricature. Fortunately the actor did not.
If Figaro has changed then so has the Count. He is now thoroughly bored with his lifestyle, he lives only for vanity and self indulgence, traits with which we the audience can not sympathise.(Oh if only life were that easy)
Marceline and Bartholo describe the Count accurately as:
?A womaniser out of boredom, and jealous out of vanity.?
Beaumarchias however still manages to bestow up his a Count a certain amount of charm, his lightness of touch prevents the character from becoming truly detestable to the audience. He has all the grace, dignity and affability as befitting a man of his status, paralleling with a depravity of morals,( for it is customary for noblemen to treat any designs upon women with a spirit of frivolity. )
The character of Suzzanne was presented as resourceful and intelligent; lively and vivacious, without having any of the brazen gaiety of other maidservants, all the necessary qualities of a young woman. She is the object of the Count?s desires:
Count: Bazile must have let you know of my love for you. (pg.118)
It is an unrequited love for Suzzanne has no such feelings for him.
He orchestrated the marriage between Suzzanne and Figaro in order that he may play a part in the nuptial celebrations of marriage. He commissions Figaro to follow him to England where he must be Ambassador. At first Figaro merely believes that this is because he has been such a good manservant; but Suzzanne quickly informs him of the Count?s lascivious designs upon her. In London there will be no Countess to spoil his fun:
Count: You know the King has appointed me his ambassador
in London. I?m taking Figaro with me. I?m giving him
an excellent job, and as a wife?s duty to follow her
The Count no longer appears to be in love for the wife he fought to get. Even she understands this:
Countess: He no longer loves me. (pg130)
He might not be in love with her but his pride still allows him to be jealous of all those who hold affections for her. He banishes the page Cherubin when he believes that the boy holds feelings towards his wife:
Count: Give him fifty crowns and a horse, and send him home
to his family.
The Countess intercedes and solicits a pardon on his behalf from the Count; but being the jealous man he is the Count sends the boy to join the army, and from his words one can intonate that he believes the boy will never return.The Countess herself appears to be torn between two emotions, on the one hand she still loves her husband dearly, yet on the other she resents his apathy towards her. She is both amiable and virtuous, aiding those in trouble and siding with Fiagaro and Suzzanne against the Count.
The other main female part in the play is that of Marceline, an ambiguous and inconsistent character. Early in the play she stand as Suzzanne?s comic rival, a farcical duenna. Marceline is desperate to be married to either Figaro or to the good Doctor Bartholo to whom she has already had a child.She is successful in her aims by finally acquiring the hand of the Doctor in marriage. It turns out that she also finds the child she bore, who, coincidentally enough, is Figaro.
The play ends on a happier note. Suzzanne and the Countess plot to trick the men in their lives. Suzzanne dresses as the Countess and the Countess dresses as Suzanne. The farce of mistaken identities is exploited with ingenuity. Figaro goes down on his knees before the woman he believes is the Countess, but who is really Suzzanne, and the Count makes advances on the woman he takes to be Suzzanne but who is really the Countess. He says to her(still believing her to be Suzzanne):
?I love her very much , but three years together makes
marriage very respectable? (pg.205)
So we find out, as does the Countess that her husband really does love her.
The wedding goes ahead and all?s well that ends well.
Daring and Political or merely a reflection of the thoughts of society?
What is the purpose of this play? Many contemporaries believe that Beaumarchais?s work marks the beginning of a new era and the end of an old one. Napolean himself commented that it was ?the revolution in action?. This does not mean however that it was written with the intention of becoming a revolutionary act. Beaumarchais himself is believed to have said that this is no more than what is being thought by all people in all classes. The work reflects the beliefs of the author as it criticises the concept of privilege, which is inherent to the play. Beaumarchais appears to dedicate his work to the affirmation of the individual against the constraints of social backgrounds and more importantly social privilege.
This play should not be seen as a destroyer of social order, for Beaumarchais is a loyal in his relations to the Crown. His dealings with political ministers are apparent through the speeches of Figaro.
The play is like a tangled yarn of wool. Everything is there it simply needs unravelling. There is a constant variation in the focus of interest, but the thread of the story is unbroken from first to last. The rivalry of Figaro and the Count is never placid, our attentions become temporarily diverted by the passages between the page and the Countess, the Count and the Countess, Figaro and Marceline and not forgetting Suzzanne and Figaro, which all come into concurrent activity at the end.
Despite being four hours long this is a play well worth watching and I would strongly recommend it to any theatre going person.