BOOKS/FILMS/AUTHORS--USEM4a--1998

The School for Wives by Moliere

The School for Wives makes a mockery of men and their fear of appearing to be the weaker sex. . . . Arnolphe believes that men are naturally smarter and more capable than women, yet he spends so much of his life working to create a completely ignorant woman. The fact that he thinks such an artificial process will be successful proves that he is even more simpleminded than the fianc* he plans to dominate.

I . . . found it strange that Arnolphe believed a stupid wife would automatically be a faithful wife; on the contrary, intelligence has little to do with a faithful marriage. Husbands and wives choose to be disloyal, not because of a good education, but because they are unhappy or do not love their spouses. These feelings, which Arnolphe feared so intensely, cannot be taught or prevented from being taught; rather they are much more of an instinctive and personal reaction.

Arnolphe tried to create a wife for himself instead of finding a true love.

Moliere, while attempting to satirize the behavior of 17th-century husbands, was caught between fact and fiction. Moliere's life was much like Arnolphe's in The School for Wives . . . So, is The School for Wives a satire or is it just a confession?

Arnolphe's molding attempt transformed into exactly what he was trying to avoid. He would have had better luck trying to love [Agnes], rather than waste his life trying to create something that was just a figment of his imagination.

This play reminds me of Oedipus. Oedipus tried to control his fate but was unsuccessful, just like Arnolphe.

No matter how uneducated one may be, everyone will always know when it's true love.

Arnolphe is basically a sexist, controlling, paranoid fool.

"The best laid plans of mice and men so often go awry." . . . [Agnes] ended up becoming more mature and wiser than [Arnolphe].

The theme of the play is that you can't change destiny.

The School for Wives . . . shows the consequences when one tries to raise the perfect wife without any acts of tenderness or love . . . . [Arnolphe's] ideas about life and marriage were foolish ones, supported by fear rather than dreams.

The lessons of this play are quite clear. As Larry said, no matter how much you plan your future, it never turns out exactly as planned. You can never find an all-round perfect mate, you might die trying. People are not yours to control. It is impossible for man to dodge the blows of fate.

A few things I am left wondering are: what eventually happened to Arnolphe? Did he end up finding a woman to suit his needs, or did he die alone, never learning what the loss of Agnes should have taught him?

Would Arnolphe have loved any young lady that he brought up the same as he loves Agnes? Or was he really in love with Agnes? At the end of the play I was left with the feeling that Arnolphe did not really love Agnes as much as he thought he did. He loved the ideal wife which he could picture Agnes being. He did not love Agnes for who she really was.

Arnolphe is truly the ignorant one . . . . It was because of Arnolphe's ignorance and not Agnes' that their relationship didn't work out.

The humor in this play reminded me a bit of Stoppard. The slightly off the wall humor. The characters who no matter what they did revolved in circles. I think that Arnolphe epitomized the inability to improve his own position, just like Rosencrantz ad Guildenstern. I like the way Moliere incorporated the rhyme scheme even through two or more characters' lines.

I think humor is a great way of getting across a serious message. . . . The themes of taking care of your servants and treating your wife as more than an object are presented through humorous situations, with the servants complaining about Arnolphe's temper and Agnes falling for someone else because he said sweet things to her.