By Kelsey Chandler
Loves Cure All, also called Love is the Doctor, was written by Moliere in 1665. I first read this story during my Fall 2010 semester in my English book, Literature: Intro to Reading and Writing by Roberts, 9th Edition. The story takes place in Paris around 1665. The story revolves around a single father, Sganarelle, who wishes to keep his daughter, Lucinda, single and at home forever to keep from having to pay a large dowry to a suitor. Lucinda is in love but her father refuses to let her marry so the she and her maid, Lisette, set up a plan to let the Lucinda’s wishes come true by way of tricking Sganarelle. Lucinda fakes an illness and Sganarelle has many doctors attempt to cure her; Lucinda’s suitor, Clitander, dresses as a doctor and explains to Sganarelle that pretending to get married to him will cure her delusions of wanting to get married. The suitor had brought a Justice of the Peace and singers and dancers, has the father sign the papers, and the marriage is actually official. The father, Sganarelle, does not know until after he has already given his daughter away along with twenty million dollars that he was fooled.
The genre of this play is a satire. Wikipedia describes satire as: “vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement. Although satire is usually meant to be funny, its greater purpose is often constructive social criticism, using wit as a weapon.” Wikipedia’s definition fits Moliere’s play exactly. The play is a satire in the way of the greedy father and the clumsy, unhelpful doctors. The play often times flat out insults the doctors and the methods of this time. The treatments of this era from doctors were usually what we would consider strange today, such as bloodletting to allow the sickness out. Satires are meant to be light and enjoyable which is exactly what Loves Cure All is all about.
The protagonist of the play is obviously the greedy father. Sganarelle is the father of Lucinda, the love stricken daughter. He has lost his wife and all other children so Lucinda is the last heir left to his fortune. Sganarelle has refused offers of Lucinda’s hand in marriage because he does not want to pay a large dowry to a man who is a stranger to him. In his words, “I’ll keep my wealth and my daughter to myself.” In the beginning of the story he seems very distraught over his daughter’s sadness and willing to do whatever it takes to make her happy. Once Lucinda informs him she wishes to be married, he acts like he didn’t really hear her. When the maid, Lisette, informs him of her wishes he ignores her and pretends not to hear as well. He is a very stubborn man who believes himself to be superior. He comes off this way because in the conclusion of the story when he believes he is fooling his daughter, he keeps saying, “Oh the fool the fool,” believing that he is outsmarting his daughter when in reality it is the other way around. He shows no character development but stays the same arrogant fool he believes all others to be. Without Sganarelle discouraging the marriage and simply seeking alternatives for his daughter’s happiness, he helps to move the story along. I would expect him to be outraged and try to end the marriage but Moliere ends the story before we can see his reaction leaving the reader, or audience, to their own conclusions.
I believe Moliere wanted the play to be more enjoyable rather than to be a story which taught lessons, but I do believe there are a few ideas and points revealed. The first ideal that I gather from the story is that love prevails. Even though Sganarelle did everything he could to prevent his daughter from falling in love and marrying, a plan was devised so that the two young lovebirds could be united as one. This is an ideal represented in many modern books and movies, but Moliere presents it in a fresh and entertaining way that our modern era tends to lack. Another point I found to be important is that of humility. Sganarelle was so full of himself that he thought he could not be fooled or talked in to doing anything he did not wish to do. If he were a more humble person and believed that not everyone were beneath him, he may have seen the “Clitander marriage cure” for the sly trick that it was. Instead, he was too busy calling his daughter a fool.
Moliere created a very light, entertaining, and enjoyable play in his work of Loves Cure All. By using the comedy of shortcomings of doctors at the time and the greed of wealthy men, we are granted insight into a world that we never knew of personally. We do not come from a time or place where marriages are forbidden and awards are given, but Moliere allows us to see into a time when those things were the standard in an amusing and witty way. In the end, Moliere produced a wonderful story suitable for all ages, classes, nationalities, and genders to enjoy for years to come.
Roberts, Edgar V. Literature: an Introduction to Reading and Writing. 9th ed. New York: Longman, 2009. Print.
Wikipedia. “Satire.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc, 10 Mar. 2011. Web. 15 Mar. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satire>.