Farces et moralités (French Edition)

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When a new complaint, concerning the clothes, is made, he prevents the poor man from leaving. There is almost no legal jargon in this play.

While the action is presented as a legal question, and on the whole satisfactorily resolved in favor of the intended victim of the joke, it also gives the moral or practical lesson, which need not be a legal one, that one should not offer something valuable in the expectation that it will be refused. Within the very short span of this play two hundred and ninety-four lines, the trial scene eighty lines a full trial was obviously impossible, and there is some insistence on the use of a summary procedure. Neither party is admirable: the rich man is gullible and rash, while the poor man is an outright liar.

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The judge seems decisive but arbitrary, and is deceived by the poor man. The court scene could hardly be described as seeing justice done, except that much minor litigation may have taken this form, as perceived by the common person with no legal training.

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One could surmise that this play is intended for a lay public, more likely to be interested in being amused than in following the legal issues and procedure. The unscrupulous Colin has taken advantage of Marion, a young girl, by promising to marry her if she has sex with him. Later he denies his promise. As it turns out, however, there is a witness who has been watching and listening through a hole in the wall, and this witness is produced and believed.

The nature of the suit, the remedy and the name of the play which describes the ecclesiastical judge all indicate that this is an ecclesiastical court, at the village level.

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The litigants are not at all pleasant people: the girl is shrill and has to be silenced by the judge; the mother is scheming, and appears to have instructed her daughter to more or less entrap the young man; and the accused Colin is cynical and foul-mouthed. As is usual in these plays, the judge does nothing which could bring him reproach: in his first speech he echoes the satisfaction with his profession that is expressed by the judge in the Condamnation de Banquet :.

The official finally does bring out the necessary testimony and gives what seems to be an appropriate judgment. Here, Pathelin gulls a draper into selling him some cloth on credit, and then, back home, when the draper appears to demand payment, Pathelin and his wife pretend he has been ill for some weeks, and could not possibly have bargained for cloth with the draper that day.

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Included in this first part of the play are hilarious scenes where the draper and Pathelin are each trying to cheat the other, and later where Pathelin speaks fragments of various languages, as if in delirium. The shepherd comes to Pathelin, seeking to hire him as a lawyer, candidly admitting his crime. Of course once they are in court the draper recognizes Pathelin, and becomes confused, talking now about his cloth, and now about his sheep.

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Pathelin, naturally, does his best to keep the draper bewildered and the judge uninformed. As in the Farce de M e Trubert , the lawyer who is so sure of his bag of tricks has been bested by a litigant, who uses one of the very tricks the lawyer himself taught him, in order to deny the lawyer his fee. He tries to move the case along, as do all the judges, more or less, in these medieval French plays. He seems to have compassion for the accused shepherd, and takes pains to explain to him that he need not answer any further summonses.

But the play is, after all, a farce, and the point is not that justice be done, or even be seen to be done, but that the spectators be shown something they can laugh at. Our sympathies lie, more or less, with Pathelin: when he gulls somebody, the gullee is himself a rogue, and we are not particularly sorry for him; and we are not particularly sorry when Pathelin himself is the gullee, for once again the deceived person is a rogue. The theatre is an art of the present, and as such is often very topical.

The writers offering representations in monologue or dialogue form of scenes of litigation did so to two kinds of audiences: the initiated and the uninitiated.

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In the former case, the writer could count on a shared knowledge, so that few explanations were needed, and the humor, if there was any, was generated by the treatment of a preposterous subject in a mock-serious way. While these kinds of plays are very interesting to the legal historian as memorials, however distorted, of some kind of interaction in the real courts, they are hardly examples of seeing justice done. These plays are often described as causes grasses , mock trials put on by law students and clerks for professional societies such as the Basoche.

Such people must have seen real justice, or indeed injustice, done every day, and wanted something else for their entertainment. The execution of Banquet does offer an opportunity to see at least that much justice done, even if the style of the whole play is somewhat tongue in cheek, and the character of the Fool suggests in clear terms that Banquet will not stay dead.

In Pathelin , the uninitiated spectator can quite easily follow the procedure. If this subterfuge worked once, it will never work again in the same circumstances.

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On the other hand, the uninitiated public might have had a notion of justice, that was probably satisfied by Pathelin and other plays like it. That notion was that the deceiver can always be deceived in his turn. The very agent of justice, the lawyer, was seen then as now in a less than totally admiring way.

For the audience on the public square watching a farce, it must have really seemed that they were seeing justice done. Works which I have found helpful but not cited directly include the following: H. Enders, op. Marnier, Paris, Durand and Joubert, I am preparing a translation of this work. Salmon, 2 vols. See also F. Akehurst, trans. Richter and E.

Friedberg, Leipzig, Tauchnitz, Mommsen, P.

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Krueger, trans. Watson et al. But Beaumanoir also makes provision for trials and decisions by a judge aided by counselors, Beaumanoir, Coutumes , op. When the old emperor hears of this, he condemns his nephew and personally cuts his throat. The convention of poetic justice is not always observed: The protagonist may get away with what he or she has been trying to hide at all costs, even if it is a criminal act.

Parent topics

Farce in general is highly tolerant of transgressive behavior, and tends to depict human beings as vain, irrational, venal, infantile, and prone to automatic behavior. In that respect, farce is a natural companion of satire. Farce is, in fact, not merely a genre but a highly flexible dramatic mode that often occurs in combination with other forms, including romantic comedy.

Farce is considered a theatre tradition. As far as ridiculous, far-fetched situations, quick and witty repartee , and broad physical humor are concerned, farce is widely employed in TV sitcom s, in silent film comedy, and in screwball comedy. See also bedroom farce.