And Shakespeare’s Juliet
English 121 M
January 23, 2004
“Spare me, I beg you; and let me end the tale.” (Mariane, Act IV,
The connection between Moliere’s character of Mariane in his comedy
“Tartuffe” and Shakespeare’s Juliet in his romantic tragedy “Romeo and
Juliet” is an obvious one. They are both young girls, caught up in the
grip of young love, and desperate for an escape from parental confinement.
Even though the genres of each story are very different, the fear of true
love lost is very prominent throughout each girl’s struggle.
Just as Mariane is in “Tartuffe,” Juliet is being forced by her father
to marry a man whom she despises. Her father says to her, “And you be mine,
I’ll give you to my friend” (line 216, Act III, V). Mariane’s father’s
words are very similar. He tells Mariane that Tartuffe is “to be her
husband… It’s a father’s privilege” (lines 29-30, Act II, I).
Each girl has the same opinion of the man to whom she is given in
marriage. Juliet claims that “proud can she never be of what she
hates” (line 164, Act III, V). Mariane begs her father to “spare her at
least… the pain of wedding one whom she abhors” (lines 14-15, Act IV,
However quite different from his daughter’s opinion, each father views
this man as being one of a great nature and potential for his daughter. Sir
Capulet claims that Paris is a “gentleman of noble parentage, of fair
demesnes, youthful, and nobly train’d” (lines 204-205, Act III, V).
Mariane’s father believes Tartuffe is “a pure and saintly indigence, which
far transcends all worldly pride and pelf” (lines 31-32, Act II, II).
After being told of their planned marriages, each daughter threatens
to take her own life. Mariane says, “I’ll kill myself, if I’m forced to wed
that man” (line 30, Act II, III). Juliet cries, “If all else fail, myself
have power to die” (line 270, Act III, V).
In each story, the nurse of each daughter serves as an outspoken guide
for each young woman. During both arguments between father and daughter,
the nurses take the liberty to speak their minds and thus are rebutted by
the old men. After Juliet’s nurse speaks up for Juliet’s sake, Sir Capulet
tells her to “hold her tongue” (line 190, Act III, V). When Mariane’s
nurse steps into the argument, Orgon says to her, “Don’t interrupt me
further. Why can’t you learn that certain things are none of your concern?”
(lines 86-87, Act II, II).
As each nurse is available to the girls for defense, they are also
there for guidance. After these similar arguments occur, each girl looks
to her lady’s-maid for support. Juliet runs to her nurse and asks, “What
say’st thou? Hast thou not a word of joy? Some comfort, nurse” (lines 237-
238, Act III, V). Mariane begs to her nurse, “Advise me, and I’ll do
whatever you say” (line 69, Act II, III).
These two young women and their stories are very similar in numerous
ways. The only major difference is the outcome of each. One boasts
triumph, one tragedy. However, by following the paths of these young
women, Moliere and Shakespeare successfully illustrate the infinite and
forever unpredictable possibilities of love.