The Barber of Seville Essay Questions

Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Is this as much a comedy as a musical play?

    The play is basically an operetta or musical play, but there are definite comedy overtones to it. It seems in many ways to be a "comedy of errors" because the audience are in league with the Count and Figaro, knowing what is happening, but the erstwhile butt of the joke, Dr Bartholo, is not aware of what they are planning or as whom they are disguised. There is also comedy in that as one character enters another comes in, the first character having to hide whilst the action continues. There is an almost Shakespearean feel to the way in which characters disguise themselves as others, and the way in which a comedy is taking place in parallel to the serious love story that we are watching. It is a funny play because of the tricks that are being played on Bartholo, and because the audience is "in on the joke" when two of the characters are not.

  2. 2

    Do you think that the Count is more like his own view of himself, or the Doctor's view of him?

    The Count is head over heels in love with a young woman he has seen once, but he becomes obsessed with her and cannot imagine not winning her hand in marriage. He therefore sees himself as a "good guy" capable of great love and loyalty. The fact that he is madly in love with a woman he has seen once is something that makes the doctor very suspicious. He tells Rosine that the Count is a womanizer and although he tells her this to neutralize the Count as a threat to his own plan to marry Rosine, he is not entirely lying as he genuinely believes that the Count's motives are not particularly honorable. The Count is not the womanizer that the doctor implies, but he is also a stubborn man who is accustomed to getting what he wants, and that is driving him almost as much as his desire to marry the young woman with whom he has fallen in love.

  3. 3

    The play seems to be about the Count yet it is titled after Figaro, the barber. Why is this and what does this paradox tell us about Figaro's role in the play?

    The Barber of Seville is Figaro, yet the play seems to be mostly about the Count and Rosine. Figaro, on the face of it, is a peripheral figure, the sidekick to the Count in the same way that Bazile is to the doctor. However, on closer study, it can be seen that Figaro is actually the more pivotal character in the play. Firstly, he is the conduit that connects the Count to Rosine, as a frequent visitor to the home, and the only person who can give him enough inside information to get inside it. He also comes up with many of the successful plans that enable the couple to see each other; the soldier disguise is his idea. His eavesdropping also provides some of the key moments in the play - he discovers the doctor's plan to marry Rosine that very evening and it is only his quick action that prevents this. Despite the fact that he seems to be a supporting character, without him, there would have been no way to get the Count into the house, the Count would not have found out about the doctor's plan in time to prevent it, and Rosine would be married against her will to the man she considers her guardian. He is therefore arguably the most important character in the play.

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